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Are Stop Losses for Wimps?



Steve Brice stop losses

By Steve Brice

When I started out in banking, I was based in a dealing room advising traders on potential positions to take. The positions were focused and generally very short-term in nature. Therefore, risk management was not a ‘nice-to-have’, it was vital to job security. When entering a trade, a stop-loss – a level at which the position taken would be unwound if it was losing money – was a must.

It was against this backdrop that a former colleague quipped that ‘stop-losses are for wimps’. He was of course referring to certain stocks in his portfolio which had fallen dramatically – he was probably justifying to himself why he should keep it! However, it raises an interesting question: Should we employ stop-losses when we invest?

While many people will be very passionate about this topic, as with most things in life, context is key. If you think about it, the existence of the stop-loss is a hedge against the fact that nobody knows what is going to happen and therefore you need to build in a circuit-breaker to avoid the behavioural biases that come with a loss-making position – the ostrich, or ‘head in the sand’, syndrome.

So, how does this translate for an average investor? I would argue that there are two dimensions to consider: the nature of investments being discussed and your time horizon. Let’s take each in turn.

I have a much greater conviction level that a diversified ‘foundation’ allocation (which includes exposure to different asset classes such as stocks, bonds, gold and private assets), or even a diversified equity portfolio, is more likely to rise over a given period of time than any individual stock.

The reason is simple. Different asset classes have different drivers and hence are usually uncorrelated in their moves. Therefore, just combining them into a portfolio smooths out the bumps and increases the probability of positive returns for the portfolio as a whole.

When it comes to the stock market, there are also different drivers that determine equity market or individual stock returns, but let’s simplify them into broad market drivers and idiosyncratic drivers. If the economy enters a recession, then most stocks will fall sharply in value. However, a company’s failed product launch will largely hit one stock, and those of a few of its suppliers. Its impact on the overall market will be much less severe.

This brings me to Principle Number 1: The broader the investment, the less likely a stop-loss is warranted and that a buy on dips approach makes sense.

A very good friend of mine recently questioned how applicable this ‘buy on dips’ approach was to stock markets outside of the US. So, we ran the numbers for some major global and Asian markets in terms of probability of positive returns over different time horizons and the potential size of returns for investors. The results are pretty interesting.

First, the historical probability of positive equity market returns across any given 12-month period, at around a two-thirds probability, is generally similar across major global or Asian indices – China is an outlier at just 55%. If you extend your time horizon to 5 years, this probability generally increases to around 80% – the outliers are Japan’s TOPIX (66%) and India’s Sensex (92%).

Second, we looked at what has happened after a 10% or 15% market pullback. Focusing on the 1-year time horizon, we can break the countries into 3 groups:

1) either the probability of positive returns or size of average return or both have increased significantly after a market sell-off. Markets that fall into this group include the US, Germany, UK, India.

2) there is no material change in either variable. This includes Hong Kong, Malaysia and Korea. Once you lengthen your time horizon to 5 years though, they all move into the first group.

3) the probability of positive returns or their average quantum actually declines after a sell-off. Japan and onshore China markets fit into this group. On a 5-year time horizon, China also moves into the first group but, interestingly, Japan stays firmly in group 3.

Hence the conclusion is: outside of Japan, the ‘buy on dips’ mantra has made sense, especially when held by long-term investors.

The above analysis highlights the importance of the last factor: time horizon. The dealing room environment generally takes narrow exposures over a very short time horizon. Thus, stop-losses are crucial. However, I believe the message for the average investor is the reverse as long as they are focused on a diversified foundation allocation with a long-term focus.

Structural thematic investments also potentially fall into this category. The longer your time horizon, the more likely your investment is to generate positive returns as long as the structural fundamentals remain supportive. Here, again, instead of a stop-loss being appropriate, market declines offer an opportunity to add to longer-term thematic positions given the likelihood that declines will prove temporary.

Principle number 2: The longer your time horizon, the less desirable a stop-loss is, especially for diversified allocations or long-term structural themes.

Thus, for investors who are trying to trade the market and pick stocks, we believe a strict risk management framework including the use of stop-losses is absolutely critical to returns. However, we believe the majority of investors would be much better served by building a foundation allocation with a ‘buy on dips’ approach. Investors can systematise this ‘buy on dips’ approach through regular portfolio rebalancing – say at least once or twice a year and especially after major market dislocations to bring their allocations back to their desired risk tolerance. Such rebalancing is akin to an investor systematically “buying low and selling high” – a win-win proposition. For these investors, stop-losses are likely to get in the way of wealth accumulation.

Steve Brice is Chief Investment Officer at Standard Chartered Bank’s Wealth Management division

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Market Gains 0.12% on Interests in Guinness, FBNH, Cadbury Nigeria



guinness nigeria

By Dipo Olowookere

Interests in the shares of Guinness Nigeria, Cadbury Nigeria, FBN Holdings and others lifted the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited by 0.12 per cent on Friday.

From analysis of the trading data, the consumer goods, banking and energy sectors saw significant bargain hunting activities during the session, leaving their respective index closing higher by 0.57 per cent, 0.41 per cent, and 0.03 per cent.

However, the insurance counter witnessed a pocket of profit-taking as its index went down by 0.09 per cent, while the industrial goods sector closed the way it opened for the session.

When the bourse finish for the day, the All-Share Index (ASI) was up by 59.33 points to settle at 49,024.16 points compared with the previous day’s 48,964.83 points as the market capitalisation finished N32 billion higher to N26.452 trillion from N26.420 trillion.

The market breadth was positive yesterday, with 17 price gainers and 10 price losers, indicating a strong investor sentiment.

RT Briscoe appreciated by 9.68 per cent to trade at 34 Kobo, May and Baker rose by 9.63 per cent to N4.10, Guinness Nigeria improved by 9.29 per cent to N82.90, Jaiz Bank climbed higher by 8.43 per cent to 90 Kobo, and UPDC expanded by 8.42 per cent to N1.03.

At the other side of the table, Ikeja Hotel was on top after its value crashed by 9.68 per cent to N1.12, Sovereign Trust Insurance fell by 6.90 per cent to 27 Kobo, NAHCO dropped 3.51 per cent to sell for N5.50, UPDC REIT went down by 3.13 per cent to N3.10, and Neimeth depreciated by 2.10 per cent to N1.40.

Business Post reports that the level of activity improved on the last trading session of the week as the trading volume, value and number of deals increased by 61.58 per cent, 65.96 per cent and 3.67 per cent, respectively.

This was because investors transacted 356.7 million shares worth N3.7 billion in 3,219 deals as against the 220.8 million shares worth N2.3 billion transacted on Thursday in 3,105 deals.

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Nigeria at 62: Buhari Says Borrowing Necessary for Growth



Buhari stimulating economic growth

By Adedapo Adesanya

In what would be his last Independence Day address, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday, defended his government’s borrowing policy, describing it as a necessary step to provide the infrastructure that would expand opportunities for the growth of the Nigerian economy.

Mr Buhari stated in the address to the country on October 1, 2022, that, “The federal government is already expanding port operations to ensure that they provide opportunities for the growth of the Nigerian economy.

“We have also continued to accelerate our infrastructure development through serviceable and transparent borrowing, improved capital inflow & increased revenue generation by expanding the tax bases and prudent management of investment proceeds in the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

“To further open up our communities to economic activities, we have continued to boost our railway infrastructure with the completion of a good number of critical railways and at the same time rehabilitating as well as upgrading obsolete equipment.”

The President also noted that no village in the country was left behind in the regime’s Social Investment Programmes such as N-Power, trader-moni, market moni, etc.

“I am pleased to inform my fellow citizens that besides our emphasis on infrastructural development with its attendant opportunities for job creation, employment generation and subsequent poverty reduction, our focused intervention directly to Nigerians through the National Social Investment Programme is also yielding benefits.

“There is hardly any ward, village or local government in Nigeria today that has not benefited from one of the following: N-Power, trader-moni, market moni, subsidized loans, business grants or Conditional Cash Transfers.

“All the programmes mentioned above along with various interventions by the National Social Investment Programme, direct support to victims of flooding and other forms of disasters have provided succour to the affected Nigerians,” Mr Buhari said.

He also promised Nigerians that he would ensure free and fair elections come 2023 and called for more youth and women participation in the electoral cycle.

He said, “Having witnessed at close quarters the pains, anguish and disappointment of being a victim of an unfair electoral process, the pursuit of an electoral system and processes that guarantee the election of leaders by citizens remains the guiding light as I prepare to wind down our administration.

“You would all agree that the recent elections in the past two years in some states, notably Anambra, Ekiti and Osun and a few federal constituencies, have shown a high degree of credibility, transparency and freedom of choice with the people’s votes actually counting. This I promise would be improved upon as we move towards the 2023 general elections,” he said.

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CSCS, NASD Lifts Unlisted Stock Market by 0.61%



Unlisted Stock Market

By Adedapo Adesanya

The final trading session on the NASD over-the-counter (OTC) Securities Exchange in September 2022 ended on a positive note on Friday, with the bourse closing 0.61 per cent lower.

Business Post reports that the bullish performance was buoyed by the rise in the share prices of Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc and NASD Plc.

Consequently, the market capitalisation of the unlisted stock market increased by N5.83 billion to close at N968.60 billion versus Thursday’s N962.77 billion as the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) expanded by 4.44 basis points to end the day at 735.79 points as against the 731.35 points it recorded in the previous session.

Yesterday, CSCS Plc improved by N1.07 to sell at N14.17 per share compared to the N13.10 per share of the preceding session, while NASD Plc gained N1 to close at N13.00 per unit in contrast to the preceding day’s N14.00 per unit.

But the bullish trend did not extend to the activity chart as the volume of securities traded by investors decreased by 55.1 per cent to 105,440 units from the 725,984 units transacted a day earlier.

In the same pattern, the value of transactions went down by 96.1 per cent to N1.6 million from N41.5 million, while the number of deals increased by 50 per cent to six deals from the four deals recorded on Thursday.

At the end of the session, AG Mortgage Bank Plc remained the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 2.3 billion units valued at N1.2 billion, CSCS Plc stood in second place with 687.6 million units valued at N14.3 billion as Mixta Real Estate Plc was in third place with 178.1 million units valued at N313.4 million.

CSCS Plc was also the most traded stock by value (year-to-date) with 687.6 million units worth N14.3 billion, VFD Group Plc was in second place with 27.7 million units valued at N7.4 billion, and FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc was in third place with 14.3 million units worth N1.7 billion.

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