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Hope Is Not An Investing Strategy

“I hope the stock market rises again,” my friend Ravi told me as we met for dinner during the weekend.

“Why?” I asked.

“I have put in a lot of money over the last few months…that’s why!” he replied.

“Ravi, it’s good to be an optimist by nature,” I said, “But ironically, it doesn’t work that way in the stock market.”

“Why do you say so Vishal? Isn’t it a basic human nature to hope for the best?”

“Of course yes. In fact, I believe that hope is a component of a healthy state of mind, and opposite of negativity that we see all around. But then, when it comes to the stock market, hope is dangerous.”

“But why?”

“You see, Ravi, once you buy a stock, you obviously want it to earn you good long-term returns. But if the stock that you bought is a real value and you bought it right, all you need is the patience to sit on it with the knowledge that over time its value will be realized.”

“Yes Vishal, so even when I think I made the right decision, I would hope that it turns out to be true in the future. Isn’t that so?”

“No dear! The keyword here is ‘patience’, not ‘hope’.

As Richard Russell wrote in one of his Dow Theory letters…

Any time you find yourself hoping in this business, the odds are that you are on the wrong path — or that you did something stupid that should be corrected.

“But why do you say so?”

“Ravi, I say so because I have seen a lot of hopes ending in disasters simply because people made mistakes in buying bad businesses or expensive stocks, and then hoped that a tooth fairy would absolve them by taking the prices higher! So I’ve heard people say things like…

  • A business like Hawkins is a buy at any price, because I hope it will remain a great business.
  • I hope Suzlon’s business would turn around.
  • I hope Reliance Power would come back to its listing price.
  • I hope real estate stocks like DLF and Unitech would pay off in the long term.
  • I hope this time it’s really different.

“Unfortunate it may sound, but hope is a big money-loser in the investment business. It is hope that keeps you from selling your losing stocks. It is hope that stops you from cutting your losses before they get bigger. It is hope that leads you to buy good businesses at super-expensive prices.”

“So Vishal, what do I do if not hope?”

“Make well-studied investments Ravi, and then be patient with them. Also, be willing to accept reality, especially when it’s harsh, and then be willing to reconsider your decisions with changing times.

“But please…please don’t HOPE! Avoid it! Instead, embrace patience and reality…however painful it may be.

“And finally remember this – there are many good investing strategies: buying cheap stocks, buying high quality businesses, turnarounds, top down, bottom up, to name only a few. Hope is not among them.

“I hope you understand!”

Statutory Warning: This is NOT an investment advice to buy or sell shares. Please make your own decision, as blindly acting on anyone else’s research and opinions can be injurious to your wealth. I do not own any stock mentioned in this post, but despite this, my analysis may be biased, and wrong. I have been wrong many times in the past. I am a registered Research Analyst as per SEBI (Research Analyst) Regulations, 2014 (Registration No. INH000000578).

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.


  1. Ashutosh Tilak says:

    So great. Fully agree with you.

  2. Hi Vishal,
    Although we “hope” that patience might payoff but even thats just a hope of getting rewarded for buying at right price(in comparison to our intrinsic value estimate) and hoping and praying that market comes to it’s senses and adjusts the price towards our value estimate. The point I am trying to drive here is markets can remain foolish longer than we can remain solvent and since we are all passive(whether we admit or not) investors who cannot affect the price in anyway to adjust towards our value estimate(market will not reward us just because we are being patient) our best shot is do an unbiased estimation of the equity value of a firm and not to get carried away by our ability to measure this value and diversify our investments into a set of undervalued firms. Even by doing all these asset allocation and valuation judgements we can only hope that we might get rewarded for our fundamental analysis and that our patience will payoff


  3. Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

  4. Hi Visha, Excellent article. It outlines the important lesson… that more than how stocks behave, our behaviour to the stocks what makes a difference in this Investment journey. Venkatesh.

  5. R K Chandrashekar says:

    Dear Vishal
    I am’ patiently hoping’ that every piece emanating from Safal Niveshak is better than the previous!!
    I liked the cartoon; and sadly you will find more people living on hope than patience, in the stock market. Your article will go a long way to educate such class of investors.


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