Almost Everyone Suffers A Loss In The Stockmarket Before They Start Making Money

The Nicholas Darvas Stockmarket Success Story (part 4)

KAYRAND was just one of the many strange stockmarket shares I owned at that time. Others included MOGUL MINES, CONSOLIDATED SUDBURY BASIN MINES, QUEBEC SMELTING, REXSPAR, JAYE EXPLORATION. I made money on none of them.

Yet I spent a happy year on this Canadian stockmarket buying and selling. I felt I was the successful businessman, the big stockmarket operator. I jumped in and out of the stockmarket like a grasshopper. I was delighted if I made two points. I often owned 25 to 30 stockmarket shares at one time, all in small parcels.

For some of them I acquired a special liking. This came about for different reasons. Sometimes it was because a good friend of mine gave them to me, other times, because I had started by making money with them. This led me to prefer these stockmarket shares more than others, and before I knew what I was doing I had started to keep "pets."

I thought of them as something belonging to me, like members of my family. I praised their virtues day and night. I talked about them as one talks about his children. It did not bother me that no one else could see any special virtue in my pet shares in the stockmarket to distinguish them from any other stocks. This state of mind lasted until I realized that my pet stocks were causing me my heaviest losses in the stockmarket.

In a few months my record of transactions looked like the stockmarket trading record of a small scale stock exchange. I felt I was doing all right. I appeared to be ahead. If I had carefully studied my statements I would not have felt quite so happy. I would have realized that, like a horseplayer, I was buoyed up and excited by small gains in the stockmarket, and overlooked my losses in the stockmarket. I completely ignored the fact that I was holding a lot of stock that was standing well below the price I had paid for it and looked like staying there.

It was a period of wild, foolish gambling with no effort to find the reasons for my operations. I followed "hunches." I went by god-sent names, rumors of uranium-finds, oil strikes, anything anyone told me. When there were constant losses an occasional small gain gave me hope, like the carrot before the donkey's nose.

Then one day, after I had been buying and selling for about seven months, I decided to go over my books. When I added up the values of the bad stocks I was holding I found I had lost almost $3,000 in the stockmarket.

It was on that day that I began to suspect there was something wrong with my stockmarket scheme. A ghost at the back of my mind began to whisper to me that, in fact, I had no idea what I was doing.

Yet I was still ahead. I consoled myself that I had not touched the $3,000 I had originally paid for BRILUND, and I had about $5,000 of my profit from that transaction besides. But, if I continued like this, how much longer would I be able to stay in the stockmarket?

Here is just one page from my profit-and-loss accounting. It tells the whole sad story of defeat in microcosm.

Bought at 19 cents Sold at 10 cents
Bought at 12 cents Sold at 8 cents
Bought at 130 cents Sold at 110 cents
Bought at 22 cents Sold at 14 cents

Obsessed by my carrot-before-the-nose gains, I had not noticed I was losing an average of a hundred dollars a week in the stockmarket.

It was my first stockmarket dilemma. The stockmarket had several much more serious dilemmas in store for me in the next six years but this one was in some ways the worst. On my decision at this point depended whether I would continue to operate in the stockmarket. I decided to stay and have another try. 


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