Greece blinks, shares the winners

After four straight days of falls, the S&P/ASX 200 finished the week on a high. In Friday trading, the index closed up over 2.5 per cent. It was a happy Friday to end yet another volatile, fast-moving week on the sharemarket.

With this much fun to be had, who'd want to be doing anything else? Not us.

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After four straight days of falls, the S&P/ASX 200 finished the week on a high. In late Friday trading, the index was up over 2.5 per cent. It was a happy Friday to end yet another volatile, fast-moving week on the sharemarket.

With this much fun to be had, who'd want to be doing anything else? Not us.

Shares leading the way higher included BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP), Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM), Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG), Iluka Resources Limited (ASX: ILU), Crown Limited (ASX: CWN) and AGL Energy Limited (ASX: AGK).

The party poopers included OneSteel Limited (ASX: OST) – a company we've previously told you to avoid like the plague, News Corp (ASX: NWS) – a stock that's unlikely to ever be on The Motley Fool's radar – and the usual selection of penny dreadfuls, like Mintails Limited (ASX: MLI), Gujarat NRE Coking Coal Limited (ASX: GNM) and Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited (ASX: CFU) who have once again gone with cap in hand to shareholders.

Greek triumph
As you may know by now, shares rose because the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said the nation now won't hold a referendum to put their future in the euro to a vote. Instead, Papandreou is now saying the country belongs in the currency bloc.

Earlier, Germany and France  had delivered an ultimatum to Mr Papandreou, telling him his nation would get no bail-out money at all, starting virtually now, unless the Greek voters approved the tough austerity measures that were a pre-condition to the new 100 billion euro rescue package.

"Papandreou absolutely blinked in this game of chicken", said Michael Holland on Bloomberg. "The interesting thing is that it took him so long to blink. The world's markets told him he was wrong and he still persisted for an extended period of time. It was insane."

By the time you read this, the whole game may have changed again. It's easier keeping up with Black Caviar than the goings on in Europe and Greece.

Who knows what next week brings?
So far during this whole European debacle we've had Slovakian and Greek politicians throwing global sharemarkets into a spin. What's next? Maybe Luxembourg (population 500,000) or Malta (population 400,000) might fancy a crack at destabilising world markets in the name of domestic political gain.

(As an aside, if you are worried about a market crash, you might want to first check out our new free report, Read This Before The Market Crashes. It could save you hours of heartache, and thousands of dollars. Click here to request your report now, whilst it's still free and available.)

Not impressed
Earlier this week we celebrated tipping the Melbourne Cup winner, the interest rate cut, and a lower Aussie dollar.

But one respondent wasn't too impressed…

"No need to gloat. Subtle references to previous advice proven right is sufficient."

Fair enough. But this comment really hurt…

"Neither do I appreciate your ineffective efforts at what appears to me to be American humour…I will not be subscribing to your newsletter."

Ouch. The newsletter I can understand. It's not for everyone. We understand that. But American humour? That hurts.

Breaking the shackles of Wall Street
The Motley Fool is an American-owned company. It was founded in 1993 by brothers Tom and David Gardner. Over the years, it has become one of the most popular investing websites in the U.S.

This unusual grassroots organisation has helped millions of U.S. individual investors break the shackles of Wall Street, build market-beating portfolios, and take back control of their own financial futures.

A former chairman of Merrill Lynch once called the Gardner brothers "thoroughly dangerous." called them "among the most widely followed stock pickers in the world."

The respected monthly The Economist called their one-of-a-kind online investment community simply, "an ethical oasis in an area fast becoming the home of charlatans."

Motley Fool, Aussie-style
We bring The Motley Fool brand to Australia. We bring The Motley Fool's respected values to Australia, including full transparency and accountability, something that is sadly lacking in much of the investing landscape, both here in Australia and worldwide.

We'll personally be hearing from Tom and David Gardner in the next week or so. From their base in Virginia, USA, they've just finished recording a special video for our Australian Fools.

But back to us.

We are Australians. We live in Australia.

Bruce did spend 18 years living in London. Whilst there, David Gardner personally recruited him to co-found The Motley Fool's UK site. From humble beginnings, Fool UK has become a wildly popular website with hundreds of thousands of followers. He returned from the grey skies of London to his native Australia in 2006. After freelancing for The Motley Fool's U.S. and UK sites, CEO Tom Gardner asked him to head up the Fool's Australian operations. He didn't need to ask twice.

Dean also had a stint living and working in England, but he too now resides in Australia. He has been actively investing for close to 25 years. Prior to joining as an employee, he was a member of The Motley Fool for 12 years, and is now excited about spreading Foolish values to Australians.

The Motley Fool is American in heritage, but we are Australian investors writing for Australian investors. As far as the humour goes, if it falls flat, don't blame the Americans. We take full responsibility.

When we pointed that out to our respondent, she replied…

"I too am Australian. I am ashamed at considering your humour American! Please forgive me. All attempts at humour are to be encouraged…and I may subscribe … !"

That's more like it!

Launch off!
By far the majority of replies expressing an interest in our subscription-only newsletter were positive.

From Michael…

"I have been reading Taking Stock for a few months now and would very much like to be a subscriber to your upcoming newsletter…Keep up the great work of blocking out the noise for the beginner/part-time investors like myself so we can make logical, rational decisions in this seemingly illogical and irrational market."

And this one from Anthony…

"I like receiving and reading 'Take Stock' by Motley Fool and look forward to it each time. Could you please include me in your initial launch off (sic) your new subscription newsletter, Thanks."

And one final one from Therese…

"I stumbled across Motley Fool's Take Stock myself and boy am I rapted (sic) I did.  Your updates are concise, humorous and cover the real issues, it's interesting and best of all makes sense. Being new to the markets the jargon and complexity of what you read can be confusing but your updates are a breath of fresh air and I'm thrilled when I find you sitting in my inbox at the end of day. There is no way I'm missing the opportunity to get involved with your launch so please register me for the Motley Fool's subscription newsletter."

A heartfelt thank you all all the people who replied expressing an interest. We had every intention of replying individually, but we were totally overwhelmed with the sheer number of responses.

Overwhelming response
As we said previously, our subscription-only newsletter will launch before the end of November. We will have a very special launch offer for loyal Take Stock/Motley Fool readers. This offer will likely be strictly limited to first 1,000 people to subscribe.

We honestly thought it might take us a couple of weeks to hit 1,000 subscribers. Now we're not so sure. We're already scrambling some contingency plans together. We don't want to disappoint, yet we do want to restrict this special offer to our most loyal readers. Stay tuned.

Humble Fools
Regular readers will know we're a reasonably humble lot here at The Motley Fool.

We don't make many short-term predictions, and we know shares can go down as well as up. In this line of business, the business of recommending sharemarket winners, we know the public often think you're only as good as your last prediction.

We are human. We do get some things wrong. Not every share recommendation is a winner.

Take Speciality Fashion Group (ASX: SFH). In mid-September, our Investment Analyst Dean Morel admitted he was down 9 per cent on his initial purchase price.

Was he worried? Not in the least. It's worth repeating here what he said 6 weeks ago…

"A mistake many investors make is thinking if a company was good value at one price it must be even better value at a lower price.

That leads to having your largest positions in your worst performing companies – as Peter Lynch said, this is watering your weeds. It's better to wait to see whether your thesis was right.

A second mistake is thinking that a 10% change in price is meaningful – it's not.

I won't be buying more Specialty until the turnaround in the business and investor sentiment is underway. I'll likely pay a higher price, but then I'll be watering my flowers instead of weeds."

As of writing, shares of Speciality Fashion are trading slightly above Dean's original purchase price. Nothing much gained, but more importantly, nothing lost.

Take control of your own financial future
The words 'preservation of capital' are not what you often hear from so-called investment professionals.

Fees, fees and more fees is what drives them, and their investing 'advice'.

The more you invest, the more the advisor earns.

The more you trade, the more your broker earns. If your investments go wrong – and many did during the GFC – your advisor puts it down to bad luck.

Bad luck for who?

For you of course, who lost thousands investing in dogs like ABC Learning, Allco Finance Group and Babcock & Brown, to name a few.

The Motley Fool's subscription newsletter aims to earn you consistent profits with a high level of accuracy, over the long-term, by focusing on the greatest Australian and International investment opportunities.

It won't be a swing for the fences type service, where we hope to get lucky. We aim for every selection to be profitable.

That's not to say we won't have some losers. Even the greatest investors have losers, and we'll be no exception. But you can rest assured each pick has gone through a rigorous selection process and has been thoroughly vetted not only by ourselves, but by a team of Motley Fool analysts. It's just another benefit to being part of a global organisation.

The Foolish bottom line
Many investors are finding it hard to navigate their way through this extreme period of sharemarket volatility. One day shares are plummeting. The next they're shooting higher.

The key is remain calm, invest with a clear head, and focus on the long-term. You're dead in the water if you're trying to predict the actions of a Greek prime minister or the short term gyrations of markets.

We hope we've helped steer you through some of the ups and downs. There will be more. But the volatility will subside…until the next crisis. If there's one thing we've learnt over our near 50 years of combined investing experience, it's to expect the unexpected.

If you are looking for a stock you can bet on now, readers need look no further than The Motley Fool's Top Stock For 2012. Click here now to request this special report, while it's still free and available.

Bruce has an interest in BHP. Dean has an interest in Specialty Fashion. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is no Greek tragedy.

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