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Sell in May
Old 05-17-2012, 10:02 AM   #1
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Sell in May

Sell in May and go away.....Where did this come from. Is this herd mentallity or are we in a legitimate correction?
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:05 AM   #2
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Looks legit to me.
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:12 AM   #3
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This was recently discussed here Sell in May and Go Away?
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Old 05-17-2012, 12:00 PM   #4
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I forget the author, but I read a book not long ago that went deeply into the numbers on this one. He had access to the COMPUSTAT dataset with monthly/weekly data going back all the way to 1963. Out of the 10.5% average yearly return the market produced... 10% of it came between September and May. The Summer months averaged returning a hair over 0%. Pretty remarkable for so much data... certainly not random.

My guess is that the summer is when people remove money from investments to safeguard it for travel, trips, plans... while late fall and winter months are better for businesses (holiday seasons)

More detailed modeling of the phenomenon recently has shown that the worst months of the year are actually July/August... for the last few years May/June have actually done particularly well.

The reason a lot of people warn against it is that the summer isn't necessarily bad returns... it's just flat on average. When you start jumping in and out and run the risk of getting out at a dip and in at a top (you're essentially trying to time the market... or guess what it'll do)... although the summer averages out to being flat, it definitely goes up some year and down others. So you open yourself up to the risk of losing value over having just stayed in the whole time.

Not to mention the cost of buying/selling (taxes, trading costs, etc...)
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Old 05-17-2012, 01:53 PM   #5
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I remember reading that the old saying was based on May being the time when brokers, money makers and investment bankers would sell their holdings and go off to their summer vacation homes. They'd buy back in once summer vacation was over.
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Old 05-17-2012, 02:24 PM   #6
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money makers
Nice work if you can get it!

There have been many studies done over the years on this and other "Wall Street adages", and while they do have some validity, they are not a basis for investment decisions.

My two favorites which I heard at the dinner table every night (as a kid) were.

1. Its better not to know so much, then to know so much that is not so!
2. You can make more money with your A$$, then you can with your brains!

Both these adages (i believe) were coined by one of the founders of General American Investors Corporation.
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Old 05-17-2012, 03:10 PM   #7
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Nice work if you can get it!

There have been many studies done over the years on this and other "Wall Street adages", and while they do have some validity, they are not a basis for investment decisions.

My two favorites which I heard at the dinner table every night (as a kid) were.

1. Its better not to know so much, then to know so much that is not so!
2. You can make more money with your A$$, then you can with your brains!

Both these adages (i believe) were coined by one of the founders of General American Investors Corporation.
The other adage or myth that I also love is "its already priced in by the market"
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Old 05-17-2012, 03:29 PM   #8
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Schwab's chief market strategist Liz Ann Sonder has a recent column here on sell in May.

Quote:
Much is made every year of the "sell in May" phenomenon. Its basis is rooted in the fact that the best performance for the market has generally come in the November through April period, while the worst has come between May and October.
There is some truth to the adage. According to data compiled by Ned Davis Research (NDR), through the beginning of May this year the average performance for the period from May 1 through October 31 each year since 1950 was 1.2%. The average performance for the period from November 1 through April 30 each year since 1950 was 7.0%.
As compelling as those numbers may seem, there are many things to consider, especially if it's your inclination to develop a trading strategy around those seasonal patterns. First, the calendar months individually tend to fall into either the "hot" or "cold" columns for performance, as you can see in the table below. Three of the six months that fall into the "all out" period spanning from May through October are actually historically strong months, while three of the six months that fall into the "all in" period spanning from November through April are actually historically weak months
Essentially if you want to follow the seasonality "trend" you really need to be in an out of the market in Sept, Feb, and May and back in the market the rest of the months. Easier said than done.

All that being said the exceedingly reliable W2R Whee signal was very clear this spring and I was sorely tempted to get out.*

*(Normally there would be a but after this several straight weeks of loss I am not so pleased.)
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:02 PM   #9
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This year should have been sell in April ! But hindsight is always 20/20 so just forget about it and stay the course.
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Old 05-17-2012, 05:18 PM   #10
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All that being said the exceedingly reliable W2R Whee signal was very clear this spring and I was sorely tempted to get out.
Hey, I tried but few listened. I probably called it a month or two too soon, I admit it, so maybe they were right not to listen. I was sure having fun doing my daily portfolio check for a while. Love those Whee periods on our roller coaster ride, and I am looking forward to the next one.
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Old 05-17-2012, 05:41 PM   #11
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All that being said the exceedingly reliable W2R Whee signal was very clear this spring and I was sorely tempted to get out.*

*(Normally there would be a but after this several straight weeks of loss I am not so pleased.)
I did not get out but I harvested some gains which I have done every time the Whee has been mentioned . It is the most reliable signal I have found .
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Old 05-17-2012, 05:52 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by DFW_M5 View Post
The other adage or myth that I also love is "its already priced in by the market"
Right. This is so obviously untrue, so often. The market is priced by a lot of emotionally unstable teenagers with a time horizon of 20 milliseconds.

Ha
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Old 05-17-2012, 06:44 PM   #13
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Regardless of the statistics, if "sell in May" was a reliable strategy, everyone would be doing it (or, at least, anough investors to matter) and their collective action would drive the market down so you would need to sell in April before everyone else sold in May. Since I haven't seen many "sell in April" headlines, I'm assuming that hasn't happened and, therefore, conclude that "sell in May" is not sufficiently reliable to interest professional investors.

The local paper out here ran a piece on "sell in May" and pointed out that the local market had generated positive returns (even without dividends) in the May-September period for six of the last ten years.

That said, right now I'm wishing I had sold in April.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:03 PM   #14
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This year I sold in March, am buying back in now. 30% back in anyway.......
The thought of giving up the 8% from Jan was to much risk for me.
Rode through this cycle too many times to count.
Not this time. For better or worse. So far, I am feeling good about it.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:29 PM   #15
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I took my TSP out of the market on April 27th. My wife's 401k was already fairly conservatively invested, so while I'm sure she's lost some ground there, it won't be devastatingly bad, plus, I don't believe she has an option that's totally non-market. It's not really the greatest 401k plan out there, but it'll have to do. I haven't made any adjustments to our Roth IRA's either...they're in target retirement-type accounts set to a 2015 time-frame, so also not too aggressive and I'm not planning on messing with them either.
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Old 05-17-2012, 08:15 PM   #16
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I always miss this sell in May principle since I am usually on vacation from end April to early May. By the time I come back from vacation, market is already down. So, guess I should remind myself to sell in April.
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:35 PM   #17
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The market is making me nervous. Should have sold in April or early May, but stayed invested. Since then, every day seems to bring more bad news and another drop. Greece, Italy, and now Spain impacting world markets, China slowdown. Today was another 2% down.

I wonder for those here still invested, are you're able to turn a blind eye to all this, or are your nerves rattled yet and ready to sell?
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:07 AM   #18
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I wonder for those here still invested, are you're able to turn a blind eye to all this, or are your nerves rattled yet and ready to sell?
I missed the sell in early May but did sell some investments a couple of days ago to realise some gains (though would have gained more if I sold them early May) before a further dip. For the rest of the investments, I guess I'll just sit it through. I have been through past downturns when I have missed the selling part and stayed invested. I don't think I'll be tempted to sell anymore for now.
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:39 AM   #19
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I sold 1/2 of one stock, but that's it. Wish I had the magic touch.........but I don't. Yesterday I did nibble at a couple of stocks I already own and like for the long term. But overall, not doing much of anything.
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:56 AM   #20
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....I wonder for those here still invested, are you're able to turn a blind eye to all this, or are your nerves rattled yet and ready to sell?
I'm not a market timer so I am still invested. I have confidence that my 60/40 AA will bobble around a bit but will ultimately prevail in the long run as it has for the last 20 years. Besides, the alternative is a 0.8% savings account.

I did do a timely rebalancing at the end of April and sold some equities and topped up my living expenses bucket to about 2 1/2 years.
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