How to Take Advantage of Mr. Market

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The name of my portfolio is "Messed-Up Expectations." These are what the market gives us when it gets a bit inefficient, when it expects -- as shown by the share price -- much, much less than what the company is capable of producing. Taking advantage of these and waiting for the market to realize its mistake is a simple-to-understand way to do well while investing.

This idea -- which I first ran across in Expectations Investing by Michael Mauboussin -- turns the traditional discounted cash flow calculation on its head. Instead of predicting growth (a difficult thing to do in the best of circumstances) to calculate a fair share price, you determine how much growth is priced in at the current share price, and then ask, "Is that reasonable?"

For instance, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) in early 2009 was trading for about $90 per share. At that price, the market expected absolutely no free cash flow growth from the company ever again. Ridiculous, on the face of it. Shares trade hands today well north of $300 each, so the market has corrected its short-sightedness.

Similarly, Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN  ) in late 2008 had zero growth priced in at $19 per share. With shares now over $30, investors who saw that did well.

In my own portfolio, I've had success approaching investments through this lens. I jumped onto the Garmin situation, though I missed adding to my Apple position at that low $90 price. But I did take advantage of the opportunity to purchase Transocean (NYSE: RIG  ) last summer during the fear caused by the Gulf spill. It's also my first pick in the MUE Portfolio.

The psychology of investors in the market isn't going to change much going forward. I feel confident that we'll have many opportunities to pick up MUE stocks and ride them to superior returns as others realize the companies aren't dead, after all.

Come join me on the journey.

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Apple and Transocean. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Analyst Jim Mueller owns shares of Transocean and works for the Stock Advisor newsletter service. The Fool's disclosure policy was written for you. Read it.


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