High Flying IPOs Often Come Back to Earth

On this day in history, August 9, 1995, I remember where I was. Do you?

I lived in the Dallas area at the time and had recently purchased my first home in the quiet suburb of Coppell. I worked in a Fidelity Investments branch office in nearby Las Colinas as an entry level financial advisor, which meant that I was often the first person a prospective investor would speak to upon arrival.

But I wasn’t in my Las Colinas office that day. I was in Fidelity’s Austin office, on loan to help them out during a period that they were short on staff. Back then, the Austin office was kind of hidden away on the second floor of the Arboretum, where a cigar shop now resides.

Customers had to know where to look to find us. However, on this day, that didn’t seem to be a problem. When we unlocked the front door at 8 AM, there were already several folks standing in line.

“Good morning,” I said to the first gentleman.

“Am I too late to buy Netscape,” he asked me?

“Netwhat,” I replied?

“You don’t know about Netscape,” he asked incredulously?

10 Questions for Every Investor

I talk to myself a lot. Sometimes it is because I work for myself and my boss can be unreasonable. Other times, the conversations are triggered by something I read or see on TV. As an investment advisor, many of the articles I read have to do with markets and peoples’ perspectives on investing. Frequently, reading a headline like “The Market Just Triggered the Hindenberg Omen” will cause me to pause and question my disciplined approach.

It is during those moments of self-doubt that I find myself asking some of the following questions. Whether you’ve been investing for decades or are just getting started, at some point on your investment journey, you’ll likely ask yourself some of them too.

A Hot Time on Wall Street

“Sell in May and go away” is the Wall Street market timing strategy that suggests investors are better off in cash during the hotter months of the year. The idea is that traders, money managers, and bankers all leave the city to escape the heat of the summer. It has been hot this summer but US stocks haven’t taken any time off as the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 27,000 and the S&P 500 briefly broke through the 3000 point level for the first time ever this week.

While the benefits of trying to time the market with a calendar are dubious, it has been my observation that summer isn’t the season that folks are most inclined to discuss their investments and financial plans. I have fewer appointments, my phone doesn’t ring as often, and emails aren’t returned as quickly this time of year. While it’s common for people to ask me about my opinions on the stock market at holiday parties, almost no one asks at the ballpark or the lake. Normally those conversations are about travel plans, rain, or how the BBQ was cooked. Recently, however, I’ve found my poolside discussions increasingly are about whether now is a good time to buy stocks or if recent highs mean a downturn is right around the corner.

When the market gets hot, it doesn’t matter what the season is. The appeal of getting in at the right time or avoiding the next downturn can tempt even the most disciplined, long-term investors. The reality of successfully timing markets, however, isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.