Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Old Has Gone, The New Has Come



To all of us lucky enough to witness a new year, hello. And may we not waste this blessing. 

I've promised some of you that I will collate some of my trades on 2017 for your dissecting pleasure.


Trend-Following



ANI was sold on the same day of the snap.




This GERI trade was the only time I went all-in on one stock and would be probably be the last. I realized that my heart just couldn't take it yet. This snap was taken at the highs, but I was able to sell this on EOD at 1.69, 45%.




Notice the time of the snap, 2:41 AM? I went to bed right after and slept like a baby. Little did I know that come sunrise, COL would royally screw up its clients. Ito yung sinumpang araw na 'yon. A little past 9:30 in the morning, COL just flat-out froze, along with all my hopes and dreams. Meanwhile, PXP was dropping like waterfalls. Sold intraday at 8.55, 51%.



MAC Round 1. 



MAC Round 2. 



MAC Round 3.



MAC Round 4.

I just had to milk it. This stock is a trend-follower's dream. I wonder if 2018 would gift us with another one like this. 


Swing


Initially had a TF objective, but the set-up did not materialize. Sold intraday.



Again, this was TF material but the stock showed signs of weakness and I normally would ride it out but my AEP was high. It couldn't take the beating. You know what they say, last one in, first one out. 



ANI was also a supposed TF pero mabagal pa sa pila ng MRT on a rush-hour. There were other good setups materializing at that time so I had to sell the laggard to make room for a faster horse. IDC, sold intraday via minute charting. 



Re-entered IDC during a quick consolidation. Sold intraday. On hindsight, I should've trend-followed the heck out of this stock. I would have had less stress and bigger profits. Hindsight is always 20/20 they say. But here lies the beauty of keeping a trading journal, you get to answer the questions: What did I do right? What did I do wrong? What could I have done better? So many traders take this practice for granted and fail to realize that this is their missing recipe to improvement. 




Had to sell intra because I won't be able to check the market the entire day, and I didn't trust MJC's volatility enough to leave it unmonitored. 


Jerk (also swing but bought on EOD, sold on the following day's open, still a work-in-progress)




Ceiling play.







Here's to all of you employees out there asking if profitable trading is possible while you're maintaining a full-time day job. I ended 2017 at 112.84% while fully-employed, rotating between the day shift and the night shift every 2 months. It was NOT easy. I've been very familiar with sleepless nights, an almost-declining health and a sub-par work performance. Don't get me wrong, I did not neglect my responsibilities. I was still doing pretty solid at work, just not as much as I used to. When I decided to make trading my priority, I had to accept that my job had to take a backseat. No one can serve two masters at the same time, after all. 

So yes. You can trade while you work. But you have to be prepared to make the sacrifices. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

We Went Out on a Fridate

A typical Friday in the metro:

  • Even more intolerable traffic where every hour becomes a rush hour
  • Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines
  • Often a payday, other times a petsa de peligro
  • Millennials going: “Let’s tonight?” “G!”
  • People feeling like they’re licensed to have a much-deserved night out, or for others, a night in

A typical Friday in the market:

  • Profit-taking here and there
  • Positioning for the following week’s spotted plays

December 9, 2016 (Friday)


But today is not a typical Friday. We battle the same traffic, we meet the same deadline. But today, we do it not for ourselves, but for people we don't even know. Today, our ports are placed on auto-pilot as we planned to meet up with a few kids and hope to give them a morning filled with laughter, surprises, sunshine and rainbows. 

Today, we shared the spirit of giving.

It was to be our batch’s first RAK (random act of kindness) and we decided to spend it at a Gawad Kalinga compound south of the metro amongst thirty little rascals. 

So let me tell you a story about the day six people made a fool of themselves. 

The walls of the room were adorned with the children’s artworks, an end-table housed various trophies, bookshelves lined up the corners. It looked just like your usual classroom. But sitting on the floor were the kids with their expectant stares fixed right in front of them. This was when a familiar upbeat music wafted through the stereo. And suddenly, awkward limbs were flying in every direction. Some of the kids laughed, others looked on with a mix of amusement and confusion. We didn’t know how to dance, surely we didn’t know what we were doing. It was mighty embarrassing, but we grooved to the music anywaywhatever would break the ice, whatever would make the kids give even just the hint of a smile. 

This Friday, we tell ourselves, is not about us.  

Her name is Jessam, she is 10 years-old. My favorite dessert, she said, is chocolate cake. When I grow up I want to be a doctor. A year younger than Jessam is Clarenz. This Christmas, he smiled shyly, I just want new clothes. To his left is Gabby, who is almost 3. She had curly hair and expressive little eyes. She would nod when she likes something, frown when she doesn’t, and cry out when annoyed.

And there were dozens more we met, who welcomed us with such warmth and energy that we felt like little kids again. The games got a little competitive, the lunch was well-awaited for and the gift sharing was such a joy to take part in. There were toy bags for the children and food packages for their families. It was almost noon and our program has not ended yet. The room had little ventilation, the air feels stuffy. We were starting to get drenched in sweat, but we couldn’t care less. Watching them get excited opening their presents, hearing their thank yous and seeing smiles plastered on their faces make it all worth it.















So much has been said about giving. We watch as some give as much as they could purely out of the abundance of their hearts, others do reluctantly out of perceived responsibilities. And just as much, we see those hide their skeletons under the pretense of selfless giving when really, all they want are recognition and bigger egos.

Whatever the reason may be, the Lord has said:

“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.” Deutronomy 16:17.

Just as we love because God first loved us, we give because He has first given us.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Please Bear With Me



The predator is back and we are all its prey. 

There are quite a few things that this market is teaching a neophyte like me:

1. Pick a set-up and be great at it.

Unless you're Sherlock Holmes, you can't master every play on the book. So you choose one and you study like hell to perfect it.

I am far from perfecting mine, but I have always leaned towards stocks that show forceful momentum and so I have always been a breakout trader.

What is a breakout trade?

Once a stock touches its resistance, it can do one of three things: breakout, consolidate, or untog.

Breakout
Conso
Untog

I buy on breakout because it signals a strong momentum. When resistances are broken, the stocks are free to fly as a bird. Until of course, they encounter another resistance, and the process would then repeat: breakout, conso or die.

Think of the stock that's about to breakout as the "unstoppable force" and its upcoming resistance as the "immoveable object."

An unstoppable force and an immoveable object both cannot exist at the same time. It’s a hoax. For better or for worse, one of them has to give way—and you better be ready whichever one chooses to.

When Hillary ran to be the first woman leader of the free world, most journalists, artists, people of color, and women were behind her. After all, she was running against one of the most misogynistic bullies the modern world has ever seen. The polls predicted her win since day one. She has her faults but she has it in the bag, the analysts said. She showed so much force and momentum, it seemed as if America would finally have a Madame President.

But alas, the glass ceiling was reinforced with white supremacy stronger than steel beams and she failed to break it. It’s THE immovable object, and Hillary was stopped short. Maybe it's not yet time, maybe the world is not yet ripe for a breakout. One day, the glass ceiling will be shattered. Until then, life goes on and we move on.

And we hunt, and we study, and then we study some more.

2. But learn to go out of your comfort zone.

I started dabbling in stocks May of last year, but I only actively traded January of this year. My trading career is as old as the fetus in my neighbor’s 9-month old belly (I wrote this on October ;p). But as a fetal trader, this is the most blood I’ve seen. So many plays with a promise of ever-after, only to end in a break-up shortly thereafter. 

On a market condition like this, ang hirap maging breakout trader. Breakouts turn into fakeouts. You press buy today only to hit sell the day after. It was a little disappointing.

So how about we try expanding our horizons? I tried looking into sleeper plays, or studying more about bounces. I don’t have a decent batting average on those plays. But just because I’m not good at it, doesn’t mean I can’t be. The market is giving us a chance to grow. We take it and break, or we take it and be better.

3. Curb your expectations.

During and a little after the ZFT course, my biggest port movers were the ones I did not put target prices on. It was position trading. I used trail stops on them instead allowing my profits to run as much as it could until the chart says stop. 

MAs as trail stop

But these past few months has taught me that setting target prices is wiser on a market season such as this. I’ve had pera-na-naging-bato-pa moments because I expected the market to adjust for me. The market never adjusts to anyone. And those are moments I’d rather not relive. Ang sakit eh. Setting target prices (TP) means protecting your profits on a season where plays expire in a day or two. 

But as in all things trading, TPs should be reasonable. Why did you set your target on a certain price? Does it have a technical basis? Or feel mo lang?

4. Set tighter cut loss points.

These days, I let go of positions the minute they reach the -2% mark. It’s a personal preference and it’s an awfully tight cut loss point, but I just don’t trust the market enough to let my losses turn into bigger ones. As a result, I've had whipsaws more times than I could keep track of. I cut positions a day, an hour, or a few minutes before they fly. And I'd be lying if I said I was immune to the inevitable headshake and to thinking sayang. But such is the price we pay by following the number one rule in trading: always protect your capital. 

There are days when I’d think, “I should have held on a little longer.” But then there are more days when I’m thankful I cut as early as I did, “buti na lang.” It might have been a bad entry, an incorrect bias, or whatever it is that colors your port red, make sure to let it go fast.  

I don't know if it's just me, pero 'di ba mas masarap matulog kapag walang pula sa port mo?

5. Choose your battles wisely.

Cash is also a position. This has been played like a broken record. But it’s something only a few people understand. Traders have an itch that they can only scratch by hitting the buy button.  I’ve been a victim, I probably still am, and so are a lot of people. It’s what makes us lose money; getting into war you never prepared for.

You don’t have to buy one stock every day or even have one every week. Maging maarte ka, maging choosy ka. Look for the outliers; those that turn green on a sea of red, those that rally when all the other stocks are rolling down the hill. But if something moves and you want to press the buy button, ask yourself first: Is this the fear of missing out? Is this according to my trade plan? If you've prepared for it, then please by all means go get it. Otherwise, seat back and enjoy the show.

Be on the defense when the market is charging on the offense, because the market always wins. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Big Missed Steak



Back in the corporate world, I have a quota of 18 cases per day. I close more than that and I get an incentive. I close more than that, pwede ng pumetiks. Quotas keep us aligned on the trajectory we place ourselves in. They keep us focused, motivated. But the best part? They keep us rewarded once they’re hit.

Here in the trading world, I set my quota to +10% overall port gain per month, or in a different perspective, +2.5% per week. Sounds doable, no? If achieved, it would mean that I could double my capital in 10 months’ time. And in a year, a profit of more or less +120%. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a pretty sweet deal to me. But if I was being completely honest, I wasn’t confident enough I could deliver. I trust in the system. I’m just not sure I trust in myself as much.

_________________________________________________________________________

August. Officially the first month we were left to our own devices. I got my eyes on my monthly goal. But there was a constant question of: could I or couldn’t I? I have written about my August travails on a prior post and I do not wish to be redundant. To cut the story short, I managed to bounce back from the losses and end the month with a +15.1% gain. Beginner’s luck? Probably. But what the hell. I was ecstatic, mainly because I proved to myself that I could do it.

September. I was stuck in the hellish metro traffic. I was running late for my doctor’s appointment but I couldn’t care less. It was just the second day of the month and I was already up by +6.67%, just 3.4% short of my monthly quota. Thanks to this baby:



Five days later, I was up by +8%. It was just the first week. 


Oh sweet heavens. Is it still beginner’s luck? Or am I already getting the hang of it? 

HAH! The dream. What I would give to say that I am. 

The fairy tale ended quicker than HiddleSwift called it quits. You know what they say, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. So one fateful day in September, FOOD was on the table and everybody was on a feast. 


It was a similar play to MED. And so due to my prior win and what I thought was a high probability set-up, I went heavy on FOOD. The most volume I’ve ever put in a single trade since the course. The problem with FOOD though, once you've consumed too much, you're sure to spit it out one way or another. 

For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. Proverbs 23:21

How befitting.



So yup, that's a -17.94% loss. The system says sell at the open on a situation like this. There was a way to stop the bleeding from becoming a full-blown hemorrhage. But I didn't react when I should. Instead, I fell in a state of catatonia. I was stunned, maybe I was in denial. And it proved very costly. All my September gains wiped out in a single trade. There's the market always looking for ways to humble people down. 
_______________________________________________________________________

It's the end of September. I took a little trading sabbatical after the FOOD poisoning. And unless the only stock I'm holding performs a miracle and shoots up to the ceiling by Friday, I know I wouldn't be able to meet my monthly quota for September. But I guess it's okay. We learn our lesson and we move on. We live to trade another day. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Saturday Morning The Rain Is Falling

It was a glorious Saturday morning. I maneuvered the car onto a narrow pavement careful not to hit the motorcycles parked along the busy street. A man on his fifties was taking a bath on the sidewalk, in open air. Kids were running around devoid of care and undergarments. We were in the heart of what was tagged as the biggest slum area of Pasig. But boy, was it a glorious Saturday morning.

We partnered with Jesus Loves The Little Children Foundation, a non-governmental organization whose aim is to help the underprivileged families send their kids to school. They believe that quality education is the answer to the country’s battle against poverty. It is an advocacy I believe with all my heart. And on that glorious Saturday morning, we were privileged to meet 25 of the foundation’s scholars.

I was lucky enough to have like-minded people as friends who came out to support. We did an impromptu dance number where we looked like fools at most. It was a small price to pay to have the kids laugh. I thought of it as an early Christmas party for the students, where there were games, and prizes, and activities, and food, and gifts, and shrieks of laughter, and pure childish abandon.

It wasn’t much. But I guess all we wanted to give was one day full of fun and joy and the reminder that someone cares. And truth be told, they did more for us than we did for them. It was a glorious Saturday morning.


Friday, August 26, 2016

August


It was supposed to be the ghost month. Cash was to be the prevalent position. But it would seem as if the market is trying to deviate from its yearly routine by breaking the norm. Plays were popping left and right at a rate which rivals Pidgeys and Rattatas on a lure party.


There was the infamous WEB suspension followed by an almost double ceiling play. The rallies of MCP, BLOOM, MAXS and what-have-yous.

It seemed like most people in the tribe have ridden one or the other. I haven’t. So while everybody was cheering, there I was thinking what am I not getting? What am I doing wrong? I have always imagined that my next blog entry post-classes would be all sunshine and rainbows. But when it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to post something that my mentors would be proud of, I chalked it up to a lack of inspiration.

Sometime after the course, my overall port gain hit 16%. Thanks to a couple of TF (trend-follow) positions and a few tsupitas. It wasn’t much compared to what most of the people in the tribe make, but to me, it was everything. I was someone who was so used to seeing a bleeding port. More than the money gained, it was the testament that I have made progress which excited me the most. That I have learned. That I am, in some ways, applying the lessons correctly. But as fast as I made progress, it was in the same manner that I lost it.

______

What preserved my capital and the gains that I’ve made during and after the course was this little thing called position sizing. Something that’s very important but is often overlooked. It falls under money management, one of those things we know we should care about but we hardly do. Position size simply means the amount of shares you buy in a trade.

Here’s a quick run through:

To determine the appropriate position size in a trade, you must first determine the following:
  1. Account size: P100,000.
  2. Cut loss point (%): Let’s say you use the -5% cut rule. Knowing where to stop your losses means knowing the risks involved.
  3. Account risk per trade (%): 1 to 2%. This is the amount you are willing to lose in every trade. It doesn’t matter how many zeroes you have in your account. You shouldn’t be willing to risk more than 2% of your overall portfolio value in a single trade.  In our example, we have P100,000 and we are willing to risk 2% in every trade so that gives us: P2000.

Here is a chart of CEB on 06/08/16:



We want to buy CEB at 100 pesos/share. The cut loss is set at 5%. Hence, we risk 5 pesos/share (cut loss).

Earlier, we have determined that we are willing to risk 2% of our overall portfolio in a single trade, which is equivalent to: 2000 pesos (account risk).

To compute for the position size: account risk/cut loss

2000/5 = 400 shares or P40,000 at 100 pesos/share. This will be your position size, the only allowable allocation in the trade with the given risk tolerance. Of course, the position size will vary depending on the trader’s risk appetite.

In its most basic sense, position sizing means that the higher the risk, the lower the capital allocation, and vice versa.
______

Practicing position sizing in my trades has been my portfolio's saving grace. It made it possible for me to lose small and win big. But when I saw my port turning greener and greener, I became more confident in placing positions. Too confident, in fact, that I became reckless. I found myself forgoing the usual risk computations and just entered trades because YOLO. 

For the first time since I started trading, I made money on consecutive trades, I have a very effective system behind me, surely I could afford myself some leeway.

Okay
Oh boy, was I wrong. It crept up so insidiously, it was too late when I realized I was in the midst of a Superman syndrome. Due to my prior wins, I began to enter trades without accounting for the risks involved. I took on high risk positions without capital preservation in mind. I was blinded with my recent progress that I forgot I still have so much to learn. And the market, as unforgiving as she is, did not fail to remind me of my oversight. It wasn’t long when I saw my losses piling up. I watched as my 16% gain trickled to as low as 2% in just a matter of days. Not even weeks, just days. Most of the gains I worked hard on ran away from me faster than Usain Bolt in a 100-meter dash.


What frustrated me the most was the way I would spend hours scanning charts, looking for potential plays, creating trading plans only to throw them out of the window come morning. I was just fooling myself, wasting hours on plans I wasn’t going to follow anyways. I entered trades I wasn’t supposed to. I made decisions that were not part of the blueprint. I only considered what I could gain and not what I could loss. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t just the syndrome. I didn’t want to admit it, not at first. But it would seem that the fear of missing out still has me on a chokehold.

Here are a few of my what-was-I-thinking trades:

 
I have yet to develop the habit of taking port snapshots prior to selling. There are other failed trades that are recorded in my trade journal but I’m sure you get the picture. 

And so although this is not how I thought my next blog post would be, I needed to face the music. Discipline is not a one-time thing. It’s an everyday practice. How many more wake-up calls before we finally listen?


Luckily for me, I did when I realized that one more mistake would send my port tumbling down to the sea of red effectively negating all the months of hard work. I didn't want that to happen. Because it's not just myself I'm letting down. With all the noise shut down and the drawing board dusted off, I went back to work. 
___________

Always, always make your why stronger than your excuses.
Always, always stick to your trading plans.

___________

There are still hundreds of miles to go, acres of lands to toil, but I'm glad to know hard work does pay off.

Some, if not all, positions are sold.


  




Monday, August 1, 2016

Class Dismissed



You know how when you’re reading a really good book, you’re torn between the impulse to devour every page as fast as you could and the need to prolong the moment before you reach its imminent ending. I have been having those exact feelings for the past week. The course was about to end and I somehow wish it wouldn’t, at least not yet. But on Friday, the lessons have concluded, the class was dismissed.


Confluence of Circumstances

It has been almost four months, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a random act of kindness for one but a game changer for another. Well… It may have also been a blunder, a plot twist, a confluence of circumstances. After all, the universe only allows things to happen for a purpose. On the post-script of this blogpost: The Purge, I said that Zee gave me the slot mostly because he thought that I was someone that he used to know.

Here’s what happened:

After I got the free slot, before the classes started, he was asking me how I was finding things so far. And then he gave me this instruction: 


What trading groups? I asked.



He then sent a link of the person's troll account. The one he thought was me. That's not me, I told him. Here is the part where I pretended like my heart is not stammering out of my rib cage because I finally realized that this guy gave me something other people would kill for because he thought I was someone else. So as casually as I could, I asked if he was taking back the slot but silently, I was preparing for the worst. 


I breathed a sigh of relief. This is turning out to be a great story. The odds of getting a scholarship to the ZF course are very slim but I lucked out on getting one. But the icing on top of the cake? Getting that scholarship because you made the leap which happened to bring you at the right place and at the right time. 



Doubled my luck? To put it more accurately, I felt like I won the lottery. It was a funny turn of events. But I couldn't help but feel sorry for the other person whose free ticket I just took away. 

You deserved the slot anyway, Zee said, you joined the Subasta and played well. Troll Nina didn't. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take, he added.

I'm sure troll Nina would have her own time, I answered. Season ko muna ngayon. 

SH Tags: the universe is rarely so lazy/coincidences/sherlock/302
Looking for a particular Sherlock reaction gif? This blog organizes them so you don’t have to deduce them out.


Troll Nina if there is by any chance you stumbled upon this blog, I'm sorry things turned out the way they did. But next time take a shot, even if you think that the odds are stacked against you. It worked for me. 

As always, things happen for a reason. Zee put it perfectly. It was divine intervention.



It has been one hell of a rollercoaster ride. Zee and Kap were more than just teachers, they were mentors. They don’t just share their knowledge about the market, more than that, they make you realize your own capabilities, your own wisdom. They let you see that the answers to your questions are right in front of you. Because above everything, they want you to be able to stand on your own feet and trade on your own skills. There was a sense of trust and partnership built around the whole team that you’ll stop wondering why the tribe is as close-knit as they are. My fellow Bushido, Tony Ang, said it best: it is a family. And I’m glad to be a part of it.

The sleepless nights, the recitations that kept us on our toes, the 50-chart assignments, the on-the-spot quizzes, the practicals, the life lessons, the teamwork, the bond, the friendship. It was everything I thought it would be and more. The classes may have ended, but we've only just begun.