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  • Success Not Always Measured in Dollar Signs
    12/31/04 8:30 AM ET

    "There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning."

    -- Louis L'Amour

    Good morning and welcome to the last trading day of 2004. The year is now essentially over and we should all spend at least a little time reflecting on our successes and failures during the past 12 months. As you look back keep in mind that success is not measured only by how you did vs. the major market indices. If your skills as an investor or trader improved during the year, that may turn out to be a far more valuable reward than if you had simply beat a benchmark index.

    It is easy to measure financial success in the market; we all know how much money we made or lost. However, even if you are unhappy with your returns you have not failed if you have learned and grown from the experience. You have only failed if you continue to do the same things that produced poor returns in the past.

    One of the great things about the market is that it is such a worthy opponent. Mr. Market always presents a formidable challenge and no matter how good or experienced we may be the battle is never won. We must constantly strive to improve our investing skills yet not be frustrated by the fact that the job will never be finished and we will never be perfect. No matter how good we are, Mr. Market is still going to beat us quite often.

    It is very important to maintain a healthy respect for the skill, persistence and cunning of the market beast. As soon as you think you have it figured out the market will find a way to bite you.

    As we conclude 2004 and start the new year make sure you appreciate the difficulty of the battle ahead, but also contemplate the pleasure that comes from working hard, doing your best and improving your skills in one of the toughest games of all. Learning and growing as investors should be the No. 1 goal of all market participants in 2005.

    Once again we have a fairly quiet morning. Asian markets were mostly closed overnight for the holidays and European markets were very quiet. Crude oil is doing little and the news wires are barely scrolling.

    Most big investors are done for the year so it is likely to be a thin and choppy day. However, a lot of folks are paid based on closing prices tonight so there is likely to be some fun and games in the closing minutes.

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