Americans encourage the pursuit of the American dream, proudly hailing our country as the land of opportunity. We love a good rags to riches story. We love to root for the underdog who we will faithfully support and encourage in the hope of seeing a transition to become the next great American success story.
Somewhere along the way though, an arbitrary line can get crossed which prompts the masses to look at great American success stories and see them for being overachievements. Having too much success? You’re not the lovable underdog any more. Time to knock you down a notch or two. If you’re too successful at doing what you’re good at for too long then you start to become hated by some.
The New York Yankees. Starbucks. Bill Gates. All are known for great success. All have legions of people who either love them or hate them.
Apple (AAPL) is another of those success stories. Somewhere along the journey from Jobs and Wozniak scrounging money to cobble together and sell handfuls of rudimentary computers to becoming the iconic global behemoth it is today, the company has attracted its share of people who can’t wait to see the mighty Apple fall.
I have owned several iPhones and I love them. Haters would call me a fanboy when all I really am is a consumer of a product I enjoy using. If I discovered a product I thought I might like more than my iPhone I’d give it a try to see if I preferred it. I like Apple but I’m not married to Apple.
I’ve traded in and out of Apple many times over the past years, but since I now regard it as a core holding of mine I chose to maintain my position through 4Q earnings. To come to that decision required tuning out a lot of noise and speculation though. I couldn’t help but notice some respected traders on media outlets and on Twitter voicing their negative opinions about Apple and Apple investors. What was surprising to me about it was that negativity reflected directly on their bias and loss of objectivity, something I would not expect from traders of their caliber. Is it Apple’s great success that motivates rational thinking to become biased? Has missing out on that success in the past influenced opinion about the future? Some want to see failure happen when they haven’t been along for the ride, after all. Regardless, the fact is no one really knows what is going to happen so speculation is just that, but when bias of any kind figures in to the equation then judgement becomes clouded.
This comes to the heart of what this post is all about which has also been the tag line on my Twitter profile since day one:
“Study those who know, share what you learn, think on your own”
I don’t always hold positions through earnings. I based my decision to hold my Apple position on personal research and observation. Had I let the bias of others cloud my judgement I might have been persuaded to sell ahead of time and watch from the safety of the sidelines. Fortunately that didn’t happen, and fortunately it worked to my benefit.
Think on your own. Be your own trader.