Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On the art of selling high and buying low

Since Google entered its annual swoon, I have been beset with Spring doldrums. I feel like I'm lying out on some broken-down porch on Tobacco Road. Correction: I feel like a hound dog lying out on some broken-down porch. But it's only this blog that I have been neglecting - I can report that I have made a few propitious trades during this latest downturn.  I pass it on as an object lesson in selling something with the hope of buying it back lower, while scratching fleas at the same time.

Eschewing, as I do, play-by-play reporting, I present the tabular events, as they occurred, from which the careful reader can infer the action:

COP is the first oil I bought, and my biggest gainer. I had sold some in January at $67.05 - a little early, but with a decent profit. Then, struggling around $80, after tagging $81, COP seemed ripe for a sale. So, at the end of April, I sold another quarter-position at $79.25, and then fretted for several days, thinking I was too early again. Then the market changed and has been heady to the downside, ever since. I am waiting now to see where the market goes, before buying more COP.

(Closing Price)

I've had a nice run with OIH, although the big-numbered share price makes changes seem bigger than they are. Perhaps for the same reason, OIH seems very volatile with daily swings of $2 to $5 dollars. I originally bought OIH for $138.20, adding a little more at $161.85.  When the market turned sour, I dithered a few days and then sold out at $164.76.  Since then, I have been trading in and out of this stock on its way down, with nary a loss.  My anxiety lay in being out of the stock, when it turned around and roared up without me.  This, in fact, happened once, but a few days later, it tanked again and I scampered back aboard at $147.64.  This was about an hour before it finally went to ground around $143 and bounced.

(Closing Price)

Potash, I hardly knew you.  I acquired a small position in March at $54.86 and sold it, three weeks later, for $59.05.  I like the stock, long term, but I thought it was too late in the cycle.  I would like to buy it back if it goes lower from here.

I'm comfortable now with my style of trading around a few long-term positions.  So far, I've been lucky.  My anxiety now is centered around the fear of going back in, too soon.  However, the credible opinions I am hearing suggest that this will be a garden-variety selloff, followed by another leg up.  I'm set for that, having lowered the cost bases on my stocks by selling higher and buying back lower.  But if we keep heading for perdition, as many traders still secretly think and hope for, then it will be a long winter. The problem is, I've used up a lot of my kindling, already. Nevertheless, my confidence in my stocks is such that I'm willing to hold them. My objective is to have only profits on my Schedule D, each year.  It's a work in progress.