Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Are You A Contrarian or Trend Investor?

"Be greedy when others are fearful, be fearful when others are greedy"

This is a famous quote by Warren Buffet. He can't be wrong, right?

Mr Fong SiLing (Cold Eye), apparently, also adopted this strategy. He mentioned again and again in his articles that the best way to profit from stock market investing is to practice contrarian investing (反向投资)

Based on his 40 years of experience and success, he can't be wrong as well.

Contrarian Investing: Going Against The Grain • Novel Investor

Recently he openly wrote that it is a good time to collect oil & gas stocks now. Oil price is at rock bottom, and so are many O&G stock prices. Everyone seems to be pessimistic about O&G now.

We know that eventually oil price will recover. O&G stocks price will recover as well, if they can survive the storm.

How long will it take for crude oil price to recover then? Can it be within 1 year, or 2-3 years? No one knows. 

Brent crude oil price has been in the downtrend since falling from above USD100 per barrel in mid 2014. It rebounded in 2016 from USD30 to reach USD80 in 2018. Then it fell below USD30 this year.

We know that it will go back to above USD60 per barrel again. It's just a matter of time.

By collecting good O&G stocks, you know that you are almost sure win, and may win big. However, how long are you willing to wait?

Are you willing to wait for 2-3 years? 

Some investors have no problem with that, and surely some do not have the patience.

       Armada: Downtrend for 6 years and counting

Besides O&G sector, there are other sectors which are also languishing in bear zone such as plantation, property, logistics etc.

Is it the time to collect stocks in those sectors as well? Now everyone is "fearful" in them, should we act now?

Stock market investing is like predicting the future earning of a company. For me, if you think that the recovery is close, then may be it's time to buy.

How close is "close"? Everyone has their own definition for that.

Property sector was hot in the early 2010s. New development projects were like mushrooms after rain and all were fully taken up. Property price went up like hell. A lot of non-property players diversified to join this property boom.

As a result, many property stocks at that time double or triple in price. 

The turning point was around 2015, when there was an oversupply of properties in the market, and the property price were unaffordable to many.

From that point of time, property sales dropped, company's profit dropped and the share price inevitably followed.

MKH: Property & Plantation
       MKH: Property + Plantation Play

Up to today, I still don't see any recovery hope for property stocks in the next 12 months. Covid-19 just makes the situation worse.

Nevertheless, after Covid-19's concern is over, would it be the time for property sector to turnaround amid low interest environment? 

I don't know when will this happen but my point is, buying property stocks in year 2016, 2017, 2018 or 2019 when most people were "fearful" in property sector is a contrarian move, but is it a good move?

I have a few property stocks before, and I have sold all of them except Matrix which I decided to keep.

The reason is simple, I foresee Matrix can continue to break new high in sales and profits even though the overall property market is going down hill.

To me Matrix is a well-managed company. It makes good sales, its unbilled sales go up and it gives good dividends too.

True enough, Matrix's sales and net profit increase year after year since listing in 2013. However, its share price has been quite stagnant in the last 4-5 years before Covid-19 dragged it down in Mac20.

It didn't drop like other property stocks though, but it didn't go up. So, its PE ratio is getting lower and lower at around 6x.

The reason is, Matrix is not in the positive "trend".

This brings us to "Trend Investing".

From my observation, trend investing is a good way to earn money in stock market, especially if you can identify the trend earlier than most people do.

So it means that doing homework does matter, not like rushing in when everyone already did so.

Currently it is the trend of gloves and PPE related stocks. If you are smart and alert, you might have bought and accumulated gloves stocks in Jan/Feb this year when Covid-19 started to spread globally, even though the jump in stock price only occurred in April.

Up to today I still haven't got any shares of glove stocks, mainly because I was slow to react, and most of the good glove stocks are "expensive" to me.

If you buy early in the trend, you just ride on it and make handsome profit. However, if you buy near the end of the trend, you might end up losing money.

The trend can last for few months to few years.

Last time the property trend lasted about 3 years from 2012-2015. If I'm not wrong, plantation stocks were also hotly debated at that time.

After that in 2014, the tremendous weakening of Ringgit against USD from RM3.20 to RM4.40 kick started the uptrend of export-orientated stocks.

Furniture, injection moulding, semiconductor and other export stocks were having a real good time.

       POHUAT: Furniture export stock 

This trend also lasted around 3 years until 2017 when MYR strengthened to below RM4.00. 

Last year there seems to be a brief box-packaging trend. Combination of several favourable conditions such as higher demand, lower raw material cost and promotion by some investors and analysts might have initiated and sustained the trend.

This trend lasted for about a year before being cut short by Covid-19.

How about the trend of technology stocks? Smartphones, 5G, IoT, cloud computing, driverless cars etc are the main trend of the world so I feel that it is always in the trend.

Even though we read that semiconductor industry has up and down cycle, or negatively affected by geopolitical issues, I actually don't feel any significant "out-of-trend" issue for the past 10 years.

When a tech company goes down hill, there will be another tech company on the up at the same time.

The important thing is to make sure that the tech company is always at the latest trend of technology. If not, it will be eliminated sooner or later.

       INARI: Uptrend from 2013 until 2018

Contrarian and trend investing seem to be two different kinds of investment strategies. Both can make money and lose money as well.

If you buy too early in contrarian investing, you lose time, and time is money.

If you buy too late in trend investing, you can be trapped and lose money.

No matter which kind of investors you are, it's all about the timing.

Those successful investors excel in the in & out timing, either using fundamental, technical, trend, contrarian or whatever methods.

We know that life is extremely tough for Airasia & GENM now. We also know that both of them will recover. 

Are you greedy now when others are fearful?


  1. I think it is a good idea to pick up some O&G stocks. They will rebound together with the crude oil price.
    The only potential risk is Covid-19 comes 2nd wave. If that happens, crude oil price and all stocks will again collapse. I suppose the risk is not high because people are better equipped with the preventive measures now.
    If no 2nd wave, stock price will be much higher in end 2020 than the level now.

    1. Ya, agree that there shouldn't be a second wave of Covid-19, unless every country is like Brazil. Sooner or later it will be O&G time to boom, I'll put a close eye on it.