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The following is merely opinion, and it's not intended as medical or mental health advice of any kind. We're investors writing for investors, not doctors writing for investors.
Investors have plenty to worry about these days: global unrest, spiking oil prices, food inflation, and a shaky economic recovery. Yet somehow, many of us remain transfixed instead by the decidedly colorful statements of Charlie Sheen.
The increasingly eccentric actor dispenses his "wisdom" to us through broadcast interviews, a red-hot Twitter feed, and any number of Internet memes. (I like the ones involving cats and baby sloths.) But as bizarre as Sheen's verbal gems can get, I think they nonetheless offer valid lessons for investors.
Last year, I diagnosed a subset of investors with Sirius Syndrome -- an irrational preference for rage over reason when it comes to certain stocks. Many of the comments Sheen's made in the past few days echo this attitude eerily well -- and illustrate the dangers of letting your id take the reins of your investments.
"My motto now is you either love or you hate, and you must do so violently." Just try pointing out any challenges facing Sirius XM (Nasdaq: SIRI ) to the stock's loyal adherents. Go on. I'll wait over here in this flame-resistant bunker.
Sirius fans display overwhelming love for the stock, and plenty of vitriol for supposed "haters" -- even if those folks are simply pointing out reasonable concerns. Even if it has recently started eking out meager profits, the satellite radio provider must still contend with its ever-evolving competition, high debt load, and historical difficulty in operating profitably. But if you try telling die-hard Sirius devotees this, expect to feel their violent love and hate in full force.
"We are high priest Vatican assassin warlocks. Boom! Print that, people!" Delving into conspiracy theories like this one never seems to do investors any favors. In 2005, Overstock.com (Nasdaq: OSTK ) CEO Patrick Byrne conjured visions of a sinister cabal of Sith Lords responsible for shorting his company's stock. (For more information about this duel of the fates, we've got the questions we posed Dr. Byrne, and his answers, in our archive.) Today, I'd say Overstock's biggest threat comes from its heated rivalry from Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , rather than any shadowy figures from the dark side of the Force.
"I'm tired of pretending like I'm not special." Join the club, Charlie! I'm sure we all think we're pretty special. That's precisely why it's always polite to listen to somebody else's opinion once in a while. The best investors can profit from a willingness to challenge their own beliefs.
"Defeat is not an option. CBS picked a fight with a warlock." Right about now, CBS is probably wishing it had learned the same lesson that every Foolish investor needs to take to heart. Unconditional love -- whether for a top-rated sitcom or a beloved investment -- can leave you vulnerable to unexpected disasters. (Like, say, "the talent" spiraling into increasingly bizarre behavior.)
Personally, I forgot Two and a Half Men was even still on the air. But the show that Sheen himself apparently called a "puke fest" remains the most popular and highly rated comedy on the tube. If Sheen's antics result in the show's cancellation, network CBS (NYSE: CBS ) and producing studio Warner Bros., a division of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) , stand to lose big money -- news that both companies' shareholders surely don't find funny.
A little too much tiger blood
I'm sure that many of us hope Mr. Sheen gets the help he's given every indication of desperately needing. His highly public behavior no doubt makes things difficult for his loved ones, not to mention his former coworkers on the now-shuttered show.
Like Sheen, investors can only hurt themselves by tightly tying their favorite stocks to their sense of self-worth, taking too much personal pride in their support for a given investment, and indulging in ugly rants and personal attacks on anyone who gives rational reasons to disagree. If their rash reactions ultimately lead them to trash their own portfolios, no amount of tiger blood, winning, or furious fists of fire will save them.
What's your favorite Sheen-worthy investing moment? Share with us in the comments below!