Saturday, July 3, 2010

Financial Television is Like a Comic Book Series

People don't watch enough television. Seriously, I hear people all the time who say that so and so recommended a stock on television and all of a sudden it's down and they've lost money and they want to know what to do.

They're getting it all wrong. Television isn't one long buy/sell list for investors to watch, execute the trade, and then get rich. That's now how television works. If you read our article earlier "They Are Idiots", then you know that when you buy a stock from someone, you have to make the bet that they are an idiot...otherwise you are the idiot; as they convinced you to buy something they didn't want anymore. Guess how many other people are watching EXACTLY THE SAME THING you are watching right then; and you now have to trade with AND against these people to make money.

Say Steve Grasso comes on television and says he's buying BP, which he did. And then you go on vacation, forget about the real world for a week, come back and check on your BP position. You see that it's down from $34 to $27 and think: "What the heck happened to BP? That Grasso guy is an idiot, I'll never listen to him again." This is where people go wrong. A few days later, after getting long BP, Steve Grasso, Patty Edwards, and many others on the Fast Money Desk stated very clearly that BP had gotten too difficult to measure and that there was too much risk in the trade and that they had sold their position and were not going back in.

Watching television, at least financial television, is like reading a comic book. If you don't read every single issue that comes out, you are GOING TO MISS SOMETHING. That detail that you miss, could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Like reading a comic book, it's important to read a few issues before you form an opinion. The biggest mistake (one of them) retail investors make is in thinking that a stock is going to run away from them, so they jump in when they hear a convincing story on say Jim Cramer's Executive Decision Segment, where he has a CEO from a company come on and tell you what's new and exciting about their company. Then, Cramer says he likes the company, the person is so excited, they go and buy it the next morning at the open (often the time that people pay too much and get crushed by the end of the day).

What they have forgotten, or not witnessed, is that on ANOTHER episode of Mad Money, Jim Cramer vehemently warned viewers to always wait 5 days before buying a stock, never buy your whole position at once (in case the stock goes down and you can get it for cheaper), and always use limit orders so you get the price you want. But, the person who buys this stock after the Executive Decision segment missed the other shows about disciplined investing and ignored all of Cramer's rules for buying a stock. They exclaim that Steve Grasso and Jim Cramer are idiots and they never buy another stock again (or they repeat their mistake after listening to someone else on TV).

The bottom line, you MUST watch EVERYTHING before you buy ANYTHING. Shows like Fast Money, Mad Money, Strategy Session, and Stop Trading are terrific; but they are often just one piece of a much bigger puzzle that needs to be pieced together before you buy or sell a position. There will never be any substitution for doing your own homework. When you watch someone on television they will ASSUME that YOU, the viewer, has heard everything else they have said or written. They have to do that, otherwise, they would say the same thing every single time that you watched them. This wouldn't help anyone...and it certainly wouldn't be entertaining. So, next time, before you make a decision that costs you thousands of dollars, "read up" and watch a week's worth of whatever program it is you're watching until you understand how each person trades so that when they change their mind on BP, Research in Motion (RIMM), or Goldman Sachs (GS) you'll be there to see it and then you can change yours too...after you do your homework of course.

1 comment:

  1. Great point, although it probably warrants pointing out that most people CAN'T watch that much TV. This may discourage individual investors so would you say that if you can't watch TV, you shouldn't invest? Or does it mean that you shouldn't watch unless you can watch it all?