Gainskeeper ™ is a little program keeps tracks of stock cost basis, and the profit and loss. Scottrade provides this service to its customers. This program is not without problems (for me), such as mess up positions and long/short term profit/loss. It seems to me the program improved quite a bit lately, or it could be that now I learned how to use it. Another interesing program (or web site) is cakefinancial, which can keep track of your 401k, IRA and stock brokrage accounts from various financial institutions. Walt Mossberg did a good introduction on this lately.
Back to Gainskeeper. The main thing I pay attention to is: big gainer and big losers. Here is how I used it. Go to Realized Selling Acitivity (Summary), select year (2008). Last year, we all know it’s a terrible market. Here is my big losers (loss > $1,000):
Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI), Chesapeake Engergy (NYSE:CHK), China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), Crocs (Nasdaq:CROX), Longtop Financial (NYSE:LFT), Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM) (this one went bust as we know), Western Digital (NYSE:WDC).
2008 Big winner (gain > $1,000): RIMM
This year big losers so far (just change the year from 2008 to 2009): Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B). China Mobile is also a significant loser.
big winner so far: Huntsman (NYSE:HUN), NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG). I also have many small winners such as ICO, RIMM and USB.
Go to Unrealized Position (Summary), take default (today), click view. Currently my unrealized big “winners” are Eaton (NYSE: ETN) and Huntsman (yes, I have a lot Huntsman shares at this time).
What’s the purpose
So what’s my point? How to apply this tool? Personally I think post morterm analysis is very important for successful investing. This is not a “what-if”, “would have”, “should have” type of analysis, rather a careful examination of what went wrong, what went right. Can we learn something from it? Or it’s just like a crap shoot (there is no rationale).
One thing I noticed is: in the past I tend to sell winners too early. Recently I tried to correct this. Let my winners run for a while and be more patient.
Also, in order to get big winner, we also need to bet big (which I will talk about later on).