Diary of a Stock Market Loser

The market giveth. The market taketh away. I've been providing weekly updates on the challenging task of clawing my way out of the bottom in the Motley Fool CAPS community stock-rating experience.

It hasn't been easy. I was making headway in recent weeks but got crushed yesterday. I'm back to where I was three weeks ago.  

Here's how my ratings have clocked in over the past seven weeks:

Because the ratings go from 0 to 100, you can see how far I have to go. With a rating of 1.06, that means that I'm faring better than only 1.06% of the other players.

Let's go over some of my recent picks and pans.

Making moves and taking names
It could have been worse. I have to tell myself that because I saved my hide last week when I closed out my outperform rating on Thornburg Mortgage (NYSE: TMA  ) .

"I consider myself lucky to have gotten off with just a little scrape," I wrote.

Boy, was that the understatement of the year. The stock has gone on to surrender 82% of its value since I closed it -- yes 82% -- after a series of margin calls finds watchers of the residential loan holder wondering if the company will survive.

I did initiate two new positions during the week, and they aren't my typical attractions. I placed outperform ratings on ASA Limited (NYSE: ASA  ) and Petroleum & Resources (NYSE: PEO  ) .

ASA is a closed-end fund that specializes in precious metal mining stocks. Petroleum & Resources, true to its name, is a closed-end fund that buys oil shares.

I'm not a gold bug. I realize that gold has been a historical turkey as an asset class. Nor am I an energy buff. However, I felt that my CAPS portfolio needed a little diversification into inflation hedges.

Why did I buy into closed-end funds instead of singling out individual winners? Well, I liked that both funds are trading at sharp discounts to their net asset values. I'll get more bang for my buck that way.

Things can only get better
I'm encouraged to find that six of my last seven CAPS calls are currently beating the market. I've fared well by betting against vulnerable highfliers like Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM  ) . And I'm going long on Chinese stocks that I think will be huge beneficiaries from the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing -- travel portal Ctrip.com (Nasdaq: CTRP  ) and airport advertiser AIRMEDIA (Nasdaq: AMCN  ) .

I can't pat myself on the back, of course. I fell behind last week, clearly a sign that I need to prune some of my older picks.

One step in that direction is my decision to cut ties with Travelzoo (Nasdaq: TZOO  ) , one of my original outperform picks. The publisher of the Travelzoo Top 20 weekly emails is not getting favorable returns on its overseas investments, and its domestic business is stagnating. I rode it down for too long.

What's next? You're welcome to follow along on my CAPS page to see how I'm doing even before next week's update.

I encourage you to give Motley Fool CAPS a shot. The moment you start you'll be way ahead of me. But I won't stop fighting just because there's one more person ahead of me.  

I won't rest until my rating is respectable! See you there!


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