In the book The New Market Wizards, Stanley Druckenmiller explains why he focuses on what makes a stock go up or down. Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Q. What kind of analytical approach did you use in evaluating stocks?
Druckenmiller: When I first started out, I did very thorough papers covering every aspect of a stock or industry. Before I could make the presentation to the stock selection committee, I first had to submit the paper to the research director. I particularly remember the time I gave him my paper on the banking industry. I felt very proud of my work. However, he read through it and said, “This is useless. What makes the stock go up and down?”
That comment acted as a spur. Thereafter, I focused my analysis on seeking to identify the factors that were strongly correlated to a stock’s price movement as opposed to looking at all the fundamentals. Frankly, even today, many analysts still don’t know what makes their particular stocks go up and down.
Q. What did you find was the answer?
Very often the key factor is related to earnings. This is particularly true of the bank stocks. Chemical stocks, however, behave quite differently. In this industry, the key factor seems to be capacity. The ideal time to buy the chemical stocks is after a lot of capacity has left the industry and there’s a catalyst that you believe will trigger an increase in demand.
Conversely, the ideal time to sell these stocks is when there are lots of announcements for new plants, not when the earnings turn down. The reason for this behavioral pattern is that expansion plans mean that earnings will go down in two to three years, and the stock market tends to anticipate such developments.
Another discipline I learned that helped me determine whether a stock would go up or down is technical analysis. Drelles was very technically oriented, and I was probably more receptive to technical analysis than anyone else in the department. Even though Drelles was the boss, a lot of people thought he was a kook because of all the chart books he kept. However, I found that technical analysis could be very effective.
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