Stock Market Adages

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These stock market sayings, quotations, proverbs, and advice, are sometimes true wisdom, and sometimes simply flimsy excuses. See also our Stock Market Glossary for specific terms.  Also, you might consider checking out Dean LeBaron's Book of Investment Quotations or  The Ultimate Book of Investment Quotations or  Dean LeBaron's Treasury of Investment Wisdom: 30 Great Investing Minds.

A bear market is one that cannot rise even on good news.

A bull market climbs a wall of worry.

A bull market is one that can shake off bad news.

A rising tide lifts all boats.  [or yachts]

As goes January, so goes the year.

As goes the first week of January, so goes the month, and so goes the year.

Baked in the cake or Baked into the cake.  [speculators have already bought or sold a stock or other asset so that a hypothesized future outcome is already fully reflected in the asset price.]

Bear market bottoms usually see P/E ratios below 10 for the S&P 500.-- Notice that it says usually!

Best house in a bad neighborhood. [Implies that an entire sector is in the dumps, but one company stands out as being at least relatively best compared to the other companies in the sector.]

Buy any dip.

Buy into weakness.

Buy the dip.

Buy to the sleeping point.  [If you are troubled about making an investment but still feel the need to make it, make the smallest possible investment that leaves you feeling like you've 'dealt' with the need and can calmly sleep at night.  To feel obligated to make an "all or nothing" investment.]

Buy high and sell low.  [What investors should not do, but it happens far to often.]

Buy low and sell high.  [The best way to make money.]

Buy on the rumor and sell on the news.

Buy the rumor and sell the news.

Buy the rumor, sell the fact.

Buy the rumor, sell the news.

Cash is king.  -- implies that the downside risk with bonds or stocks or commodities is excessive.

Catch a falling knife. or Don't try to catch a falling knife. --  something you don't want to do.  The idea is that if something is falling you could get hurt trying to catch it in mid-flight.  Better to let it stop falling and then pick it up safely.

Caveat emptor -- Let the buyer beware

Chasing yield.  [Searching for riskier assets that have a higher yield or return.  It's not a good thing to do.]

Dead-cat bounce. -- A sharp rally in a bearish trend that is typically merely a correction or short-term "profit-taking" and not an indication that the overall, underlying trend is reversing. So named because "even a dead-cat can bounce."

It's dead money. -- a term of disparagement used by traders and short-term speculators for an investment that is not rising or expected to rise significantly in the near future, even if the security is rising in book value or paying a nice dividend that will result in an interesting long-term total return.

Don't fight the Fed.

Don't fight the tape.

Don't marry your stocks.  -- accept the fact that changing conditions may dictate that you sell a stock, regardless of any emotional attachment.

Don't try to catch a falling knife --  something you don't want to do.  The idea is that if something is falling you could get hurt trying to catch it in mid-flight.  Better to let it stop falling and pick it up safely.

Economists are good at predicting recessions. They've predicted eight of the last three.  -- there is no shortage of "professional" cynics all too trigger-happy to forecast doom and gloom.

Economists have correctly predicted nine of the last five recessions.  -- Paul Samuelson, economist. A disparaging characterization of the forecasting ability of macro-economists.

Economists have forecasted 9 out of the last 5 recessions.

Economists have predicted 10 of the last three recessions.

Economists have predicted five of the last three recessions.

The fear index. -- Euphemism for the VIX implied volatility index which is high when people are worried and willing to pay more for options to protect their stock investments and low when they're only willing to pay  a lot less for options to protect against market downside.

For indeed, the investor's chief problem -- and even his worst enemy -- is likely to be himself -- Ben Graham in The Intelligent Investor

Hit the bid. -- To capitulate and sell a security at the current buying price or "bid", as opposed to holding out and waiting for demand to rise enough for the market price (bid) to match the price that the seller would have preferred.

If Santa Claus Should Fail to Call, Bears May Come to Broad & Wall.  [Trader's myth that if we don't see a "Santa Claus rally" in December, the market will decline in the coming year.]

If youíre going to panic, panic early.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

Investors headed for the exits. [Euphemism for a sell-off with traders and speculators taking profits.]

It ainít over till itís over. -- Yogi Berra

It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked. -- Warren Buffett

It's the economy, stupid! -- political consultant James Carville.  Whether we're talking about politics or the stock market, the central concern is still the same:  the economy.

I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the President or the Pope. But now I want to be the bond market: you can intimidate anyone. -- political consultant James Carville.  Fixed income may seem simple, but is far from it.

Look out below! - bearish trader's reference to an expectation that a stock will decline dramatically

Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.  -- John Maynard Keynes

Never make forecasts, especially about the future. -- Samuel Goldwyn

Never sell a dull market short.  -- A trend-less market could go either way and is therefore overly risky for shorts.

Never short a dull market.  -- A trend-less market could go either way and is therefore overly risky for shorts.

Never try to catch a falling knife. --  something you don't want to do.  The idea is that if something is falling you could get hurt trying to catch it in mid-flight.  Better to let it stop falling and pick it up safely.

Nobody ever went broke taking profits.

Nobody rings a bell at the market bottom.

No one ever went broke by taking a profit.  [Euphemistic excuse for closing a position out of fear that it may decline.]

Nosebleed levels.

Obvious prospects for physical growth in a business do not translate into obvious profits for investors -- Ben Graham in The Intelligent Investor

October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February. -- Mark Twain

Past performance does not guarantee future results. [Standard disclaimer for mutual funds.  Translation:  ignore all these performance statements and accept the fact that future performance is unknowable.]

Pounding the table.  [Euphemism for arguing a position strongly in the face of the market moving the opposite direction.]

Priced to perfection.  Said about stocks or the overall market (but can apply to any asset), implies that stocks are overvalued.  Specifically, that stock prices already assume best-case improvements in fundamentals that are not credible.

Pull the trigger. -- To overcome one's anxieties and indecisiveness and actual execute a trade or investment. Alternatively, in the negative, to override one's sensibilities and do a trade or investment despite good reasons (or lack of due diligence) not to, as in "trigger-happy."

Range trading. -- Where traders and speculators ride the trend up towards the top of a "trading range" and then mysteriously reverse their bias and then trade down towards the bottom of the range. Rinse and repeat. The goal is to profit from volatility in an otherwise flat market. Brokers love it since it generates more commission fees. The bounds of the range are determined purely by "technical analysis" or psychological levels and have little to do with economic and business fundamentals although economic and business events can be used as excuses to make the turning points a little more dramatic.

Santa Claus rally. -- Traditionally a rally at the end of the year, between Christmas and New Year's Day, typically due to a lot of the more pessimistic professional market participants being on vacation, as well as "window dressing" by fund managers before the end of the fourth quarter. These days any rally afterThanksgiving or even earlier in November can be labeled a Santa Claus rally.

Sell in May and go away -- 'historically', investors have done better by selling their stocks in May and buying them back in November.  In other words, the months from May through October are supposedly a 'bad' time to be in the market.  Ned Davis Research is alleged to have said that their research indicates the optimal 'bad' period (based on history) lasts from the sixth trading day of June to the fifth to last trading day of October

Sell into any rally. -- use a market rall as the excuse to sell. This is a typical strategy for range trading: buy when the market is towards the lower end of a trading range and then gradually sell as the market rises.

Sell into strength.

Sell into the rally.

Sell the rally.

Sell to the sleeping point.  -- if you are troubled by an investment but still desire to hang onto it, sell just enough so that you can feel that you've 'dealt' with the anxiety and can calmly sleep at night, but you've kept enough to feel comfortable with what you have left.

Sellers of greed and buyers of fear.  -- the contrarians mantra:  sell what the crowd wants to buy and buy what the crows shuns.

Stocks are still overvalued.

Stocks got ahead of themselves.

Stocks have gone too far, too fast.

Take some money off the table. -- Mostly a ruse by brokerage firms to con investors into selling stocks (and possibly buying them back later) so that the brokerage firm can collect commissions and transaction fees.

Taking profits.  [Euphemism for selling a profitable position out of fear that it may decline.]

The company mints money.  -- Speculator's euphemism for a profitable company.  Usually associated with 'touting' a stock rather that being a dependable characterization of the future potential of the company and its stock.

The fundamental business of the country, that is production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis. -- President Herbert Hoover, Saturday, October 26, 1929 commenting on "weakness" in the stock market.

The market doesn't move in a straight line. -- Volatility, corrections, dead-cat bounces, etc. mean that the market may seemingly reverse its trend for short periods even as the overall, larger trend remains intact. In other words, be prepared for a bumpy ride even if you do get to the desired or expected destination.

The market has gotten ahead of itself.

The market hates uncertainty.

The market is overbought.

The market is oversold.

The path of least resistance is down.  -- a rationalized belief that a downwards trend will continue.

The path of least resistance is higher.  -- a rationalized belief that an upwards trend will continue.

The path of least resistance is lower.  -- a rationalized belief that a downwards trend will continue.

The path of least resistance is up.  -- a rationalized belief that an upwards trend will continue.

The trend is your friend.

This company mints money.  -- Speculator's euphemism for a profitable company.  Usually associated with 'touting' a stock rather that being a dependable characterization of the future potential of the company and its stock.

This information, obtained from sources believed reliable, is not necessarily complete nor is it guaranteed.  -- standard disclaimer.  Translation to English:  All bets are off.

This is a stockpicker's market -- Implying that the overall market trend is fairly flat, bearish, or simply choppy and that the only safe way to get decent returns is to pick stocks that have more positive momentum than the overall market.  Also: It's a stockpicker's market, It's becoming a stockpicker's market, It remains a stockpicker's market, and This remains a stockpicker's market.  Or, simple the term stockpicker's market.

Too far, too fast.  -- How stocks normally move in a bull market.

When the tiger is away, the monkeys rule the jungle. -- without leadership, we get chaos. When the larger players are off on vacation or intentionally staying out of the market, the second and third tier players can have an inordinate impact on the market volatility and short-term trend.

Where are the customers' yachts? -- from the title of an amusing book by Fred Schwed, Jr. about the shenanigans that go on on Wall Street

Window dressing. -- Buying shortly before the end of the quarter by fund managers so that their quarterly reports will show that they are holding all the hot and desirable stocks. Can also include selling of "the dogs" for the same purpose.

You can't go broke by taking a profit.  [Euphemistic excuse for closing a position out of fear that it may decline.]

You can't go wrong by taking a profit.  [Euphemistic excuse for closing a position out of fear that it may decline.]

You'll never go broke by taking a profit.  [Euphemistic excuse for closing a position out of fear that it may decline.]

You never go broke by taking a profit.  [Euphemistic excuse for closing a position out of fear that it may decline.]

You will never go broke by taking a profit.  [Euphemistic excuse for closing a position out of fear that it may decline.]

You won't go broke by taking a profit.  [Euphemistic excuse for closing a position out of fear that it may decline.]


Updated: December 11, 2011 01:18:24 PM -0500

Copyright © 2011 John W. Krupansky d/b/a Base Technology