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BRK is down with no bottom in sight. Timing is everything: I could have sold in 1998 at 80K and bought Treasuries. I could have sold last year at 149K. I did neither.

Does anyone else have similar regrets/
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100% of the time you will be able to pick times that you could have bought or sold at perfect levels. There is no sense in regretting that you didn't act on those prices, seen as highs with perfect hindsight.

You could have sold last year at $149k but you wouldn't have because you'd have hoped it would go to $160k in a week. That move from $120-150k was a quick one.

et
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You are right. The only principle I have learned is this: when things look too good to be real and you have enough, sell. I suppose the corollary is when things look too awful to be real,hold on. Of course I remember when the Nikkei was 39400 in 1989. Look at it today. I hope the US (and BRK) do not follow that path but I can't rule it out.
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Hedawei,

I think the problem you (and I, and many others) have is that you own so much BRK stock. We are not professional money managers and buying or selling such a large dollar amount of stock, simply by clicking a mouse at a specific moment in time, is very hard to do.

I knew.....I knew...I KNEW....that I should sell BRK at 150K. As a matter of fact I did...but I only sold about 5% of my stock. I just couldn't sell it all at once, it seemed too "scary". Eventually I sold about half of my BRK at 130K...I was more disgusted at the time and had more time to think.

Of course, now I'm trying to buy some back, an am having the same problem. I KNOW that BRK is a good buy at <100K, but I can't get myself to put in an open order to buy a large amount at a specific price.

Every single day, I mentally re-live that day when BRK was at 150K. I was at my computer, watching the price change, with my finger on the mouse...thinking, "I ought to sell it all, quit my job, and spend my days wandering around without a care in the world." At night, I would have posted messages on this board about how smart I was, and how stupid all of you are, for not selling. It would have been great.

....oh well.
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"Every single day, I mentally re-live that day when BRK was at 150K. I was at my computer, watching the price change, with my finger on the mouse...thinking, "I ought to sell it all, quit my job, and spend my days wandering around without a care in the world." At night, I would have posted messages on this board about how smart I was, and how stupid all of you are, for not selling. It would have been great."

Oh c'mon now. It will be at 5000 before you know it, just as soon as Mr. M recovers from his anxiety attack. Then you can lament all you want, once again, about the second time you tried to sell at 5000, but just couldn't pull the trigger. You'll have your shot again...the question is what will you do this time? Decisions, decisions....mmmm.
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If you could sell your BRK and actually quit your job and enjoy life to its fullest, or at least to a degree that would alleviate the stress of watching a stock fluctuate, I'd say go for it! I don't know where you should jump in or out, but if you believe the markets will eventually go up within what you consider an acceptable timeframe, get yourself prepared, buy on dips, and when it hits that high mark, sell and don't look back...and remember the rest of us who still have quite a ways to go...

best of luck (seriously)...and to be specific, GOOD luck...
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I sold at $140k, and I'm not buying back before 1 times book.
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BRK is down with no bottom in sight. Timing is everything: I could have sold in 1998 at 80K and bought Treasuries. I could have sold last year at 149K. I did neither.

Does anyone else have similar regrets/


I have held BRK.A since 1996, and have added B-shares since that time.

I sold a few shares of BRK.B (I mean well under 10 shares) in that time because I needed the money for short-term expenses. Those shares were not in my IRA.

But I do not have regrets because of my holding in the meanwhile. I have shares in what I believe to be a great company, and if the market goes up and down, that is what it does.

In fact, if it is down a lot the last day of the year, so much the better as it will reduce the size of my required distribution from my IRA, where some of my BRK.B is.
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"At night, I would have posted messages on this board about how smart I was, and how stupid all of you are, for not selling. It would have been great". hahahah

bbmd2 is already one of your favorite fools

and Dan Q who did get out at $150,000 is always so polite.
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100% of the time you will be able to pick times that you could have bought or sold at perfect levels. There is no sense in regretting that you didn't act on those prices, seen as highs with perfect hindsight.

Absolutely agree! Buying absolute bottoms and selling absolute tops is absolutely impossible except for rare instances of sheer luck.

That move from $120-150k was a quick one.

Yes, it was, which brings me to a rule I believe in more then ever which is TO ALWAYS SELL PARABOLIC MOVES AND NEVER BUY THEM EVEN IF YOU THINK THE VALUATION IS REASONABLE. Parabolic moves almost never hold. They almost always retrace. What do I mean by parabolic move? Well, we don't need to get super particular here with exact numbers to the decimal point. Very simply, it is a high percentage return in a short period of time. Clearly, Berkshire going from 3600 to 5000 from Aug 07 to Dec 07 was a parabolic move. Too much too fast. Was it overvalued at 5K? I really don't think so. Doesn't matter. It was too much too quick, and therefore should be sold. I didn't nail the top, but I posted in real time that I sold at 4600 and I outlined this exact specific reason why. Too bad I didn't follow the same logic with respect to my commodity and energy stocks in May-June 08.

IMO, I've concluded if you've got something that is up 50%+ in under 6 months, forget if the valuation is reasonable or undervalued or if you can make a case for it going even higher. Just automatically sell at least half. Chances are, 95%+ of the time the market will give you an opportunity to buy back in to the name much lower then your sell price if you are just patient.

BTW, bought some back at 3800 and Thursday at 3300. If by some chance the stock is able to move quickly to 5000 for whatever reason in the next 6-12 months, I'll be a seller even though I think 5000 is still undervalued. Odds are I'll get a chance to buy back under 4K again.
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"BTW, bought some back at 3800 and Thursday at 3300. If by some chance the stock is able to move quickly to 5000 for whatever reason in the next 6-12 months, I'll be a seller even though I think 5000 is still undervalued. Odds are I'll get a chance to buy back under 4K again". MDCigan

Is Buy and Hold truly dead? Must we all now be Day Traders? What Money Manager can do this for small accounts? I think things are getting much tougher for the Individual Investor with all of this volatility. If stock investing gets to be an extremely high maintencance, time consuming, past time I can see folks exiting the stock market. I think it is in all of our interests that the wild swings be lessened. This may be part of what Congress and the G20 Conference are focusing on, how to stabilize the markets as much as possible.
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To MD Cigan -

On your comment that if you have something that is up 50% in 6 months you should sell, in some cases you would be giving up quite a bit.

For example MCD bottomed on 3/11/03 at $12.38. If you would have sold with a 50% gain a few months after that at $18.57 you would have missed the continuing move up to today's current price of $56 (a 200% move).

sw
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Is Buy and Hold truly dead? Must we all now be Day Traders? What Money Manager can do this for small accounts? I think things are getting much tougher for the Individual Investor with all of this volatility. If stock investing gets to be an extremely high maintencance, time consuming, past time I can see folks exiting the stock market. I think it is in all of our interests that the wild swings be lessened. This may be part of what Congress and the G20 Conference are focusing on, how to stabilize the markets as much as possible.

I don't know. I was having this discussion with a regular poster and money manager yesterday.

Take WFC. In just the last 6 months, the stock has gone from 20 to 44 back to 28. It traded at both a 5-year LOW and 5-year HIGH within a few months. That is nuts. What do you do? Just ignore the volatility and hold or try to capitalize on it? Let's say WFC goes to 40 in the next 3 months? What do you do? That is close to a 50% gain! In 3 months. Is it overvalued at 40? Probably not. But I would be inclined to sell with the idea that I am likely going to get a chance to buy under 30 again.

I've got no crystal ball, but for a number of reasons I believe we are going to be in a 1-2 year highly volatile sideways trading range before a sustained uptrending bull market begins. So buy and hold might just be a wild ride to nowhere whereas trying to trade the ranges at least somewhat might provide some opportunities to pocket a quick 50% gain, wait for the sell-off, and rinse and repeat and do it again.

I'm still contemplating this. I haven't decided 100% on strategy and tactics, but I'm more inclined to sell a stock that has gone up 30 to 50% even if I think it is still undervalued because I'll probably get a chance to buy it even more undervalued again. I just don't think most stocks are going to trade up to "fair value" until this economic/financial mess gets worked through and my sense is this could take awhile and not be over in 6 months.

I've got one holding that I think is so ridiculously undervalued it is just laughable. I think it is worth 3x the current price easily, but I'll sell most if not all of it well below that fair value price as I am sure I'll get an opportunity to buy it cheaper anyways.

I guess I am thinking we are in an environment where you buy a .50 dollar and sell when it is a .70-.80 dollar because if you wait for 1.00 dollar you'll be waiting a long time, and in the meantime you can make money trading that .50 to .70 dollar range. Err on the side of taking profits when you have them on the presumption Mr. Market will serve up another opportunity to buy ridiculously cheap. Buy ridiculously cheap, and sell cheap.

Just thinking out loud.
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On your comment that if you have something that is up 50% in 6 months you should sell, in some cases you would be giving up quite a bit.

For example MCD bottomed on 3/11/03 at $12.38. If you would have sold with a 50% gain a few months after that at $18.57 you would have missed the continuing move up to today's current price of $56 (a 200% move).


True! But the cyclical bull market started in March 2003 so you had the tailwind of a bull market for 5 years while it made that move. Many people, especially those who fancy themselves bottoms up stock-pickers greatly underestimate the degree to which the overall market drives the performance of individual stocks.

So is the next cyclical bull market being born right now? I don't know, my crystal ball is hazy, but IMO the kind of damage done requires a lengthy repair process. Last time, the market consolidated for 9 months (July 02 through March 03) before making a sustained move up. I don't think right now there is much danger of selling a stock and watching it just go up and up and up and up.
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Watching CNBC "Fast Money" causes vertigo (why so much shouting?) and most ads on CNBC are for "trading schemes".

On the other hand, Bob Brinker, an acknowledged timing expert, has ridden the bull all the way down.

Most hedge funds and even the value experts with holdings summarized at

www.gurufocus.com

are hurting.

Don't beat yourself up. Even Warren admits that he can't time the markets.
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I agree with your comments on Fast Money but still enjoy watching the craziness of the show. Jeff Macke while obnoxious can still be occasinally entertaining. Macke seems to be a puzzlment of logical inconsistency:

- he contends that you should not buy now since there will be plenty of time to enter the bull market. "It doesn't matter if you miss the first 10%." But then he says that if you buy 10% rallies you are doing exactly the opposite of what you should be doing. So apparently 10% is not the magic number, but then what is???

- he stated boldly on Friday that the previous Oct. 10 bottom would be decisely challenged - we will go signficanly lower. But then one of his stated strategies is to own SDS (shorting the S&P 500) and then sell these when the market gets close to the Oct. 10 low. Such inconsistency.

- my guess at some point he will be shorting when the real rise upward starts and he will miss out on the first 30-40%.

Even Finerman who seems to be fundamentally based and has been openly critical of TA, stated recently that the "price action" of GS was indicating something was wrong. So much for fundamentals...


sw
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...the kind of damage done requires a lengthy repair process. Last time, the market consolidated for 9 months (July 02 through March 03) before making a sustained move up.

I agree that the economy will take a while to repair. I also agree that a flat but volatile market in the near-term is the most likely scenario.

The problem I have with the strategy of trying to capitalize on the near-term market swings is determining the re-entry points after selling after a fast run-up. At what price do I buy back in after selling? And how much risk am I willing to accept each time that my order to buy back in never gets executed? Are the near-term profits worth the risk of missing the much larger long-term gain?

The times I've used this strategy in the past, I invariably end up in a situation of continuously wondering what the market's going to do tomorrow, and whether my buy (and sell) orders are priced correctly for what the market's going to do next so I don't miss out on the big prize.

In theory it's a logical strategy, but in practice, for me at least, the uncertainty of trying to figure out what the market will do, and the resulting risk of losing a much larger long-term gain because of that uncertainty, make the potential short-term gains unattractive.
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