It’s always a good idea to go back over your past investment decisions and evaluate whether they were correct or not. We all do it when we buy a share, but not usually after we’ve sold them. I decided to go through the last few share sales I made and see how the stocks have performed since. Did I make the right decisions or have I missed out on further gains? We’ll see!
GSK is a large pharmaceutical company with some consumer goods products divisions also. I sold the stock a few years ago at 1415p as they had upcoming patent expirys including their biggest revenue earner. When I took that into account I thought they were fairly valued so I sold. The price today is 1648p. So did I miss something here? In all honesty I don’t think so. I think GSK has been driven up by investors who seek stable dividends and don’t fully contemplate the earnings and stability of the underlying business. GSK has a stable dividend yield and I don’t expect it to drop, but I just don’t see much else going for it. I regret I missed out on some more upside, but I don’t think I was wrong to sell.
I sold Supergroup last year for a quick 76% gain at 657p. I didn’t want to be invested in the business long term as they are a clothes retailer and could go out of fashion at any time. However I felt the market was severely underpricing their future potential and I was right. The price today is 717p so I clearly again missed some upside. The operational problems they were having have been resolved as I expected and revenues are still increasing. But as with all fashion retailers, those revenues can decline if they suddenly go out of fashion, and I would definitely class Supergroup as ‘in fashion’ right now and their products get premium pricing on par with more established brands. Now I’m not predicting they will go out of fashion, I happen to think their clothes are very stylish, high quality and it’s great at branding, but I don’t want to take on the risk so think I was right to sell.
This is one of my few investment mistakes (so far!) Arrow is an electronic components distributor and I underestimated the decline in demand for their products. I also wrongly assumed that it had big OEMs as customers when in fact it does not. Its revenues started to decline just after I bought but luckily for me, I always ensure I have a margin of safety when valuing a company. Upon reviewing the situation I decided that I had paid fair value for Arrow and when the price hit my purchase price of $41 I exited. Today several months later the price is $40 so it seems the market agrees with me. The results continue to be lackluster and profits are declining so I have no regrets exiting this investment.
A more recent divestiture so no extra results but interesting to see how the price has performed. It is now at $74.50 compared to my exit price of $76. Can’t say I’m disappointed with that!
I still have Tesco as a holding in my portfolio but in April I posted to say I was reducing my holding by over three quarters on the back of the new management statement. I sold for 380p, so a small profit on my 375p average buy price. Also shortly after Warren Buffett announced that he had reduced his Tesco holding too (I wonder if he reads my blog!?) The price is now at 331p so I am very glad I sold when I did. I’m happy to retain my small position but will not be adding to it, even at sub 300p.
So what can I learn from going over these old decisions? Well that’s where I want you to come in. Post in the comments about where you think I went wrong, or right, how would/do you do it differently. I find exiting positions to be a tougher decision overall than buying, a few other value investors have said this as well. It’s always interesting to get other opinions on this.