How to Become a Better Investor This Holiday Season

Chris Versace

Chris Versace is a financial columnist and equity analyst with more than 20 years of experience in the investment industry.

As we get ready for one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, the market action will be relatively quiet for the next few days as we take time to be thankful for what we have. As that giving of thanks ends Thursday, deal-hungry shoppers will be hunting online and in person for great savings, doorbusters and more as they ratchet up their holiday shopping from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. I plan on shopping like more and more people do this holiday season, with my feet up and laptop on in order to scrutinize offerings from Amazon.com (AMZN) and other retailer sites and company web stores, such as Under Armour (UA) and the North Face (VFC).

While I could recommend a few of those stocks to you to buy this holiday season, that would only be a short-term fix and, as my subscribers know, investing is a lifelong journey filled with ups and downs. To paraphrase an analogy, rather than give you a fish or two that would tide you over for no more than a few days, I’d rather help teach you how to fish or, in this case, invest. Just like teaching you to fish can help you feed yourself, helping you learn how to invest will help you grow your savings, capital, assets or whatever you like to call it.

As you can imagine, there is a vast array of resources available to help one get started. But to someone who is just starting out, the sheer volume of information available can be rather daunting. In the industry, we say that too much information can result in “analysis paralysis” as you become so overwhelmed by information and resources that you don’t know what to do. To cope, your mind shuts down. In today’s world of cable news headlines, Facebook (FB) messages and tweets on Twitter (TWTR), shutting down for a bit can be a healthy thing. However, it can also result in missing some key information that can shape the next move in your investments or in the overall stock market.

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So where does a new investor or someone who wants to refresh their investment thinking turn?

There are several fantastic books to help a new or unseasoned investor get an understanding of the stock market, investing and stocks. There are other securities ranging from more diverse exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to mutual funds, as well as other more esoteric securities, like futures and currencies, for example. But in my view, most people tend to gravitate toward products and services they know, use or love. Examples include Disney (DIS), Apple (AAPL), Under Armour (UA), Facebook (FB), McCormick (MKC) and so on. Each of those companies has their own public currency, better known as shares of stock, and some even pay dividends.

So what are a couple of those fantastic books that would serve as great gifts this holiday season?

One of my favorites that I first read back in 1990 is “One Up On Wall Street: How To Use What You Already Know To Make Money In The Market” by Peter Lynch and John Rothchild. In this tome, Lynch recalls how he found some of his most successful stocks, which usually entailed watching what the people around him were doing or buying. That’s a key aspect of the psychographics I look at as part of my PowerTrend investing framework. All in all, this is a great first book for a new investor from a legendary investor.

Another good recommendation is… well, let me put it to you this way… if Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, sees it as a good book, who are we to argue about reading it? That’s right, it’s the must-read classic, “The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing,” by Benjamin Graham.

If your intended holiday gift recipient has already cut his teeth when it comes to investing, then I would wholeheartedly recommend giving him a subscription to my newsletter, The Growth & Dividend Report. By looking at the intersection of the evolving economic, demographic, psychographic and technology landscapes with an eye on regulatory mandates and others, I look for a combination of growth stocks and dividend payers that will ride higher on the tailwinds of my PowerTrend investing framework.

Here’s a great example: it’s one of my top positions in the Growth & Dividend Report portfolio… and this company is about to make a killing thanks to a special new arrangement between Apple and the federal government. Click here to learn how you can capitalize on the situation.

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In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter column from last week about the wealth of resources available for investors. I also invite you to comment in the space provided below.

Upcoming Appearances

  • Each Monday, I join Sonoma County’s Morning News with Melanie Morgan’s “Big Story” of the week to talk about the latest in the economy, stock market and more.
  • Each Friday, I join Matt Ray, the host of America’s Morning News, to talk about the latest on the economy, stock market and more. With the show broadcast in more than 170 markets, be sure to tune in.

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It was another solid week for stock markets, with the Dow Jones up 1.85%, the S&P 500 rising 1.89% and the NASDAQ jumping 2.34%. The MCSI Emerging Markets Index (EEM) also ended the week 2.58% higher. Big gainers in your Alpha Investor Letter portfolio included Markel Corp. (MKL), which jumped 7.01%; the KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF (KWEB), which moved 5.88% higher; and Allergan plc (AGN), which gained 4.75%. Both Mar

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