I recently got a copy and read Bob Moriarty’s new book called “Basic Investing in Resource Stocks: The Idiot’s Guide”, and thought I would do a quick review…
The book covers everything from the current state of the world, the metals, the different kinds of resource companies, how to go about investing and what tools that are important to use. It was an easy book to read, and I as a resource stock investor, really liked the content for a couple of reasons;
First (and most importantly) of all, this is not a “feel good book” that says a bunch of stuff, but at the same time, says nothing concrete at all. It’s a pragmatic one, written by a long term resource company investor. Bob has been in this business for a long time and has seen it all. He has seen the ups and downs of commodity cycles, and he has run across all types of people and companies. He knows all the shady tricks and all the pitfalls that most of us will have fallen into, on our way to (hopefully) enlightenment.
Bob explains key concepts with the help of anecdotes and real life examples, which makes them easier to understand, and will hopefully come in handy when the reader comes across different subjects in the future (like counter party risk).
While reading it, I made sure to copy/paste some key quotes into a word document, that I (especially) thought were important to always keep in the back of my head. Well, that document ended up being about five pages long, and that’s excluding Bob’s two lists with words of wisdom, where he synthesizes the main take aways.
Anyhow, I thought it would be a good idea to mention a few of the quotes that I had saved, and perhaps add on a few comments of my own. So I asked him for permission to do so and got this response:
“Any way you wish. The whole purpose of the book is to help investors. Anything that broadens their education is fine with me.
Suffice it to say, Bob would really like to see better informed investors. Better informed investors leads to more money in the hands of investors, more capital for honest and good companies, and less money in the hands of crooks (or “lifestyle companies” as Bob calls it)… A win-win-win.
Now, lets look at some of the many quotes:
“Someone has to pay for every mistake in one form or another, and it will be a lot cheaper for you if you listen as I explain how foolish I have been.”
… This is the reason why I never throw away books. They contain synthesized knowledge based on decades of experience and research. It’s good to make mistakes when you also learn from them, but it’s of course way more costly than learning from others mistakes. The key is to really understand what and why something went wrong though. If you make a mistake yourself, you will probably have a painful memory that reminds you not to “do that again”, but learning from others means you really have to hammer in the essence of said mistake.
“There is one thing I should include here: the basic liquidity of the market is an indication of where you are. At market bottoms you can’t give shares away; at tops, the market has total liquidity. So if you can sell shares easily, that is often a great indication of when to sell”
… This is an important concept to internalize; If there are no buyers, there is no greed, and possibly even big discounts in place. If a stock is doing well and there are tonnes of bids, then you know that you are not the first one in. With that said, this is more of a swing tactic to use when nothing has changed for a company on a fundamental basis, since there will of course always be bids if a company that just released company making news (That will take at least some time to be reflected in the share price).
“I’m going to show you how to do it, but you have to discard almost all of what you think you know. You have to learn the basics of investing that no one has ever bothered teaching you. You know how to add. You know how to read. You probably have some special skill that someone is willing to pay you for doing well. But as far as I know, there are no classes on how to invest, and if you are to profit, you have to know the basics.”
… This points out the fact that there is no class or golden formula out there that will allow you to beat the market. Believe me, I have taken finance and economics classes, and pretty much the only concepts that stuck and was worth its salt was “NPV” and “Opportunity Cost”, but nothing really to prepare me for investing in the resource sector.
“I don’t make any money because I am so smart; I get all my profit because other people are so foolish.”
… He points out that he has not done well for himself because of his smarts, but rather by not being foolish, unlike the herd. Human psychology is the enemy, and one must learn how to fight ones impulses, like fear and greed. Common sense and avoiding pit falls is the name of the game, so limit the costly mistakes that the majority will make, and most of the battle will be won already… Easier said than done of course(!)
“What I’m trying to say is that investing in juniors and making a profit has far
more to do with timing than with the commodity, the management, or country risk.
Those factors are all interesting but the phase of the investment cycle as measured
by sentiment is far more important.”
… This was a gruesome lesson to learn for me personally, but market psychology (cycles) trumps all. When the cycle is up, everyone allows themselves to price in a rosy future for any company (and they buy accordingly). When the cycle is down, investors instead only focuses on risks and no price seems low enough to price them in (and they sell accordingly). It makes me think of another quote by Bob that goes something like this: “At a bottom, everyone is looking for a reason to sell”.
“As an investor, you must use every possible sentiment indicator you can get
your hands on.”
… the importance of sentiment is something that Bob mentions a lot in this book, and something I am slowly trying to cement in the back of my head. Unloved (for whatever reason) or unknown stocks is what one should look to buy.
“Investment advice and information comes in two flavors, signal and noise. That which is signal gives you potentially valuable information that you can use to make intelligent investment decisions. But noise does little more than confuse the listener. Not everything you hear or read helps you.”
… This is important because there might be bulls, bears, pumpers and/or bashers that harp on about certain things that might be trivial for a company in the grand scheme of things. This is noise vs signal concept also includes daily vs longer term stock movements, as Bob describes it in the book. A stock might go up or down on any given day based on nothing, and should thus be considered noise. Buffet famously mentions that “mr market” is schizophrenic and that he loves to take advantage of short term declines (noise). Suffice it to say, the signal vs noise problem is something that is prevalent from micro (company fundamentals) to macro (trends) and should be something to take into account at all times.
The book covered more subjects than I first thought and is an invaluable source of knowledge for anyone investing in this sector. There are loads of quotes and bullet points that I myself am planning to print out and put up on the wall, since keeping the common (human) pitfalls in mind at all times is a very big step towards beating the market.
(I have not received any payment to write this article. Bob was kind enough to send me a copy for free and I thought it was a good idea to write about the book coupled with some thoughts of my own.)
The Hedgeless Horseman
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