risk, diversification, and when to sell in .NET framework

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risk, diversification, and when to sell
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declined to about 5 percent, implying an average holding period of about 20 years This analysis does not fully capture Buffett s strong belief in longterm investing Since some of Berkshire s investments are for short-term arbitrage, this computation is conservative in reporting the average holding period Nevertheless, 10 to 20 years is still a very long holding period I can only imagine how few investors have such lengthy holding periods Part of the reason Buffett holds his stocks for such a long time must be that he acquires a considerable amount of knowledge about the company before he acquires stock in the company Long-term investments best serve those who, like Buffett, buy because they know a lot about the company and have con dence in its long-term prospects You could divide your portfolio into permanent, or core, holdings and an other category consisting of stocks you would like to learn more about With time and further examination, you eventually decide whether to purchase more of the stocks in the second category or to sell off the shares you have, depending on your more educated opinion of the companies potential Buffett writes, [W]hen we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever 2 Why is it a good thing to hold stocks forever It is only preferable when the business is expected to give a satisfactory return forever Such stocks, on average, do not come from high-tech or hot industries This may sound counterintuitive, but most high-tech businesses do not survive for a long time If you invest in high-tech companies, you are likely to lose more often than when you invest in low-tech If you invest with an intention to preserve your capital, you should not invest in high-tech companies unless you are extremely knowledgeable about the company High-tech stocks are extremely volatile and fraught with risk How about returns People often argue that businesses from everyday, low-tech industries cannot earn high returns Buffett has repeatedly proved them wrong Businesses perform well even if they are from traditional industries when they are leaders in their industries and when they are run by owneroriented managers Owner orientation is especially important in this case because managers must know when not to throw good money after bad They must make dif cult decisions If Berkshire Hathaway
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When to Sell
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had not been in such good hands in the 1960s, management probably would have tried to survive in the dying textile business rather than taking money out of it Berkshire pulled out of the textile business, while several other companies stayed in and went bankrupt In 2009, most people would agree that one reason General Motors faces such trouble is that the management never made the right call on hard decisions If General Motors had not expanded by buying companies around the world and starting new brands, it would have given satisfactory returns to its shareholders Overall, Buffett s principles of investing in easy-tounderstand (low-tech) companies with excellent management and then holding them forever go hand and hand Together, they produce high rates of return Of course, Buffett does not hold every stock forever To get a better idea of Buffett s thoughts on when to sell, let s examine some of Berkshire s major sales
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Two Main Reasons to Sell
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Buffett has periodically sold Berkshire s major holdings, including McDonald s in 1998, Travelers in 1998, Disney in 1999, Freddie Mac in 2000, and PetroChina in 2007 The latest reported market values of these stocks were $14 billion, $13 billion, $15 billion, $39 billion, and $40 billion, respectively First and foremost, investors should sell when they conclude that they have made a mistake Sometimes, tax losses can be balanced against gains to reduce the overall tax bite One major mistake, which Buffett admitted, was the purchase of ConocoPhillips stock from 2006 to 2008 for $70 billion By the end of 2008, the market value of the $7 billion investment had declined to $44 billion, a slide of 33 percent, which was in line with the drop in the stock market In 2009, Berkshire sold 16 percent of its ConocoPhillips holdings and reported plans to sell more in the near future What remains a mystery to me is the reason for this purchase The simple explanation that he was betting that oil prices would rise is not convincing because oil prices had already gone up several hundred percent in the prior few years And Buffett could have simply bet on oil in the futures market
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