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I'm going to share with you one of the most powerful things I have ever read. It made me believe that anything was possible. And that whatever success I wanted to achieve, I indeed could achieve it.
It would not be without hard work. But the concept was simple. And I instantly knew it to be true.
They called it a secret. In fact, it was literally called "the greatest secret in the world". And that secret was this: the key to success was that you only needed to be a small, measurable amount better than mediocrity to succeed.
Is that really true? In its simplest form it is. The book went on to tell of why this was true. And in short, they described how most people give up on the meaningful things they hope to accomplish.
I of course knew that true greatness would take a lot more than being just a few steps ahead of the pack. And that if you wanted to be the Michael Jordan of your profession, it would take a lifetime of dedication and being born with the right genes.
But most people don't need to be the Michael Jordan of anything in their life to have life-changing success.
They only need to be a small, measurable amount better in the important things in their life.
Want to pass that test that will get you that promotion? Stick to your study times and don't blow them off for some silly TV show and you'll be better prepared to pass that test.
Want to lose weight? Have one less can of pop each day or one less sugary snack and watch how that can set in motion a metamorphosis. (I lost 30 pounds in less than 3 months last year, and have kept it off, by simply cutting out processed foods without giving up any of the other foods I love.)
Want to make more money in the stock market? If all you did was have one less loser each month, and replace it with one more winner, that could transform your portfolio.
You don't need to be as good as Warren Buffett to achieve your investment goals. By simply making a few changes in how you pick stocks, the extra results can quickly add up.
But you have to know where to begin.
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One Less Loser
Setting a goal to have one less loser may not sound exciting, but the results can be dramatic.
There are over 10,000 stocks out there. So be choosey. One of the best ways to put the odds of success in your favor is to focus on the top industries. Why? Because roughly 50% of a stock's price movement can be attributed to the group that it's in.
That's why, oftentimes, even a mediocre stock in a top industry can outperform the strongest stock in a weak industry. In fact, in my testing I have found that the top 50% of Zacks Ranked industries outperforms the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1.
If your last loser was in an underperforming industry, you were betting against the odds.
Instead, stick with the best performing industries and put the odds of success in your favor.
And when you do find yourself in a losing trade, get out sooner.
Nobody likes to take a loss. But don't let your unwillingness to do so ruin your portfolio. Smaller losses are easy to overcome. But big losses, like -30%, -40%, and -50% losers, can devastate your portfolio, not to mention your confidence.
If you found yourself driving the wrong way on a one way street, you wouldn't keep driving the wrong way or speed up, you'd turn around and get off. Same thing with stocks. If you bought a stock expecting it to go up, and it's now doing the exact opposite, get out before you crash your portfolio.
One less loser, or even just deciding to take smaller losses, will immediately set you apart from the typical mediocre investor.
One More Winner
Now if you can replace that one less loser with one more winner, you'll compound your success even more.
First, stick with the investing style that's right for you. There are many different investing styles out there. The four main fundamental styles are Momentum, Aggressive Growth, Value, and Growth and Income. You can also apply Technical Analysis to any of these styles, and others as well.
But make sure you employ proven techniques to get the most out of each style. For example, if you're an Aggressive Growth investor; did you know that stocks with the highest growth rates perform almost as poorly as those with the lowest growth rates? It's true.
This is because the companies with the highest growth rates are often unsustainable. And once those sky-high growth rates start to come down, even though they may still be spectacular, the price of the stock will fall back down to earth as well.
Stick with companies with growth rates above the median for their industry, but less than 50%. That range has produced some of the best results.
If you're a Value investor; do you know which valuation metrics produce the best results? Better yet, do you know what valuation ranges have the highest probability of success?
In my testing, I have found that the Price to Sales ratio (P/S) is one of the best valuation metrics out there. And that stocks with a P/S ratio of less than 1, by far, produce the highest returns. Between 1-2 still produce stellar results. And between 2-3 outperform the market. But once you get over 4, there is a higher probability of losing on that stock than winning.
That, of course, does not mean all stocks with a P/S ratio above 4 will go down. But if the odds of winning are greater below 1 (or at least below 3) and worse above 4, then by simply focusing on stocks in the optimum valuation range, you are now one step closer to having one more winner.
Don't worry whether you've picked the best stock on the planet. In fact, the best stock on the planet today may not be the best stock on the planet tomorrow. But it doesn't matter.
All you need to focus on are good stocks. Or just slightly better stocks than you're picking now to start seeing the kind of success you've always wanted.
And one small better decision will set in motion other better decisions. And before you know it, you'll be achieving your goals.
To get started today, you may want to look into our Zacks Method for Trading program. This interactive home-study course covers the investment ideas I just shared and guides you to better trading step by step. We go over in detail how to identify what kind of trader you are, how to find stocks with the highest probability of success, including replacing that one loser with one more winner, and how to trade them so you can consistently outperform the market. It also goes over some of our best performing strategies from all of the different trading styles and shows you how to create your own.
If you're interested, be sure to check it out now.
Click here to learn more.
Thanks and good trading,
Zacks VP Kevin Matras is our chart patterns and stock screening expert. He runs the Research Wizard and personally developed many of its built-in market-beating strategies. He also directs the Zacks Method for Trading.