Last year, as I was preparing my picks for this competition, one of the big questions I was asking myself was if I should go for a homerun or not. The best way to go for a homerun is to build a scenario and take all 4 picks according to that scenario. Of course, if things go right, you will be very difficult to beat. But that also leaves little margin for error. A few of other contestants did just that, especially around oil prices. I also felt like oil would go up (hence my pick of USO) but was not convinced enough to put everything on that bet. And I am glad I did!!
As you can recall, I did take two companies based on economic scenarios, GLD and USO, as I expected gold and oil to rise in 2009 as fears of inflation and economic recovery regained traction. Turns out I was fairly right on both counts but that is not how I ended up winning the stock competition.
Rather, I won the competition by taking two tech stocks that I felt were much undervalued, Baidu and Ebay. Both of them enjoyed terrific returns as Baidu continued to fend off Google’s offence in China. Meanwhile, not much good news came out of Ebay in 2009 but the stock had been beaten up so badly that it actually did perform very well in the year.
Given the stock market returns this year (S&P 500 = +24, 36%, S&P/TSX = +30, 23%), any stock pick above 20% would be considered somewhat of a success:
So here is the recap for my 4 stock picks:
GLD (ETF on Gold) +24, 01%
Gold has been discussed so much in recent months as it was able to rise well above the psychological 1000$ barrier. I can’t say I’m unhappy with this pick as it was also good protection in periods of downsides in the markets.
USO (ETF on Oil) +18,67%
Actually happy this one did not perform too well. Other contestants had big bets on oil so a major spike in oil would have helped my performance but would probably not have helped me stay at #1 in the rankings!
EBAY (online merchant, owner of Paypal and partial owner of Skype) +68,62%
I don’t consider that Ebay did much in terms of improving things in 2009. In fact, getting partially rid of Skype was major mistake and if they do get rid of Paypal as has been discussed, that would be another major mistake. Paypal has a dominant position in the exploding electronic payment systems market and if they do innovate quickly enough, it could mean some big numbers in the future.
BIDU (search engine, ranked #1 in China) +214,95%
Baidu got slammed because it was caught selling ads without notifying users and sometimes even tricking users. But as I had expressed, Baidu operating in China is a major difference and the way it abides laws should not be compared with how US companies such as Google must do so. Of course, that makes it very difficult for Google to compete when it cannot offer illegal downloads to compete with its Chinese counterpart.
In a few hours, I will announce my picks for 2010; hopefully they can do as well!
Here are the results of my fellow competitors!
|7||Million Dollar Journey||+20.27%|