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Failure is inevitable

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By Michael O’Connor

Successful investing is about learning from your mistakes... or mine!

Last week I shared a story about one of my friends who had lost a sizeable amount following an ill-informed yet entirely commonplace investing blunder. This week, to even up the playing field, I thought it would be only fair to go through some of my own hideous investments.

One of my first meaningful investments was into a cryptocurrency called Ripple (XRP) in late 2017. Armed with little-to-no understanding of the crypto space and about an hour of research, I decided that a $2,000 position was the only logical next step. My investment thesis at the time went something like this.

"It was trading at 20c a coin three weeks ago, and now it's at $2.20. If it continues like this, I'll be a millionaire by Easter."

It started off well, jumping from $2.20 to $3.30 a coin. A 30% jump in just a matter of days. My genius clearly knew no bounds.

The subsequent three months were somewhat less successful; it was a cataclysmic disaster, to put it mildly. The price did a vertical nosedive from $3.40 to $0.5c in a matter of weeks. My guaranteed millions had turned into a significant loss during a time when I definitely couldn't afford a 'significant loss'.. I was paying rent in Dublin at the time… enough said.

Another of my most memorable investing blunders is one I have discussed previously. This ended much more successfully but honestly haunts me far more than any loss ever will.

I purchased the much-beloved Canadian E-Commerce company 'Shopify' in late 2018 and sold after doubling my money just a few months later. I then watched on from the sidelines with tears in my eyes as Shopify went on one of the most relentless runs I have ever seen from a Large Cap company, a 20X jump from the day I purchased.

It may seem strange that I spend so much time regaling investing horror stories, given that my overall goal is to encourage and help people to start investing. Still, there is a couple of important universal take-aways from these personal anecdotes.

Nobody gets it right all the time

You simply need to be right more often than you are wrong. Casinos are heralded as money-making machines but only win 54% of the time. Not every investing position will be a winner. You will be wrong plenty of times during the course of your investing journey, and that's perfectly fine.

It's always important to highlight failures. We are all human. Modern technology has ensured that we are berated by personal highlight reels on a daily basis. Skills are advertised, flaws are hidden. We have a societal tendency to describe successful investors as having guru-like powers. This 'pedestal culture' means everyone else looks at them and says, "I could never do that", which is unfortunate because more people would be willing to try if they knew that those they admire are probably ordinary people who played the odds right. I know this held me back for longer than I care to admit.

"When you are keenly aware of your own struggles but blind to others", it's easy to assume you're missing some skill or secret that others have" – Morgan Housel.

Don't let fear of failure stop you from getting started. Learn by doing. I have learned a lot from all my investing mistakes, and they have ultimately made me more successful over time. While I am acutely aware that this sounds like something you would pull out of a fortune cookie at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, it still stands true.

Start small but start now.

To learn how to start your own investing journey, visit www.theislandinvestor.com.

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2023 Market Predictions

By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com For me, investing is just a potent mix of optimism and paranoia – being optimistic about what the future holds but constantly paranoid about the landmines […]

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By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com

For me, investing is just a potent mix of optimism and paranoia – being optimistic about what the future holds but constantly paranoid about the landmines that you will undoubtedly trigger along the way.

Finding a balance between the two is key, but I have to admit, going into 2023, paranoia appears to have the upper hand.

Expectation vs Reality

Whether you are waiting on test results, or tentatively hovering over the phone for that all important call back from your potential new employer, it’s the difference between expectation and reality that dictates the severity of your reaction.

Regardless of how bad the reality turns out to be, if your initial expectations were set apocalyptically low, your reaction will probably be positive and vice versa.

Financial markets work the same way. As I have said before, investing is never about things being objectively good or bad. The narrative is always based around better or worse. If the outlook for markets is exceptionally high and the performance falls even slightly below these expectations, prices will fall as a result. The fact that performance and growth is still strong in absolute terms is irrelevant if expectation were not met. With this in mind, in order to understand how markets will react in 2023, we must first analyse the market’s expectations.

The Year Ahead

On the equity side, 12-month forward earnings projections for the S&P 500 are set at 5%. In other words, analysts predict American companies will grow their profits by 5% next year.

While this represents a significant slowdown in growth relative to what we have experienced since the pandemic pullback in early 2020, I view this as optimistic, given the considerable change in monetary and fiscal policy in 2022.

Q3 2022 earnings season looks likely to finish at 2% year-over-year growth, the weakest since the height of the pandemic. Ex-energy, performance becomes weaker still.

Looking ahead to Q4 2022, analysts are now predicting the first negative quarter since 2020, with profit growth falling to -2%. These Q4 earnings predications from the same analysts were as high as +9% as recently as June.

While expectations for ‘23 are still at plus 5% earnings growth, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 2023 earnings forecasts suffer the same faith as the Q4 2022 forecast.

In short, markets are a bit like the Irish weather, never believe the forecast.

As leading indicators continue to point towards a slowdown in economic activity, a base case of positive 2023 earnings growth becomes difficult to justify. In my view, this will result in some negative earnings surprises in the second half of 2023.

In Fixed Income markets, the Fed has reiterated its plan to hold rates higher for longer, and this expectation is reflected in markets. According to the market-implied Fed Funds Rate, investors are now expecting US short term interest rates to peak at 4.9% in six months and remain well above 4% into 2024.

In my view, the probability of the Fed maintaining a long pause as we enter more economically uncertain times is not as high as the market is predicting. I believe a pivot is likely before 2024 as earnings and labour markets weaken.

Summary

While the lows for multiples may already be in, a mild earnings recession in the second half of 2023 may result in a slow grind lower for the stock market.

This pullback in earnings and labour will prompt a pivot from the Fed, forcing them to cut rates in an attempt to avoid the re-emergence of the disinflationary forces that provoked a decade of QE through the 2010s.

While it is impossible to know the exogenous shocks that lie ahead, buying up short-term Treasuries and maintaining a tilt toward value-based equity will protect if the current economic slowdown persists.

For more tips on how to beat the market in 2023, simply go to www.theislandinvestor.com.

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How to prevent oil escaping

By John Healy of Healy Insurances These tips will help you to prevent the loss of oil around your household. Plastic oil tanks should be regularly checked and replaced immediately […]

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By John Healy of Healy Insurances

These tips will help you to prevent the loss of oil around your household.

Plastic oil tanks should be regularly checked and replaced immediately when any defects are identified.

This is especially important after periods of extreme hot or cold weather as tanks that are outside and exposed to the elements may have been damaged.

Regardless of the oil tank’s age, you should check your tank at least twice a year for signs of cracking and/or failure. This damage is often a result of weathering or poor installation.

If an oil tank is installed without full horizontal support, it can cause the tank to become warped over time and eventually lead to cracks and leakage. If in doubt refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

In the event that defects are discovered, the tank should be immediately replaced to prevent any further oil from escaping. If an escape of oil occurs it may cause damage to the environment, which can result in your property being uninhabitable, and you may require temporary accommodation.

An oil tank should be refilled before it runs completely empty. This is because they accumulate grit over time. Refilling the tank early causes the grit to become diluted, meaning that it won’t create low grade fuel which will cause damage to your home’s supply piping.

Oil levels can be monitored easily by simply using a long stick.

More advanced methods of calculating how much oil is left in a fuel tank such as a Watchman System will not only tell you how much oil remains in the tank itself, but will signal you with an alarm when it is time for you to refill it.

When purchasing oil, always be sure to do so from a reputable and trustworthy source as this will ensure that you are getting quality fuel. Fuel purchased from unlicensed sources may be of very poor quality, and not necessarily be what it is labelled as, so could potentially do more harm than good to your piping and fuel supply system.

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