Buy and Hold Dead? Um…No
- Posted by ToddSullivan
- on June 26th, 2009
Been hearing this a ton lately. Problem with the statement is it taking a blanket approach and doing that in anything, is wrong. Those who typically espouse it say that the S&P 500 has done a round trip over the past decade so those who “bought it” have made no money. But, do most of us “buy the S&P”? No one I know does.
I’m going to take a look at the longest holding I ever had…Altria (sold last December).
I bought it in late 1999 in the midst of the “Master Settlement” and Chapter 11 fears for them. The buying thesis was simple:
1- Addicts will buy their products
2- They can’t go Chapter 11 because those suing them (States) need the money they provide
3- Because of that, their long term health was assured.
The purchase price for Alria was $21.65 a share and when I sold it was $16.75. In addition to that I received $21 a share in the Kraft (KFT) spin-off (sold immediately), $48 a share in Phillip Morris International (PM) shares (still held and today worth $42).
Oh, and over the 9 years I held it I received $23.25 a share in dividends.
Now the temptation would have been to dump it in 2003 as it fell and then even again in 2004 as it dipped. But why? Just because the price fell?
Questions to have asked yourself then:
- Were the fundamentals of the tobacco business impaired?
- Did the legal environment deteriorate?
- Did management do something that changed the earnings profile of the company in a negative way?
The answer to all of those questions was no and in reality the legal environment improved steadily in those years to the point then CEO Camilleri said prior to the PM spin, “the current legal environment is the best we have seen it in years”.
So in 9 years here is the tally:
That is a 18% annual return over those 9 years for doing…….nothing…
A very similar scenario has unfolded with McDonalds (MCD) since I first bought during the “Mad Cow” scare. While not as extreme, and I did make the HUGE mistake of selling Chipolte (CMG) shares when I received them in the spin, it has been a fantastic investment.
Has the market done a round trip the past decade? Yes. Are there plenty of companies whom over that time have gone up/down and then back to start? Yes. BUT, if you buy it low enough and pay attention to its business environment/prospects to determine your selling time, you can avoid many of the losses.
Altria’s business environment never deteriorated over the 9 years and in fact dramatically improved over where it was at purchase. I sold it in December because I felt that changed and PM International has a superior one. The same can be said of McDonalds, it environment is still improving with its very successful move into coffee and consumer trade to value.
Have it missed any? Sure. Dow Chemical (DOW) comes to mind. I got caught up in the Rohm & Hass/Kuwait deals and their potential benefits while the surrounding business climate deteriorated. The stock fell to a low of $6 from $50′s in 2005 (my original cost was $26 in 2002). While I lost a bunch of unrealized profits, between $8 and $9 in March of this year I was able to lower my cost basis to $14 with several purchases. Again, when we add in $9.32 in dividends received since 2002, we are still up nicely, although not nearly as much as before..not nearly.
Am I selling Dow now? No. The Rohm deal is done and the business environment, while I missed the downside, looks to improve going forward. This will still turn out just fine eventually IMO, it will just take some time. We’ll see…
Beware of “X investing theory is dead” proclamations. There are plenty of value folks who do great, plenty of day traders who do great and plenty of swing/momentum ones that do. There are also plenty of all three that do awful.
Find good ones in the style that fits you and get to know them. Blogs & twitter allow unprescedented communications between investors, take advantage of it.
Disclosure (“none” means no position):Long PM, MCD, DOW, none
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The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.
Todd's investing strategy is essentially long with the rare short. He seeks to buy undervalued issues with an upcoming catalyst that will help them realized.... More »
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