Mad Bombers | Seeking Alpha

Some securities I own are illiquid. A few are very illiquid. When I wrote for, we had a warning that we posted for every security mentioned where the market cap was less than half a billion dollars, because what we wrote could budge the market, and sometimes it did. I remember when I wrote a post about personal lines P&C insurers, and I mentioned Safety Insurance (NASDAQ:SAFT), which was definitely small, as one of the companies that I thought was worth owning, and we did own it at the firm that I worked for. The stock popped about 5% before settling down.

But frenzies to buy are usually tame compared with frenzies to sell. There is an urgency to preserving value that makes the seller particularly zealous in getting out rapidly.

In the last three weeks, I’ve experienced this twice with two securities that I own. In both cases I bought more as the seller got aggressive. Let me show you what happened.

Image Credit: Aleph Blog

This is a graph of National Western Life Insurance (NWLI) over the last three weeks. It’s my largest holding in one of my strategies. On September 23rd, near the close, an aggressive seller, on no news, sold a large block of stock, driving down the price temporarily. I was one of those buying from him, but by no means the biggest buyer.

Image Credit: Aleph Blog

Then there is TCW Strategic Income Fund (NYSE:TSI), which is the second-largest holding as bond funds go for my clients, behind PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active ETF (NYSEARCA:MINT), which I use for liquidity. Yesterday, someone was aggressively selling until 2PM or so, and then they seemed to be done. They may have been selling for three days prior to that. In this case also, I was buying as they were selling, and in this case, I caught the bottom tick. Again, there was no news, but when is there ever news for a bond fund?

My main point is this: Be willing to be a buyer on days when there is no news, and it is not a sector effect, when a security that you know well is getting thrown out the window for no good reason. Occasionally mad bombers show up, and they have to sell down to the last share. Having known some institutional traders, that last sale can be quite aggressive because they want to be DONE!

There was a guy at, I think his name was Ken Wolff who often talked about “dumpers.” Stocks where a bad event happens, and everyone runs to sell, and there is a climax of volatility where the aggressive sellers have sold their last shares. You see the spike up in volume, and the spike down in the price. His idea was that it was simple to buy then, and close out the trade at the end of the day. On that front, I thought he was pretty clever.

Panic never leads to good results. Understand what you own very well, and be willing to buy when other market participants are irrational.

Full disclosure: Long NWLI, TSI, MINT

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