(a) Investment is rationally based on the knowledge of past share price behaviour. From such knowledge, it is possible to compute the probability of future return. A common method of investment analysis is to study the past range of PER or DY of a particular share or a class of shares. From this study of its past price range‘ We can predict the likelihood of its price being out of this range in the future. By comparing its current price with the expected future price range (future price = future PER X future earnings) we know whether the current price is too high or too low and take the necessary action accordingly.In sharp contrast, speculation is purely based on the hope that the future price will be higher rather than on anything tangible.
(b) Investment requires an investor to do some work before hand and decisions are made based on known facts and figures. Such work typically may consist of estimating future level of Earnings Per Share and computing the past range of the PER. By multiplying the future EPS with the likely PER, we have an estimate of the future level of price. If the present price is very low compared with the future price, we buy and vice versa.
Speculation is usually based on wild turnouts and unsubstantiated hear says which cannot be checked for accuracy. Undoubtedly, speculation is a lot easier than investment but one tends to reap what one sows.
(c) Investment is made for the long term (i.e. two years or more) based on the idea that one is much more certain when one is trying to predict the cumulative results of many daily movements. One invests with the knowledge that over the long run, the real investors will always make a gain. Speculation is usually for the short run (it. three months or less unless one is caught whence a speculator is then forced to become an investor), based on the idea that certain events may result in a rise in price (bonus, rights takeovers and others).
(d) Over a long period of time, true investment tends to produce a positive result. Based on many years of research in the US and Europe, Long Term Investment consistently produced much higher return than fixed deposit or the inflation rate. Our experience locally has mirrored the Western experience.
Since speculation is not based on anything concrete, its result is not at all predictable. Speculation can occasionally produce very high gains just as it can produce very high losses. Over a long period of time, speculation is most unlikely to produce better return than true investment. At the same time, speculation is likely to lead to many sleepless nights and anxious days since its result is so uncertain. The speculator will have to be always on the alert to take the necessary quick action to catch the right moment. True investors can sleep soundly at night since they have a fairly good idea of the possible extent of their loss and gain before hand. Besides, since they are investing for the long term, they can forget about short term movements and ignore the market most of the time.