Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Investment Horizons Part 2: "There Will Be Headlines....."

This morning, on CNBC, an energy market guru was being interviewed to explain and predict oil and refined products prices, and the related prices of the companies that produce them.

During the conversation, the guy referred to the seemingly-unjustified rise in oil futures prices, given various inventories, drawdowns, seasonality of usage, etc. Then he said something pithy that made it all come together for me.

He said, "....well, this is largely a headline-driven market," after which he went on to explain that the various unexpected news regarding things like the Hess refinery being offline a week longer than expected was moving prices.

This elegantly and consisely states what I was grappling with in my earlier post on this topic....."There will be headlines."

Many investors, traders really, attempt to anticipate, and then trade on, actual headlines. And because those headlines are "news," they do move markets. But which headlines will occur on which days is, of course, impossible to predict consistently.

Thus, my strategy's style is to assume that "there will be headlines" over the long term, say, six months. I don't know which ones on which days, but it's a good bet that they will occur. Currently, my selection process has remained significantly invested in energy equities. It appears that, the incredible volatility of January and February notwithstanding, the headlines are even now pushing energy prices back up.

You would think that, from a distance, it would be clear that the global energy picture has not changed since Katrina in a way that will deliver substantially more supply to a growing global economic system. So my strategy's selections continue to include energy equities.

But, "there will be headlines." During the months I am holding energy stocks, other "investors" will be playing those daily headlines, like so many surfers trying to ride every big waved into the beach standing up. Rather than spending time and money trying to capture every headline's effect on the market, my research has convinced me that it's just as lucrative, but less risky, to get the longer-term trends right, and let the headline-chasers roil the daily markets without me.

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