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  • Chinmay Varshneya

My Journey in Investing: 5 Month Recap


Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

This entry will cover the performance of my portfolio for its first 5 months up until Covid-19. (Aug 2019- 2020)


Just a recap. In early August 2019, I had invested $5,000 through Etrade entirely in the Stock Market. I held twelve shares in Delta Airlines, two shares in Lulu Lemon, two shares in Boeing as well as one share in Amazon, Google, and Netflix.


Big Picture: In general, the stock market soared in 2019 and most investors were wildly successful. The S&P 500, a key U.S stock market index that describes the performance of the largest 500 public companies, grew over 28 percent. This means I could have thrown my money at the market with virtually no understanding and have found success. The year also marked a 10-year continuation of the bull run that started in 2009 after the financial crisis. As we would soon learn in 2020 this 11 year period of wealth for investors would quickly end at the hands of Covid-19.


My Portfolio: While I only started investing later in 2019, my portfolio still reflected the success of the bull market. Unfortunately, however, due to poor decisions, my portfolio’s performance was not market-beating. My fourth quarter returns were around 6 percent compared to the S&P 500’s 8% increase. Below I will analyze all of my positions to determine which stocks performed well and which ones performed poorly. Overall, it seems, had I implemented the comparative valuation strategies I described in the “Algorithm Part Two” article then I would have had superior results.


Amazon


Amazon did not perform too well for the majority of this period in relation to the S&P 500 index. In October, to invest in faster and more efficient delivery leading up to the Holiday season, Amazon spent over $1 billion. Quarter 3, therefore, saw a decrease in net income that surprised investors because it was the first time the company reported a decrease in quarterly profit for the past two years. The reduced quarterly profit also resulted in a lower value for the Earnings Per Share metric. EPS fell below Wall Steet’s projections and stocks fell accordingly. At the end of October, Amazon also lost a multi-billion dollar contract to Microsoft which further stifled investors’ bullish outlook on the company. Later on, however, holiday season earnings lead to the stocks rising a bit.


Amazon (Blue) vs. S&P 500 (Yellow) from Aug 2019- 2020

Google


Google was the only major tech company in my portfolio that beat the S&P 500. Stocks especially rallied during the last couple of months of 2019. Positive announcements such as the launching of the Pixel 4 were amongst the reasons. The increase can also be attributed to investors responding well to Google’s announcement to purchase Fitbit and enter the wearable tech market in late October. Even the news of Sundar Pichai stepping up to become the CEO of Alphabet (in addition to Google) seems to have contributed positively to stock prices.


Google (Blue) vs. S&P 500 (Yellow) from Aug 2019- 2020

Boeing


The story of Boeing is that of the doomed 737 Max airplane. The stocks clearly reflect this tumultuous state of affairs. While I purchased the stock believing the company would quickly fix the technical flaws of the plane and rebound, the opposite occurred. While stocks rallied from September to mid-October, a series of documents would quickly see an end to that. Boeing crashed 22% in mid-October after it released information regarding problems during the 737 Max’s simulation to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Other overdue documents and emails regarding the errors of the plane were given to the government around this time. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure began vocally demanding these documents in their investigation. On December 16th, Boeing also announced that it would stop making the 737 Max for a given amount of time. This again resulted in stocks (which had rallied considerably in November) falling again. Later in December, Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of Boeing, resigned. Stocks temporarily increased, but the damage had been dealt. This was definitely a poor purchase. I didn’t understand the scope of the massive company-wide flaws that resulted in the continued failure of the 737 Max.


Boeing (Blue) vs. S&P 500 (Yellow) from Aug 2019- 2020

Lulu Lemon


Lulu Lemon was one of my best-performing companies. I purchased Lulu after finding myself amazed by its ubiquity in the Bay Area. This hinted at a large consumer base for its pricey products meaning that sales would generally be strong. The Quarter 2 results for the company’s net income proved this and lead to Lululemon stocks continuing to grow. This can be observed in the sharp rise in early September. Its revenue showed a 22% increase which surpassed Wall Street’s projection. As a result, the Earnings Per Share (which is the ratio of profit to shares) of $0.96 exceeded estimates. While Q3 results were slightly lower than expected, bullish behavior continued. Most funds rated the company quite high and its shares exceeded the S&P 500’s growth by a large margin.


Lulu Lemon (Blue) vs. S&P 500 (Yellow) from Aug 2019- 2020

Delta Airlines


Delta, according to The Motley Fool, demonstrated “consistently strong performance” over 2019. Unfortunately, overall, airlines did not perform well in 2019. While Q3 results were quite strong, the modest projections by Delta CEO Ed Bastia for Q4 were not received well by Wall Street. This lead to a sharp drop in October. Unfortunately, despite Delta’s ambitious move to invest $1.9 billion in LATAM Airlines stock to expand its coverage in South America, its stock performance reflected the relatively poor state of the Airline industry. As we now know, Covid-19 has made the situation exponentially worse.


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