There's no egalitarianism in economics.
Not every stock is created nor performs equally, in fact quite the contrary: we count on many investments being losers. And, while we can't control or reliably always predict the markets, we do determine what's in our portfolio.
Choosing one trade over the next is the core of money management.
When drafting teams for a football game, you wouldn't purposefully opt for the smallest and weakest players. The same goes within our portfolios. When considering investments to eliminate or reduce, I start by cutting the smallest and weakest of the bunch. Every trade isn't the same. Why treat them as such?
Every stock might have potential, but our own resources are limited. When deciding between large, long-established winning trades or smaller losers nipping new multi-month lows, there should be no question as to which gets kicked to the curb. You aren't simply trading the stock, but trading the stock as a position within your overall portfolio.
Markets and investments tend to move in trends which persist over time. To that end, it's generally more likely that an existing winning trade will continue to profit than a loser will reverse and rally. When forced to choose, the effort should be made to preserve the open trade. It's a higher probability bet.
For example, when it comes to my foray into shipping stocks, I have trimmed laggards such as Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK)
Our instinct, of course, is to do just the opposite. We prefer immediate pleasure, snatching any gain to buy something new rather than simply holding onto winners already in our portfolio. That's boring --like unwrapping last year's Christmas gift over and over again.
Yet winning positions are exactly what we want: they're the source of any profit. So unless they've grown to become a truly domineering part of your portfolio, why would one opt to trade them away?
Every athlete isn't equal, nor is every stock. To that end, the shrewd investor looks to stock his team with the strongest players. That's more often found in open winning trades over the smaller losing ones.—Jonathan Hoenig is managing member at (Capitalistpig Hedge Fund LLC. At the time of writing, Hoenig's fund held positions in many of the securities mentioned