2011 IRA Performance – What Went Wrong…And Right

A few bad eggs spoiled what could have been a great 2011 for my IRA. My retirement account lost 4.8% in 2011 which is slightly worse/in line with the market’s performance. Losing money is difficult but as a friend said it’s better to lose your money by yourself than let someone else.

The largest declines during 2011 were in Logitech (LOGI) which is rebounding into early 2012, the financial sector via a Vanguard sector ETF (VFH), DreamWorks Animation (DWA), and Industrial Services of America (IDSA). The losses in these investments were large: from a high of near 50% in the case of LOGI and IDSA and less severe but still double digit for DWA and VFH. A relatively large position in Universal Forest Products (UFPI) broke even after rallying in the last few days of 2011 following positive housing data.

These large losses were mostly negated by several profitable buys and sells including Expedia (EXPE), which announced a split, PowerShares DB Energy (DBE), which tends to rise in the cold winter months when energy consumption is at a peak, IShares MSCI Japan (EWJ), which became a buying opportunity after declining unreasonably low due to the tsunami/earthquake disaster, Town Sports International (CLUB), which operates gym facilities primarily on the East Coast and Switzerland and is partially owned by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, Industrial Services of America (IDSA), which was a short-term profitable investment before I bought it again and became saddled with a loss, and Angiodynamics (ANGO), which I held during April for a nice gain. IShares DJ Healthcare (IHF), Sysco (SYY), Dole Food Co. (DOLE), Ruth Hospitality (RUTH), and Cryolife (CRY) were other profitable short-term investments which helped performance to a lesser degree in 2011.

In conclusion, while its performance was worse than the broad market measured by the S&P 500, my IRA beat a closer competitor, the Russell MicroCap Index (down 9.3%) and followed right behind the small cap Russell 2000 Index (down 4.2%). Next January I will blog about what made and broke my IRA performance in 2012. In the meantime, I hope a golden goose will hatch.

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