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New York, New York (Time Magazine), Monday, May 25, 1959, 12:00:00 EDT
RE: A Financial Documentary of the Astounding Success of Nicolas Darvas
Dear stock investor,
It was the last early summer of the 1950s.
The Darvas brother and sister dance team were as entrenched in the media then as Circe de Soleil is today. Their graceful dances delighted television viewers in Europe and America.
The Darvas name was regarded with respect in show business circles in Las Vegas, New York, Toronto and far overseas. Nicolas Darvas had cemented his name in the public conscious as one of the best dancers worldwide.
ATTENTION: Updated Thursday, August 25, 2016, 12:35 P.M.
Celebrities were shocked when a full page article in Time Magazine covered Nicolas not as a dancer but as a rich stock investor "who ignores tips, financial stories and broker’s letters." This was followed with a 1960 book entitled, “How I Made $2,000,000 In The Stock Market.” The book fell out of favor when business schools began teaching that the market could not be beaten by reasoned analysis.
And by The Way, He Made $2.5 Million in 6.5 Years.
Away from the public hidden underneath arcane math exists recent evidence from the very top of investing that Darvas was correct. See ** Moskowitz, T., Cliff Asness and Lasse Pedersen, “Value and Momentum Everywhere,” Journal of Finance (2012).
World class performance comes from world class brains. Darvas studied at the University of Budapest — the most erudite of Hungary.
He was trained not just in classical dance but also as an economist.
Economics paid less than dance. But he was a brilliant scholar with precise organization.
This allowed him to precisely document his agonies and elations on a trade-by-trade basis, “I decided I had been missing a good thing all my life. I made up my mind to go into the stock market. I have never gone back on this decision.” -Nicolas Darvas
Learn What Worked from A Major State University Finance Professor!
You can read his book but will you really understand it? Not likely.
I don’t want to push your buttons. I am just pointing out that most of my adult life has been a sole minded dedication to mastering finance.
Just read my Udemy profile. I am a finance professor at a major state university — The University of Puerto Rico Graduate School of Business. We are the leading business school in the Caribbean.
Look Over My Shoulder as I Dissect Nicolas Darvas’ Secrets For You …
Thousands of MBA students grasp the deepest principles of finance in my classes. They work in diverse industries from pharmaceuticals to Wall Street.
I train these professional financial managers. And I can train you to go toe-to-toe against the wolves of Wall Street.
Level the playing field with the skills you will learn in this course. And you will improve over the years to come.
I am your ultimate financial coach. I know how to guide you through chunks of financial knowledge that are hard for all.
That’s because I have trained thousands of young adults in finance. Let me guide you through the black forest.
Here Are The 25 School of Hard Knocks Worst Challenges for Beginning Stock Investors …
Nicolas Darvas faced many of the same challenges at the start that I have. That is part of the reason that his classic book rings so true for so many stock investors in-the-know today. Here is a sample of difficulties Darvas had to overcome.
CHALLENGE #1: BLIND LUCK. The first profit in stocks Darvas landed was not from his own thought process making him naively believe investing was easy.
CHALLENGE #2: GOSSIP. Nicolas Darvas in realizing that he knew nothing about stocks seeks the wisdom of random strangers leading to a chaotic portfolio from asking “Do you know a good stock?”
CHALLENGE #3: MISFEASANCE. Neither casual acquaintances in his travels nor brokers know the secret to making money in stocks.
CHALLENGE #4: COSTS. Brokerage commissions and transfer taxes decimate the initial stock market returns of Nicolas Darvas — and he realizes he must control them.
CHALLENGE #5: OVER-TRADING. Darvas fidgets for fast profits spreading his stake between upwards of thirty stocks — degrading control and tracking while ramping up account depleting fees.
CHALLENGE #5: LOSER-LOVE. Nicolas became attached to particular stocks giving him the proclivity of holding loss exploding falling shares.
CHALLENGE #6: GAMBLERS-ANNONYMOUS. On stage this trained dancer was the pinnacle of disciplined control. Chasing a fast buck over-trading stocks was quickly losing him two hundred dollars a day.
CHALLENGE #7: GURUS. Nicolas Darvas was attracted to advisory service that made speculation sound like a snap and fed his need for urgently making money fast but recommended falling stocks. Have you been spending hundreds or even thousands on investment newsletter financial advisory services? If so, you have probably asked yourself, “where are all those hundred percent returns promised in the glossy marketing?”
CHALLENGE #8: DATES. The famous dancer does not know when to enter the market. This pulls eleven thousand dollars down to five thousand eight hundred.
CHALLENGE #9: TIPS. A broker offers up advice in the form of a safe stock based on fundamentals — that drops. Brokers are bad for advice as well.
CHALLENGE #10: PROJECTION. Darvas is quick to blame his broker for mistakes truncating his ability to learn.
CHALLENGE #11: IGNORANCE. Even the greatest dancer in the world is a dunce without an understanding of the jargon making it hard for Nicolas to communicate clearly with his broker — remember that this was before online trading and retail stock investors had to have a broker.
CHALLENGE #12: VISION. Nicolas Darvas quickly realizes that he cannot see the strongest trees in the forest and sets out to find the most strongly rising stocks.
CHALLENGE #13: LIQUIDITY. Darvas has a hard time reselling his small stocks in the chaotic discontinuously trading over-the-counter (OTC) market.
CHALLENGE #14: INSIDE-IDIOTS. The Hungarian trained economist gone world class classical dancer begins tracking inside trades of the largest executives. He quickly finds that insiders don’t know any more about the direction of the stocks of the firms they manage than you do! And we confirmed this “too-late-too-soon” factoid in Brown, S., Cao-Alvira, J. & Powers, E. (2013). Do Investment Newsletters Move Markets? Financial Management, Vol. XXXXII, (2), 315-338.
CHALLENGE #15: OVER-CONFIDENCE. Fundamental filtering as is done widely with Value-Line leads Nicolas into the limbo land of false-hope.
CHALLENGE #16: REGRET-AVOIDANCE. If Darvas were alive today, he would be glued to the screen for fear of a loss on his stock. He wastes massive amounts of energy over-monitoring his equity returns.
CHALLENGE #17: TOPPING-OUT. Buying into the very top of a run burns Nicolas out so he focuses on price consolidations he terms “boxes.”
CHALLENGE #18: EXHAUSTION. Chasing stocks just because they rise brings his attention too late by the time the broker calls.
CHALLENGE #19: COIN-FLIP. Making more on profitable trades than is lost on losers becomes his mantra as he realizes that he is never better at picking a winner than a simple coin toss — but that is pretty darn good!
CHALLENGE #20: DATA. Darvas realizes that he must have access to high quality data on not just price but also volume.
CHALLENGE #21: PAPER-TRADE-THIS. Nicolas eventually figures out that paper trading gets him nowhere — he has to be emotionally involved.
CHALLENGE #22: DIONYSUS. In embracing the central truth that stocks owned and watched make unexplained price collapses — and in so realizing understands that he is as knowledgeable as any guru.
CHALLENGE #23: TAX-PARALYSIS.
Many people hold on to stocks for more than a year for a lower tax rate on capital rather than short-term gains. He decides that he has to sell even if the taxes on his gains will he higher.
CHALLENGE #24: BUY-&-CRUMBLE. Holding stocks for very long periods of time doesn’t work for Nicolas Darvas — buy-&-hold strategies he decides are for gamblers,
CHALLENGE #25: CYCLE. Nicolas notices that stocks cycle from small to large in and out of fad creating even less predictability.
Darvas was gifted enough to find his own way up and out into the light from deep within his initial darkness in Plato’s cave with secrets he willingly shared to those even unborn who could understand.
Here’s 15 Cures for The 25 Worst Challenges for Stock Investors …
CURE #1: TABLES. Tracking the relationship between volume and price allowed Darvas to identify stocks with sudden explosions of volume.
CURE #2: MOMENTUM. Simply buying stocks that are rising saves Nicolas Darvas.
CURE #3: TRADING-VOLUME. The highest money makers are stocks with fast rising prices on accelerating volume.
CURE #4: BUSINESS. Darvas treats his stock investing as a business by giving it the required attention.
CURE #5: CHANNELS. Trend consolidations map entry and exit points for Darvas.
CURE #6: BUY-STOP. Runaway stocks are captured from above by a simple limit stop buy order.
CURE #7: SELL-STOP. A simple sell limit stop-order saves Nicholas Darvas from being wrong half of the time.
CURE #8: TEST-PURCHASE. Test purchase of 4 or fewer stocks work for Nicholas Darvas like risk cutting little experimental oil wells in wildcatting.
CURE #9: GODZILLA. A slumping stock market can stomp out even the strongest stock with the same dynamic as when Bambi Meets Godzilla in 1969 — watch the classic movie on YouTube for more.
CURE #10: BOTTOM-LINE. Sharply up trending earnings foretell the strongest of the strong rising stocks on pumped up volume.
CURE #11: NEWCOMERS. Overtime the most important hunting ground for Darvas is new industries — these are more important than specific products within those sectors.
CURE #12: MARGIN. Leverage dramatically increases the portfolio beta and the gain for Nicolas Darvas — today we use deep in the money call options.
CURE #13: SAFETY. A critical rule becomes the resolute decision to never feed passive losses with active income.
CURE #14: ENTITY. Nicolas Darvas could have used a corporate structure to reduce taxes — learn more inside.
CURE #15: ISOLATION. Independent thought becomes the saving grace for Darvas he can only find through solitude as he stops all gossip and chat calls.
Once Darvas understood what worked he began to reap huge benefits…
Nab These 5 Advantages of Curing the 25 Worst Stock Investing Challenges
ADVANTAGE #1: SCHOOLED. Develop a broad financial vocabulary to condense investment data into your Holy grail to finding the fastest rising momentum stocks.
ADVANTAGE #2: CONCENTRATION. Focusing on no more than ten  stocks at a time kept Nicolas Darvas attentive to just his most worthwhile finds.
ADVANTAGE #3: PROFICIENCY. Mastering a compact group of essential skills gives you massive advantages as was so for our dancing economist.
ADVANTAGE #4: PEACE. Maturity as a stock investor brings the wisdom of simply reversing, and learning from, mistakes. This gives you an unexpected benefit of having your safety net in place.
ADVANTAGE #5: WORTH.
And just as Akhrot becomes the richest man in Babylon so did Nicholas Darvas continue to enrich himself with the knowledge herein.
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“I started by taking a finance refresher with Robert Schiller’s openYale course on Financial Markets. Then through a book recommendation for How I Made $2,000,000, I came across your Nicholas Darvas course which I thoroughly enjoyed. I think its your teaching style coupled with the simplistic message of volume, earnings, and making decisions as an individual that intrigue me. My finance courses in the past would teach you about equations and fundamentals, but you never encounter any real coaching on how to effectively invest.” -Gavin Ripley, MBA North Carolina; March 15, 2015
“Listening to the Darvas Lecture with my 15-year-old now. He is developing an interest in the markets without me ever even talking about it. You are the perfect teacher for all ages.” -Jeff
“You are a great teacher, mentor and writer. I wish i could articulate my gratitude for you, but I would fail miserably. To put in the present day vernacular- YOU ROCK MAN! So PLEASE keep on rockin. Well, I'm going to go...I'm getting all misty.” -T-Bone
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This material will take you time to learn. The longer you wait to learn this the more opportunities you will have missed.
Enroll Now to Super-Charge your Investment Education!
Dr. Scott Brown, Associate Professor of Finance of the AACSB Accredited Graduate School of Business of the University of Puerto Rico
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|Section 1: True Story of Personal Transformation of One of America's Leading Stage Dancers!|
Nicolas Darvas is the only highly successful stock investor with the discipline and training to document and describe his entire sequence of trades that grew about $36,000 into 2.5 million in about six and a half years in the 1950s.
The financial media have decried his results.
Yet recent research from the very top of financial economics proves each of the rules that Nicolas Darvas used to become a multi-millionaire in the stock market from a small wad of cash.
Dr. Scott Brown Explains the Importance of the Nicolas Darvas Stock Records.
I started my path in financial stewardship as the broke son of a wealthy optometrist. I thought getting a prestigious MBA in international finance would help me regain the financial stature of my family that was lost when my father died of cancer at the age of 48.
I was 19 years old.
My grandmother was ripped off by an account churning crook posing as a licensed stock broker for Dean, Whitter, Reynolds. Don’t believe any of that crud in the Will Smith movie in “Pursuit of Happyness” about having your interests at heart.
I learned that lesson through my family in my teens that unbeknownst to me Nicolas had learned a few decades before: don’t deal with brokers as anything but order takers. Best yet do anything possible to avoid talking with a broker.
Do it yourself!
My stock investing results were very marginal using anything related to the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM). Clearly indexing in any form was a very slow route no matter now much my finance professors loved the concept.
Then I published a popular stock investing course through the Oxford Club.
They have the most highly regarded investment newsletters in the industry. I was still not extracting returns above the indexes following any of their editor ideas. These newsletters proved utterly worthless.
Over time I realized that holding a portfolio of 20 stock recommendations, no matter how well touted, I would never beat the indexes.
I had spent thousands of hours getting a Ph.D. in finance from a highly accredited state university, poured over tens if not hundreds of thousands of price charts, applied nearly every tactic in the textbooks. But, to little avail.
Then I read the 1950s investing best seller by Nicolas Darvas entitled “How I made $2,000,000 in the Stocks Market.”
I had spent so much of my life dedicated to finance that the hair on my arms stood on end as I read the book. What I was reading was not only documented by Time Magazine but also dovetailed perfectly into major anomalies documented in modern research from financial economics from schools like Harvard and Oxford.
I extracted returns over sixty percent two years in a row in 2013 and 2014 with calls the same way Darvas used rights. I don’t just teach this stuff … I TRADE IT!
Nicolas Darvas is the only highly successful stock investor with the discipline and training to document and describe his entire sequence of trades that grew US ~$36,000 into $2.5 million in about six and a half years in the 1950s.
Knuckleheads in the financial media immediately decried his results.
Yet recent research from the very top of financial economics has proven each of the rules that Nicolas Darvas used to become a multi-millionaire in the stock market from a small wad of cash.
Make sure you order his bestselling book, “How I Made $2,000,000 in the Stock Market” on Amazon right now. This essential reading will help you better understand this course.
I won’t stop in explaining why what Darvas did is so brilliant. You will discover modern research at the pinnacle of academic financial economics. I will also share important practical insights from two other extremely important traders.
The first is W.D. Gann who retired as the wealthiest single investor of the last century. He followed a stock trading system that was very like that of Darvas. “The W. D. Gann Master Commodities Course” is highly recommended, available on Amazon, and lays bare his technical methodology. You will see the striking similarities with the system Nicolas Darvas used.
The second famous trader I will map to Darvas is the opposite of W.D. Gann. He did many things right in concentrating his positions and holding out for long periods.
But, Jesse Livermore refused to use stop orders.
This wiped him out multiple times. The same brokerage W.D. Gann used was wiped out in one of Jesse Livermore’s bankruptcies.
Reckless trader Livermore eventually ended his life in suicide with a gun blast to the head. Risk controlled W.D. Gann lived through two happy marriages. He was widowed from his first.
Livermore died broke while Gann died as one of the richest men in the world.
Jesse Livermore and his methods are outlined in “How to Trade in Stocks” and “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.” These can be ordered on Amazon.
You will be way ahead of the game after reading these 4 new books on your stock trading essentials bookshelf.
Get the Most Out of this Course on Nicolas Darvas!
The most important task ahead of you is to master the core knowledge of this essential course on stock investing. General questions are best posted in the discussion area.
This helps other students in our community.
If you have a question of a personal nature contact me directly. -Doc Brown
|Section 2: SECTION 1: CANADIAN PERIOD|
Brilund Mining Yields Darvas CDN$8,000 From $3,000 on the Toronto Stock Exchange
How it all started ….
In November 1952 Nicolas Darvas is paid CDN $3,000 to dance. He is given 6,000 shares BRILUND [Brilund Mining] stock worth 50¢ Canadian per share on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE). Two months pass. Nicolas discovers BRILUND stock is trading at CDN$1.90. He sells it for CDN$8,000.
This yields a fast CDN$5,000 profit.
Nicolas Darvas writes “I decided I had been missing a good thing all my life. I made up my mind to go into the stock market. I have never gone back on this decision.”
Nicolas knew absolutely nothing about the stock market. He made his first stock market profit out of sheer luck. He realizes that his big problem is “how to start?” He has no idea how to know what to buy? Darvas decides he must find more information.
He decides as his first potential solution that rich people must know about stocks!
Lake Wobegon Hot Stock Tips
He had a people problem…
He asked wealthy people at the clubs at which he danced about stocks. Everybody did seem to know one – a good stock. Everybody had the secret. He bought stock in companies he could not pronounce.
What they did and where they came from, he had no idea. Asking people, “Do you know a good stock?” is a solution that NEVER works Nicolas Darvas decides.
And he had a broker problem …
Do you know a good reliable broker?” Nicolas is directed by a show person in New York to a financial dawdler with a broker license. The “statistically minded” Canadian broker recommends EASTERN MALARTIC. He explains how the dividend stock is paying 4 times more than the cost.
But he fails to mention that this is because he has held it for an eternity. He reckons they have gold mines capable of double present production.
Therefore, the $2.90 stock would soon be worth $10. Nicolas eagerly buys 1,000 shares at $2.90.
The stock drops. He sells within weeks at $2.41 This is a $490 loss.
Nicolas concludes that brokers do not have the answer to making a fortune in the stock market. His new problem is compulsive gambling: Darvas goes on following any tip but seldom makes money.
Nicolas Did Not Understand Broker’s Commissions and Taxes!
He buys 10,000 KAYRAND for 10¢. The next day KAYRAND went to 11¢ a share. Nicolas reckons that he has garnered a $100 fast profit in 24 hours.
Toronto Stock Exchange
His Canadian broker explains that he has incurred a loss due to a $50 commission per half turn = $100 in and out. And additional transfer taxes applied.
He jumped in and out of the market like a grasshopper…delighted to make just 2 points. A point in stocks is $1.
Nicolas often owned 25 to 30 stocks at a time all in small parcels during this period. He is too spread out.
He develops an emotional problem. For some of his stocks he acquired a special liking. Other times it was because he started out making money with them.
He had started to keep “pets.” He praised their virtues day and night. He talked about them as one talks about his children.
His pet stocks were causing him the heaviest losses. He was holding a lot of stock which was slumped well below the price he had paid for it and looked like it was staying there.
Hunches and Wild Guessing
à His Search for Rising Stock Unravels into Hunches and Wild Guessing
Nicolas Darvas does not try to understand the stock trades he is making. He does not consider technical or fundamental factors during his Canadian period. He follows wild “hunches” entirely out of the blue.
He follows stocks based on circumstantial meetings, rumors of rare earth, tales of the oil patch, or anything at all related to the stock market anybody happens to tell him.
And just like chimpanzees who hit the food button more when payouts are random an occasional profit gave him false hope. The stock gain is the carrot. Lost opportunity was the stick. And, he was the donkey. He loses three thousand on bad stocks.
He does not know what he is doing. But he feels ahead because he has his original $3K.
Seeking Professional Assistance
Obsessed by His Carrot-before-the-nose Gains — He Had Not Noticed He was Losing!
This gambling problem presents Darvas with his first stock market dilemma. He is confused and has no idea how to move ahead. He decides that there must be a guru somewhere who can help him.
Nicolas Darvas pondered in frustration.
He looks for professional assistance. Darvas subscribes to investment newsletters. These give stock tips.
He decides that he needs to follow the advice of an expert rather than a novice. He is convinced that investment newsletters will help him succeed.
Investment Newsletter Services
Investment advice subscription services made stock market investing sound so easy … like 1-2-3. These services made such proclamations as,
Such important sounding information sounded true. In fact, it sounded red-hot!
This had to be more reliable than talking with people in a hotel diner.
The newsletter editors could read his mind. They knew how he felt and his condition.
This pulled Darvas in! Nicolas was “the little guy who needed help….” He should have been helped by a shrink for his naiveté.
Recommendations Invariably Slumped!
The Stock Each Investment Newsletter Recommended Invariably Slumped!
Darvas would urgently dash to his (land-line) phone to buy a recommended stock. It would drop.
He was not worried. Nicolas was convinced that the investment newsletter editor knew what he was talking about.
The guru was his friend and trusted, after all. The next recommended stock must rise.
Stock recommendations seldom did.
Over time he figured out that when investment newsletters recommended stocks, professionals who bought in lower sold. Money that entered the market on newsletter tips was from suckers.
The newsletter editor made his subscriber feel like the fastest with the most. But in reality they were the last with the least.
Retail investor money is too tiny to hold up stock prices once the pros begin selling out on a stock tip from a newsletter.
But Darvas had no idea at the time. He just thought that it was bad luck that investment-newsletter-recommended stocks tanked after he bought them.
Rethinking His Plan
Nicolas Darvas is Forced to Rethink His Stock Market Trading Plan; From Scratch!
A year passes. He finds himself at the end of 1953.
His $11K was down to $5.8K. Head waiter stock rumors flopped. Wealthy business folk tips tanked. Investment newsletter recommendations proved worthless.
Darvas reads Barron’s, the New York Times, and the New York Herald Tribune. He also reads the Wall Street Journal. He ponders mysterious jargon such as “over the counter.”
He decides that the largest stock market on earth in New York is right for him. He sells everything. The only Canadian stock he holds is OLD SMOKY GAS & OILS.
His 19 cent stock sells for 10. He sustains a painful 47% loss.
A theater manager directs him to a New York Broker. He gives him the fictitious name of Lou Keller in the book.
Yale Finance Professor Andrew Metrick Proves Poor Investment Newsletter Returns!
In October of 1999 professor Andrew Metrick of the New York University Stern School of Business published an important article in the #1 ranked Journal of Finance. This paper showed that the investment newsletters compiled in the Mark Hulbert Financial Digest exhibit lackluster returns.
Andrew Metrick. 1999. Performance Evaluation with Transactions Data: The Stock Selection of Investment Newsletters. Journal of Finance 54(5). 1743-1775.
The negative alpha professor Metrick documented was directly experienced by Nicolas Darvas.
The desire to follow a newsletter came from Darvas’ initial lack of confidence. As he grew into an intelligent investor he learned to think for himself.
And that is the primary mission of this course. To get you to think for yourself when it comes to your investments.
CFA Institute: More Proof of Poor Investment Newsletter Returns!
In 2013 Georgetown University CFA Claire Emory wrote a summary of our article in the CFA Digest. Her work condenses Brown, Cao, and Powers “Do Investment Newsletters Move Markets” published in Financial Management in 2013.
We find that newsletter recommendations send a lightning bolt of volume into the market for the recommended stock.
This drives the share price upward with the greatest strength in the first day. Volume and price impact dissipate for another two weeks of trading.
But most of the impact is felt in the first two days.
The stock gives up a lot of its initial gains over time. Jensen’s Alpha is slightly negative for the newsletter we study despite short term advances in returns.
Claire felt our study is important for the investing community and concludes, “On the one hand, investment professionals interested in identifying short-term excess returns might find such opportunities intriguing. On the other hand, advisers and retail investors interested primarily in focusing on long-term returns and keeping costs low would likely view the authors’ research as confirmation of their belief that simplicity trumps complexity for the average individual investor.”
|Quiz 1||10 questions|
The beginning was rough for Darvas. I can’t imagine the effort it took to work on stocks after a day of strenuous physical exercise.
This quiz tests your knowledge of what Darvas learned in this period.
Many stock investors fail to evolve to higher levels. Notice that Darvas became trapped in different forms of circular thinking.
|Section 3: SECTION 2 — ENTERING WALL STREET|
Opening an account in New York makes Nicolas feel like he is moving up on the financial front. He was engaging in something respectable. He decides to shun the kind of gambling he did in Canada.
Humility to Jubilee
He decides to move more slowly, study more carefully and be less impulsive in his interactions with the stock market. He counts his stake. He began with eleven thousand that included $3,000 invested in Brilund and profits of $8,000.
Nicolas Darvas Moves His Momentum Stock Investment to New York in United States!
Over 14 months in Canada his $11,000 had eroded to just $5,200. Nicolas saves up $4,800 from show business activities to round his stock investing bank roll to $10,000.
Darvas casually asks his new broker Lou Keller “what was good.”
Lou recommends several fundamentally “safe stocks” because of share splits, increases in dividends, or higher earnings. His broker only “suggests.” Giving orders to his broker makes Nicolas feels in command and important.
3 Typical Trades
Profits, profits, profits.
Very Small Returns
Don't Confuse Brains with a Bull Market
Nicolas Darvas has no idea that he is smack dab in the middle of the biggest bull market the world had seen. This had grown over time after the great crash a few decades before. He notes that it is very easy to profit because of the bullishness.
Movements in the market index explain a third to half of the return in any given stock per the Carhart 4 Factor Capital Asset Pricing (CAPM) model. You can see this by looking at the adjusted r-squared values in the model that range between 0.30 and 0.50 for the market index factor.
He makes profits on three deals in a row making him feel like a “natural in Wall Street” in 1954.
A fast $1,333.38 in a few short weeks in the 1st quarter of 1954 makes him feel like a superstar. Smooth and simple they gave him the illusion of control. This masked the fact that his new approach was no better. After all, a broker’s advice is professional information and not a tip.
The information he was receiving he views as pure economics and no fluff.
Impulsiveness Almost Destroys Chances of Stock Market Success
He was making profits everywhere and had high confidence. Unlike Canada he felt like Midas on Wall Street.
He builds a portfolio worth $14,600 from his ten grand. A bump in the road now and then did not bother him.
He patted himself on the back when he made money. Darvas blamed his broker when he lost.
He traded continuously. He pestered his broker up to twenty times a day.
He bought stocks the way a toddler reaches toward the store shelf from inside mom’s shopping cart.
Financial Vocabulary Gives Darvas Lay of the Game
He clears a buck eighty-nine after all this busy activity without accounting for his phone bill. And this is not the only thing nagging him. Nicolas Darvas doesn’t understand the financial vocabulary spoken by his stock broker.
This puts the dancer back to the books. He studies concepts of capitalization, dividends, earnings, per-share earnings. Assets, yields, bonds, stocks, and profits are analyzed conceptually.
The vast written knowledge inspires Nicolas.
He starts to discern data quality with care. He continues his quest chronicling, “After all, somewhere there must be a big, sound Wall Street stock that could do as well for me as what I now considered a ‘little penny stock.’”
He subscribes to Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch’s rating services: He understood little except that they were highly respectable sounding but did not tell him which stock would actually rise.
Darvas begins reviewing other sources of stock market information off of newspapers, newsletters, and book jackets. He subscribed to every service he could find or could find him by mailing list.
Even today financial newsletter marketers such as those in the Oxford Club maintain these lists. He was astonished to discover that services were highly contradictory.
One service wrote “sell” while another wrote “buy. These were done in the most arm’s length wording designed to protect the editor or publisher rather than Nicolas Darvas.
These writers expressed themselves in vague language such as “Should be bought on dips.” Or “Buy on reactions.” Not one service explained exactly what a dip or reaction was.
But he was hooked to what was in reality diatribe to his account balance. He ignored the signs in his haste to find stocks that only rose.
Mailing Lists Send Sexy Stock Sales Booklets
Nicolas Darvas is on the mailing list of the biggest advisory services on Wall Street. These publish glossy and expensive booklets on a stock 5 or 6 times a year. Darvas did not understand the contents.
But he was deeply impressed by Emerson which one report explained should be — but was not — worth between thirty and thirty-five a share.
The stock was going for just twelve bucks at the time. Nicolas buys in at twelve and a half.
His sure fire glossy play begins to drop. This perplexes him and he sells.
By the end of nineteen fifty-six the stock hits five and three quarters with no bottom in sight.
He still believes that whomever created the glossy report held nothing but goodwill for his readers. Over time he learns that stocks recommended by advisory services tend to drop. In his studies he reads the Wall Street saying, “You cannot go broke taking a profit.”
Net Loss of $461.21
He buys shares of Kaiser Aluminum. It is 1955 in February.
He jumps to Boeing. The stock drops.
He hops to Magma Copper.
This chain of trades generates a net loss of $461.21. But Kaiser Aluminum rises all along.
Darvas gave up $1,748.75 that he would have made sitting put in Kaiser Aluminum doing nothing.
Rayonier does the same into March 1955 from November before.
Fidgeting for Action churns account
Nicolas dances in and out of stocks. Rayonier soars from fifty to a hundred a share in 8 months.
This would have landed him profits of $2,612.48. Rather he nets $195.02 from $2,417.46.
Buy Low and Sell High!
“Buy low and sell high” sounded a lot better than “You cannot go broke taking a profit.”
But he had no idea where to find cheap stocks. Then he stumbles on the Over-the-Counter (OTC) market.
These are not well regulated. They are not listed.
Not many people recognize these companies.
He subscribes to Over-the-Counter Securities Review monthly.
Nicolas purchases shares of Pacific Airmotive. It was unknown even at the time. Another obscure OTC start-up was Collins Radio.
Gulf Sulphur was some strange chemical company. Another unlisted fly by night was Doman Helicopter.
Kennametal was a resource company that nobody knew of except Darvas. Then there was Tekoil Corporation that never rose above ground.
And he buys other even lesser known stocks. Darvas has a hard time selling these stocks.
These stocks are hard to sell even at his entry price. This is because the bid and the ask are at very different levels.
He may try to sell for $42 but can only get somebody else to buy at $38.
Investing in stocks over-the-counter is only for those specialized to do so. He decides that OTC trading is not profitable for him.
He eventually attributes the lack of profitability to a lack of specialists to ensure a fair and orderly market. Notice that it is the same OTC market that fraudster Jordon Belfort used to become the Wolf of Wall Street as portrayed by Leo DiCaprio.
Darvas returns to highly liquid listed stocks.
Nicolas learns the hard way to avoid Wall Street’s rumors. He hears of an atomic train under construction by Bald-Win-Lima-Hamilton.
Shares soar from twelve dollars to over $20.
Darvas enters at the apogee for twenty-four and a quarter. Two weeks later he bails out at nineteen and a quarter.
The dud falls after that to twelve and a half. He realizes that despite this rumor something is wrong.
5 Core Rules
Lou Keller calls, “STERLING PRECISION will go to $40 before the end of the year.” It was trading for $8.
He says “The company is buying up many smaller prosperous companies and will grow into a giant in no time.”
The broker needed to say no more to pull Nicolas in for a thousand shares at seven and seven eighths for $8,023.10. It drops.
Something is clearly off. He gets out at seven and an eighth for six thousand nine hundred and sixty-seven dollars and forty-five cents. Listening to gossip costs Nicolas $1,055.65 in less than a week.
He decides that if gossip doesn’t help that maybe actual transactions of insiders will through the SEC Insider Transactions Report. This fails for Darvis as well.
Too much time has passed when he learns of their trades for insider stocks that rise. Otherwise most of the insiders made bad trades. He decides that managers are paid to know about their business and industry rather than the activity of speculation in the company stock.
He lays out five core rules:
FIRST RULE: Don’t follow investment newsletters.
SECOND RULE: Shun broker advice.
THIRD RULE: Disregard Wall Street lore.
FOURTH RULE: Do not trade across OTC.
FIFTH RULE: Ignore gossip.
Our research on the Insider Alert Newsletter covered in “Do Investment Newsletters Move Markets?” that was published in Financial Management shows that insiders are incapable of forecasting stock movements in the firms they manage just as Darvas discovered years before.
Is the Virginian the clue for cracking Brilund Mining?
Nicolas Darvas picks up a hundred shares of Virginian Railway stock at twenty-nine and three quarters for three thousand four dollars and eighty-eight cents. This is in August of nineteen fifty-four.
The dancer ignores it.
The stock pays a good dividend and has high earnings making him one thousand three hundred three dollars and sixty-eight cents after selling out for four thousand three hundred and fifty-six cents.
From this success he develops …
SIXTH RULE: Study earnings and dividends.
SEVENTH RULE: Buy one hot rising stock rather than frantically follow a dozen.
From that idea Nicolas Darvas starts to discern earnings quality writing, “I thought that if I really studied the company reports I could find out all about a stock and decide whether it was a good investment.”
Fundamental concepts from the balance sheet, cash flow, and income statements become the norm in his stock conversations.
Nicolas ups his analysis a notch or three. Darvas goes on a spirit quest for the perpetually rising stock. He uses the Value-Line lists to filter by quality, analyst view, cash position, and dividend payment. But, no matter how right everything seemed the stock dropped. Lou Keller recommended that Nicolas Darvas subscribe to a service that gave data on a couple of thousand issues as to business model, decades of historical prices, capital structure, EPS, and a service unique rating for value and safety where AAA was safest.
This made everything easy. There was no reason to comb through income statements or balance sheets.
The path was clear. A > B > C. He felt cool headed like James Bond organizing his data into tables for hours on end.
|Quiz 2||10 questions|
This section of this course spells out an extremely important code to help you survive in the stock market. Make sure you take this quiz before you move on.
|Section 4: SECTION 3 — SECOND CRISIS|
Do You Follow the Herd?
Nicolas was starting to notice certain facts about the stock market. First is that industries move up and down to some degree independently of the stock market averages.
Prices herd within industry groups.
If the average price for the group moves up, so does the individual stock price. He filtered his stock selections by identifying the strongest rising industry groups.
Be careful about reading too much into this.
Industry rotation is not a valid approach to momentum investing. You are far better off to simply identify the most powerful stocks in the broad market of 6,731 firms currently listed on the NYSE, AMEX, and NASDAQ exchanges.
I select the 50 strongest from a group of 2,995 core stocks across these three exchanges every quarter. I put all these eggs in one basket and I watch them.
I test the strongest. I may go up to a year without making a single test.
I trade very infrequently.
Stocks have Personalities
These were invariably rising because earnings were strong in that industry. Then once he identified the strongest earning industry he would drill down to identify the strongest rising stock in that industry.
Darvas decided that individual stocks had personalities within their industry just like different children in a human family. If Nicolas was studying market data for General Motors he would automatically extend his analysis to the industry.
In the 1950s the automotive industry to which General Motors belonged was composed of
Tin foil is used in nearly every kitchen in America. Kaiser Aluminum was a big industry player in the 1950s. But Kaiser had competitors in its industry,
Fundamental Analysis of Stocks
Moving forward with a methodology made him feel grand. Nicolas knew that he was finally going beyond hypothetical thinking. He knew that was going to make a lot of money.
Darvas looked hard at average earnings in an industry. This allowed him to compare industries by profitability.
Darvas Falls in Love with Steel
The steel industry stood out as the most profitable. This was during the post-WW-II, Korean war era.
He found that his top rating was so exclusive that it excessively limited his stocks. He lowered the rating to second tier of ‘B’ that he was willing to consult.
This dramatically increased the amount of possible stock investments. By combining industry profitability and rating he was able to identify Jones & Laughlin.
The company paid a fat 5% dividend of 1.25% quarterly. The price-to-earnings ratios were lowest (best) as
Analysis Excited Him…
It filled him with confidence that the stock share price would rise. It would make him rich he believed.
He was convinced that the stock would jump twenty or thirty dollars in a heartbeat. He felt that this was a better bet than Brilund. There was just one concern. He had to buy a lot of it as fast as he could before anybody else discovered the stock, or at least so he felt.
Nicolas Darvas was a worldwide entertainer. He was also an act in Nevada.
Over the years he had acquired a home in Las Vegas. He took out a second mortgage on the home. He also had a whole life insurance policy against which he took a loan. Then he got an advance on a long term contract to dance.
This dangerous dash for cash was fueled by the over-confidence of Nicolas Darvas.
As a professor of finance I do not recommend that you do this. You are far better off to save at least 15% of your salary for retirement every month.
And that is easy to do if you are a salaried employee. Overconfident investors have been shown to ride losing positions in favor of winners by U.C. Berkley Research.
Shows Before the Strip
Darvas was an entertainer. That meant that he worked from contract to contract.
And he felt very confident about his analysis. He did not hesitate in finding seed capital for his stock investing.
Then on September twenty third of nineteen fifty-five Nicolas Darvas bought a thousand shares of common stock in Jones and Laughlin. He bought at fifty-two and a quarter on 70% margin.
Stock price drops
This allowed Darvas to own fifty-two thousand, six hundred and fifty-two dollars and thirty cents of stock for thirty-six thousand eight hundred and fifty six dollars and sixty one cents from the money he raised all the wrong ways. But he was capitalized.
He sat back to watch it rise. But the stock dropped.
I want to emphasize at this point that I have experienced this phenomenon so much that I am very slow to test stocks. As time passes I have grown more experienced and I have become much more selective as did Darvas.
Deer in the headlights
This crisis shocks Nicolas Darvas as much as it did the first time it happened to me.
As Jones & Laughlin collapsed he froze like a deer in the headlights. He would not embrace the evidence that his prior hypothesis of strength was wrong.
He firmly believed that the stock that had been in the fifties was truly worth seventy-five dollars a share. He held and held until the stock hit 44 on a downslide into the tenth of October of nineteen fifty-five.
Every dollar drop in share price was costing him a thousand dollars. He sold in terror. His account balance now stood at forty-three thousand, five hundred, eighty-three dollars and twelve cents.
He lost nine thousand and sixty-nine dollars and eighteen cents while he stalled. Here is the math …
This was a crushing blow to his ego. His confidence in his method was shaken.
This type of psychological pain was impossible for anybody to understand who has never placed a significant percentage of their wealth on the line. This was not an indexed investment with high diversification.
Nicolas Darvas had put all of his wealth on one big bet on just one stock. But he did not feel like a gambler.
Darvas had invested significant effort into stock analysis. But he was down nine thousand dollars despite his hard work.
This is consistent with fact. Benjamin Graham is the Columbia finance professor who taught Warren Buffett value investing. He explained in a 1976 conference covered in the Financial Analyst Journal Vol. 32, No. 5 (Sep.-Oct.,1976), pp. 20-30: “I am no longer an advocate of elaborate techniques of security analysis in order to find superior value opportunities. This was a rewarding activity, say, forty years ago, when our textbook “Graham and Dodd” was first published; but the situation has changed a good deal since then. In the old days any well-trained security analyst could do a good professional job of selecting under-valued issues through detailed studies; but in the light of the enormous amount of research now being carried on, I doubt whether in most cases such extensive efforts will generate sufficiently superior selections to justify their cost. To that very limited extent I’m on the ‘efficient market’ school of thought now generally accepted by the professors.”
Depression hit when he fully understood that he could lose his home in sunny Las Vegas. He felt like an inmate trapped by his own futile results as if he was reaching out from a jail cell.
He was desperate to find a rising stock that could break him out of his own self-made debtor prison.
Nicolas spotted a company called Texas Gulf Producing. The stock price was higher the day Darvas spotted it than months before. The share price had been rising.
He could not find any rumors about the company. He did not know the profitability.
The only thing he knew was that it was posting share price gains week after week. He bought the stock in desperation. His order for a thousand shares was filled between thirty-seven and an eighth and thirty-seven and a half.
The total investment was thirty-seven thousand, five hundred eighty-six dollars and twenty-six cents.
But this time he was not so sure that the stock would rise. He held his breath.
Now he was gun-shy from his recent loss. This caused another problem. After the stock had risen two and half dollars he became anxious to sell out at forty dollars per share.
He held the position with determination to earn back his nine-thousand-dollar loss. He worried intensely about the position for fear that he was wrong again.
But this time he resisted his temptation to earn fast cash by flipping the stock. His nervousness created another problem.
He pecked at his broker constantly calling hourly or even more frequently. He babied the stock like a child.
He strapped himself to the mast and held shares for a full five weeks. He was tense each day.
Nicolas finally sold out at forty-three and a quarter. His account balance stood at forty-two thousand eight hundred forty dollars and forty-three cents.
Darvas did not recover his nine-thousand-dollar loss, but he recovered the lion’s share of five thousand two hundred and fifty-four dollars and seventeen cents.
The Texas Gulf Producing trade drained him like a disease. He had to rest and recover. Nicolas was now concluding the same even as Columbia professor Benjamin Graham questioned the worth of detailed financial study in the form of reports, outlooks, ratings and ratios.
The one stock that saved his investing account was the company he knew the least. The only thing Nicolas Darvas knew about this stock was simply that it was rising.
|Quiz 3||10 questions|
The quiz tests your knowledge of plugging into the original thoughts of Nicolas Darvas.
|Section 5: SECTION 4 – BOX THEORY|
Nicolas sees how JONES & LAUGHLIN produced a frightening experience. A more fortunate experience was TEXAS GULF PRODUCING. Scared and beaten he realizes that he cannot base his operations on luck.
JONES & LAUGHLIN…
Produced a frightening experience. A more fortunate experience was TEXAS GULF PRODUCING.
Scared and beaten he realizes that he cannot base his operations on luck.
He must rely on knowledge. Could he win at bridge without knowing the rules?
Or in a chess game without knowing how to answer his opponents moves?
He was playing for money. And, the game was against the keenest experts.
A clear path: Technical Analysis
And so he started. First he examined his past experiences.
On one hand, using the fundamental approach, he was wrong. On the other hand, using the technical approach, he was right.
Obviously the best method was to try to repeat the successful approach he had used with TEXAS GULF PRODUCING.
It was not easy…
He sat with his stock tables every evening, trying to find another stock like it. Then one day he noticed a stock called M&M WOODWORKING.
It was a stock he had never heard of. It appeared to be RISING.
He knew nothing about its fundamentals and had heard no rumors about it.
None of the financial services could tell him much about it. His broker had never heard of it.
Yet its daily action reminded him of TEXAS GULF PRODUCING. He started to watch M&M Woodworking carefully.
In December 1955…
M&M WOODWORKING rose from about $15 to $23-5/8 at the year end.
After a five-week lull, its TRADING VOLUME INCREASED and the PRICE RESUMED ITS ADVANCE.
He decided to buy 500 shares at $26-5/8.
It continued to rise and he held on.
Its volume of trading was consistently high. When it reached 33-1/4 he sold it and took a profit of $2,866.62.
He Was Happy & Excited….
Just as he bought TEXAS GULF PRODUCING…
he bought M&M Woodworking purely on the “basis of its action in the market.”
He knew nothing about it nor could he find very much. He assumed from its continuing rise and high volume that some people knew a lot more than he did.
The Steady Rise…
Was due to a merger, which was secretly negotiated. Another company planned to take over M&M WOODWORKING for $35 a share. The offer was accepted.
Nicolas was in complete ignorance yet he sold out 2 points ($2) under the high. His buying, based on the stock’s behavior, enabled him to profit from a proposed merger without knowing anything about it.
This is known as risk arbitrage.
Dr. Yakov Amihud is the Ira Rennert Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance at the New York University Stern School of Business. At the turn of this century he conclusively confirmed that changes in volume foreshadow changes in price.
This is termed price impact.
Nicolas Darvas explains that price impact is the source of his remarkable stock market returns when he writes, “The experience did more than anything to convince me that the purely technical approach is sound. It meant that if I studied price action and volume, discarding all other factors, I could get positive results.”
Warren Buffett writes in “The Essays of Warren Buffett” that, “Some offbeat opportunities occasionally arise in the arbitrage field. I participated in one of these when I was 24 and working in New York for Graham-Newman Corp. The profits were good and my only expense was subway tokens. To evaluate arbitrage situations, you must answer four questions: (1) How likely is it that the promised event will indeed occur? (2) How long will your money be tied up? (3) What chance is there that something still better will transpire — a competing takeover bid, for example? And (4) What will happen if the event does not take place because of anti-trust action, financing glitches, etc.? Most practitioners buy into a great many deals — perhaps 50 or more per year. With that many irons in the fire, they must spend most of their time monitoring both the progress of deals and the market movements of the related stocks.”
To the market is proven sound.
MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH: This meant that if he studied PRICE ACTION and VOLUME alone, he could get positive results!
He now began to try to work from this point-of-view.
He concentrated on a close study of price and volume. He tried to ignore all rumors, tips or fundamental information.
He Blocked Out All the B.S.!
He decided not to concern himself with the reasons behind a rise.
He figured that “if some fundamental change for the better takes place in the life of a company, this soon shows up in the rising price and volume of its stock, because many people are anxious to buy it.”
If he could train his eyes to spot this upward change in its early stages, as in the case of M&M WOODWORKING, he could participate in the stock’s rise without knowing the reason for it.
Compare Stocks with People…
This is how he began to work it out:
If a tempestuous beauty were to jump on a table and do a wild dance, no one would be particularly astonished. People expect that.
But if a dignified matron were suddenly to do the same…people would say, “There is something strange here – something has happened.”
Volume and Price
He decided that if a usually inactive stock became active [VOLUME] he would consider this unusual. If it advanced in [PRICE] he would buy it.
He would assume that somewhere behind the out-of-the-ordinary movement there was a group who had some good information. Buying the stock would make him their silent partner.
Nicolas has hit and miss results, “Sometimes I was successful, sometimes I was not.” What he did not realize was that his eyes were not sufficiently trained yet.
He was in for a rude awakening. He notices PITTSBURGH METALLURGICAL trading at $67.
He thought it would continue to rise.
He buys 200 shares for $13,483.40. The stock tanks.
10 Days Later
Something was obviously wrong. The move was there but in the wrong direction. He bought at the top.
PITTSBURGH METALLURGICAL drops to 57-3/4. Nicolas sells for a $2,023.32 loss.
This is a 15% LOSS. It rises as soon as he sells.
He does not yet understand that the market has a rhythmic pattern of surge and reversal.
He discovers that he buys at the top of an $18 [point] rise. He bought at the wrong time.
PROBLEM: How to judge a movement at the time it happens? He knew that book [accounting] systems did not help.
Balance sheets were useless. Accounting information was suspect as wrong.
On a Whim…
He studies individual stock movements. How do they act? What are the characteristics of their behavior? Is there any pattern to their fluctuations?
He reads books.
He examines stock tables. He inspects hundreds of charts. A pattern emerges…
Defined upward or downward trends, once established, tend to continue in consolidation patterns where prices channel into “BOXES.”
A Series of Frames…
…in which the share price fairly consistently oscillates between a low and a high area.
Nicolas Darvas describes this area, which enclosed this up-and-down movement, as a BOX. Thus emerges “The Box Theory.” This would lead to his fortune!
This is a chart of Facebook (FB) displaying The Box Theory. This shows that stocks behave the same way today as in the 1950s when Darvas was alive.
The Pyramid Redefined…
He started to watch stock when the price was in the highest box. The boxes of the stock had to stack up on top of each other like a pyramid on increasing volume.
It could bounce all it wanted to between the high and the low of the box and he would do nothing. If it did not bounce up and down inside its box he was worried.
Notice how nobody wants Galectin (GALT) stock!
No Bouncing Is Bad…
No bouncing, no movement, meant it was not a lively stock. He is not interested in non-lively stocks.
This meant that it would probably not rise dynamically. Nicolas defines his boxes with a special nomenclature he calls “frame figures.”
A 45/50 box has a low of $45 and a high of $50.
It could bounce between this low and high often and he would still consider buying it. If it fell to $44-1/2 he eliminated it as a possibility.
WHY? ANYTHING BELOW $45 MEANT A LOWER BOX!
He only wants a stock moving into a HIGHER BOX. A stock sometimes stayed for weeks in one box.
He didn’t care…
How long the price action stayed inside the box; if it did, and did not fall below the lower frame figure.
He gives the example of a 45/50 box…
45 – 47 – 49 – 50 – 45 – 47
The stock can only react to $45 upon reaching $50. It could touch $50 but must stay above.
He constantly watched for a thrust above $50. Then he bought it!
No Fixed Rule…
He has no fixed rule. He just had to be sure to see it and act. Some volatile, eager stocks moved into another box within hours.
Others took days. Pushing from its 45/50 box into another, upper box, he says could look like this…
48 – 52 – 50 – 55 – 50 – 53 – 52
Look for the high and low and you can see that it has formed a new 48/55 box.
The Range of the Box
… is what he had to decide.
PROBLEM: This varied with different stocks.
Some stocks had a small frame of 10% each way. Other wide-swinging stocks moved between 15 – 20%.
Reactions Are Normal…
As long as the price action stays within its box.
A drop in an uptrend (a rise in a downtrend) is a REACTION. Notice that the Nicolas Darvas definition of a reaction is a precise technical support level.
This allows him to precisely define his risk before entry. If it did not penetrate $45 the reaction did not mean that the price was going to fall.
He considers this equivalent to a dancer crouching, ready for the spring-up – stocks rarely shoot from $50 to $70 in a day.
Uncle Paul Samuelson…
Said that stock market crashes were no different than Darwinian forces that culls weak animals. Darvas notices that a reaction to 45 in a 45/50 box has a benefit.
It shakes out the weak and frightened shareholders who mistake this reaction for a drop. This enables the stock to advance rapidly.
Hence reactions are sometimes referred to as “shake-outs.”
Feeling of Proportion…
About a stock that was on a definite upward trend. Rising from say $50 to $70 but occasionally dropping back was all part of the right rhythm:
50 – 52 – 57 – 58 – 60 – 55 – 52 – 56
This is a 52/60 box. On an upward swing, it might have gone:
58 – 61 – 66 – 70 – 66 – 63 – 66
This put it well inside a 63/70 box.
MAJOR PROBLEM: What was the right time to buy? Logically, when the share price entered a new higher box.
Modern science has shown that simply buying a stock because it is rising offers the highest expected return in stocks.
LOUISIANA LAND & EXPLORATION.
The share price formed its pyramiding boxes for weeks. He felt that he had it assessed it correctly as on the rise when the share priced pierced the upper frame of its last box at $59-1/2.
He orders his broker to call when it hits $61, the level he considered to be the door of its new box.
When the broker calls, it is at $63. He felt deprived of a great opportunity.
Up it went: 63-1/2 – 64-1/2 – 65.
He was right but had missed it. He buys 100 shares at $65 at the top of the new box.
The Buy Stop Order…
Nicolas was a baby at trade management. His broker explains that he should have put in an automatic “ON STOP” BUY ORDER.
This is more commonly called a BUY STOP ORDER. The stock would have been bought when it rose to $61. Nicolas decides to put in a Buy Stop Order for entry above the top of the box.
A Glimpse Behind the Door…
He uses this concept three times consecutively for $2,442.36 in profit.
A Slap in The Face…
He buys 500 NORTH AMERICAN AVIATION at $94-3/4 anticipating a new box over $100. It falls. He loses all the profit from the last three trades.
THIS IS THE TURNING POINT! He realizes he will be wrong 50% of the time. He must become impartial as a diagnostician in identifying with a theory or a stock. He has to reduce his risks to a minimum.
His Quick-Loss Weapon…
He knew he was wrong half the time. Why not sell at a small loss? If he bought at $25 why not at the same time order the stock to be sold if it returned below $24?
He places Buy Stop Orders at a certain figure with an initial stop-loss order in case the stock price dropped. He knew that many times he would be “stopped out” then watch helplessly as the share price climbed.
This is not as important as stopping big loss. He can always buy the stock back at a higher price.
Coin Flip Odds Won’t Work
PROBLEM: If he invested $10,000 in a medium-priced stock it would cost him $125 on each purchase and sale or $250 a “round turn.” In 40 trades breaking even before commissions his $10,000 would be gone.
SOLUTION: His profits had to be bigger than his losses. He uses a TRAILING STOP LOSS he adjusts on each rise into a new higher box.
Objectives and Weapons…
He will always just jog along an upward trend, trailing his stop-loss insurance behind him. As the trend continues he will buy more.
When the trend reverses he will run like a thief. There was bound to be a lot of guesswork. Being right 50% of the time was probably optimistic.
Basic Strategy Continued…
He saw his problem more clearly than ever. He must adopt a cold, unemotional attitude toward stocks.
He must not fall in love with them when they rise.
He must not get angry when they fall. There are no good or bad stocks. There are only rising and falling stocks. He must hold the rising ones and sell those that fall.
The Greatest Challenge…
He knew that he had to achieve something much more difficult than before. He had to bring his emotions – fear, hope and greed – under complete control. He had no doubt that this would require a great amount of self-discipline. Darvas felt like a man who knew a room could be lit up and was fumbling for the switches.
I recommend that all traders study an anger management course that helps investors control urges, become less impulsive money managers and thus more disciplined stewards of family wealth.
|Quiz 4||10 questions|
This quiz test your understanding of how Darvas developed his box theory.
|Section 6: SECTION 5 – CABLES|
A Two-Year World Tour…
His dancing act goes international.
PROBLEM: How can he trade overseas?
SOLUTION: He will communicate with his broker via telegram (cable).
He decides on the weekly publication BARRON’S to IDENTIFY ANY STOCKS which might be MOVING UP. The daily telegram contains the CLOSING PRICES of his stocks.
A Special Code…
String of letters and numbers.
Letter denotes the company name. Number denotes the closing price.
B 32-1/2 L 57 U 89-1/2 A 120-1/4 F 132-1/4
He could not follow his stock with this telegram! He adds the HIGH and LOW for the day.
B 32-1/2 (34-1/2-32-3/8) L 57 (58-5/8-57) U 89-1/2 (91-1/2-89) A 120-1/4 (121-1/2-120-1/4) F 132-1/4 (134-7/8-132-1/4)
Too many figures might overcrowd his DAILY cables.
No Volume Quotes…
He did not ask for volume quotes, as he feared too many figures might overcrowd his [daily] cables.
He writes, “My selections were high-volume stocks anyway and I thought that if the volume contracted, I would notice it in Barron’s a few days later.”
Nicolas has a ROUTINE:
Four Days Behind…
When he sees a high-volume stock in Barron’s he is already 4 days behind because of his world travels.
He brings himself up to date with this week’s range and close:
“CABLE THIS WEEK’S RANGE AND CLOSE CHRYSLER.”
If the stock was behaving well in the 60/65 box, he would wait to see if the four day quotations from New York showed this. If so, he would decide to watch the stock.
The stock is “pressing toward a higher box.”
If satisfied that it is rising he cabled to New York, his on stop buy order (buy stop order) as GOOD-TILL-CANCELLED unless otherwise specified. This was ALWAYS coupled with an automatic STOP-LOSS order in case the stock dropped after he bought it.
A typical cable looked like this:
“BUY 200 CHRYSLER 67 ON STOP 65 STOPLOSS.”
67 BUYSTOP 65 STOPLOSS.
If on the other hand, his broker’s cable showed that it moved out of the 60/65 box during the 4 day lag he forgot about it.
It was too late to act. He had to wait for another opportunity.
He was forced to narrow down his operation to a few stocks due to the cost of his telegrams.
BIG ADVANTAGE: No phone calls, no confusion, no contradictory rumors. This gave him a DETACHED VIEW!
HE ONLY HANDLED 5 TO 8 STOCKS AT A TIME!
He was influenced by NOTHING BUT THE PRICE of his stocks.
He Could Not Hear…
What people said. But he could see what they did.
It was like a poker game in which he could not hear the betting, but he could see all the cards.
This was invaluable. Poker players would try to mislead with words. They would not show him their cards.
If he did not listen to their words, and constantly watched their cards, he could guess what they were doing.
He first tries paper-trading but it didn’t work. He had to put money on the line.
Easy on Paper…
As soon as he invested $10,000 in a stock the picture became quite different. With no money involved he could control his feelings.
But as soon as he put dollars into a stock his emotions came floating quickly to the surface. He slowly became accustomed to this new type of operation and started to feel more confident.
Only one particular fact bothered him.
Sometimes some of his stocks made inexplicable moves, which had no relation to their previous behavior. This baffled him. It was while he was looking for an explanation that he made a momentous discovery.
HE REALIZED HE WAS ON HIS OWN!
He could learn nothing more from books. No guru could guide him.
He was completely alone with his daily telegrams and his weekly issues of Barron’s. If he wanted an explanation he could only turn to them.
Some Violent Move…
He plunged into Barron’s until he discovered: “The inexplicable moves in his stocks usually coincided with some violent move in the general market.” He was completely disregarding the possible influence of the general market.
This was no better than trying to direct a battle by looking at one section of the battlefield. He adds the closing price of the DOW-JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE.
The General Market…
He thought that this would give him a clear enough picture of how the general market behaved. His telegrams now read like this:
“B 32-1/2 (34-1/2-32-3/8) L 57 (58-5/8-57) U 89-1/2 (91-1/2-89) A 120-1/4 (121-1/2-120-1/4) F 132-1/4 (134-7/8-132-1/4) 482.31”
He reasoned like a child that if the average was going up, so would his stocks. This was not true.
Each stock behaved differently. He cannot apply mechanical standards to the relationship between the index and individual stocks.
He decides to ONLY use an INDEX to determine if he was in abull or a WEAK MARKET. He realizes that the general market cycle influences almost every stock.
The main cycles like a bear or a bull market usually creep into most them. This was a FINISHING TOUCH to his theory.
Nicolas Darvas follows this routine:
He first compares the prices of his stocks with each other. Then he compares them with the Dow-Jones Average.
After that he weighs their trading range, he evaluates whether to buy, sell, or hold. He does this automatically without further analysis.
He Begins Documenting…
Simultaneously, he tries to train his emotions. He worked it this way.
Whenever he bought a stock, he wrote down his reason for doing so. He did the same when he sold.
Whenever a trade ended with a loss, he wrote down the reason he thought caused it. Then he tried to avoid making the same mistake.
These CAUSE-OF-ERROR TABLES helped him immensely. As he drew them up one after the other he was learning something from each trade.
Stocks Have Characters…
“Just like people” writes Nicolas “They faithfully reflect the character of the people who buy and sell them.”
Some are calm. Some are slow. Some are conservative.
Others are jumpy, nervous, and tense.
The experience gained through his cause-of-error tables became one of the most important of all his qualifications. Some stocks Nicolas finds easy to predict, consistent in their moves, and logical in behavior.
And some he could not handle, each time he buys they cause him injury. He begins to take the view that if a stock slapped him twice he would refuse to touch it any more.
Like Driving a Car…
The driver can be taught how to use the accelerator, the steering wheel and the brakes, but he still has to develop his own feeling for driving. No one can tell him how to judge whether he is too close to the car in front of him or when he should slow down.
This he can only learn from experience.
Mistakes Are No Problem…
He could not guarantee that a stock would not catch a cold tomorrow. But this did not upset him as before.
Even his mistakes did not make him unhappy.
If he was right, so much the better. If he was wrong – he was sold out.
This happened automatically as something apart from him.
He was no longer proud if a stock went up, nor did he feel wounded if it fell. He realizes that stocks have no “value” other than the price quoted.
The Tax Problem
Many people hold stocks for many months to obtain long term capital gains. This he considers dangerous.
He might lose money by holding a falling stock just for tax reasons. He decided he would trade in the market by doing the right thing first – follow what a stock’s behavior commands and care about taxes later.
The best way to legally avoid taxes is to first open a Roth IRA. If you have a side business outside your salaried job that files federal taxes under an Employer Identification Number (EIN) you can further reduce stock trading taxes by opening a Roth 401(k) and a Solo 401(k) for both you and your spouse.
This stock was one of the most successful trades Nicolas Darvas made. He bought three times.
Each time for 200 shares. Two operations ended with a loss.
The third made him a sizable gain.
Here are the details. Notice how he “fished” the stock for 3 months.
A Staggering Series of Events…
A Few Other Stocks,
like DRESSER INDUSTRIES and REYNOLDS METALS behaved equally well and gave him satisfactory profits.
He buys BALTIMORE & OHIO RAILROAD at $56-1/4. He thought it was in a 56/61 box and would advance.
But it started reaching down. He sold it at $55 for a 2.2% loss.
Then he tried DOBECKMUN.
He judged it was in a 44/49 box, so he bought it at $45.
It began to sag and he sold it at $41 for an 8.9% loss.
A Staggering Series of Events…
He bought DAYSTROM at $44 because he thought it was rising into a 45/50 box.
He sold out at $42-1/4 for a 4% loss. He bought FOSTER WHEELER at $61-3/4.
He thought it was in the 60/80 box.
When it turned slowly against him, he sold out just below the $60 frame at $59-1/2 for a 3.6% loss. AEROQUIP was the last one.
He had bought it at prices ranging from $23-1/4 to $27-5/8. He watched it climb toward $30 and waited for the 31/35 box to evolve.
He was stopped out at $27-1/2 for a ½% loss.
On Friday August 26, 1957 he finds himself without a single stock. His automatic stop-loss had sold him out of everything.
In two months every one of his stocks had slowly turned around.
One by one each had sagged through the bottom of their boxes. And one by one, even if it was only a question of half a point, they were sold.
No opportunity seems to appear. He did not know that the great bull market was at the end of one phase.
It was several months before the financial media declared a bear market.
All analysts agreed that prices collapsed. All these opinions were expressed in hindsight – when it was too late.
His System Saves Him…
He realizes that it was impossible for him to time great historical turning points in the market. His system of ducking out quickly with his stop-losses made such an assessment unnecessary as Wall Street prices continued to fall.
He made the joyful discovery that his method had worked much better than he had dreamed.
They Slid Very Low Indeed…
Half Would Have Been Lost…
When he looked at the table, he thought this: “If his stop-losses had not taken him out of the market he could have lost 50% of his investment.” He would have been like a man in a cage, locked in with his holdings and missing his opportunity to make a fortune.
The only way he could have escaped would have been by smashing out, taking a 50% loss, possibly ruining himself, and gravely impairing his confidence for future deals.
Buy & Hold…
He could, of course, have bought these stocks and “put them away.” This was a classic buy-and-hold solution among people who called themselves conservative investors.
Nicolas regarded them as pure gamblers.
How can they be non-gamblers when they stay with a stock even if it continues to drop? A non-gambler must get out when his stocks fall.
They hold losses with the gambler’s eternal hope of the turn of the lucky card when they should cut & run.
They Would Be Indignant…
He thought of the people who paid $250 for NEW YORK CENTRAL in 1929.
It was worth about $27 if they were still holding it today. Yet these railroaded investors would be indignant if he called them gamblers!
The Greatest Bull Market…
He finds in his statement of the first week of September 1957 that he has made up the money he lost on JONES & LAUGHLIN and his original capital of $37,000 was almost intact. Many of his operations had been moderately successful, but COMMISSIONS AND TAXES had taken a great deal.
When he went into the accounts more closely he found he had the unenviable distinction of coming out of the greatest bull market in history with a lot of experience, a great amount of knowledge, much more confidence – and a net loss of $889!
Nicolas Darvas had now traded for 5 years.
|Quiz 5||10 questions|
This quiz tests your knowledge of the period when Darvas Danced around the world. This gave emotional detachment and focus.
|Section 7: Baby Bear|
6 - Baby-Bear
|Section 8: Theory|
7 - Theory
|Section 9: Half Million|
8 - Half-Million
|Section 10: Second Crisis|
9 - Second Crisis
|Section 11: Two Million|
10 - Two Million
|Section 12: [BONUS] Doc Brown's Stock Investing Book Reports of Most Important Ever Written!|
"There is no one like you that I know of who is this transparent, that is what makes your service and education so valuable. Please keep on." -L.B. A Washington State Stock Investor
Dr. Scott Brown and “Intelligent Investing” — helping you get the most out of your hard earned investment capital.
As an investor, I have spent over 35 years reading anecdotal accounts of the greatest investors and traders in history. My net worth has grown dramatically by applying the distilled wisdom of past giants.
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(In the last six years we have exploded our net worth and are absolutely debt free, we live a semi-retired Caribbeanlifestyle in atriple gatedupscale planned community from a spacious low maintenance condo looking down on our tropical beach paradise below).
My Curriculum Vitae:
Investment Writing and Speaking:
I am an internationalspeaker oninvestments. In 2010 I gave a series of lectures onboard Brilliance of the Seas as a guest speaker on their Mediterranean cruise. Financial topics are normally forbidden for cruise speakers. But with me they make an exception because of my financial pedigree.
On day 6 the topic I discussed was “Free and Clear: Secrets of Safely Investing in Real Estate!“ The day 7 topic was “Investment Style and Category: How the Stock Market Really Works!” Then on day 8 I spoke about “The 20% Solution: How to Survive and Thrive Financially in any Market!” The final talk on day 11 was “Value Investing for Dummies: When Dumb Money is Smart!”
Gina Verteouris is the Cruise Programs Administrator of the Brilliance of the Seas of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Regarding my on-board teachings she writes on June 19th, “You have really gone above and beyond expectations with your lectures and we have received many positive comments from our Guests.”
I sponsored and organized an investing conference at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 2011 under my Wallet Doctor brand. This intimate conference was attended by 14 paying attendees.
As such many strides were made in financial education that week. For instance I met a woman who is a retired engineer from the Reno, Nevada area.
She made a fortune on deep in the money calls during the bull markets of the 90s.
This humble and retired engineer inspired me to look more seriously at deep in the money calls with far expiration. She also gave me an important clue regarding trading volume.
Her call option and volume insights have been confirmed in the Journal of Finance.
In 2012 I gave a workshop at the FreedomFest Global Financial Summit on stock investing at the Atlantis Bahamas Resort. I was also a panelist on a discussion of capital markets.
My course “How to Build a Million Dollar Portfolio from Scratch" at the Oxford Club is an international bestseller. In 2014 I co-authored “Tax Advantaged Wealth” with leading IRS expert Jack Cohen, CPA. This was the crown jewel of the Oxford Club Wealth Survival Summit.
I have been a regular speaker at the Investment U Conferences.
In 2012 I gave a workshop entitled “How to Increase Oxford Club Newsletter Returns by 10 Fold!” The conference was held at the Grand Del Mar Resort in San Diego, California. This resort destination is rated #1 on TripAdvisor.
In 2013 I spoke at the Oxford Club’s Investment U Conference in San Diego California. The talk was entitled “The Best Buy Signal in 103 Years!” Later in the summer I spoke at the Oxford Club Private Wealth Conference at the Ojai Valley Inn.
This was at the same time that Jimmy Kimmel married Molly McNearney in the posh California celebrity resort. It was fun to watch some of the celebrities who lingered.
I also operate a live weekly investment mentorship subscription service under the Bullet-Proof brand every Monday night by GoToWebinar.
I am an associate professor of finance of the AACSB Accredited Graduate School of Business at the University of Puerto Rico. My research appears in some of the most prestigious academic journals in the field of investments including the Journal of Financial Research and Financial Management. This work is highly regarded on both Main Street and Wall Street. My research on investment newsletter returns was considered so important to investors that it was featured in the CFA Digest.
The Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)is the most prestigious practitioner credential in investments on Wall Street.
Prestigious finance professor Bill Christie of the Owen School of Business of Vanderbilt University and then editor of Financial Management felt that our study was valuable to financial society. We showed that the average investment newsletter is not worth the cost of subscription.
I am the lead researcher on the Puerto Rico Act 20 and 22 job impact study. This was signed between DDEC secretary Alberto Bacó and Chancellor Severino of the University of Puerto Rico.
(See Brown, S., Cao-Alvira, J. & Powers, E. (2013). Do Investment Newsletters Move Markets? Financial Management, Vol. XXXXII, (2), 315-338. And see Brown, S., Powers, E., & Koch, T. (2009). Slippage and the Choice of Market or Limit orders in Futures Trading. Journal of Financial Research, Vol. XXXII (3), 305-309)
I hold a Ph.D. in Finance from the AACSB Accredited Darla Moore School of Business of the University of South Carolina. My dissertation on futures market slippage was sponsored by The Chicago Board of Trade. Eric Powers, Tim Koch, and Glenn Harrison composed my dissertation committee. Professor Powers holds his Ph.D. in finance from the Sloan School of Business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT]. Eric is a leading researcher in corporate finance and is a thought leader in spin offs and carve outs.
Dr. Harrison is the C.V. Starr economics professor at the J. Mack Robinson School of Business at Georgia State University.
He holds his doctorate in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles. Glenn is a thought leader in experimental economics and is the director of the Center for the Economic Analysis of Risk.
Tim Koch is a professor of banking. Dr. Koch holds his Ph.D. in finance from Purdue University and is a major influence in the industry.
My dissertation proved that under normal conditions traders and investors are better off entering on market while protectingwith stop limit orders. The subsequent article was published in the prestigious Journal of Financial Research now domiciled at Texas Tech University — a leading research institution.
I earned a masters in international financial management from the Thunderbird American Graduate School of International Business. Thunderbird consistently ranks as the #1 international business school in the U.S. News & World Report, and BloombergBusinessWeek.
I spoke at the 2010 annual conference of the International Association of Business and Economics (IABE) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The research presented facts regarding price changes as orders flow increases in the stock market by advisory services.
I spoke at the 2010 Financial Management Association [FMA] annual conference in New York on investment newsletters. The paper was later published in the prestigious journal “Financial Management.”
I presented an important study named “Do Investment Newsletters Move Markets?” at the XLVI Annual Meeting of the Consejo Latinoamericano de Escuelas de Administración (CLADEA) in 2011 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The year before that I presented my futures slippage research at a major renewable energy conference in Ubatuba, Brazil.
I spoke at the Clute International Conferences in 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The research dealt with the price impact of newsletter recommendations in the stock market.
I presented a working paper entitled “The Life Cycle of Make-whole Call Provisions” at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Southern Finance Association in Fajardo, Puerto Rico in session B.2 Debt Issues chaired by Professor LeRoy D. Brooks of John Carroll University. Luis Garcia-Feijoo of Florida Atlantic University was the discussant. I chaired the session entitled “Credit And Default Risk: Origins And Resolution.” Then I was the discussant for research entitled "NPL Resolution: Bank-Level Evidence From A Low Income Country" by finance professor Lucy Chernykh of Clemson University and Abu S Amin of Sacred Heart University and Mahmood Osman Imam of the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh.
That same year I presented the same study to the Annual Meeting of the Financial Management Association in Chicago, Illinois. I did so in session 183 – Topics in Mergers and Acquisitions chaired by James Conover of the University of North Texas with Teresa Conover as discussant. I chaired session 075 – Financial Crisis: Bank Debt Issuance and Fund Allocation. Then I was the discussant for TARP Funds Distribution: Evidence from Bank Internal Capital Markets by Elisabeta Pana of Illinois Wesleyan University and Tarun Mukherjee of the University of New Orleans.
I am a member of the MBA Curriculum Review Committee, the MBA Admissions Committee, The Doctoral Finance Admissions Committee, the Graduate School Personnel Committee, and the Doctoral Program Committee of the School of Business of the University of Puerto Rico.
I am the editor of Momentum Investor Magazine. I co-founded the magazine with publisher Daniel Hall, J.D. We have published three issues so far. Momentum Investor Magazine allows me to interview very important people in the finance industry. I interview sub director Suarez of the DDEC responsible for the assignment of Puerto Rico act 20 and 22 licenses for corporate and portfolio tax reduction in the third edition. Then I interview renowned value investor Mohnish Prabia in the upcoming fourth edition — to be made available via Udemy. Valuable stock market information will be taught throughout.
In October of 2010 I arranged for the donation to The Graduate School of Business of the University of Puerto Rico of $67,248 worth of financial software to the department that has been used in different courses. This was graciously awarded by Gecko Software.
I have guided thousands of investors to superior returns. I very much look forward to mentoring you as to managing your investments to your optima! –Scott
Dr. Scott Brown, Associate Professor of Finance of the AACSB Accredited Graduate School of Business of the University of Puerto Rico.