Investing


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Investment markets got you down, Bunkie? Been blown away by derivative stun guns? When will portfolio market values move back to 2007 levels— and then what will you do about it?

It’s time to overthrow the evil Masters of the Universe and deactivate their weapons of financial destruction. Let’s outlaw the brainwashing that has changed how average investors look at and value their investment portfolios.

It’s time to exorcize the Wall Street demons and return to stocks and bonds— and to QDI, “the Force” for long-term investment portfolio security.

Speculating is complicated, even for financial rocket scientists. What most of us want (or would certainly settle for) is simplicity, stability, and reasonable growth in our productive working capital.

A return to plain vanilla investing strategies with operating procedures that minimize risk and encourage understanding of the financial markets needs to become part of our financial force field.

As bad as things have been since this black hole appeared, investment models true to fundamental concepts, simple strategies, and disciplined operating rules have probably bettered the market numbers in at least six important ways:

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I’m not a professional tennis player. I’m not even a tennis player. The last time I touched a tennis racket was 5 years ago. But I did read about how a professional tennis player aims to hit as many balls to the opponent to make him miss, in order to win. An amateur , on the other hand, aims to try to catch as many balls as possible, aiming not to make any mistakes till his opponent eventually makes a mistake and causes himself to lose. That’s defensive playing.

I’m not a professional stock investor either. I admit neither I have the time nor the patience to go through every financial report, visit the companies I’m interested in buying and whatever else it takes to be really confident enough to put a huge chunk of my hard-earned money into the stock. So I have to invest defensively. I aim to minimise my losses while riding the general upward trend of the stock market, rather than maximising my gains on the individual hot stocks. It may limit my gains a little, but in the event of a crash, I hope to come out relatively intact. I basically expect a crash, even in the longest bull run ever. It’s like having a Plan B even though you hope you never have to use it, or buying insurance though you don’t really want to die or get a critical illness just to make the most of it.

So how do I play my defensive game ? I protect myself the following ways.

1. I stick with what I know. It’s easier to figure out that maybe the market has over-reacted when you are familiar with the industry. For example, I bought Bank Of America at $4 and Citigroup at $1. The prices were crashing as people anticipated a further crash and that didn’t happen. Today they are holding at $13 and $3.5 respectively. Do the exact opposite of what the average investor is doing. I bought Merck when it was being sued for one of its drugs , Vioxx. The price crashed as people anticipated huge lawsuit payouts, which never happened.

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Is it luck or skill that gets us to the goals and objectives we set for ourselves— gimmicks and software programs or practice and understanding? How many golfers are still using the putter they started with decades ago at a nine-hole cow pasture? How many of you are still bouncing between investment gurus and hedges in your search for the investment holy grail?

The best athletes come to the competition with sound fundamentals, well thought out objectives, and the discipline to hone their basic technique with countless hours of practice. The most successful investors come to the process with sound fundamentals, realistic goals and objectives, and a consistently applied discipline that embraces the cyclical nature of markets and economies.

Discipline is an ingredient in most long-term success recipes— business, sports, relationships, politics, veal scaloppini, etc. Well, maybe not politics. There are “fundamentals” involved in each.

Favorite foursome conversations provide clues to the particular fundamental that just failed you, as your duck-hooked tee shot comes to rest at the base of the dead pine tree, and possibly, just beyond the white stake. “Have you weakened your grip?” comments Larry. “Nah, he was lined up that way; went right where he aimed it,” Curley offers.

“Might have worked out just fine if he hadn’t picked his head up so soon,” spouts Moe. “What are you guys talking about? I was set up to fade the ball but I swung way too hard at the bottom and closed down the club face,” you bark as you tee up a provisional.

Grip, alignment, focus, target, and tempo— some major golf fundamentals.

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indian_shares_zoom_180509Expectedly, after the resounding victory by the Congress Party in the general elections, markets skyrocketed as soon as the opening bell was sounded; eyeing a windfall in terms of government spending in a host of sectors to pump-prime the economy.

The sentiment was so strong in the trading community and the going was so good on the BSE Sensex that it reached the 17.24 per cent gain mark in no time, forcing the authorities to temporarily halt trading, when the circuit breaker* kicked in.

The same story repeated itself on the National Stock Exchange where the trading was also halted with the Nifty up by 17.33 per cent.

Within seconds of trading, the Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark Sensex vaulted 2,110.79 points, or 17.3 percent, to 14,284.21, triggering the historic shutdown Monday. Infrastructure, banking and real estate companies led gains. Trade was forced to close for the day, after the Congress Party’s definitive victory in national elections set the scene for long-delayed economic reforms

“The big question – is it a game changer? Can India get back to the high growth, high valuation of recent years? This event probably does open up meaningful possibilities, but there’s a lot to do, and there could be a lot in the way,” she said in a report.

Trading has never before been halted due to an upward swing in stock prices, according to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

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buy-stocks-now1The right time to get back in the market may be just around the corner. With global economies sinking, sometimes dramatically, it can be a scary thought to put your hard-earned money on the line. However, a smart investor will realize that golden opportunities are appearing if proper research is done.

If you look at a long-term chart of the Dow Jones average, you will see that it is currently at some of the 2002-2003 levels. It has dropped dramatically since the financial collapse of 2008-2009, but it is still in familiar territory. It may take another two years or more for a large upswing in the markets, but at least we hope that the Dow will not drop below 7,000 points. That may bring hope and some peace of mind about starting to invest again.

Dollar Cost Averaging

The concept of Dollar Cost Averaging comes to mind in the current market situation. It is the process of buying stocks or similar investments on a regular basis, such as once a month, using a fixed amount of money. When prices are low, you are able to buy more shares. When prices are high, you buy fewer. In this way, you are able to take advantage of temporary low prices. This is especially helpful for long-term investments, such as retirement accounts. It may go against human nature to buy stocks when everything is falling and red but in fact it can lead to a bigger payoff if done correctly.
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The Working Capital Model (WCM) looks at investment performance differently, less emotionally, and without a whole lot of concern for short-term market value movements. Market value performance evaluation techniques are only used to analyze peak-to-peak market cycle movements over significant time periods.

Security market values are used for buy and sell decision-making. Working capital figures are used for asset allocation and diversification calculations. Portfolio working capital growth numbers are used to evaluate goal directed management decisions over shorter periods of time.

WCM tracking techniques help investors focus on long term growth producers like capital gains, dividends, and interest— the things that can keep the working capital line (see Part One) moving ever upward. The base income and cumulative realized capital gains lines are the most important WCM growth engines.

The Base Income Line tracks the total dividends and interest received each year. It will always move upward if you are managing your equity vs. fixed income asset allocation properly. Without adequate base income: 1) working capital will not grow normally during corrections and 2) there won’t be enough cash flow to take advantage of new investment opportunities.

The earlier you start tracking your dependable base income, the sooner you will discover that your retirement comfort level has little to do with portfolio market value.
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It matters not what lines, numbers, indices, or gurus you worship, you just can’t know for certain where the stock market is going or when it will change direction. Too much investor time and analytical effort is wasted trying to predict course corrections— even more is squandered comparing portfolio market values with a handful of unrelated indices and averages.

Annually, quarterly, even monthly, investors scrutinize their performance, formulate coulda’s and shoulda’s, and determine what new gimmick to try during the next evaluation period. My short-term performance vision is different. I see a bunch of Wall Street fat cats, ROTF-LOL, while investors beat themselves senseless over what to change, sell, buy, re-allocate, or adjust to make their portfolios behave better.

Why has performance evaluation become so important short-term? What happened to long-term planning toward specific personal goals? When did it become vogue to think of investment portfolios as sprinters in a race with a nebulous array of indices and averages? Why are the masters of the universe rolling on the floor in laughter?

— Because an unhappy investor is Wall Street’s best friend.

By emphasizing short-term results and creating a cutthroat competitive environment, the wizards guarantee that the majority of investors will be unhappy about something, most of the time. In the process, they create an insatiable demand for an endless array of product panaceas and trendy speculations that regulators fall bubble-years behind in supervising.
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goldbars400x282With gold prices topping $1000.00 plus per oz., one has to question, is now the time to buy gold or has the buying opportunity already passed? Should you invest in the actual commodity of gold itself or is there an alternative that could prove to be more profitable?

The rise in gold prices from $250 per ounce in 2001 to over $900 today has drawn investors and speculators into the precious metals market. However, buying gold per se should not be considered an “investment”. After all, gold earns no interest and its quality never changes. It’s static, and does not grow as sound investments should.

“It’s more accurate to say that one might invest in a gold or silver mining company, where management, labor costs, and the nature of new discoveries all play a vital role in determining the quality of the investment and the profits made.”, stated Congressman Ron Paul (TX-R) in his address before the U.S. House of Representatives.

Both gold and dollars are considered money, and holding money does not qualify as an investment. However, there is one big difference between the two. By holding paper money one loses purchasing power. The purchasing power of commodity money, e.g., gold, however, goes up if the government devalues the underlying currency.

Many believe the United States is the cause of the global financial crisis we are currently experiencing and consequently, they are looking to the US to provide leadership in escaping this crisis. The US Dollar is currently experiencing strength over other currencies because it is presumed that since we are leading the pack with recovery initiatives, it stands to reason that our economy will recover before those who are following our lead.
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blackfridayRisk is the probability of loss. It is best to estimate it and to adjust your purchase and sell strategies to it in order to control loss before the purchase is made. Correct timing of purchases, buying near support, limiting loss potential, and stopping the decline by using volatility stop losses are all ingredients of a good risk control system. Let’s look at a few of these loss control discipline components.

One method of controlling risk is by timing purchases so that they occur at or near support. That way, your stop loss can be a very small distance away from your purchase price. If you buy when the stock is 5% above its trendline, for example, it will mean little if the stock declines 5% to reach its trendline. Since stocks often return to support, why would you sell? You would sell only if it broke to the downside through its rising trendline. Therefore, your loss would be calculated by adding the distance the sell point is below the trendline to the distance the purchase price was above the trendline. Buying at the trendline instead of above it would eliminate that unnecessary 5% loss.

However, stocks often make a small temporary penetration through a support line and then resume their climb. When, precisely do you sell? Let us use the suggestions offered in Technical Analysis of Stock Trends by Edwards and Magee as an example. If you are using stops that are based on closing prices, they suggest a trendline penetration of 3% would warrant selling. If your stop loss is placed with a broker, they recommend that the stop be placed 6% below the trendline because of the possibility of inconsequential intra-day spikes. Therefore, if you buy when the stock is 8% above its rising trendline and place the stop loss 3% below the trendline, you will lose 11% before your stop is triggered. On the other hand, if you wait for the stock to return to its trendline before buying, you will lose only 3% if your stop is triggered. It is important to buy right so that you can sell right.
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462961b2-00345-049d3-400cb8e1_cyvzubkw4x1mThe year 2008 has entered the record books for all of the wrong reasons; the Dow Jones had its worst year ever! So what about 2009, how will stock markets from around the world perform and which are the stocks to follow?

Well in reality you need a crystal ball to be able to answer these questions. 2009 may well be another tough year.

I am a person who enjoys investing on the stock markets and I have to say that I am a bit of a gambler; I am quite prepared to take a risk with my disposable income in the hope that I can increase it etc. Just a quick note however, I am a financial adviser and anything that I write or suggest in this article should not be seen as advice.

I personally believe in investing an amount of money (an amount that I can afford) on a monthly basis instead of investing lump sums. This way I am able to take advantage of what is commonly referred to as Dollar cost averaging in the United States. This is where when prices are high your monthly contribution may buy fewer shares or fund units but that when prices are low your investment buys more shares or fund units.

During these volatile times this method of investing may prove to be the most prudent. Even though stock markets had a very poor 2008 and is therefore quite low there may well be significant falls ahead.
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