As a matter of business practice (or perhaps of thorough-going conviction), the stock brokers and the investment services seem wedded to the principle that both investors and speculators in common stocks should devote careful attention to market forecasts.
The investor can scarcely take seriously the innumerable predictions which appear almost daily and are his for the asking.
In many cases, he pays attention to them and even acts upon them. Why?
Because he has been persuaded that it is important for him to form some opinion of the future course of the stock market and because he feels that the brokerage or service forecast is at least more dependable than his own.
This attitude will transform the typical investor into a market trader and will bring the typical investor nothing but regrets.
Timing in a Bull Market
During a sustained bull movement, when it is easy to make money by simply swimming with the speculative tide, he will gradually lose interest in the quality and the value of the securities he is buying and become more and more engrossed in the fascinating game of beating the market.
He begins by studying market movements as a "commonsense investment precaution" or a "desirable supplement to his study of security value"; he ends as a stock-market speculator, indistinguishable from all the rest.
Market Forecasting (or Timing)
A great deal of brain power goes into this field.
Undoubtedly some people can make money by being good stock-market analysts.
But it is absurd to think that the general public can ever make money out of market forecasts.
There is no basis either in logic or in experience for assuming that any typical or average investor can anticipate market movements more successfully than the general public, of which he is himself a part.
Timing and the Speculator
Timing is of great psychological importance to the speculator because he wants to make his profit in a hurry.
The idea of waiting a year before his stock moves up is repugnant to him.
Timing and the Investor
But a waiting period of such, is of no consequence to the investor.
- What advantage is there to him in having his money uninvested until he receives some (presumably) trustworthy signal that the time has come to buy?
- He enjoys an advantage only if by waiting he succeeds in buying later at a sufficiently lower price to offset his loss of dividend income.
Timing is of little value to the investor unless it coincides with pricing, that is, unless it enables him to repurchase his shares at substantially under his previous selling price.