Buying ill-liquid Stocks

Markets at near all time highs and the euphoria of a further rise in case NDA comes to power (with a massive majority to boot) has meant that retail is starting to enter in a small way. But since most of the big guns have already become too expensive (in terms of price of shares mostly though for many valuations are a stretch at the current juncture), its a season for those stocks which barely saw any trade for hours together to now be the ones much talked about.

Most of these stocks which lay theoretically dead are now roaming around like zombies though from afar, they do seem like normal behavior and hence easy to mistake one for the other.

The problem in most of these stocks is not in getting in as much as getting out. Right now, its time to get out of many such stocks as volumes have suddenly sprung up on the back of pretty good increase in price.

Warren Buffett says and I quote

“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”

While it makes sense logically, the problem comes in terms of practical suitability of it especially in a market where stocks go out of favor before you know. Add to that, while its true that good stocks are better held for the real long term, our life requirements mean that if for any reason we want to exit a stock, we should be able to do it without having to take massive slippage costs.

Liquidity should be the corner stone of investments in companies where you do not have a meaningful stake and one which you regard as something that could be en-cashed during times of distress. After all, what is the point in having stock worth lakhs if it cannot help you when you need it most.

The thought on the above subject came to me after reading a recommendation by a fellow blogger who has recently recommended a stock that this year alone has gone up by >80%. The problem is not in terms of the rise in itself, as a technical guy, I believe that momentum begets momentum. The concern for me in that stock (other than seeming to be expensive compared to its peers) is that this stock was having a average 10 day trading volume of <3000 for better part of last year (with there being times when it dropped below the 1000 mark as well) and now does a good 25K odd shares. 

If and that is a big If, market loses flavor for the stock (in other words, operator having done his deed decides that there is nothing more to squeeze it from), its a matter of time before the stock not only goes back to square one or thereof but also for a investor who has entered the stock at higher levels, getting rid of it becomes even tougher as volumes slip back to the normal levels.

Due to changes in my own belief and trading style, I had disposed off most of my portfolio last year (and despite the massive run markets have seen, my stocks have not participated which has meant that I have been better off without then than with them) but had to hold on to a couple of stocks that were listed on BSE and were in the Periodic Call Auction list. Try as I might, I could not get rid of it ( with avg volume being less than 100 per day on many days). 

Recently when I checked out the price, I was astonished to see that not only the price had nearly doubled from where I had first intended to sell but volumes have been much better too. While the strong move did have me thinking of the best possible action, knowing how tough it was to sell the same last year at half the current price, I decided the best way was to exit regardless of whether this will be a case of missed opportunity in case the stock continues to move higher.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Just be careful on what road you choose since when it comes to the crunch being on the highway is much preferable to being on a inside road which most of the time ends in a dead end 🙂






About Prashanth

Have been a full time participant in the stock markets since 1996. Run a Yahoo Group where focus is exclusively on discussions of the Indian Markets using Technical Analysis as the tool (
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s