Diary of a Stock Market Loser

What a relief.

I was braced for the worst after last week's blowout on Motley Fool CAPS, so I guess I should count my blessings in my feeble attempt to bounce back this week. As easy as it is to be a part of the CAPS stock-picking and stock-dissing community, it sure is hard to claw one's way out of the gutter.

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

I can't get too excited. A rating of just 1.91 out of 100 means that I still have more than 98% of you ahead of me since I began providing weekly updates on my public experiment to get back into the game.

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

Making moves and taking names
I made three new calls this week. The first was betting against HSW International (Nasdaq: HSWI  ) . The upstart company is out to milk the content of HowStuffWorks.com for websites in China and Brazil. It's a noble pursuit, but with a market cap greater than $250 million it's a bit rich for an unproven model.

I fear that HSW will shape up to be another Answers (Nasdaq: ANSW  ) , operator of Answers.com. I have nothing but respect for Answers.com as a reference site, but the financials and growth rate don't justify much of a market valuation for the business itself.

My second call was to try my hand at bottom-fishing on Clear Channel (NYSE: CCU  ) . Yes, a satellite radio fanboy like me can still warm up to terrestrial radio. The stock crumbled on Wednesday after financing appeared to fall through on its privatization attempt. I got in yesterday, when the legal system appeared to have a persuasive bent in getting the banks that backed out of financing the deal to honor the deal. Even if it doesn't happen, Clear Channel is still a profitable juggernaut in radio and outdoor advertising, trading at an earnings multiple in the teens. I can live with that.

My third pick was to peg lululemon athletica (Nasdaq: LULU  ) with a market outperform rating. The fast-growing chain of upscale yoga apparel reports fourth-quarter and full-year earnings on Wednesday. The stock has been knocked around over integrity issues, but this is also a company that has blown past Wall Street expectations in each of its first two quarters as a public company. The holiday quarter should give it even more room to shine, so I'm betting on a big bounce after next week's earnings report.

Things can only get better
I also did a little pruning this week. I went ahead and ended my bearish call on Bear Stearns (NYSE: BSC  ) . It was a disaster for me last week when the $2-a-share buyout price fell apart. News of insider selling at this point means that the current $10 offer is likely to stick, but I made my bearish call so low that I can't afford another round of higher buyout bids.

I've learned my lesson. I try to avoid betting against stocks with potential catalysts, and I just didn't see this one coming. I really felt that if all three parties involved agreed to the terms of the original $2-a-share bailout bid that it would stick. I was wrong.

I also ended my bullish calls on JAKKS Pacific (Nasdaq: JAKK  ) and TierOne (Nasdaq: TONE  ) . The former worked out well. I got in before the company's EyeClops toy was a big hit over the holidays. I can't get greedy, especially since it's way too early to tell who will have the hot toys for the 2008 season.

My TierOne pick was based on shares of the Nebraska bank trading at a steep discount to its buyout premium. Like way too many busted deals lately, trying to play the difference burned me when the deal didn't go through as planned. 

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 the 93,000-member Motley Fool CAPS community a shot. You'll be way ahead of me the moment you start. But I'm not 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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  • Report this Comment On April 01, 2008, at 10:51 PM, FiVeaLaRm wrote:

    Wow, this article reminds me of how many truly inconsequential things there are in this world.

    My prediction is that in the very near future CAPS profiles will begin to show up for auction on eBay right there next to the World of Warcraft and Magic Online accounts.

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