In the stock market, you can make money in two ways: by buying a stock that appreciates in value and by avoiding one that’s going to fall. This is a simplistic statement and surely there are many conditions that apply to this rule. However, most investors worry about the first way only; they actively look for stocks that will appreciate. How do you make money off the second way?
One sector that most investors can conveniently leave is banking and finance. The reason for this is that this sector is most prone to frauds, scams and corporate-governance issues. The business of finance and banking is such that it allows manipulation at a great scale, which most investors can’t sense until something goes wrong. Let alone investors, most experts can’t sense that. History is full of examples when problems arose in banking and finance and took the whole economy down. The 2008 recession happened because of reckless lending. The ongoing banking mess in the country is another example.
Of course, there are good companies in banking and finance as well. But let “smart” investors spot them. For most investors, simply avoiding this sector can preclude a lot of pain, astonishment and loss. Sure, you will have to give many companies a pass, but then you will still have many more remaining. The Indian market is dominated by banking and finance companies and it could be very difficult for any investor to overlook all of them. Yet do it. If you must take an exposure toward this sector, keep it low and only to stocks generally perceived as high quality.
Is there any sector that’s just the opposite? In my view, the FMCG sector is one, especially the big names in this sector. The FMCG sector is a faithful sector that doesn’t give its investors tears in the process of generating returns. Of course, there could be exceptions to this general rule as well, yet sticking to the big names should do the job for most of us.
Remember that in the Indian context if you can spot and avoid wealth-destroying stocks successfully, the upside in your portfolio will take care of itself.