Here you’ll find articles on traditional and not-so-traditional approaches to investing — primarily in individual stocks, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, and bonds. Along with my breakdown and scrutiny of general strategies are first-hand experiences in implementing these approaches. Specific topics include building an investment portfolio and possible ways to determine whether a stock is bargain priced. Information and insights in the Investing category can help you develop a framework for making investment decisions.
When contemplating an investment, I might get excited about a company and want to immediately snap up shares of its stock. But I’ve learned that I should try to determine the value of the company and a fair price for the company’s stock before buying. As a general rule, I don’t want to pay more for a company than it is worth.
Going further with this idea, I may decide to invest only if I can pay less than the company’s value. If I adopt this philosophy, I buy shares of a company only when its price represents a bargain or discount from its value. That is, I incorporate a margin of safety into my investing decisions.
This idea of a “margin of safety” has been articulated and popularized by value investing thought leaders Benjamin Graham, the author of The Intelligent Investor, and Warren Buffett, Graham disciple and billionaire investor.
The margin of safety is always dependent on the price paid. It will be large at one price, small at some higher price, and nonexistent at some still higher price.” — Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor
An intriguing entrant to the robo-advisory arena is Acorns, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. The idea behind this firm’s approach is to enable investors to “invest the change” (aka “acorns” or relatively small amounts of money) that will build over time into a sizable portfolio.
I learned a harsh lesson about portfolio turnover during a recession. I was forced to pay capital gains taxes on distributions of a long-term mutual fund holding, even though I didn’t sell any fund shares and even though the fund value had dropped more than 20% that year.
This experience taught me about portfolio turnover and related expenses, including taxes (along with the generally wise and tax-efficient approach of purchasing mutual funds for tax-advantaged accounts, not taxable ones). Since then, I have paid more attention to this notion, not in fear of turnover but recognition of its potential costs and benefits.
So, what is portfolio turnover and why does turnover matter?