Diary of a Stock Market Loser

It's been nearly a month since I began to publicly chronicle my attempt to claw my way out of the cellar in the Motley Fool CAPS community stock-rating experience.

Man, this is harder than I thought it would be. Here are my ratings over the past four weeks.

The ratings go from 0 to 100, so all I've done over the past four weeks is go from being ranked beneath 99.45% of you to enviously looking up at 98.97% of you.

Making moves and taking names
In retrospect, I should have probably made a few more bearish calls, rather than go for aggressive bullish picks. What can I say? I'm an optimist at heart, and I tend to become a dangerous gambler when my chips are down.

I made two new picks this week, tagging AirMedia (Nasdaq: AMCN  ) and Gaiam (Nasdaq: GAIA  ) as bullish picks.

AirMedia has the airport advertising market cornered in China. As you can imagine, this will be a sweet spot to occupy once the Olympics have passengers flying in from all over the world. AirMedia went public three months ago at $15 a stub. It's trading a bit higher now, though I expect the profitable company to become even more prolific once Chinese stocks settle down and the market begins assessing the obvious equity winners from the Olympic Games.

Gaiam is an earthy lifestyle-media company that runs yoga studios, operates wellness clinics, and puts out fitness DVDs. The company is also filing to take its Real Goods Solar subsidiary public. Real Goods isn't a Chinese maker of photovoltaic cells -- it's a domestic company that has been enabling homes in Colorado and California to switch over to solar-energy solutions. Investors have fallen in and out of love with the growing number of solar-energy plays lately, but if Real Goods proves to be the real goods, Gaiam should appreciate nicely.

I also closed out two earlier calls, with mixed results. I terminated a bullish projection on Build-A-Bear Workshop (NYSE: BBW  ) . This week's horrendous quarterly report sealed the deal. Comps fell a jaw-dropping 12.6% at the stores, and the company is scaling back expansion for 2008. I had warmed to the stock last year, when it was hoping to smoke out a suitor, but now I see that an exit strategy won't be happening on the company's terms. Build-A-Bear will be lucky to get any kind of offer for its deteriorating business.

I also closed out a better position by putting an end to my bearish call on Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund (Nasdaq: CUBA  ) . The closed-end fund owns stocks that should thrive in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba, should that change accommodate open commerce. It was trading at a huge premium to its net asset value when I turned bearish, but that premium wasn't sustainable. Now that the shares are actually trading at a discount to NAV, there's no reason for me to stick around. Heck, if the discount widens even more, I'll even go bullish.

Things can only get better
If you're following along on my CAPS page, you'll see how I'm doing even before next week's update. You'll also see that I haven't moved much since I blew the cobwebs off what had become my nearly abandoned CAPS page to steer it back into respectability.

Just two of the six other calls I've made over the past few weeks have been winners for me. Turning bearish on India's Rediff.com (Nasdaq: REDF  ) after another lousy quarter, and going bullish on E*Trade (Nasdaq: ETFC  ) before its trading-baby Super Bowl ads aired, have gone well for me.

I guess I'll take the holiday weekend to prune away more positions and scour for new calls. Between now and next week, I'll see you over at Motley Fool CAPS, hoping to shed my role as one of the simulation's biggest losers.


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