February 2018 has been a fun month. Finally, something is happening in the market. In this post, I’ll show you what happened to my portfolio and what went inside my head when the temperature was high.

The key to being a successful investor (also human?) is to think more than you act. When the market dropped, I noticed that some “advisers” wanted us to stay away from the news and “not look at your portfolio today.”

I responded and said, “I actually think we should look at our portfolio.”

Why? So, we can learn more about how we deal with emotions, how our portfolio handles bear times, and how we act when information is flowing everywhere.

No Escape

Quality Did Not Matter

I’ve always told myself that since I own high-quality companies (those with solid management, earnings, growth, cash flow and boring pipelines such as toilet paper, healthcare, and food) was a clever way to stay “conservative”.

This market drop showed us, even though we don’t like it, that quality didn’t matter. Everything dropped regardless.

This is important. My idea was that technology was overvalued and that money would transfer to safer securities. Money didn’t transfer from stocks to stocks, but from stocks to bonds/cash!

While knowing that a correction will “drag everything down,” I’m still surprised that utilities and REIT dropped as much as they did. REITs have been a poor sector through most of 2017 and still shows signs of weakness.

But Stockles, it’s only quality on sale! Maybe, maybe not.

The last time the FED heavily raised the interest rate, 2004-2007, REITs heavily outperformed the S&P 500 by returning 80%, while utilities dropped to a low of 2.5% by 2007. Maybe it’s the opposite this time?


The market, especially the S&P 500 is bound for a correction and stocks are trading at a premium. While this can go on for a while due to strong economic growth and the new tax law, high-quality stocks are trading at high valuations and will, along with other securities, revert to the mean.

This does not mean one can’t buy more shares in companies such as Kimberly Clark, but in a correction, equity will flow from shares to cash/bonds, not sector to sector.

Reasonable probability that my portfolio outperforms in a bear market

From February 1, 2018 to  today, my portfolio returned -2.13 % while OMXS30 returned -3.16%, NASDAQ Composite returned -4.52%, OBX returned -2.35%, Dow returned -4.2% and S&P 500 returned -5%. The overall portfolio beta is somewhere close to 0.60, so this is what I expected.

But, my overweighted REITs have caused my portfolio to underperform my goal, which tells me that those securities aren’t as safe as I thought.


My portfolio will outperform in a bear market,  but the question is if this conservative approach has led me to give up considerable gains in the recent bull market.

It might be a zero-sum game, maybe even something worse. I will reflect on this matter more.

But people are doing it wrong

One observation was when the market dropped, people on Facebook and investment forums said “sale sale sale” and “I need to figure out what to buy and do research.”

First, doing research on securities while the market is going down will cause you to add a huge amount of emotional bias to your calculation.

Not only that but you will feel the fear of missing out and most likely act too fast.

Here’s What I Recommend

Do your research before the drop.

Find the stocks you want to own.

If you don’t have any clue on how to do valuation, just look at valueline.com or something similar, and go with the lowest valuation. Then do a margin of safety based on that price, and wait for an entry.

Let’s say that Johnson and Johnson has a fair price of around $115, write it down, just wait for your entry point. On very high-quality companies such as J&J, you might not even need a huge margin of safety. Maybe it’s okay to pay the premium for a premium company.


Do your research, due diligence before your emotions disturb you.

Shareholders of Realty Income (O) show sign of cult-like behavior

I own 93 shares of Realty Income, so I’m also a shareholder. But recently,  Spruce Point Capital’s Ben Axler called Realty Income a Strong Sell, suggesting 30%-45% downside risk.

What really annoys me is the ignorance. People say that they googled him and that he’s a short seller, meaning that he should be neglected. You people should LOVE someone who uses his valuable time to analyze and write conservative opinions about your holdings.

It’s the risk you should care about, not every article which states BULL BULL BULL. Damn it. I can feel that I’m getting a bit angry now.

As my friend “Tricky” said:  After reading this, I decided that it would probably be smart on my part to pay attention to exactly what they have written. These guys are short selling specialists, in other words, forensic researchers of companies with a short focus. Axler’s credentials speak for themselves and Donohue has a background at Kerrisdale, the shorting firm who made a huge killing last year when BAVA’s Prostvac flopped phase 3 trials and the stock dropped in the region of 50%. I’ve seen Kerrisdale’s report and the level of detail is amazing



I’m way too unemotional, but I have my reasons.

I tweeted this on Monday:

Just got back from the gym and I see that many high quality stocks are down. Earlier today I was a bit worried that the correction was finished before it even started. Hopefully it continues for a while.

But how am I able to stay so passive, so unemotional? It boils down to these:

  • I’ve done my homework and “know” that most of my companies will still sell their products even though the economy gets worse
  • I’m young. Historically, I should experience around six 10%-15% corrections and maybe one massive correction. The way I see it is that I’m now paying for experience so that I can be wiser when I have more capital.
  • Also, given that I save around 15% to 30% of income in the future, I’ll add 20x portfolio value.


I managed to stay totally passive, not doing anything, but I should have more cash in hand so that I can buy shares of my companies when the time is right. Right now, I’m just watching the ball, not playing the game.

How did you respond? What happened inside your head? Please tell me, and dig deep on the negative aspects more than the positive. That’s how we all learn from each other. Thanks!

Take care



Team CF · February 8, 2018 at 8:52 am

Because we are pretty much fully invested right now, we didn’t do a thing, nor did it worry me. I would like to pick up more, but I think a bigger corrections is still to come. I also still need to do my homework on what I would like for the longer term to own, as I’m able to see flaws in any model/company. That makes this selection harder, perhaps I just have to go by the numbers more…..

    Stockles · February 9, 2018 at 6:15 am

    It’s a strange feeling being fully invested and not worrying. I would see that as a sign of good due diligence and solid pre-work. Do the homework! It pays of!

Mr. Robot · February 8, 2018 at 9:36 am

It didn’t worry me but I did double my position in O by adding 13 shares. I’m actually a bit proud that even though everything took a hit I didn’t get emotional at all but looked at my pre-researched wishlist and just bought what I wanted anyway.

Now only if I could get less emotional about my Crypto-holdings! 🙂

    Stockles · February 9, 2018 at 6:17 am

    Glad to hear that Mr.Robot. That’s excatly how you should react. Do you have a plan if the market falls like this for one straight week? Sorry to hear about the crypto-holdings. Hope you didn’t buy at the peak.

DividendSolutions · February 8, 2018 at 10:39 am

Hey Stockles,

that massive meltdown in stock prices on the 5th of Feb surprised me, but did not shake me at all. Your are absolutely right – do your homework before!!! something happens in the markets and react calm. I thought about buying for a few moments, but decided against it.
First: I think that volatility remains high after Monday and we’ll see some more drops.
Second: REITs have a reasonable valuation right now and i’m tempted to buy more, but my portfolio is too REIT heavy and i have to balance it first.

Summary: I did nothing but observing and waiting for more good entry points with my extra cash. The usual regular buys per month will be made though…


    Stockles · February 9, 2018 at 6:24 am

    Hi DividendSolutions,

    Seems you’re totally right about the first point. Market is still dropping. Also good observation that even though REITs are trading at fair prices, you shouldn’t add because you will be overweight. Smart.

    Remember it’s okey to stay passive. Then you still have the option to do something. If you use your cash now (and have zero left), then you will start to feel remorse. Simple is often the best.

Tom @ Dividends Diversify · February 8, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Stockles, I haven’t paid much attention. I did note our net worth dropped about 4% versus the 6.5% correction in the total US stock market. Our personal correction is higher than normal versus the market. The interest rate sensitive stocks and bond funds I own got hit pretty hard. The income my portfolio throws off is unchanged over the past week and a half. I try to focus on that. It doesn’t require much effort. I may do an add on buy to one of my stocks before the end of the week. Tom

Mr. ATM · February 8, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Great post and excellent suggestions.

When market drops like it did on Monday, emotions take over and people tend to freeze like a deer in a headlight.

So it’s always better to have a plan in place. For me, plan means having a buy list based on Next man up concept.

With the buy list in hand, l just executed the list during correction based on pre-set priority. I also have a sell/trim list for the purpose of raising cash in such events. So even if l run out of cash, l know how to raise more cash and very quickly. My tax tracker keeps me informed of tax implications as l trim or replace certain securities. I live for a day like this. Ha!

As for the O declining 30-40%, l saw that report too. I laughed because O would be yielding around 8% and no matter how you look at it, O ain’t staying at that level for too long given 8% yield would be far superior to anything bonds can offer. So bring it on, l would be buying more O at that level like there is no tomorrow.

Overall, l’m quite happy with my execution during the crash and had a blast!!!

    Stockles · February 9, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks buddy!

    I really like your rational approach and I’m sure you acted in a smart manner.

    Yes, O yielding 8% would be amazing. I’m not selling! But I still think people should be more open.

Dividend Daze · February 8, 2018 at 2:10 pm

I was finally happy to see a correction of some sorts. Everyone is just freaking out and selling because everyone else is selling. But part of being a smart investor is having a plan in place. Not just during the down times or correction periods, but overall in the market. Long term dividend investing for most of us, so it is a buy and hold game. Hold forever for the most part if the company still matches your requirements from when you bought it in the first place. Seeing dips like this just lets you have an opportunity to pick up more shares at a discount. Again, just need to have a plan in place ahead of time and already have the stocks picked out that are next up to bat so to speak. Then hit the ball when the price hits your fair market value.

Amber tree · February 8, 2018 at 2:33 pm

As the drop is close to the option expiration date of my stock, I decided to take action in my option portfolio.

In my etf portfolio, I did not yet deploy capital. The drop is too small right now. I keep adding every month according to the plan.

    Stockles · February 9, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    Long time no see ATL!

    Seems like a smart plan. Just adding fresh capital to the market each month is a winning strategy!

Ogellers · February 8, 2018 at 11:01 pm

I bought Veidekke just after they came out with very good q4 results today at a price i consider to be nice. I should have bought on wednesday, but i got to greedy and hoped for a lower price. They may drop more, but in that case i have money on hand and will be ready to buy more.

    Stockles · February 9, 2018 at 6:27 am

    Glad to see that you are commenting here Ogellers! We need more insight from fellow investors.

    Nice buy. As you know, I’ve said countless times that I think Veidekke is a superb investment, and with a pretty solid margin of safety too.. The funny thing is that due to the overall market drop, the current price doesn’t really show the true value of the Q4 result. The dividend increase from 4.5 to 5 was awesome too.

dividendgeek · February 9, 2018 at 12:27 am

There was 10% drop overall (until now). Nice correction and good buying opportunity. Will soon invest in few more ETFs. For now no cash to invest 🙂

Mr. ATM · February 9, 2018 at 6:47 am

BTW, Brad Thomas just wrote a response article to debunk Spruce Point analysis. Great read, check it out, if anyone is feeling glittery about O.

Dividend Portfolio · February 9, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Well I for one was a little upset. I missed the market drop by a day. Basically, I invest on the same day every month automatically, and it just so happened that on the day I invested, the market had briefly recovered after the large drop. Oh well. Can’t win them all.

I wish I had money to invest so that I could have taken advantage of the drop. Unfortunately, I’m stuck with the same boring strategy of dollar cost averaging my way into the market. Things will change in the summer when my life circumstances will change, but until then, I’m pretty much out of the market beyond my monthly investments.

I think having a long term horizon is important when investing in the stock market because it gives you time to recover from market drops. But I definitely didn’t worry over the decline although I did notice that the overall value of my portfolio went down (at least on paper).

Dividend Diplomats · February 11, 2018 at 3:15 am

Stockles –

Being unemotional will take you far as a dividend stock investor, all I have to say!


TonyNghia · September 5, 2018 at 3:38 am

Your post is fantastic. Hope you’ll be sucessfull in your life!

How to do Portfolio Management as a Dividend Growth Investor - Stockles Blog · August 6, 2019 at 6:40 pm

[…] What you want to do is to reverse this process. Flip the coin so to speak. First focus on the downside, then the upside. This is how you keep a balanced mind. […]

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