Posts filed under “Rules”

David Merkel: The Eight Rules of My Investing

David J. Merkel is a CFA, FSA. His forthcoming equity asset management shop is tentatively called Aleph Investments. From 2008-2010, he was the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities.where he researched a wide variety of fixed income and equity securities, and trading strategies. Until 2007, he was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. From 2003-2007, he was a leading commentator at the investment website

These are his Eight Rules of Investing:


My objective in guiding investors is to teach them how to tilt the odds of success in their favor. As a value investor that rotates sectors, I have eight methods that each tilt the odds a little in my favor. Individually, each tilt is worth a little. As a group, they have been very powerful for my past results. Unaudited, these methods have allowed me to beat the market since the strategy started in September of 2000.

  1. Industries are under-analyzed, relative to the market on the whole, and relative to individual companies. Spend time trying to find good companies with strong balance sheets in industries with lousy pricing power, and cheap companies in good industries, where the trends are not fully discounted.
  2. Purchase equities that are cheap relative to other names in the industry. Depending on the industry, this can mean low P/E, low P/B, low P/S, low P/CFO, low P/FCF, or low EV/EBITDA.
  3. Stick with higher quality companies for a given industry.
  4. Purchase companies appropriately sized to serve their market niches.
  5. Analyze financial statements to avoid companies that misuse generally accepted accounting principles and overstate earnings.
  6. Analyze the use of cash flow by management, to avoid companies that invest or buy back their stock when it dilutes value, and purchase those that enhance value through intelligent buybacks and investment.
  7. Rebalance the portfolio whenever a stock gets more than 20% away from its target weight. Run a largely equal-weighted portfolio because it is genuinely difficult to tell what idea is the best. Keep about 30-40 names for diversification purposes.
  8. Make changes to the portfolio 3-4 times per year. Evaluate the replacement candidates as a group against the current portfolio. New additions must be better than the median idea currently in the portfolio. Companies leaving the portfolio must be below the median idea currently in the portfolio.

Each of these rules enforces a discipline on the overall portfolio that most professionals and individual investors do not possess. It takes the emotion out of investing, and forces us to think like risk-sensitive, profit-seeking businessmen. I agree with Buffett when he said, “I am a better businessman because I am an investor, and I am a better investor because I am a businessman.” The two disciplines mutually reinforce each other, leading to better results.


Part II is after the jump

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Category: Apprenticed Investor, Investing, Rules

Ed Easterling’s 12 Rules of Market Cycles

Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research boils down his views on long term markets to 12 rules of secular stock market cycles. In case you are unfamiliar with Ed’s work, several books, including Unexpected Returns: Understanding Secular Stock Market Cycles; he also wrote Probable Outcomes. Here are Ed Easterling’s 12 Rules of Market Cycles: 1. Secular cycles…Read More

Category: Cycles, Earnings, Investing, Markets, Psychology, Rules

UPDATED: Trading Rules, Aphorisms & Books

Last month, we put together a full run of Trading Rules & Aphorisms.  In the intervening weeks, I discovered I overlooked quite a few lists that are on the site.

Here is the updated version:

Livermores Seven Trading Lessons

Bob Farrell’s 10 Rules for Investing

James Montier’s Seven Immutable Laws of Investing

John Murphy’s Ten Laws of Technical Trading

Six Rules of Michael Steinhardt

Art Huprich’s Market Truisms and Axioms


Lessons from Merrill Lynch

Rosie’s Rules to Remember

In Defense of the “Old Always” (Montier)

Lessons Learned from 37 Years of Futures Trading

Richard Russell’s The Power of Compounding

My (Ritholtz) own rules

Rules for Shorting

15 Inviolable Rules for Dealing with Wall Street

10 Psychological, Valuation, Adapative Investing Rules

The Zen of Trading

After this run, I plan on updating this list every quarter . . .

Books after the jump

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Category: Investing, Rules, Trading

Art Huprich’s Market Truisms and Axioms

Raymond James’ P. Arthur Huprich published a terrific list of rules at year’s end. Other than commandment #1, they are in no particular order: • Commandment #1: “Thou Shall Not Trade Against the Trend.” • Portfolios heavy with underperforming stocks rarely outperform the stock market! • There is nothing new on Wall Street. There can’t…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Investing, Rules, Trading

10 Lessons of Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme

Its been two years since the Madoff crime erupted across headlines. The massive theft punctured what little faith investors  had in the markets, investment firms and regulators. Fraud rarely has a silver lining, but the least we can do is try to learn from other people’s mistakes. There were many many lessons to be learned…Read More

Category: Investing, Legal, Rules

15 Inviolable Rules for Dealing with Wall Street

The never ending parade of stock scandals seems to continue unabated, the stock lending scam being only the most recent. As history has shown us — from Mexico to Orange County to analyst banking crisis to Derivatives to etc., when the Street comes aknockin, best for you to hide your wallets. For reasons we are…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Corporate Management, Investing, Really, really bad calls, Rules

Six Rules of Michael Steinhardt

Michael Steinhardt was one of the most successful hedge fund managers of all time. A dollar invested with Steinhardt Partners LP in 1967 was worth $481 when Steinhardt retired in 1995. The following six rules were pulled out from a speech he gave: 1. Make all your mistakes early in life: The more tough lessons…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Investing, Rules

10 Habits of Mind for Investors

This comes from a math blog by a teacher called WITHOUT GEOMETRY, LIFE IS POINTLESS (get it?).

There is a recent post I wanted to reference — Habits of Mind — that was originally written for math students. With a few small changes, it can be readily adapted to thinking about markets, risk, investing, etc.

Have a go at it:

Habits of mind

1. Pattern Sniff
. . .A. On the lookout for patterns
. . .B. On the lookout for shortcuts

2. Experiment, Guess and Conjecture
. . .A. Can begin to work on a problem independently
. . .B. Estimates
. . .C. Conjectures
. . .D. Healthy skepticism of experimental results
. . .E. Determines lower and upper bounds
. . .F. Looks at small or large cases to find and test conjectures
. . .G. Is thoughtful and purposeful about which case(s) to explore
. . .H. Keeps all but one variable fixed
. . .I. Varies parameters in regular and useful ways
. . .J. Works backwards (guesses at a solution and see if it makes sense)

3. Organize and Simplify
. . .A. Records results in a useful way
. . .B. Process, solutions and answers are detailed and easy to follow
. . .C. Looks at information about the problem or solution in different ways
. . .D. Determine whether the problem can be broken up into simpler pieces
. . .E. Considers the form of data (deciding when, e.g., 1+2 is more helpful than 3)
. . .F. Uses parity and other methods to simplify and classify cases

4. Describe
. . .A. Verbal/visual articulation of thoughts, results, conjectures, arguments, etc.
. . .B. Written articulation of arguments, process, proofs, questions, opinions, etc.
. . .C. Can explain both how and why
. . .D. Creates precise problems
. . .E. Invents notation and language when helpful
. . .F. Ensures that this invented notation and language is precise

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Category: Apprenticed Investor, Investing, Mathematics, Psychology, Rules

Lessons from Merrill Lynch

While I am not a fan of most big firm fundamental analysts, over the years, Merrill Lynch has had some sharp guys in their Chief Strategist/Economist positions. Here are some lessons and rules from 3 of them. Richard Bernstein was “notoriously cautious on stocks for much of this decade” — and was very bearish on…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Investing, Markets, Rules

Lessons to Be Learned From Dow 36,000

“This book will convince you of the single most important fact about stocks at the dawn of the twenty-first century: They are cheap….If you are worried about missing the market’s big move upward, you will discover that it is not too late. Stocks are now in the midst of a one-time-only rise to much higher…Read More

Category: Investing, Markets, Really, really bad calls, Rules