Good news: once I’m done, this will have been the 800th time that I’ve clicked the “publish” button on this blog.

When I started to go through all the previous 799 blog posts in order to give you a list of my all-time favourites, I realised that this task is no longer just a morning’s work.

Which was pleasing, agreed – but also saddening, because suddenly my original blog post plan was gone and I had great fears that the 800th post would be a bit anticlimactic.

As it turns out, I’m actually okay with that.

So instead, here is the new plan:

  1. I’m going to share Rolling Alpha’s global footprint with you (because I’m very proud of it). And
  2. Then I’m going to talk to you about my worst ever post.

How Rolling Alpha fares in the world

Rolling Alpha's Global Footprint

The redder it is, the more readers that come from there.


And how great is the internet?

Moving swiftly along to the awful statistics…

The Worst Performing Post(s)

It’s a tie.

With a grand total of 10 views each:

So before I get back to them, here’s what I’ve learned about life as a blogger:

  1. Blog posts do not do well on a Friday. No one is interested.
  2. Write-off December, and most of January. No one is at work, and blogs are really a distract-me sort of thing.
  3. Dull titles like “Daily News Roundup” are never going to do well.
  4. But blog posts that involve any sort of a rant are always popular. People love a good complaint.

The “Daily News Roundup 2012: Friday 14 December” has all the hallmarks of a doomed post:

  • Boring Title
  • Posted on a Friday
  • In December
  • #Death

Even though I think it had some fun points about the legal pitfalls of inter-office messaging services.

The Analyst post, however, is a bit strange. It was posted on a Thursday in March. The title could have been better, agreed. Perhaps “Analysts will whore themselves out to just about anyone”? But still – has to be better than a December Daily News post, right?

I’m forced to conclude that people hate to hate on analysts.

So I’m petulantly going to re-visit the topic.

Why Analysts Fail

There is an incentive problem.

Investment analysts give opinions on financial assets (mostly shares) – whether they’re “buys” or “sells” or “holds”. They also give price targets.

But the thing is: investment analysts only get into the high-paying jobs when they’re popular and well-regarded.

Allow me to play that logic out for you:

  1. The market consensus is that the share price is going to go down.
  2. The analyst disagrees.
  3. What to do?
  4. If he publicly disagrees and he’s right, then that’s a win and he’s better than everyone.
  5. But if he publicly disagrees and he’s wrong, then that’s a sure-fire recipe for being unpopular and not-well-regarded.
  6. On the other hand, if he publicly agrees with the market consensus and the market is right, then that’s a win.
  7. And if the market consensus is wrong, then the whole market is wrong, and he’s no worse off.
  8. Basic conclusion: investment analysts have strong incentives to go with the market consensus.
  9. And if they’re going with the market consensus, it means that they’re following the market.
  10. Which makes them largely un-useful.

In my very unpopular post about analysts, I mentioned a 6 March 2013 news article from Bloomberg, in which Adnaan Ahmad, an analyst from Berenberg Bank, dropped his rating on Apple shares down to a “sell”, and cut his price target from $800 to $360. At the time, Apple shares were trading at around $425 a share.

I was uncomplimentary. Because moving a price target from $800 down to $360 is not for real.

Within 3 months of that announcement, Apple shares started climbing. By the end of the 2013, Apple shares were up to $560. Today, Apple shares are trading at the equivalent of ±$760*.
*There’s been a 7 for 1 share split, so each Apple share trading at $108 today is only a 7th of the share we were talking about in March 2013.

Which brings me to one of the big lessons I’ve learned after 799 blog posts:

  • Being contrarian can be quite lucrative.
  • As long as you’re willing to risk that initial period of time (like that 3 months) being “wrong”.
  • But have faith in the fickleness of markets.
  • They generally tend to turn.
  • At least: they turn often enough that the wins outweigh the losses.

I’m not sure it that helps.

Regardless – thanks for reading 🙂

Rolling Alpha posts opinions on finance, economics, and the corporate life in general. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, and on Facebook at