Ask the Expert: Does Contrarian Investing Really Work?
If you'd like us to answer one of your firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: We not respond to requests for picks.)questions in our weekly Ask The Expert Q&A column, email us at
Question: Does being anactually work? I make going against the ?
-- Jim S., Chicago, IL
The Answer: Contrarian carries a special attraction for many investors. Not only does being a contrarian frequently present an opportunity to produce outsized , it can also be a thrill and big boost to the ego to bet against the masses and go against the grain.
Adding greater allure to the attraction of being a contrarian are the escapades of legendary hedge-fund billionaires scoring huge gains executing contrarian strategies. That includes John Paulson's $12 billion in 2007 after bucking popular opinion and making huge bets against housing. Fellow hedge-fund billionaire David Einhorn of Greenlight Management also dazzled Wall Street in 2011 after shorting Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ: GMCR) before the 's epic implosion, netting Einhorn and his firm hundreds of millions in profits.
One of the most popular contrarian strategies is shorting a high P/E or industry. But the problem with shorting is that the spends a more time going up than going down. Since 1950, the S&P 500 is up an eye-popping 9,458%.
That risingtide tends to lift all , making it difficult to on a short even with an industry or struggling company. Take a look at the huge gains the S&P 500 has produced in the last 63 years.
The second challenge of being a contrarian is timing the market timing is the toughest game in town.. A successful contrarian requires perfectly timing a turn in sentiment, but even the most successful investors in the industry acknowledge that
That played out with United States Natural Gas (NYSE: UNG)(exchange-traded ) in the last five years. With the natural gas crashing from its in the summer of 2008, many contrarian investors were quick to buy on the big drop anticipating a reversal. But four years later, prices are still deeply depressed, equating to huge losses for any contrarian investors calling a bottom in the last few years.
Remember, even if the logic behind a contrarian investment is rock solid, that doesn't it be profitable, thus the saying: “The can stay irrational longer than most investors can stay solvent.” Take a look below at the huge decline in natural gas that wreaked havoc on contrarian investors looking to go against the grain in the last few years.
The third reason being an effective contrarian is so challenging is a matter of time, expertise and resources. It's important to understand that effective contrarian capitalize on a short-term anomaly.requires identifying an opportunity that the rest of the is completely missing. And between the largest institutional players on the Street -- including banks and -- there are tens of thousands of forensic financial and high-frequency computer models pouring over every single piece of data in the world. If this group of highly trained professionals with the best resources and incentives is missing a big contrarian opportunity, it is highly unlikely that a one-person operation with limited experience and resources is going to beat the Street and
Generally speaking, the best strategy for most investors is to work with an adviser and keep it relatively simple. Investors don't need to score 1,000% gains to be extremely profitable and successful in the. Great is built upon patience and disciple
One final thought: Contrarian bullish trend while limiting fees and expenses to a minimum.