I was fortunate to be a client of Bob between 1984 and 1992 when he retired as Merrill Lynch’s chief stock market analyst. His no-nonsense wisdom and outstanding charts were must read.
Bob had many “rules” but 10 are now legendary and well worth reading today. From a 2008 The Big Picture post.
1. Markets tend to return to the mean over time
When stocks go too far in one direction, they come back. Euphoria and pessimism can cloud people’s heads. It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and lose perspective.
2. Excesses in one direction will lead to an opposite excess in the other direction
Think of the market baseline as attached to a rubber string. Any action to far in one direction not only brings you back to the baseline, but leads to an overshoot in the opposite direction.
3. There are no new eras — excesses are never permanent
Whatever the latest hot sector is, it eventually overheats, mean reverts, and then overshoots. As the fever builds, a chorus of "this time it’s different" will be heard, even if those exact words are never used. And of course, it — Human Nature — never is different.
4. Exponential rapidly rising or falling markets usually go further than you think, but they do not correct by going sideways
Regardless of how hot a sector is, don’t expect a plateau to work off the excesses. Profits are locked in by selling, and that invariably leads to a significant correction — eventually.
5. The public buys the most at the top and the least at the bottom
That’s why contrarian-minded investors can make good money if they follow the sentiment indicators and have good timing.
6. Fear and greed are stronger than long-term resolve
Investors can be their own worst enemy, particularly when emotions take hold.
7. Markets are strongest when they are broad and weakest when they narrow to a handful of blue-chip names
Hence, why breadth and volume are so important. Think of it as strength in numbers. Broad momentum is hard to stop, Farrell observes. Watch for when momentum channels into a small number of stocks ("Nifty 50" stocks).
8. Bear markets have three stages — sharp down, reflexive rebound and a drawn-out fundamental downtrend
9. When all the experts and forecasts agree — something else is going to happen
As Stovall, the S&P; investment strategist, puts it: "If everybody’s optimistic, who is left to buy? If everybody’s pessimistic, who’s left to sell?"
Going against the herd as Farrell repeatedly suggests can be very profitable, especially for patient buyers who raise cash from frothy markets and reinvest it when sentiment is darkest.
10. Bull markets are more fun than bear markets