Diary of a Stock Market Loser

I blew it.

After weeks of clawing my way out of the cellar of the Motley Fool CAPS community, I belly-flopped right back into the cesspool.

Here's how my ratings have ebbed and flowed in the past few weeks:

Sure, I wasn't rolling before this week's tumble, but at least I was pointed in the right direction. Now I find myself at a new low since I started providing weekly updates on my public experiment to get back on the bandwagon.

A week ago I was only faring better than 3.32% of you, but now I find myself ranking only above 0.47% of my fellow players. That's right. In a room of 200 other players, I'm probably being lapped by 199 of them.

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

Making moves and taking names
I know where I went wrong. I was way too late in deciding to bet against Bear Stearns (NYSE: BSC  ) . I was itching to make the move last week -- which would have rocked -- but I followed the lemmings and pegged it as a short-term stinker on Monday.

When I saw the stock trading for nearly double the $2-per-share buyout price, I figured shell-shocked investors were delusional. This was a company heading to Nil City before the Fed decided to guarantee $30 billion in questionable loans. The buzz is that someone will bid higher, but is that realistic?

The market seems to think so. Shares of Bear Stearns went on to trade higher, leaving me to lick my wounds. I figured I had a clear path to lock in a good 45% dip as the stock worked its way down to the $2 price, but I've learned not to bet against a volatile stock with infinite pain to exert if it rockets higher.

This doesn't mean that I spent my week badmouthing the financials. After discount brokers TD AMERITRADE (Nasdaq: AMTD  ) and Charles Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW  ) were unjustifiably downgraded earlier this week, I hopped on both as market outperformers.

I don't see any connection between failing full-service brokers and investment bankers with growing discount brokers. If anything, this may be the last straw before the world of discount online brokers such as Schwab and TD AMERITRADE opens wide to the masses.

My one other new position this week was going long on Focus Media (Nasdaq: FMCN  ) after the market soured on Chinese stocks. Focus Media actually opened substantially higher on the heels of a blowout quarterly report by China's leading ad broadcasting specialist. I couldn't believe the intraday reversal. With Focus Media now trading at just 15-16 times its earnings outlook for 2008 -- and growing substantially faster -- I dove in. 

Things can only get better
I also did a little pruning this week. I went ahead and ended my bearish call on Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) . It's a stock that I have owned since 2002, but I felt it was vulnerable a few months ago.

That was before Netflix raised its subscriber targets for 2008. I should have gotten rid of the bearish position even earlier -- rival Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI  ) has seen subscription rates stall for its Total Access service since it was forced to raise prices.

My only other position change was to nix my horrific call on Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG  ) . That's an old position, dating back to when I thought high-margin digital music sales would offset the slide in CD sales.

Unfortunately, the problem isn't that easy to fix. The music industry is in real trouble, and it just doesn't pay to be a major label with a ton of overhead in a flat, flat world.

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

Another thing you may want to do is give Motley Fool CAPS a shot. The moment you start, you'll be way ahead of me.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop fighting just because there's one more person ahead of me. I'm not going to rest until my rating grows respectable. See you there!


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