Making Your Earnings Season Survival Playbook

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Making Your Earnings Season Survival Playbook’s Non-Random Words

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Jeff’s Random Words

I was on a short ski trip this week with my family, some friends, and their kids. This is an annual trip and it always takes place at the beginning of earnings season. This usually presents a bit of a conflict. As someone who loves investing, earnings season is a lot of fun. As someone who creates content related to investing, it’s also important to be in the loop on what’s happening.

But, each year I go away for a few days and find myself completely disconnected from the stock market at a very news-heavy time of year. AND IT’S WONDERFUL.

Seriously, if you’re a nerdy investing geek (and let’s be honest if you’re reading this, you likely are), I can’t recommend highly enough taking a few days and completely unplugging from the stock market and investing news stories. It’s easy to start to overthink things and a little reset here and there can be helpful.

I think this is especially important for new investors. Jason told a story on this week's live First Fridays show about how when he was new to investing, his wife almost left him in Amsterdam alone because he kept trying to get internet service to check his portfolio. Upon his return to the States, he realized his portfolio was fine and it was a lesson learned.

I don’t have an extreme example like this from my investing journey (I’m much more disciplined than Jason), but his story definitely resonated with me. Putting some friction on that new investor's obsessive energy is a good thing.

Taking breaks from the market is another tool for our investing toolboxes. It helps us reset, give our investing brains a break, and realize that most of investing is just sitting on our butts (to paraphrase the late, great Charlie Munger).

My next vacation will be longer, one week. While it won’t be during earnings season, I am already looking forward to stepping away from my spreadsheets and brokerage website to remind myself that time and patience are my greatest allies.


Jason’s Random Words

While Jeff was away, I was nose-to-the-grindstone focusing on earnings from a few companies. I'm just a more committed investor than he is. It shows in our respective returns. I'm kidding (not about the returns – about his commitment). Jeff's right in his words. For those of us with a professional reason to be plugged into earnings in real time, and investors like Jeff (and probably you, dear reader) who really do enjoy this stuff, most people should turn take a couple of weeks off during earnings season. 

Probably the most interesting thing for me about earnings season is that, because of my work, earnings season is a great chance to get reacquainted with companies I don't follow as closely as my favorites, often ones I don't own. The irony is, I'll often ignore the earnings results from my favorites, and actually focus on others during earnings season. 

I do this for a few reasons. To start, demand from investors looking for information about companies often aligns with companies I don't own. As much as I have my share of popular stocks in my portfolio, plenty of the ones I own aren't household names. And as a result, I find myself writing (and talking) about others for work. This is a simple case of following the money; I'm getting paid to make content about popular stocks. 

But that's not the only reason why I focus on these companies. It's also a good opportunity to re-evaluate companies that I've either chosen not to buy, or never considered before. It's a great way to hunt for new ideas, and to take a hard look at my investing process. And since these are largely companies I don't own, I don't feel the same pressure to Do Something. I get to just focus on analysis and learning more. Sure, sometimes I feel the itch to act, but trading restrictions create friction that forces me to make measured decisions, not FOMO or just react to the market's treatment of a stock. 

The third part of it is that it makes it easier for me to wait a little longer to dig into the results of companies that make up a larger portion of my wealth. By creating distance from the time the release came out, and when I consume and analyze the results, I don't feel as much impetus to act on that information. Mr. Market has already reacted and acted, so I get to be more measured in deciding if I need to do anything, or if I've been considering adding to, reducing, or selling out of a stock, whether I'm now prepared to make that decision. 

To put it another way, I've found a way to leverage my professional opportunities, personal interests, and how I am wired to build a framework that helps me navigate earnings season more successfully. I've introduced some friction in places that I might act too quickly, and found some financial incentives to "lubricate" my exploration of companies I know but don't own. 

Jeff just goes skiing. It must be nice to not have to work for a living.

What do you do during earnings season that you think helps you make better investing decisions? I'd love to hear in the comments, if I can figure out how to turn that feature on.


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