Skip to comments.How to Use This Shockingly Simple Method to Immediately Improve Your Investment Returns
Posted on 05/03/2014 10:19:54 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
You may already be familiar with the catchy bit of investment advice to sell in May and go away.
Historically, the first day of May kicks off a seasonally weak period for stock prices that lasts through October.
That also means that most of the gains in the U.S. stock market come from the period between the start of November and the end of April.
This implies a shockingly simple strategy:
Invest in an index fund during November through April and then switch into money market funds until the next November, and youll be much better off than an investor who stays fully invested throughout the year.
In fact, Im surprised there isnt a smart beta exchange-traded fund (ETF) that puts this strategy into practice.
Im guessing thats because the sell in May and go away strategy is just tooshockingly simple.
Sell in May and Go Away: A Remarkably Persistent Effect
Along with the small-cap effect the basis of my recent $25,000 bet against Warren Buffett the sell in May and go away market anomaly is one of the few that has stood the test of time.
A portfolio invested in the S&P 500 index starting with $10,000 in 1950 grew to $1,138,103 by May 5, 2012, simply by buying the index each year on Oct. 28 and selling the index on May 5.
In contrast, the same portfolios value actually decreased to $6,602 when an investor with $10,000 purchased the index each year on May 6 and sold the index on Oct. 27.
Now, thats a strategy with a longer track record than Warren Buffett himself.
And according to my back of the envelope calculations, it also outperforms the S&P 500 by over 2% a year.
And recent market history is a terrific highlight reel of poor market performance in the summer months.
During the financial crisis of 2008, the S&P 500 lost 27.3% during the May through October period.
Two years later, the Flash Crash of May, 2010 wiped almost 1,000 points off of the Dow in a few minutes time.
August 2011 saw a 20% correction in the S&P 500 that threatened to be a reprise of 2008.
No wonder many investors think its a good idea to sit on the sidelines during this turbulent time of the year.
Still, its hard to get your head around why this anomaly persists.
Finance academics who have studied the effect are similarly puzzled.
The best they could do was a study published in the December 2002 issue of theAmerican Economic Review, which suggested that the effect is the result of most big investors and traders heading off on summer vacation in May. That also explains why trading volumes are generally lower during the summer vacation months than during the winter.
Putting Sell in May and Go Away into Practice
Whatever the explanation, I must confess that Im particularly partial to this market anomaly.
I think its because Im a big fan of the Pareto principle popularly known as the 80-20 Rule. That rule suggests that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.
The sell in May and go away anomaly in markets seems to me to be an extreme case of this.
Alas, this market anomaly does not always hold. Just last year, for example, the S&P 500 rose 8.68% between May 5 and Oct. 27.
Nevertheless, if you want to play the odds and to enjoy the same six-month vacation large market players apparently do sell in May and go away might not be such a bad idea.
With that, here are a couple of caveats.
First, taxes on your gains during the good six months in a taxable account will quickly eat away your gains. So if you do implement this strategy, do it only with a non-taxable account.
Second, realize that your biggest enemy is yourself.
Knowing what is right to do is a lot different from actually acting on it.
The gist of any diet book ever written can be summed up in four words: eat less and exercise.
And yet, there are plenty of overweight folks around.
I bet it would take only two or three years of this strategy not working for you to abandon it.
Just look at how quickly investors dumped commodity stocks or emerging markets after a couple of years of lousy performance.
The bottom line?
Just because this strategy is shockingly simple doesnt mean it is easy to implement.
NOTE: Global Guru Capital is a Securities and Exchange Commission-registered investment adviser, and is not affiliated with Eagle Financial Publications.
Seriously....go Google this guy and look at his picture. Would you even by a used car from him?
I’m sure gonna take investment advice from someone who makes his nut by commissions off investments. yeah....like I’m gonna....
It’s called ‘churning’ and hyping the market.
By using this weird trick... I found in the Bible..
RE: By using this weird trick... I found in the Bible..
Let’s have the exact verse....
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Sell in May and go away.
RE: Im sure gonna take investment advice from someone who makes his nut by commissions off investments. yeah....like Im gonna....
The above ‘advise” is easy to check for its claims by looking at the S&P 500 charts for the past say, 20 years and then SIMULATING a theoretical $10,000 investment in 1994. Buying in Nov. and then selling in May.
You don’t have to pay the man anything.
Other than short summer rally, usually some validity.
An unmentioned aspect that needs to be brought forward, TAXES! Selling investments means that the profit/loss have tax implications. Short term is regular income, investments held a year and a day are capital gain/loss. The taxpayer must pay attention to the entire picture!
I first heard of this in the late 1970’s, from Norman Fosback. “Sell in May and Go Away” has worked since.
It never became mainstream, smart money since. Otherwise the advantage would be arbitraged away.
That said, I personally switch to utilities May to October and switch back to non utilities November to April. These asset classes are less (but not negative) correlated.
First you start with some cattle futures . . .
And this results in a whopping 7.7% rate of return... just about average market.
What a COS.