I have been struck by the degree of group divergence over the last three months, 12 months and 24 months. It seems to this observer that, more than almost any market time frame in recent history, industry sector selection has never been more important in delivering superior investment returns. The past repeats itself (almost constantly), momentum is your friend, don't fight the tape, buy strength, etc. are repeated slogans that, almost by definition, yield superior results. The temptation to go with the momentum remains strong in life and in markets, but, at some point, if the majority confidently knows something, that something is probably already reflected in the price. History teaches us investment lessons, but it fails to tell us which lesson should be applied and when it should be adopted. The biggest problem I have as an investor is farsightedness (in expecting the unexpected), and I see the biggest problem with most investors as shortsightedness.
Keeping My Money in the Banks
The financial future may be imagined, but it can never be absolutely known, which brings me to the bank stocks. Contrarian bets that ignore the trend (like shorting housing-related securities two or three years ago) often yield large rewards. Bank stocks have never been so cheap, and, in the fullness of time, long positions could be rewarded. As lynx-eyed Dick Bove remarks in his research missive over the weekend, "the situation is simply not as bad as it appears." Dick, who I have known personally for over 30 years and who I admire, makes the following points in his piece, which is entitled, "Bank Stocks Are in Free Fall, but Banking Companies Are Not."