Monday, October 8, 2007

Value Investing

By definition, value investing is the process of selecting stocks that trade for less than their intrinsic value. A value investor typically selects stocks with lower than average price-to-book or price-to-earning ratios. Of course, it is not nearly this simple. Value investing is the corner stone of long-term growth. Those who practice it survive the ups and downs of the market and are more likely to emerge wealthy than those who ride the market, in principle, due to the higher quality of the companies falling under the prerequisites of the value investor. Value investing is essentially concerned with getting the most profit at the lowest cost. The basis of value is profit. Value investing is an investment style which favors good stocks at great prices over great stocks at good prices. Value investor extraordinaire Warren Buffett has used this style to become a billionaire.

It's important to keep in mind that value investing is not concerned with how much the price of a stock has risen or fallen necessarily, but rather what is the "intrinsic" or inherent value of the stock, and is it currently trading below that price, i.e. at a discount to it's intrinsic value. The important point here is that when looking at stocks that are trading at or above their intrinsic value, the only hope for gaining value is based on future events, since the stock price already represents what the company is worth. However, when dealing with stocks that are undervalued, or available at a discount, unforeseen events are unimportant in that without any new earnings or additional profits, the shares are already "poised" to return to that inherent value which they have.

The question now, of course, is "why would stock prices not always reflect the true value of the company and the intrinsic value of its shares?" In short, value investors believe that share prices are frequently wrong as indicators of the underlying value of the company and its shares. The efficient market theory suggests that share prices always reflect all available information about a company, and value investors refute this with the idea that investment opportunities are created by disagreements between the actual stock prices, and the calculated intrinsic value of those stocks.

Finding Value Stocks

Value investing is based on the answers to two simple questions:

1. What is the actual value of this company?

2. Can its shares be purchased for less than the actual (intrinsic) value?

Clearly, the important point here is, "how is the intrinsic value accurately determined?" An important point is that companies may be undervalued and overvalued regardless of what the overall markets are doing. Every investor should be aware of and prepared for the inherent market volatility, and the simple fact that stock prices will fluctuate, sometimes quite significantly. Benjamin Graham has often said that if investors cannot be prepared to accept a 50% decline in value without becoming riddled with panic, then investing may not be for them...or rather, successful investing, as it often takes significant losses in a particular security before gains are made, due to the idea that value investors do not try to time the market, and are focused on the underlying fundamentals of the companies. Furthermore, the quality of the companies targeted by the value investors' screening methods should be, over the long term, less volatile and susceptible to market "panic" than the average stock.

This is also a two way road of sorts. On one hand, there is no sense in worrying about depressions, upturns, and recoveries due to the underlying quality of the value investments. On the other hand, investments should only be made in companies which can flourish and do well in any market environment. Doing solid investment research and making equally solid investment decisions will take investors much further than trying to forecast the markets.

How Many Different Stocks?

In terms of diversification, there are many discrepancies over exactly how many different stocks a solid portfolio should be made up of. My personal view is that there should not be as many stock as normally make up a mutual fund. Many will disagree with this, but what it's worth, I think that owning a portfolio of 100, 200, or even more companies not only serves to limit risk, but it really limits the possibility for reward as well. Also, as Warren Buffett has said many times, the more companies you own, the less you know about each one.

As I write this, there are 42 stocks in our recommended portfolio. This number may very well grow in the coming months, as it may decrease in number, but one thing to keep in mind is, out of the thousands of companies available for purchase, only a very small percentage meet the stringent requirements of the diligent value investor. This is both a blessing and a curse. Very often, there is simply nothing to buy, and this is fine. The trap to avoid falling into is to lower your requirements for a stock when there simply isn't anything meeting the normal requirements. This is how many an investor has fallen into making poor investment decisions, putting money into companies not really adequate for their respective portfolio, and it will certainly have a long term effect on gains.

David Pakman has been writing about politics and investing for years now, and runs the websites and

The 16th Century Entrepreneur Who Created the Concept of the Taxi

The 16th century was a time of amazing transformation in Europe. The Dark Ages were gone, the Black Plague had run it course and Middle Age fears and superstitions were slowly disappearing. The printing press had been invented and it was completely revamping the way people communicated. Columbus had discovered the Americas and the great age of exploration was in full swing. Medical advances, the Reformation, the creation of the great Italian banking houses and the Dutch trading companies had completely changed the way people thought, worked and worshipped.

And yet, there was one area in which there had been virtually no advance since the time of Christ: transportation. Horse or mule, horse drawn carts and boat were the methods of travel utilized to convey people, goods and foodstuffs. Travel was slow. It was uncomfortable. And, it was often very dangerous. Brigands and pirates faced little in the way of organized policing. A bandit pretty much had a field day during the period.

Of all the difficulties a traveler faced, the most frustrating by far was speed: or the lack thereof. As the great Florentine, Venetian and Genoan merchant banks financed warfare, fleets, crops, expeditions and colonization, they had to continually factor a risk premium into their risk/reward computations before settling on the interest to be charged on each loan. The slowness of receiving news of progress, success or failure on the status of an investment vehicle was agonizing to all parties participating in an enterprise. Did the fleet sink, or is it close to home with a valuable cargo? Has the battle been engaged, and who won? Was a new land discovered, and what did it offer in minerals or trade goods as materials for profit?

Knowledge is power, and speed provides the edge that makes this power so important. If I know today, what my enemy or rival will not know for several days, I have a decided advantage on strategizing to my advantage and profit. In the 16th century an industrious Belgian family developed the first international service to address the ages old problem of slow communication.

The Tassis family had obtained the rights to handle a rudimentary postal service in several Duchies in what is now Belgium. The service promised a decent living for the Tassis family by the standards of the time. However, they wanted to do more, expand and create a service that could become the international standard.

The Tassis family divided the work responsibilities between family members and had them disperse throughout Europe. The key to their success was a cohesive, standardized system of fleet horses, experienced, responsible riders, a network of terminals to change horse, rider and re-route mail and packages, and scheduled delivery times. Spain, France, Italy and Germany were little more than a polyglot of feudal city states during this time. There was no central government to handle a service like mail delivery that we consider routine today. The opportunity for a private company to organize and manage an international operation of this import and scale was a wonder.

The Tassis received contracts to handle the delivery of mail throughout most of continental Europe. From Naples to the Danube, and Gibraltar to Copenhagen, the family built a delivery network that managers at DHL, UPS, or FedEx would admire and recognize today. A treaty, legal contract or purchase order that took five weeks to reach Genoa from Madrid, could now be delivered in seven to 10 days. As the loads increased the price was lowered and this only accelerated the use of the service.

The family became rich, powerful and across Europe became members of the aristocracy. The name Tassis in the German language is spelled taxis. Today, everywhere in the world, people call for a taxicab when they need to transport themselves for a fare. The taxi service created by the Tassis was an important part of the development of the Renaissance.

The Tassis are responsible for one of the most elemental and important service enhancements in history. The ability to accelerate the movement of important commercial, legal and governmental communications enabled decisions to be made more quickly and on a grander scale. The entrepreneurial innovation that the Tassis family introduced enriched their family, business, government and, most importantly, the working class that benefited so much from the rapid expansion of capital and trade. Even today, we can still learn from the historical record that the ability to offer a novel new benefit pays off in so many ways.

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Mr. Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, Inc. ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Best Investment Opportunities: How to Spot One

Maybe youre new to the world of investment and youre doing your best to find opportunities which will pay off well, or perhaps you have tried investing in different ways along the years, and youd like to expand your existing portfolio with some new investments.

On the other hand, maybe youre simply interested in finding out more information on investing, so that you can decide whether it suits you.

No matter your reasons for wanting to know more about the best investment opportunities, youre likely to succeed in your quest if you learn how to spot them.

Go to Reliable Sources

Once you decide to look for an investment opportunity, you must know where exactly to look for the information you need. In general, try to avoid sources which dont look professional or which claim to have infallible investment tips or secret information. Besides the fact that the respective information is surely questionable, those websites or magazines also face legal risks regarding the diffusion of information which is not meant to be available publicly. Instead, you will find the best investments opportunities by looking at reputable and trusted financial publications or websites. You will find out what you need from the financial sections of online portals such as MSN or Yahoo!, or newspapers such as The Financial Times. You can also check the websites of brokerage firms and financial institutions which deal with the type of investment you intend to make.

Track the Stocks

The majority of financial sites provide their users with free investment and stock tracking services, which will allow you to stay up to date with the most recent fluctuations in stock or other investments. This way not only will you be informed on the current prices of the investments, but this will also enable you to consult the track record of the stock or investment for a certain period of time, from the past month to even five years or more. Moreover, once you sign up with an investment and stock tracking service, you can also receive the latest changes in the stocks youre interested in by means of e-mail or through your PDA, which means that you will be able to keep track of the best investment opportunities on the market.

Research, Research, Research

Only through constant research you will develop the skill to spot best investment opportunities. So before making a decision you should take the time and research the investments that caught your eye. This way you will be able to spot which investments or stocks are about to drop in value, as well as those which have increased their value over the last period of time.

This sort of information will guide you when choosing stocks or investments which are worth your money, as well as those which might cause you losses by sudden drops in value. Once you have successfully tracked your potential investments for some time, you may go ahead and make the actual move. There are plenty of investment firms on the market, so once again, make sure you choose one which is known for its good reputation. Copyright 2007 Joel Teo. All rights reserved. (You may publish this article in its entirety with the following author's information with live links only.)

Joel Teo writes on various financial topics including Investment Properties in Las Vegas. Learn more about Investment Properties in Las Vegas in our Real Estate Investment Resource Site today.

Currency Forex Trading - Betting The Ups And Downs

Total the amount of money involved in a days trading on the US stock and Treasury Bills markets by three, and youll still have less than a third of the amount of money which exchanges hands on the currency Forex--foreign exchange--market. The currency Forex market is where the money of one country--US dollars, for instanceis exchanged for that of another, like Japanese yen.

But unlike the worlds other economic markets, currency Forex trading is not centralized. There is no Wall Street or Throgmorton Street with an historic exchange building; Currency Forex trading exists only over telephone wires and Internet connections.

But exist it does; and it involve a global network of financial institutions, individuals, and banks all working around the clock and unhampered by international borders. Time and physical distance have no meaning in the currency Forex market.

At one time currency Forex trading was the domain of banks that held large amounts of money in various currencies so that they could participate in global investment and business opportunities. Individuals could participate in currency Forex trading only by going through their banks. But when exchange rates became unregulated the volume of currency Forex trading began to mushroom.

What Is Currency Forex Trading?

When either a private corporation or government wishes to either buy or sell products or services in another country, it has to engage in bartering its national currency against the currency of the country where it wishes to do business. There are also large numbers of investment firms who trade the currency Forex market as a more speculative part of their portfolios.

And even individuals can participate in trading the currency Forex market, provided they have sufficient risk capital and are willing to do the homework necessary to master the art of currency Forex trading, which can be extremely complicated.

Currency Forex Trading At Home

Many individuals are drawn to the currency Forex market because they see it as a lucrative business which can be run from the convenience of their homes. All that is required is a personal computer with an Internet connection and a workstation organized with to create a minimum of distractions. They see the currency Forex market as both inflation and deflation proof, and a way to make money regardless of the worldwide economic situation.

Investors make or lose money when trading the currency Forex market depending on the fluctuations of the currency exchange rates. All currencies are constantly appreciating or depreciating in value when compared to one another, and it is up to the individual investor to understand how conditions around the globe will increase of decrease currency values before risking his or her money trading those currencies.

You can also find more info on Currency Forex and Forex Brokers. is a comprehensive resource to know about e-Forex Trading System.

Never Lose Money in the Stock Market

If you are under 50 years of age and have not lost money in the stock market I dont think you will find this article interesting. Why? Because you still think you can make a killing in the market. Until you have lost a lot more this method of investment will not interest you.

Dad and Mom can try to get the kids to pay attention, but it is doubtful that they will. Each will have to learn on his own, but maybe a few will see the wisdom of slow but sure.

Every professional trader I know (I was an exchange member and floor trader for 17 years) will tell that you must have a plan for both buying and selling. Any plan must minimize risk for the professional and for the nonprofessional it must be so simple that even a retired widow with no market knowledge can execute.

Wall Street prefers to keep investors confused with financial terms so they will have to go to a broker or financial planner for advice. Advice from a broker is a eulogy for your money. They have been taught by the big brokerage companies and they have been taught wrong. They do not make you rich; they get rich off of you.

Now lets go through the steps to make money and protect your investments. This very simple method is as foolproof as any I have ever seen. It is one you can do by yourself with no help from any broker. In fact, most of them will not want you to do this as there is no commission and very little trading.

Turn on your computer; make the connection to the Internet. In the address box type in . In the white box type in JAVLX. That is the symbol for a mutual fund. Click on the red box. On the left is a blue column. Under Time frame select the down arrow and click on 1 decade. Scroll down. Click on indicators. Scroll down a little more. Click the down arrow for Moving Averages. Select SMA. In the box to the right type in 200. Go back to the top and click on Draw Chart.

Note when the 200-day line turned down (November 2000) it was a sell signal and time to put your cash in a money market account. Wait. Collect interest. When the line turned up (April 2003) it gave a buy signal. Buy your no-load fund back. (Only buy no-load, no commission funds.) This buy/sell 200-day line will work for almost ANY mutual fund. Follow the little red line to wealth.

Go back. Check this out for any mutual fund or index fund you might have owned in 2000. Being in cash from 2000 to 2003 would have saved your retirement account; a money market account had a greater return than being invested.

Never lose money in the stock market again.

Al Thomas' best selling book, "If It Doesn't Go Up, Don't Buy It!" has helped thousands of people make money and keep their profits with his simple 2-step method. Read the first chapter and receive his market letter for 3 months at no charge at Discover why he's the man that Wall Street does not want you to know. Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.

Investers Cautious As Release Nears

Since Apple's initial announcement of the iPhone in early January, Apple Inc. shares have gone up in price by roughly 40 percent, peaking recently at an all-time high of $127. But with all the buzz surrounding the iPhone, surprisingly, many investors are leaning away from Apple stock.

You may wonder how the ubiquitous buzz surrounding the device can be a deterrent for investors. One would tend to think that any form of media and consumer attention for a product would do nothing but good for a product. However, in this case, the buzz may be TOO good. With expectations for the device higher than any consumer electronics device in recent memory (save perhaps the Playstation 3, and we all know how that went over), some major investors are left to speculate that Apple cannot possibly live up to them.

Hedge fund manager Jay Somaney is just one of a bevy of such investors. Its time to take some money off the table, said Somaney, who plans to sell as much as half of his shares prior to the June 29 release date. Somaneys reasoning also echoed concerns from stock traders nationwide, "There's just no way reality is going match the hype."

Past incidents of super-hyped disappointment include Microsofts Xbox System which continues to lose money for the company despite its widespread popularity, leaving Microsoft to garner much of the revenue from the system through licensing agreements and software titles. Last years Christmas season release of the PS3 left purchasers upset as the system was plagued with bugs and lacked significant software titles.

While the iPhone will certainly have its kinks to work out, initial sales forecasts for the device are strong. However, it is the long-term feasibility of the product that has investors concerned for Apples overall stock growth. If Apple is able to provide superior service when addressing potential issues and continue to develop improvements on subsequent generations, stock analysts see Apples stock with a potential of reaching as much as $160 before June of next year.

Perhaps, the key to Apples long-term iPhone success is the integration of business enterprising software; specifically, the need for Microsoft Exchange Server capability. While Steve Jobs maintains that the iPhone is the all-in-one super device, it will necessitate the advantages of a Windows Mobile device before it can truly eliminate the working business persons Pocket PC or Blackberry.

Apple may need to take a page out of its own book. When users were first allowed to run windows simultaneously with OS X on the companys consumer computers, Apple was praised for opening its doors to an endless amount of software titles and usability. If the iPhone is able to run a virtual version of the new and improved Windows Mobile 6, it will have a fighting chance at achieving long-term stability in the smartphone market. Until then, many sentiments will be aligned with Jay Somaney: sell , sell, sell!

Jordan Corning is a mobile enterprise solutions enthusiast. An analyst with Minneapolis based consulting firm ITR Group, Jordan enjoys exploring new ways in which mobile technology can offer significant contributions to the business, educational, and consumer worlds. For more info, visit the ITR Group website @ or visit his blog @

Introduction To Financial Derivatives

"By far the most significant event in finance during the past decade has been the extraordinary development and expansion of financial derivatives. These instruments enhance the ability to differentiate risk and allocate it to those investors most able and willing to take it - a process that has undoubtedly improved national productivity growth and standards of living." -Alan Greenspan
Are financial instruments that "derive" value from an underlying item such as an asset or index. The use of derivatives provides exposure to the linked underlying item without necessitating the trade or exchange of the item itself. This allows specific risks, such as commodity or equity price fluctuations, to be traded in financial markets. Derivatives may be traded on exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange(NYSE) and Chicago Mercantile Exchange(CME). Every derivative has unique features and provisions, and each derivative is used for a special financial purpose.

Derivative Uses
The main purposes of derivatives are hedging or providing risk reduction, arbitrage, and speculation. Derivatives allow risk of the underlying asset or index to be transferred between entities. This permits intermediary financial institutions and other entities that are more capable or knowledgeable about the specific risk to manage these risks.

For example, a corn farmer may enter into a derivative contract (normally a futures contract) to reduce risk from corn price fluctuation. If the farmer fears the price will fall below a hypothetical production price of $2 per bushel, the farmer may enter into a derivative contract with a merchant that agrees to purchase the corn at a specific price when the crop is harvested in a specific amount of time. In this case, assume the merchant agrees in the derivative contract to purchase corn at $2.5 per bushel. By utilizing derivatives, the farmer has guaranteed a corn sale price of $2.5 per bushel. If the price of corn decreases in the future, the value of the derivative contract increases as the farmer is able to sell corn above the market price. The use of the derivative allows the farmer to hedge the risk of a corn price decrease, and the speculator accepts this risk because of the possibility of a large reward if the price of the corn rises above $2.5 per bushel.

Derivatives are also used for arbitrage and speculation. Arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of differences in price in two or more markets. For example, if a commodity was being sold for a lower price in a rural area than in a city, the arbitrageur could purchase the lower cost commodity in the rural area and sell it at a higher price in the city. This example excludes extra costs, such as transportation costs, that are not present in "true" arbitrage that requires no additional risk. Derivative traders engaging in arbitrage may seek opportunities between different derivatives of identical or related securities. For example, if the price of a stock listed on the NYSE is different than the corresponding futures contract on the (CME) an arbitrageur could purchase the less expensive item and sell the more expensive item.

Enhanced exposure and reward potential are the primary reasons why derivatives are used for speculation. The use of options, for example allows for greater returns than the actual price movement of the underlying asset or index. For example, if a trader purchased a stock for $20 per share and the price increased to $40 per share, the trader would have a 100% return. If the same trader instead paid a $1 option premium to purchase the stock at $21 per share, the trader would have earned an 1800% return ((40-21-1)*100%). The use of derivatives allows for greater reward potential. In addition, derivatives allow traders or investors to gain exposure to underlying assets or indexes when the direct ownership of these underlying items is difficult.

Main Derivative Contract Types Swaps - Two entities exchange cash flows Options - Contracts give holder the right but not the obligation to buy or sell an asset as a specific future date Futures - Contracts buy buy or sell an asset at a specific future date.

About the Author:
Matt Goldberg is an undergraduate finance major attending a well regarded business school. He is pursing a career in investment banking, sales and trading, or asset management. Goldberg started investing at age 13 and has attempted to learn more about the field every day. The Sharpe Investing Blog provides a way for him to learn more about a variety of areas of finance by researching, posting, and organizing important information.
Please continue to check the for future new posts about these specific derivative contract types.

Risks To Consider Whenever You Trade Penny Stocks

The world of penny stock trading has been touted as the gateway to riches beyond your wildest dreams. Fortunes, it has been claimed, can be made in a single trading session. Those with a few hundred or thousands of dollars can become millionaires almost overnight, and all of those who have do not hesitate to tell the world about it.

But what those who have succeeded in the penny stock market invariably fail to mention is that for everyone on the winning side of a trade there someone who is either risking or losing money on the other side. Whoever decides to trade penny stocks should realize that his or her chances of losing big are at least as great as the chances of winning big. What are the precise risks to be faced by anyone wanting to trade penny stocks?

The penny stock market is far and way the most volatile of all the stock markets. Anyone wanting to trade penny stocks need to perform extreme due diligence before investing in a company, because the price penny stock can change direction in a minute, and for no discernible reason. If you arent watching closely, you will not only miss your chance to lock in a profit, you may be on your way to a serious loss.

While the phrase penny stocks may make you think you can trade penny stocks like you play penny ante poker, the phrase is misleading. Even if a single share of a companys stock is less than a dollar, most of those who trade penny stocks trade them in lots of a thousand or more. When you trade penny stocks in those amounts, the amount of money at stake is not trivial.

Another risk faced by those who trade penny stocks is that the penny stock market is home to many a bogus company established simply to print and hype its own shares. There have been unscrupulous individuals who set up fake corporations simply to sell the IPO shares and walk away.

Many penny stocks have their price supported by nothing except fluff press releases and ads paid for by stock promoters. Often these efforts will lure people into a stock, and when they come in, the stock promoters get out and the stock promotion ends. Because the company itself has no substantial value, and there are no more new buyers being enticed by hype, those in the stock will have a very time selling their shares, and the stock price will collapse.

Anyone who wants to trade penny stocks needs to be able to tell the difference between a company supported by hype and one which has real substance.

The safest way to trade penny stocks is to have a game plan and stick too it. Pill you capital out of a stock as soon as you can, and either let your profits ride, or used them to invest elsewhere. That way you are always risking someone elses money, and the stress that normally comes when people trade penny stocks will pass you by.

You can also find more info on Penny Stocks and Investing In Penny Stocks is a comprehensive resource to get information about Penny Stocks.