2004 was not lenient on me in terms of portfolio performance. In my actively-managed accounts, namely after-tax account at AmeriTrade and Roth IRA accounts at Fidelity and BrownCo, I completed eight transactions, only to see a loss of $3,572.56 at year end. The ARR for the year is -11.40% vs S&P 500 gain of 8.99%. Not a good year at all!
To put it into more perspective, the loss in 2004 wiped out most of my gains in 2003. All in all, after 43 trades in the last five years, I only gained a total of $3,271.60 with an ARR of 5.1%. It is still better than the relative S&P 500 performance, but it is not the kind of performance I like to have.
If you paid a tuition of $3,272, you need to learn something, right? Here is what I learned:
First, I failed because I refused to admit my limitations. I started to become busy from my daily job since the middle of the year, and unlike before, I no longer have much time every time to track individual stocks, and read market commentaries. Now the reality is my workload from daily job will not go away any time soon (which is good for my career), I need to admit the fact that I probably will not succeed as a individual stock picker.
Second, I failed because I didn't stick to the rule of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). During the year, I did a handful of option trading, which didn't pay off as I expected. If I review my track record, my long positions actually win handsomely, but I am apparently not up to speed in terms of complicated transactions.
So here is my action plan for 2005:
1. Stay away from fancy investments;
2. Form my mutual fund strategy and become an armchair investor
3. Spend a little more time on stock picking and only stick to simple value plays.
Let's see how my 2005 strategy will bring me.