8 Valuable Lessons We Learned About Investing This Year

This is the time of year when investors typically rebalance their portfolios and begin preparing for the year ahead. In preparation for the coming year, it helps to look back and think about the lessons learned from the previous year and how they can be applied for a profitable future. With that in mind, we asked some of StreetAuthority’s top experts what they learned in 2010 and how they hope to apply it in 2011.

Here’s what they learned… 


Here’s what I learned this year: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

The market isn’t going to charge ahead no matter how good earnings look or how optimistic the Street may be when so many people remain out of work. Uncertainty over the tax code and health care hasn’t helped. But it’s one thing for the market to sputter or stall, it’s another thing entirely for such conditions to keep the best companies down. So while the S&P 500 didn’t blow up anyone’s skirt, there were plenty of big winners in 2010, despite the tough business climate. Cutting-edge technologies and products will always create value, and those companies’ shareholders will be richly rewarded.

So to put it all together: Most blue chips will always mirror the market, but game-changing companies will always set the curve.

Andy Obermueller
Chief Investment Strategist, Game-Changing Stocks


I’ve learned that now, perhaps more than ever, investing and politics are joined at the hip. I’ve told readers of my Market Advisor newsletter how banks and brokerages have been rocked by sweeping regulatory overhauls, how landmark reform dramatically tilted the health care playing field, and how the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy has artificially boosted bonds, weakened the dollar and sent commodity prices soaring .
As we enter 2011, large swathes of the market will be shaped by the government: Will there be additional loan guarantees for nuclear energy development? Is cap-and-trade climate legislation dead? Could a handful of outspoken leaders spark a trade war with China? Are we through spending on infrastructure?
If you want to have an edge over the crowd, pay close attention to what’s going on in Washington and make educated decisions about how these and other contentious debates will play out.

Nathan Slaughter
Chief Investment Strategist, Market Advisor


We’re stuck with all of the intelligence we’ll ever have. But we can keep accumulating wisdom.

Here are two lessonsI learned about investing this year:

1) The United States is no longer the world’s economic center. And despite myriad fears, that’s actually a good thing.

In the past year, it’s become increasingly clear that emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India can thrive even as Europe and the United States slump. With their fast-rising middle classes, these economies, along with other dynamic spots such asTurkey and Colombia, look set to consume more and more finished goods. And finished goods are still a real strength for the U.S. economy.

At last, we can finally say U.S. exporters have a bright future.

2) Cash is king. Companies are generating very high profits, leading to fattened balance sheets. All that cash will keep going toward buybacks, dividends and acquisitions, and will create a real floor for the stock market for a while to come as stock sell-offs are met with cash-boosting efforts.

— David Sterman
StreetAuthority Staff Writer


It become clear to me in 2010 that emerging markets are here to stay.

Before this year, I understood that China, India, Brazil and other emerging markets had been the fastest growing regions of the world economy for many years and should continue to grow in the future. I also knew that these markets had risen in relative prominence as developed economies were wounded from the financial crisis.
But only this year did I fully realize that the global landscape had permanently changed. For example, I wrote that amid all the headlines about Ford’s (NYSE: F) stellar performance and General Motors’ (NYSE: GM) resurgence, most investors were ignoring Tata Motors (NYSE: TTM), India’s emerging auto powerhouse.

[I also found what I think is “The Best Oil Stock for the Next Decade” and “The One Brazil Stock Everyone Should Own.”]

Emerging markets will play a much larger role than ever before in the global economy from this point forward. China has become as central as the United States to any discussion involving the global economy. The G-7 nations (a global economic summit of developed countries) have now given way to the G-20 nations, which include emerging market countries.

Tom Hutchinson
StreetAuthority Staff Writer


I can’t say I had any major revelations this year, but I am further convinced that having an investment strategy and sticking to it, no matter what, remains extremely important. 

For instance, I held tight for the most part during the volatile periods of 2008 and through 2009, but realized that most of the positions I ended up selling are at or above the levels I sold them at during the downturn. What this tells me is that “buy-and-hold” investing is far from dead and that remaining calm during volatile periods in the market may be the best course of action. The same probably goes for other strategies, be it momentum investing, dividend income or other approaches. 

Ryan Fuhrmann
StreetAuthority Contributor


My lesson for this year is that electronic trading has finally hit critical mass. It has taken several decades, but it appears to be finally entrenched. When seeing traders on the floor of an exchange, the activity looks like a throw-back to another age.

But with technology there will likely come more volatility. Of course, the striking example this year was the “flash crash.” While the exchanges will likely make some adjustments and rule modifications, the fact remains that computers are making lots and lots of financial decisions. There’s really no turning back.

This can actually be good for investors with a long-term outlook, however. When a good stock falls unexpectedly — and by a large amount — it makes for a good entry point to build a solid position in a good company.

Tom Taulli
StreetAuthority Contributor


While I suspected this, most analysts continued to prove that they are usually wrong. For example, as rumors about apple’s announcement of the iPad were in the news, many supposed experts said it might have a chance to be another e-book reader, but it would never be much more. Pre-launch forecasts for sales ranged from 1.1 million (Oppenheimer) to 2.9 million (Barclay’s Bank). Now, it looks like Apple will sell 8.5 million iPads in 2010.

Without an understanding of economics, fundamental analysis of stocks and even a bit of technical analysis, an investor is betting against the house. If you do not do your homework, you have little chance to win as an investor. Spend some time with valuable resources like our InvestingAnswers.com website, to gain the knowledge needed to place the odds on your side.

Hans Wagner
StreetAuthority Contributor