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Don’t Let the Day’s News Drive Your Investing

Apr. 6, 2016 Kiplinger

If you’re looking for a completely delightful experience, disconnect yourself from the markets for a few weeks—maybe longer. Don’t read the news. Don’t watch the indexes. Don’t check your portfolio. Just go away and live a normal life. See things. Touch nature. Sing. Hike. Dance. Meet people. Talk with your family. Once you return to reality and review the investment news you missed, you may well conclude that ignorance really is bliss.

That is how things used to be, when my kids were small and I didn’t have the time to constantly check my portfolio. But now that they’re grown and it has become so easy to obtain information, I find myself checking news and market results multiple times daily. And all that checking practically begs you to do something, even if doing nothing is the best course. It took a two-week vacation to Panama and Ecuador, primarily to visit the Galapagos Islands, for me to relearn the lesson that less can be better than more.

I admit that it was hard to withdraw from my investment-centric world. In fact, we booked our flights on Copa Airlines just so I could get a firsthand view of one of my Practical Investing portfolio’s worst performers, Copa Holdings (symbol CPA, $62). The stock has been a nightmare, but our flights were dreamy, taking us back to an era when planes served full meals and booze free, and departed and arrived on time. (Share prices are as of March 1.)

Copa dominates Tocumen International Airport, which lets you avoid a slog through Panamanian customs when you’re passing through to other parts of Latin America. But I suspect that few Americans are familiar with Copa, which serves just 12 U.S.

airports. Most of our shipmates in the Galapagos had been steered to U.S. carriers, even though it meant that many traveled hours out of their way. I think Copa has the potential to attract many more U.S. travelers, so I am keeping the shares for now.

I actually thought I might stay connected during the trip because the sales literature promised Wi-Fi on the ship. The promise proved to be mostly a tease, as service was spotty. But the electronic deprivation turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I had a wonderful time living in the moment and, to quote Shakespeare, we missed a lot of “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

In the meantime, the markets fluctuated without me. When we arrived home, my portfolio was worth a bit more than it was when I left, despite a sharp drop in early February that would surely have unsettled me had I known about it in real time.

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