Barron’s on the Kirk Report: The Anti-Cramer

Kudos to Charles!

Barron’s gives the Kirk Report a terrific review, noting his "refreshing — and proven — approach to investing has made his blog one of the Internet’s best-read financial sites."  They also discuss why he’s in cash.

Here’s an excerpt:

"UNSETTLING FOR THOSE WITH STRONGLY BULLISH or bearish convictions, Kirk decided back in November that the times were — with apologies to Dylan — "a-changin’." He moved to cash and, with the exception of a handful of trades, has remained on the sideline for the longest period of his stock-trading decade or so. "I don’t see a distinct advantage in being on either side of the market," he explains. He confesses to a lot of questions. Among them: How will earnings fare next year? Will housing fall apart? And how resilient will consumers be? "Until we get some clarification on those things," says Kirk, "the best thing for me to do is to sit and to wait."

The soft-spoken former Cornell philosophy and political-science major shares at least one preoccupation with the herd on Wall Street. "I have to figure out if the Fed is going to make the same mistake they did previously. Will they increase interest rates higher than they should? Or will Ben Bernanke do something different?"

Kirk blends judgments on these fundamental issues with technical analysis to arrive at an overall market view and specific trading plays (technical factors get a much heavier weight to determine individual trades). A self-confessed "stock-screen addict," he runs more than 200 different sortings a month in search of attractive trades. "The art of stock screening," he says, is to find the proper screen for current market conditions. Among his favorites are those that seek out poor-performing shares with good fundamentals or, for trading purposes, stocks with scant analyst coverage, little institutional ownership, positive money flow/accumulation, strong earnings and improving relative price performance.

"I’m a flexible chameleon — I go where the money is, and my strategies will vary quite a bit depending on market conditions and where the money is flowing," says Kirk, who got hooked on investing while working in a Motorola kiosk at a local mall about 10 years ago to help pay tuition at St. Paul’s Hamline Law School. (He realized the company was selling lots of flip-phones, bought the stock and ended up making about as much on the shares as he did hawking the phones.)"

Track record . . .



The Anti-Cramer: Highway 61 Revisited
Kathy Yakal
Barrons, April 1, 2006 6:02 a.m. EST

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. wcw commented on Apr 1

    Someone screwed up the chart. It’s 85%

  2. todd commented on Apr 1

    That’s really cool stuff! When you think of professional traders you think about people pushing around $1million trades. Not 500-1000 share blocks like I am.

    John – do people really pay you $8000/year to watch your trades? I find that very hard to believe.

    BTW- I’ve had this thought for a while and here it is:

    “Mad Money” needs a bearish personality to balance Cramer’s bullishness if the show is going to survive… When the big Bear returns, “Mad Money” is going to be in some serious trouble. If you had a person to counter-balance Jim with some good bear trades, I think the show could survive indefinitely. Hank Greenberg once every other week is not going to cut it.

  3. Jnavin commented on Apr 1

    I’ll leave off the direct link to my site, Barry. Anyone who’s interested can Google it, I suppose.

    Congratulations to Charles Kirk: it’s tough to beat the S&P 500 year after year. I see he’s had trouble with the first quarter — me too!

    Yeah, a couple of very large investors pay me that amount for a daily email newsletter based on the Marketocracy results.

    I don’t think it’s all that much. I know a guy with an MBA from Wharton who publishes one market letter a year for 35 grand and he has a dozen takers.

    Hell, I’m cheap…My best regards, John.

  4. doug commented on Apr 1

    Can Kirk or Barry explain being in cash during a bull market? I know nothing about investing, but my 401K is up 7% since January by investing in an international index fund, S&P, Russell2000, and a Blackrock midcap. What am I, a financial genius? I can smell trouble as well as the next guy, but is the potential savings in anticipating it perfectly worth the risk of losing that 7%, and maybe the 7% to follow?

  5. Barry Ritholtz commented on Apr 2

    I cannot speak for Kirk, but I moved to cash in January 2000. While the two months that followed were pretty tough, it ultimately paid off.

    If Doug can smell trouble as much as the next guy, than here’s the question for him: How’d you do in 2000 – 03?

  6. Mark commented on Apr 2

    “And maybe the 7% to follow”, Doug? That implies that you will let it ride. Do you take it off when 5% comes off? If so, you may miss a rally according to your thinking. When 8% comes off? Were you then out at the October ’05 lows? April ’05 lows? No, you stayed in? Good for you. But unless you time the top perfectly, you give it back if a bear decline comes. But if you really can “smell trouble as well as the next guy”, which I take to mean that you can see what’s coming, then you need to have your own newsletter, blog, hedge fund and millions, because you can do it all– capture all the gains and get out before any declines.

  7. rwbil commented on Apr 2

    I think what John does, charging Big Bucks to a few Clients, is the best for the clients. I see newsletters with great track records who’s clients never make money. The problem is most of the newsletters buy the small less liquid stocks and everybody knows what happens when there clients buy and sell the same stocks all at the same time. Heck, just look at Jim Cramer and how his mindless followers run up his stock picks on the open. To me the only return that matters is the return the acutal client gets, not the theoretical returns that the newsletter’s advertise.

    This is why most Real not virtual mutual funds can not even beat the S&P. And most of the ones that do are closed.

    Find a fund, advisor, money manager or etc. who can consistently get his clients a 30% or greater return per year and is open to new investors and I will join. Until then I will manage my own money using my boring value style investing approach.

    And just a quick note to Doug’s comment. There are times I see more stocks at a value level and times I can hardly find any values. I table pounded the oils and trains 2 years ago, but now both of these sectors seem expensive to me. When I first recommended the trains, people laughed at me saying who would buy choo choo trains they have not done anything for years. But to me they where a no brainer. China and Commodoties were booming and the trucks where not going to move all that coal and heavy goods across the country. But back then they were selling for a PE of 12 and their earning were exploding. Now they seem fairly or overpriced. I find very little value in most stocks and real estate now therefore I am a Seller into rallies, which by default puts me into a large cash position.

  8. Leo Antons commented on Jun 2

    Someone above questioned Charles Kirk “being in cash during a bull market”. I suggest he examine Kirk’s track record. I am a subscriber to his “pay site” and think it’s the best investing-tool money I’ve ever spent…by far. Unlike Charles, I’ve remained about 75% long/25% cash. I’m up an average of 17% this year..even with 25% of the money in cash. However,I have no doubt Kirk will beat me by the end of the year.

    Read his daily blogs. Check out his various screens. He publishes the stocks that pass his screens.Then, a month later, publishes a list of the transactions and results. All screens were up over 7% for the month of May.

    Should Kirk have followed his own screens? Maybe. But if he were actively trading, it would cut down on all the valuable info that appears on his wsebsite that help dirive our results!

    I have no financial interest in I’ve never met him, nor talked to him. But, let me reiterate, I recoup the small investment in the “pay site” dozens of times each week. Go ahead…Google “the Kirk Report”. You’ll find some of the biggest investing names giving him the highest ratings going.

  9. Dr. Rubin commented on Nov 11


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