How long should you hang on to your stocks? Well, Berkshire Hathaway
Is the same true for mutual funds? Well, not necessarily. Users of our Mutual Funds discussion board hashed out this topic recently. Here is some of what was written, along with some additional comments.
- daymanxx asked, ".at what point to you bail on a fund? . Is 90 days way to soon to even ask the question? . I used to only look quarterly; now I'm watching these [fund price] movements daily... and perhaps it makes me trigger happy." Giving too much attention to your holdings can indeed be dangerous. All that looking without taking action can make us feel as though we're doing something wrong. Yet inaction is often better than second-guessing. Buffett said in his 1998 letter to shareholders, "In particular, my decision to sell McDonald's
(NYSE:MCD)was a very big mistake. Overall, you would have been better off last year if I had regularly snuck off to the movies during market hours." To me, 90 days is generally much too short a period in which to judge an investment's performance. (Of course, if within the 90 days you realize that you know nothing about the company or fund, or if you lose all confidence in it, then selling may be best.) Remember that patience is important in investing and that many great stocks and funds have short (or long) downturns. As long as you have confidence in their health and promise (or the in the funds' managers' smarts and judgment), hanging on is often best.
- Responding to daymanxx, joelxwil said, "You sell when it begins to go down." I disagree with this idea, since no fund or stock will keep going up in a steady line without ever going down. This user went on to advocate market timing, which is a problematic approach in many Fools' eyes. (Learn more in Rex Moore's "Battling the Bears" and Mathew Emmert's "Investors Time Their Beatings.")
- coolprash said, "Any decent investment should be made for the long term." He added that he favors index funds, which we have long recommended for many, if not most, investors.
- jbking, a most helpful Fool who pops up on lots of boards dispensing sage advice, said that he'd bail on a fund for the following reasons: "(1) Consistent underperformance. This is where the fund lags its peers for a period of time that tests my patience. My limit is three years, though others could have other thresholds for how long they will hold a poor-performing fund. (2) New manager that has only poor records or no record. This is where there is a management shift at the fund and the new guys in charge are either total unknowns or their previous funds stunk." He made other good points, which you can read in the discussion.
- KennyO said, "Do not watch your funds on a daily basis. Or if you do, just look at the numbers, then say 'Hmmm...,' and leave it at that.... You should read the last few months' worth of messages [on this discussion board]; we have covered a lot of ground."
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .