Which share do you really regret missing out on?
The thing about being a writer for the Fool is that you tend to do a lot of research about shares, and you do come up with quite a few share tips.
But, of course, the amount of spare money you have is finite, so you can't realistically buy into every single company you fancy. You actually only invest in a fraction of the share ideas you produce.
What is then particularly galling is when the share tips you write about but don't invest in do incredibly well, often better than the shares you did invest in! That's what has been happening to me recently.
The value that outed
For example, take Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV). In December of last year I tipped the company as a deep value play. The firm was doing surprisingly well in a tough property market, having bought a large amount of land at knock-down prices, and with much of its business in the relatively buoyant South East.
At the time of writing, the share price stood at 89.5p, which was just 42% of the company's net asset value. The shares had hit 1,200p just a few years ago.
As soon as I had written the article, Barratt's shares started appreciating, and by March they had nearly doubled in value, touching 150p. Looking back, investing in this business was a no-brainer. Did I buy in? I'm afraid not.
The growth prospect that just kept growing
Then there was Petrofac (LSE: PFC). In September 2011, I touted this as 'the £5 billion oil opportunity you've probably never heard of'. I could see when I wrote the article that this was a great growth play.
After all, the company had already expanded in ten years from a firm of 900 employees to one with 14,600 workers. And it had ambitious plans for future growth, planning to more than double its 2010 earnings by 2015. Yet at the time I wrote the article, the company's share price of 1385p put it on a P/E ratio of just 15.
I seriously considered buying into Petrofac, but instead of going with my instincts I hesitated. As I did so the share price rocketed, and the chance was gone.
Since then the shares have had an amazing run, increasing in value by a third. And I was left kicking myself again.
A play on European recovery
Finally, in December I tipped luxury car maker BMW. For me this was a global brand at a knock-down price. After all, in a world where wealthy consumers in emerging markets such as China and India were devouring luxury brands, BMW's forward P/E ratio of 8 looked too cheap.
My tip turned out to be prescient, as things improved in the eurozone and European stock markets recovered dramatically.
BMW really was the bargain I thought it was, and promptly increased in value by a third in the space of a few months. If only I had followed the courage of my convictions! I had missed out again.
You win some, you lose some
Now, to be fair, I didn't miss out on all my picks -- not by a long chalk. Notably, I have done very well with companies like Admiral (LSE: ADM) and BP (LSE: BP). Overall, after a torrid 2011, my portfolio is doing very nicely, thank you, in 2012.
Of course, I would be doing even better if I had followed the courage of my convictions in some of my picks. But, as the saying goes, you win some and you lose some.
Perhaps the lesson I can draw is that I should go with my gut instinct more often. If something looks cheap then it probably really is cheap. You really can be too cautious.
So, over to you. Have you also been seriously interested in a business, but never went through with the purchase, only to see the share price rocket? What was the best share you never bought? Please sound off in the box below.
> Get the latest on investing and the markets, direct from the desk of David Kuo. You'll also receive a special free report on '10 Steps To Making A Million' if you join The Motley Fool Collective today.
> Prabhat owns shares in Admiral and BP.