Play your own game–invest, don’t trade.

Trading and investing are not the same thing. When we use the two words interchangeably we muddle the message. We confuse the issue.

The word trade comes from the 14th century Old English: tredan. The original meaning referred to a way or course — a manner of life. But by the early 1500s the meaning had evolved to include buying and selling as a means of exchanging commodities.

A trade, therefore, is a short-term activity with a very specific purpose — an acquisition or disposition.

Investing, on the other hand, is an activity with a longer-term intention. The word’s source, investire, is from the 14th century Latin meaning to clothe. By the 16th century, this word, too, had evolved into an activity that gives capital a new form. For our purposes: a greater, larger, plumper form.

RELATED: Checking back on our 2014 stocks to watch

MORE: Temper speculation with common sense

The differentiation between trading and investing matters because too many of us freely interchange the use of and meaning of these words. They are antithetical. They are mutually exclusive. Traders intend to produce a quick, short-term gain (though the statistics would show more frequently a loss) and investors seek to increase their wealth through the long-term ownership of sound businesses.

Our friend, Benjamin Graham, author of “The Intelligent Investor,” said it like this: “But everybody knows that most people who trade in the market lose money at it in the end…they are not investors.”

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Following up on our 2014 stocks to watch.

Last July we examined two industry leaders in two very different cyclical industries: Oracle Corporation —a stock I own — and International Paper.

ORCL is a leader in enterprise software and IP is a leader in paper and packaging (think: corrugated boxes and paper cups). At that time the two companies traded at comparable valuations of approximately 13 times estimated earnings. Both stocks paid a dividend. ORCL yielded 1.2 percent, while IP yielded a more substantial 2.9 percent. Both stocks were cheap as measured by their respective p/e’s, and, in particular, when compared withtheir peer group companies and the S&P 500.

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Despite their similar valuations in July 2014 both stocks had very different earnings histories. ORCL’s five-year earnings registered in the mid-double digits, and was expected to slow to the low double digits in the subsequent five year period. IP’s five-year earnings growth, on the other hand, was flat due largely to a restructuring; five-year estimated earnings growth was expected to grow in the mid-single digits.

Read more here:  The Arizona Republic

Temper speculation with common sense

For Benjamin Graham, the greatest risk facing an investor is not the market, but short-term, emotional reactions to stocks. Nancy Tengler discusses the importance of emotional discipline.

 

Successful investors are students of history. Just as philosopher George Satayana famously declared: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” so it is also true: Investors who do not study the historical performance of stocks are doomed to make costly mistakes.

No one understood that point as clearly as Benjamin Graham, author of “The Intelligent Investor.” And no one has articulated it so well. According to Graham, intelligent investing requires an informed (though not necessarily exhaustive) understanding of the companies we are buying. He does not argue that individuals must be endowed with superior intelligence; rather, they must possess the discipline to exercise “firmness in the application of relatively simple principles of sound procedure.”

For Graham, the greatest risk facing the individual investor is not the market but our short-term reaction (often emotional) to stocks. We sometimes find ourselves “beset with confusions and temptation… frequently unconscious toward speculation, toward making money quickly and excitedly, toward participating in the moods … of the crowd.” In other words, Graham warns us to be wary of our natural proclivity to desire instant success. Gambling, lotteries and speculative trading appeal to the eternal hope etched on our imagination; the hope we just might win, we just might get rich quick.

Read the rest of this column by clicking here:  The Arizona Republic