In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a group of people are trapped inside a cave and believe all of reality exists inside the cave. However, one day a prisoner escapes to discover an entire world outside the infinitesimal dugout. The same phenomenon occurred to me when I first started referencing a monthly financial calendar: I instantly discovered a new set of important variables which existed beyond my awareness. This under-utilized discovery helped me reduce my risks and increase my rewards.
Like a horse with side blinders, most investors and traders tend to get sucked into provincial views. Investors become well aquatinted with a specific company and everything happening in regard to that company. Traders tend to hone in on technicals or short timeframes. However, we must have a reasonable bird’s eye view of all key financial events in order to reduce our risk to unforeseen (but totally scheduled) events.
For example, if you are invested in a specific stock, you must also know the earnings announcement dates for top competitors and any important industry conferences. Those who know about these events will be able to hedge risk by either exiting positions at these times or simply monitoring the events for new information and reactions. Those who ignore these events may wake up one morning with a hefty pre-market haircut to their portfolio like a hippie reporting to the barber at basic training camp for the Armed Forces.
Let’s say you are invested in Research in Motion (RIMM). You’ve analyzed the fundamentals like Warren Buffett and Benjamin Graham. You have RIMM’s earnings announcement date posted on your computer with more flare than your wedding anniversary. You’ve also emailed all your friends the dates when the newest Blackberry will be available. You are cruising like Maverick in the movie Top Gun.
Then, one day at work you take a quick peek on YahooFinance only to see a dreaded red percentage posted next to RIMM’s price change. You think, “How could this be? We’re in a quiet period for important information.” So, you frantically scroll down to the News section and the top 20 headlines are related to Apple’s (AAPL) Worldwide Developer Conference. You click through and realize the new iPhone was unveiled, and it’s going to be a Blackberry killer. This entire nightmare could have been avoided with a monthly financial calendar.
Personally, I like to look at each quarter ahead of time. I like to see where are the Fed meetings and economic data releases. I want to know when top competitors or bellwethers are making important announcements. These events can have as equally a powerful effect on my investments as my holding’s direct announcements. However, most investors overlook this basic information.
In The Allegory of the Cave, the main character simply had to turn around to realize the cave had an exit. In our case, all we must do is reference a financial monthly calendar to discover new critical variables affecting our investments. If you cannot find one online or through an investment banking analyst, take the time to make one from scratch. Once you walk into the light, you will be in awe at all the new opportunities awaiting you.
This article was originally published at Minyanville on August 10th, 2009.
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