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Inflation sparks rush to safety

November 12, 2010 | Filed Under Finance, Investment | Comments Off
Wealth managers are rushing to protect their clients’ portfolios amid growing fears about rising inflation.
The prospect of higher inflation comes as new research reveals heightened concerns about an economic slump. Inflation was cited as the top concern for wealthier, more affluent investors in a recent survey by market researchers Dianomi. It was the second-greatest concern overall among the 1,650 investors polled, with recession in first place and higher taxes third.
read more at: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/8961e574-ee86-11df-9db0-00144feab49a.html?ftcamp=rss#ixzz156niRvQS

By Ellen Kelleherand Lucy Warwick-Ching  Published: November 12 2010 17:59 | Last updated: November 12 2010 17:59

Understanding the Forex Trading System

November 5, 2010 | Filed Under Finance, Investment | 10 Comments

By: Arturo Ronzon

The forex trading system involves buying and selling foreign currency. Unlike the stock market there is no fixed market for the forex trading system. A good and effective forex trading system allows the traders to transact easily and provide more chances to increase the earnings. Forex, foreign exchange market, is a market place where a currency of one country is sold for another country’s currency for some profit. Currencies are traded in pares, like, US Dollar and Japanese Yen or US Dollar and Euro.

Foreign exchange tradings are a great money making opportunity for those who know their way around, for newbie it’s a dream world where they either fall hard, sail well or fly high, its not easy to be a successful trader in the forex trading system., it’s a mix of luck and experience that must work to find success. There are a lot of companies and individuals over the internet and offline willing to help you earn money from the forex trading system but only a handful of these are true and can actually help.

Nowadays most of the calculations are done by easy to use software that need minimum input from the user. You will need help initially, and may take some time for you to get to know the forex trading system. The high degree off leverage can sweep you either way, in the forex trading system one has to assess the risk for self, think of the chance one may have individually or with the help of a broker and/ or signal provider one may have and the amount which one can safely risk without putting yourself into financial trouble. It’s a law of nature, where there’s potential to earn there’ potential to loose so just be prepared before you dive in.

Author Bio: Forex Trading Resources

Gold-”Why the yellow metal may still be a good investment bet despite the high price levels.”

October 26, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off

Sanjiv Arole, 10.26.10, 06:00 PM EDT   This article appears in the October 22 issue of Forbes India, a Forbes Media licensee.

Finally, gold went for its much anticipated and awaited date with the all-time high mark of $1,300 per ounce on September 24, 2010, albeit only for a fleeting moment. However, if you ask the Lalit Modis and Suresh Kalmadis of the world, whatever goes up, comes down (often) with a bang–the higher one goes, the harder can be the fall.

George Soros, the 79-year-old billionaire, calls gold’s spectacular nine-year bull rally the ultimate asset bubble. But, he has also helped drive up gold prices by doubling his bet on gold. He says that when interest rates are low, conditions are ripe for asset bubbles to develop, and they are developing at the moment. But, bubbles are good if you buy at the start rather than towards the end.

So, where is the yellow metal headed and can investors still invest in gold? Jeffrey Nichols, managing director, American Precious Metals Advisors says, “I believe, before long, we will see gold hit $1,500 an ounce.” Philip Klapwijk, the chairman of GFMS, the London-based independent metals research consultancy, too says that gold prices are likely to touch $1,300 an ounce before the end of this calendar year.

Why are these analysts so bullish? There are many reasons. “The metal certainly lived up to its reputation as a safe haven in troubled times. Just look at the explosion in investor interest that followed the sovereign debt crisis unfurling in Europe,” says Klapwijk.

Other factors included a shaky outlook for the industrialized world’s economies, low interest rates and the still feared threat of inflation. One traditional driver of gold strength, U.S. dollar weakness, proved conspicuously contrary, as U.S. dollar also benefitted from a flight to quality and so frequently strengthened in line with gold. The key to the ongoing price strength was the extraordinary monetary and fiscal policies from developed economies in the wake of sluggish or no growth, the spectre of a double-dip recession and job losses.

Will those factors remain? The current bull run in gold dates back to 2001 and was initially fuelled by the Central bank agreement on restricting gold sales to 2,000 tons in 5 years from 1999 followed by de-hedging. De-hedging was triggered when shareholders of gold mining companies forced a CEO of a North American mining company out of his job for they perceived that hedging in gold was the main reason for the low gold prices then.

Since then other factors have kept prices high. The on-going economic crisis in the West, the loss of faith in currencies such as the dollar, the fears of double-dip recession, inflation, etc. have all contributed to the gold rally.

Geo-political crisis in Iran, Iraq and North Korea, and the Af-Pak unrest based on terrorism and the Israel-Palestine standoff have all helped the gold price higher. Many of these factors remain.

The Indian market has adapted to the higher gold price consistently over the last few years. It has been observed that a resistance level at the start of the year severely impacts gold demand, as it did in the first quarter of 2009 when gold price crossed Rs.15,000 per 10 grams. That saw a huge quantity of scrap being generated and India exported more gold than its imports. However, before the year-end, that same level became the support level for gold. Currently, Rs.17,000 levels would see a surge in gold demand.

Yes, gold is definitely a good buy even at these levels given the increased demand for investment gold as compared to jewelry even in India. However, while the increase of gold in one’s portfolio is warranted, some basic precautions must be taken. There will be correction in the gold price once the global economic crisis blows over.

The author is an independent bullion analyst.

This article appears in the October 22 issue of Forbes India, a Forbes Media licensee.

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Annuity Quotes

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Robert Lawrence

To gain an understanding of annuities, we need to start at the beginning. In the year 1740, the Presbyterian Church began to use annuities in order to aid widows and the priestly order. The simple purpose of an annuity is to ensure that you have a sound financial back up during retirement. Today, there are different kinds of products sold by Insurance companies and agents. Before you take out an annuity ensure that the Insurance Company has a license to practice in your state. The State Insurance Commission is a legal body that regulates Insurance companies to make sure they have adequate funds so that investments are not jeopardized.

Different companies have annuities with different rates and returns. There could be several reasons why you would want an annuity. For example, an annuity helps you pay reduced tax, avoid probate and save for the future. You can look out for your future and that of your heirs. By putting money away for an inheritance, you are making a wise decision for your family. When choosing an annuity quote it is important to remember your financial status and goal for the future. Annuity quotes differ according to the annuity you choose. There are several companies that offer quotes for Immediate Annuities, Fixed Annuities, Equity-indexed Annuities and Variable Annuities.

If you choose an Immediate Annuity, then you can expect to receive a fixed or variable sum of money every month or quarter or according to your specification. The amount of money you receive is based on your initial deposit and the time duration of your annuity. If you choose a variable plan then make sure that your investments do very well. A Fixed Annuity is a low risk annuity because you receive a minimum interest whether or not your investments do well. These are more stable in nature and you will always know what to expect. There is no gamble in investing in such an annuity. Some companies that offer this are National Western Life, Jefferson Pilot Life, Great American Life Insurance Company, Allianz Life, American National Insurance Company etc.

Equity Indexed Annuities, as the name suggests is based on the stock market index. If your chosen index rises then you gain and vice versa. There is a certain amount of risk in this product; however, the bright side is that you gain if your investments do well. Variable annuities give you the freedom to decide where you want to invest, but it also does not protect you in case of loss. The benefit is that you get to keep all the profit. These annuities are good for those who are completely aware of the market dynamics. Therefore, before choosing an annuity quote you must first know what kind of annuity you really require. There are several online insurance portals that offer to give you an annuity quote instantly. All you have to do is fill out an online form and your quote will find its way to you.

In conclusion, choose an annuity quote that comes from the right source. Ensure that your agent is licensed, knowledgeable, reputable and experienced. It is always best to go for an agent that comes as a recommended source. Further, you can opt to receive multiple annuity quotes so you have a choice in front of you.

Author Bio
Robert co-founded Insurance4USA.com, an insurance quote shopping service, in 1999. He has been a licensed insurance agent in New York State since 1990.

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Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Morningstar Mutual Funds Fiduciary Grades: What Investors Need to Know

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Sam Subramanian

Mutual fund investors use Morningstar RatingTM as a sign post of mutual fund performance. These ratings have proved to be a valuable tool for objectively comparing the performances of different mutual funds.

In 2003, New York Attorney General, Elliott Spitzer launched actions against some mutual fund companies for allowing their privileged clients to profit from improper activities such as late trading.

In the aftermath of these developments, investors realize that they need more than the historical performance based Morningstar Ratings to evaluate mutual funds. The Morningstar Ratings do not get at critical intangibles. How seriously does the mutual fund company take its fiduciary responsibility to mutual fund investors? How aligned are the interests of the mutual fund manager and the mutual fund company with those of the mutual fund investor?

To address this need, Morningstar has embarked on a system called the Fiduciary Grade. Morningstar has so far graded about 635 mutual funds, including 500 of the largest ones. Morningstar plans to provide Fiduciary Grades for a total of 2000 mutual funds over time.

The Morningstar Fiduciary Grade System Basics

The Morningstar Fiduciary Grade is based on the evaluation of five areas critical for mutual fund governance and mutual fund operations. Morningstar generally assigns to mutual funds points ranging from 0 (Very Poor) to 2 (Excellent) in increments of 0.5 for each of these five areas.

1. Regulatory Issues: Morningstar examines if the mutual fund company has had any regulatory issues within the past three years. If so, what corrective actions has the mutual fund company implemented? Unlike the other four areas, the minimum score here can be a minus 2.

2. Board Quality: Morningstar looks for a demonstrated track record of the mutual fund board protecting the interests of mutual fund investors. Mutual funds get kudos if their independent directors invest in the mutual funds.

3. Manager Incentives: This score is based on Morningstar’s evaluation of mutual fund ownership and compensation structure. Mutual funds where the fund’s manager owns a meaningful stake in the fund score high on the fund ownership dimension. A compensation structure that rewards the mutual fund manager for long-term mutual fund performance is favored.

4. Fees: Mutual funds are rewarded for having expense ratios lower than that of their peers and for effectively reducing their expense ratios with growth in their assets.

5. Corporate Culture: Morningstar looks for tangible evidence that the mutual fund company takes its fiduciary responsibility seriously. Among the factors Morningstar considers are softer issues like whether the company closes mutual funds when they get too large and whether the company starts trendy mutual funds to garner assets.

The points scored on each of the above areas are aggregated and the Fiduciary Grade is assigned based on the total: A=9-10, B=7-8.5, C=5-6.5, D=3-4.5, F=2.5 or less.

How Investors Can Use the Morningstar Fiduciary Grade

Here are some ways investors can use the Morningstar Fiduciary Grade.

1. Buy and Hold Investors: Buy and hold mutual fund investors first need to examine how mutual funds held in their portfolios stack up on the two dimensions, Morningstar Rating and Fiduciary Grade.

Mutual funds that rank favorably on both dimensions may be retained and mutual funds that rank unfavorably on both dimensions may be replaced by ones that rank favorably.

For mutual funds that rank favorably in one dimension but not in the other, the answer is not clear-cut. Retaining a fund with strong Morningstar Rating but lower Fiduciary Grade is a matter of personal choice. Conversely, a mutual fund’s Fiduciary Grade may be satisfactory but the Morningstar Rating may be unfavorable. This may just be a case of the mutual fund manager going through a temporary bad patch. Investors have to weigh these factors along with tax consequences before deciding to sell a mutual fund.

Given the number of mutual funds available, investors seeking new mutual funds to add to their portfolio should in general have no trouble in finding mutual funds with favorable Morningstar Rating as well as Fiduciary Grade.

2. Tactical Asset Allocators: A tactical asset allocator uses an active investment strategy and typically invests in mutual funds such as sector funds. For example, AlphaProfit uses its ValuM investment process to periodically alter the mix of its mutual fund model portfolios to take advantage of specific trends (e.g. rising natural gas prices, introduction of new wireless technologies).

Since tactical asset allocators seek superior performance during their mutual fund holding period, factors such as superior long-term performance which determine Morningstar Ratings are less important to them. However, these investors typically seek to own mutual funds within a single family such as Fidelity Investments for purposes of administrative ease. As such, tactical asset allocators will find the Fiduciary Grade useful in evaluating and choosing mutual fund families to implement their strategies.

Our Take on the Morningstar Fiduciary Grade System

The Fiduciary Grade system is a blend of several metrics. The grading of mutual funds on regulatory issues is backward looking rather than a prognosticator of potential future trouble. The grading system includes a quantitative dimension in mutual fund fees. Also included are qualitative dimensions such as mutual fund corporate culture, manager incentives, and board quality.

The Mutual Fund Fiduciary Grade ranking provides mutual fund investors with much needed insight on the governance and operations of mutual funds. The Morningstar Fiduciary Grade System is a good first step. We believe Morningstar will refine the Mutual Fund Fiduciary Grade system over time, just as they refined the Morningstar Ratings system.

While Morningstar Ratings do an excellent job of objectively evaluating past performance, financial markets by their very nature do not allow the investor to predict future performance based on these ratings alone. Many times, funds with Morningstar Ratings of 4- or 5-star do not live up to their expectations.

The utility of the Morningstar Fiduciary Grade will be significantly enhanced if superior Fiduciary Grade either by itself or in combination with the Morningstar Rating becomes a better indicator of superior future performance. We believe the Morningstar Fiduciary Grade has the potential to become a worthy metric of mutual fund stewardship over time.

Notes: This report is for information purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer to buy or sell securities or to give individual investment advice. This report does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation, and particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report. The information contained in this report is obtained from various sources believed to be accurate and is provided without warranties of any kind. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC does not represent that this information, including any third party information, is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC is not responsible for any errors or omissions herein. Opinions expressed herein reflect the opinion of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC and are subject to change without notice. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC disclaims any liability for any direct or incidental loss incurred by a pplying any of the information in this report. Morningstar RatingTM is a trademark of Morningstar, Inc. The third-party trademarks or service marks appearing within this report are the property of their respective owners. All other trademarks appearing herein are the property of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Owners and employees of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC for their own accounts invest in the Fidelity Mutual Funds. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC neither is associated with nor receives any compensation from Fidelity Investments. Past performance is neither an indication of nor a guarantee for future results. No part of this document may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Copyright © 2004 AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. All rights reserved.

Author Bio
Sam Subramanian, PhD, MBA is Managing Principal of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Sam developed the ValuMTM Investment Process for managing investments. He edits the AlphaProfit Sector Investors’ NewsletterTM, a publication that discusses no load mutual funds. For the 1 year period ending August 30, 2005, the AlphaProfit Focus model portfolio gained 44% and was rated #1 among all mutual fund portfolios tracked by Hulbert Financial Digest. To learn more about AlphaProfit and to subscribe to the newsletter, visit www.alphaprofit.com.

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Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Investment | Secure Your Retirement with a Rollover IRA

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Sam Subramanian

Switching your job? Retiring? Congratulations! A window of opportunity opens for you with the Rollover Individual Retirement Account or Rollover IRA.

In an era of corporate restructuring and outsourcing, Rollover IRA is among the most powerful means available for securing one’s retirement. Yet, its potential to enlarge one’s assets for the golden years commonly remains under-appreciated.

The Rollover IRA dramatically increases the range of choices available to you for investing your retirement savings. By offering investment choices hitherto unavailable in employer-sponsored plans such as 401k, 403b, or Section 457 plans, Rollover IRA provides you the means to have direct control of and more aggressively grow your nest egg.

This article discusses the advantages of Rollover IRA over employer-sponsored retirement plans.

So, if you are leaving your job and have accumulated assets in the employer-sponsored retirement plan, continue reading this article to learn about your options and more.

Four Options

You have four options on what you can do with your savings in your employer-sponsored plan when you are switching jobs or retiring.

1) Cash your savings.
2) Continue with the retirement plan of your previous employer.
3) Transfer your savings into the retirement plan sponsored by your new employer.
4) Set up a Rollover IRA account with a mutual fund company and move your retirement savings into that account.

Unless you have a pressing need, it is best not to cash your retirement savings. First, cash withdrawals from the retirement plan will be subject to federal and state taxes. Second, your retirement savings diminish and you will have fewer assets to grow tax-deferred.

While the three other options will not erode your retirement savings and will allow it to grow tax-deferred, they are not equal in their ability to help you boost its growth rate.

Increased Investment Choices

Most employees earn meager returns on their employer-sponsored retirement plan savings. A Dalbar study reports that the average 401k plan investor achieved an annual return of just 3.5% during a 20-year period when the S&P 500 returned 13.0% per year.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that most retirement plans offer only a limited number of investment choices. A Columbia University study finds the median number of mutual fund choices in 401k plans to be just 13. The actual number of equity mutual fund investment choices however is less, since the median number includes money market funds, fixed income funds, and balanced funds.

With fewer investment choices, employer-sponsored plans limit your ability to take advantage of different market trends and to continually position your retirement savings in mutual funds with superior risk-reward profiles.

If you set up a Rollover IRA with a large mutual fund company such as Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price or Vanguard Group, you will break the shackles imposed by your employer-sponsored plan and dramatically increase the number of mutual funds available for investing your retirement savings. Fidelity, for example, provides access to several thousand mutual funds besides the more than 180 mutual funds it manages.

Setting-up the Rollover IRA

Let’s say you decide to move your retirement savings to a Rollover account with a mutual fund company. How do you make it happen?

Contact the mutual fund company in which you wish to open an account and ask them to send you their Rollover IRA kit. Complete the form for opening the Rollover IRA account and mail it to the mutual fund company. Next, complete any forms required by the retirement plan administrator of your previous employer and request transfer of your assets into the Rollover IRA account.

You have two choices for moving your retirement savings to your Rollover IRA account. One is to elect to have the money transferred directly from the employer-sponsored plan to the Rollover IRA account. This is called direct rollover. With the indirect rollover alternative, you take the distribution from the retirement plan and then deposit it in the Rollover IRA account. Unless exceptions apply, you have 60 days to deposit the distribution and qualify for tax-free rollover.

Boosting Your Rollover IRA Performance

You need a strategy to benefit from the wide range of investment choices available in the Rollover IRA. You can develop the strategy yourself or leverage ideas from investment newsletters such as AlphaProfit Sector Investors’ Newsletter to enhance the growth rate of your nest egg.

AlphaProfit’s Focus and Core model portfolios have grown at an average annual rate of 33% and 21% respectively, compared to an average annual return of 13% for the S&P 500 Index from September 30, 2003 to March 31, 2006.

Let’s say you transfer $50,000 from your employer-sponsored retirement plan to the Rollover IRA and the wider range of investment choices helps you increase your annual return from 8% in the former to 12% in the Rollover IRA. At the end of 20 years, your Rollover IRA will be worth $482,315, more than double the $233,048 it would be worth had you stayed on with the employer-sponsored plan — that too without any cash additions to your Rollover IRA.

Adding to Your Rollover IRA

You can leverage the potential of your Rollover IRA further by adding to it each time you change jobs. With the Rollover IRA already setup, all you have to do is to instruct the retirement plan administrator of your last employer to transfer assets to the Rollover IRA. There is no limit on the amount of money you can transfer.

You may also add money to your Rollover IRA through regular annual contributions. They are however subject to the annual limit for IRA contributions.

Summary

When you are switching jobs or retiring, the Rollover IRA opens a window of opportunity for you, widening the range of investment choices for your retirement assets hitherto not available in the employer-sponsored plan. The self-directed Rollover IRA empowers you to construct and manage a mutual fund portfolio to boost the growth rate of your retirement savings.

Notes: This report is for information purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer to buy or sell securities or to give individual investment advice. This report does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation, and particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report. The information contained in this report is obtained from various sources believed to be accurate and is provided without warranties of any kind. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC does not represent that this information, including any third party information, is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC is not responsible for any errors or omissions herein. Opinions expressed herein reflect the opinion of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC and are subject to change without notice. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC disclaims any liability for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information in this report. The third-party trademarks or service marks appearing within this report are the property of their respective owners. All other trademarks appearing herein are the property of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Owners and employees of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC for their own accounts invest in the Fidelity Mutual Funds included in the AlphaProfit Core and Focus model portfolios. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC neither is associated with nor receives any compensation from Fidelity Investments or other mutual fund companies mentioned in this report. Past performance is neither an indication of nor a guarantee for future results. No part of this document may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Copyright © 2006 AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. All rights reserved.

Author Bio
Sam Subramanian, PhD, MBA edits the AlphaProfit Sector Investors’ Newsletter. The investment newsletter, ranked #1 by Hulbert Financial Digest, offers model portfolios that are popular with Fidelity 401k and Rollover IRA investors. To learn more about the investment newsletter, visit http://www.alphaprofit.com

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Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Investment | What Is a Stock Split?

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Harry Hooper

A stock split occurs when a corporation decides to issue new stock and distribute it to it’s current stockholders. This is a decision made by the company’s board of directors.

The most common stock split is a 2 for 1 split. When this happens the stockholder will now own twice as many shares as before the split but at half the price. The total value of your stock does not change. For instance, if you owned 100 shares before the split and the price was $50 a share, after the split you would own 200 shares at $25 a share. After the split the shareholder owns exactly the same percentage of the company as before the split, only the number or shares and share price has changed.

While a 2 for 1 split is the most common, companies also distribute 3 for 1 splits, 3 for 2 splits, 5 for 1 splits, etc.

Why does a Company Split their Stock?

Companies will split their stock when they feel that the share price has grown to the point that it will no longer be considered affordable by many investors. Since most stock transactions are in round lots (lots of 100 shares), the total cost for 100 shares might be out of reach for some investors. Once a stock price hits $100 a share, for instance, evidence shows that many investors consider it to be too expensive. If the price per share were reduced it would be more affordable. The effect of more people buying the shares will hopefully lead to a price gain.
What effect does a Stock Split have on the Share Price?

When a company splits it stock it sends the message that the company has been profitable and it will probably continue to prosper. Companies normally announce their upcoming stock split some time in advance. Many investors and traders search for these companies and consider them prime candidates for a further price increase.

In theory a stock split should have no impact on the value of the stock, it should be a neutral event. The only thing that has changed is the share price and number of shares. When you do the math you still have the same value and the same percentage of ownership in the company. In practice however, companies who split their stock most often see price increase when the split is announced or after the split actually occurs. The company knows this and is eager to see it’s stock price increase.

Reverse Split

Sometimes a company will issue a reverse split. When this happens the shareholder will have less shares at a greater price. For example, a typical reverse split is a 1 for 10 split. For example, if a company has been trading at $1 a share and you have 100 shares, after a 1 for 10 split you will have 10 shares at $10 a share. A company might perform a reverse split when their share price has dropped to a very low level and they want to increase the share price to appear more respectable to potential investors. In addition, some exchanges will de-list a stock when the price drops below a certain level for 30 days.

Author Bio
Harry Hooper has over 30 years experience in portfolio management. He is the senior stock tracker for http://www.stock4today.com.

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Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Investment | Asset Allocation Management Without Mutual Funds

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Steve Selengut

Many Investment Gurus, with a straight face and a gleam in their eye, will insist that successful investing is a function of expansive research, skillful market timing, and detailed technical analysis. Others emphasize fundamental information about companies, industries, and markets. But trends and numbers are secondary to a thorough understanding of the basic principles of Investing and Management, and their interrelationships. The ingredients for a successful investment portfolio are these: stubborn belief in the Quality, Diversification, and Income trinity from Investments 101, and operations that employ the Planning, Leading, Organizing, and Controlling skills introduced in Freshman Management. Here are some things to keep in mind while you season your experience with patience and marinate your investment process with discipline:

* A viable Investment Program begins with the private development of an Investment Plan. The first step is the identification of personal goals and objectives and a time frame for goal achievement. The end result should be a near autopilot, long-term and increasing, retirement income. Asset Allocation is used to structure the portfolio so that it operates in a goal directed manner. The finished Plan must be flexible in design, based upon reasonable expectations, simple in structure and operation, and easy to supervise.

* Use a “cost based” Asset Allocation Model. Although most of the Investment World operates on a Market Value basis for everything from performance analysis to Asset Allocation and Diversification decision modeling, you will improve your long-term results and stay within your allocation and diversification guidelines better by using a system based upon Working Capital. This widely unknown Asset Allocation “model” takes the hype out of daily stock market reporting and keeps the income investor’s focus on appropriate statistics.

* Control your emotions, among other things. Clearly, fear and greed are the two that require the most control in the investment environment… particularly in these days of a reckless media, Internet empowered scam merchants, high-speed information gathering/processing, and cheap personalized trading capabilities. Love and hate need to be dealt with as well, but there are fewer out-of-body influences on these. Only strictly disciplined decision makers need apply for your Investment Management position… and you may not be the ideal candidate. Investment Management is a continual responsibility, not a weekend and occasional evenings avocation.

* Avoid hindsightful analysis, and uninformed (or salesperson) criticism. It is painfully comical how hindsight has taken over in our society… in sports, finance, politics, and the professions, everywhere… everyone you hear is second-guessing and finger pointing. No one is willing to take responsibility for their own actions and everyone is willing to sue whoever coulda’, woulda’ or shoulda’ prevented whatever happened. Investors cannot afford to be Little League crybabies. Make one of the three basic decisions (which are?) and don’t look back. No person or program can predict the future, and your portfolio requires management today. The playing field for the investment game is uncertainty.

* Establish a profit-taking target for every security you purchase. The purpose of investing is to make more money than you could in a guaranteed, non-negotiable instrument. This larger money making expectation comes with an assumption of some form of risk… there are several, and its “in there” in all investments. In Equities, set a reasonable profit target and take less if you can get it quickly. With income investments, never say no to a profit equal to a year’s income, or 10% if you like round numbers. There are always new investment opportunities, and there is no such thing as a bad profit… or a good loss.

* Examine Market Value numbers at intelligent intervals. Frequent examination is stressful and non-productive. There are no averages or indices that compare with a properly diversified Investment Portfolio, particularly if your Equity selections are screened for Quality and Income. Investing is a long-term endeavor, and neither Shock(sic) Market symbols nor current yields operate on a calendar year schedule. Look at market peaks and troughs over significant time periods that include “cycles”… and do separate your analysis by class.

* Avoid what the crowd is doing and shun investment products. Consumers buy products; Investors buy securities. The crowd is driven by the very emotions that you must learn to control. Stay focused on your plan; analyze your annual income and trading statistics. Buy and hold creates more real tax problems than real millionaires, and gimmicks and fads last just slightly longer than spring fashions. Always buy good stuff on bad news and sell into good news announcements.

* Don’t try to save the world with your investment decisions. Never limit your investment opportunities artificially. Votes work better when it comes to changing your world, and corporations should not be the targets of your political hates… get rid of incumbents, state and local, until there are changes in the tax code, social security, tort law, environmental issues, etc. In the meantime, invest with your head, not your heart. The business of a capitalist society is…

* Keep in mind that you need Income to pay the bills, and that your cost of living in retirement will be higher than you think. If you insist on some income from every Equity security you ever own, and beat-the-bank income from income securities, you will obtain two important things: An annually increasing cash flow that will rise at a rate greater than most normal inflation rates, and a higher quality investment portfolio for better long-term investment performance. (If you use a cost based Asset Allocation model with at least 30% invested in income securities and no open end Mutual Funds or Index ETFs.) Never settle for tiny short-term yields or get hooked on those that are unsustainably high.

* Investing is not a competitive event, ever. You don’t need to beat the market. You need to accomplish a set of personalized goals. Not even your twin’s portfolio should be the same as yours. The faster you run, the less likely it is that you will succeed over time. Big risks, foolproof gimmicks, and exotic computer programs occasion more failures than success stories. Remember the Investment gods? They created Stocks and Bonds… only Stocks and Bonds!

* Avoid Unrealized Gains, Embrace Volatility, Increase Annual Income, and remember that all key investment moments are only visible in rear view mirrors. Most unrealized gains become Schedule D realized losses. As of today there has never been a correction (rally) that has not succumbed to the next rally (correction). Only an increasing income level can beat back inflation… a bigger market value number just doesn’t do it.

Author Bio
Steve Selengut

http://www.sancoservices.com

http://www.valuestockbuylistprogram.com

Professional Portfolio Management since 1979
Author of: “The Brainwashing of the American Investor: The Book that Wall Street Does Not Want YOU to Read”, and “A Millionaire’s Secret Investment Strategy”

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Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Investment | Why Do Stock Prices Go Up And Down?

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Harry Hooper

I’ll give you the short answer first!

Stocks go up because more people want to buy than sell. When this happens they begin to bid higher prices than the stock has been currently trading. On the other side of the same coin, stocks go down because more people want to sell than buy. In order to quickly sell their shares, they are willing to accept a lower price.

Having said this, we’ll take a look at the various reasons that cause traders to want to buy or sell a stock.

It is possible to look at the financial statements of a company and determine what the company is worth. Investors who take this approach are said to examine the company’s “fundamentals”. They attempt to find an undervalued stock – one that is trading below it’s “book value”. They feel that sooner or later other traders will realize that the company is worth more than the current price and begin bidding it up.

Another investment psychology it called the “technical approach”. This is when traders closely examine charts of the stock’s past performance looking for trends that they feel will be repeated in the near future. These traders also look at what is happening in the market as a whole trying to anticipate the effect it will have on an individual stock.

Sometimes companies trade at half their “book value” while at other times they may trade at double, triple, or even higher. When this happens it can create some sudden and large price swings. This volatility is what makes it possible to make large profits in the market. It is also responsible for huge losses.

The stock market is essentially a giant auction where ownership of large companies is for sale. If some investors think that a particular company will be a good investment, they are willing to bid the price up. By the same token, when many investors want to sell a stock at the same time the supply will exceed the demand and the price will drop.

Watching the stock market can be likened to watching a ball bounce. It goes up and comes down and then goes right back up. This can be extremely frustrating for many investors who want it to go up in a steady pattern. It is this volatility in the market as a whole and in the individual stocks that the experienced trader profits from. In the absence of a lot of experience, the individual investor needs a proven source of information and direction. The daily stock market recommendations from www.stock4today.com can supply this need.

Many investors (as opposed to traders) have a “buy and hold” philosophy. This would work well in a constantly rising market. Unfortunately, the stock market does not go up in a straight line. There are ups and downs that frustrate this type of investor. Today many investors have become “traders” who buy and sell on the fluctuations of the market and the individual stocks. These traders make money in any market – up or down!

Another well known investment site www.fool.com lists the following reasons for stocks going up and down:
Why Stocks Go Up

* growing sales and profits
* a great new president hired to run the company
* an exciting new product or service is introduced
* more exciting new products or services are expected
* the company lands a big new contract
* a great review of a new product in the press or on TV
* the company is going to split its stock
* scientists discover the product is good for something else
* some famous investor is buying shares
* lots of people are buying shares
* an analyst upgrades the company, changing her recommendation from, for instance, “buy” to “strong buy”
* other stocks in the same industry go up
* a competitor’s factory burns down
* the company wins a lawsuit
* more people are buying the product or service
* the company expands globally and starts selling in other countries
* the industry is “hot” — people expect big things for good reasons
* the industry is “hot” — people don’t understand much about it, but they’re buying anyway
* the company is bought by another company
* the company might be bought by another company
* the company is going to spin-off part of itself as a new company
* rumors
* for no reason at all

Why Stocks Go Down

* profits slipping, sales slipping
* top executives leave the company
* a famous investor sells shares of the company
* an analyst downgrades his recommendation of the stock, maybe from “buy” to “hold”
* the company loses a major customer
* lots of people are selling shares
* a factory burns down
* other stocks in the same industry go down
* another company introduces a better product
* there’s a supply shortage, so not enough of the product can be made
* a big lawsuit is filed against the company
* scientists discover the product is not safe
* fewer people are buying the product
* the industry used to be “hot,” but now another industry is more popular
* some new law might hurt sales or profits
* a powerful company enters the business
* rumors
* no reason at all

Author Bio
Harry Hooper has over 30 years experience in portfolio management. He is the senior stock tracker for http://www.stock4today.com.

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Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Investment | How to Increase Your Income, Lower Your Taxes and Help Your Favorite Charity

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Robert D. Cavanaugh, CLU

Given the fact that most seniors are interested in a secure income, reducing risk and lowering taxes, here is a planning technique to consider if you are trying to increase your income.

Maybe you have a CD that is coming up for renewal and you discover the rate is going to be lower. You could have some stocks or mutual funds that were invested for growth and are thinking about selling some off and re-investing in something that would pay you an income. The only reason you haven’t sold them is that you don’t want to pay the capital gain.

I would suggest including a charitable gift annuity in your list of options.

A charitable gift annuity is a combination of a gift to charity and an annuity. For older people, annuity rates may be 8%, 9% or even higher. Since part of the annuity payment is a tax free return of principal, the gift annuity may provide you with a substantial income. The combination of partially tax free income and the initial charitable deduction makes this planning device attractive.

While this arrangement has its own unique benefits, the rate of return is less than if you had bought a commercial immediate annuity. Therefore, your decision to use a gift annuity should include a desire to eventually leave money to a qualified charitable organization that you have an interest in, such as a church, school, hospital, etc.

Gift annuities are easy to set up. You simply transfer property to the charity and the charity promises to pay a given amount monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually to you for as long as you live. Alternatively, you could elect to have the payments paid to you and another person for as long as you both live. Or you could elect to have the payments made to you for the rest of your life and then to the second person for the rest of their life. But the maximum number of people per gift annuity is two.

Gift annuity rates are set by the American Council on Gift Annuities. Charities don’t have to use these rates, but most do. So you don’t have to out shopping for the best rate. Make your choice based on the charity that you would like to support.

There are two tax issues that you should take into consideration when comparing a gift annuity to your other alternatives.

The first is that if you fund the gift annuity with cash, part of the payment you receive is taxed (as ordinary income) and part of it is not taxed as it is treated as a return of principal. If you fund it with appreciated property, and are the recipient of the income, part will be taxed as capital gain, part as ordinary income and part could be treated as a return of principal and not taxed. However, if you live past your life expectancy, all later annuity payments will be ordinary income.

The second tax issue is that when you give the charity your asset in exchange for a life income, you get a large income tax deduction. For most people, this income tax deduction is so big it cannot be taken in one year. So there are provisions to spread the deduction out over the year of your donation and five more. Your accountant can tell you if this will eliminate income taxes for the next 6 years or not. Chances are good that it will.

Please note that I am only giving general guidelines about taxation. Before you set up a gift annuity, you should sit down with your tax advisor to determine the exact tax ramifications for your situation.

There are a number of charitable gift annuity options and applications. This brief overview has given you some of the basics. If this seems like it may fit, contact the charitable organization of your choice and get a proposal. Then sit down with your accountant and financial planner and have them help you compare a gift annuity with your other options.

Author Bio
Robert D. Cavanaugh, CLU is a 36 year financial and estate planning veteran and author of the free newsletter, “The Estate Preservation Advisor”. To subscribe and get a free video of one little known planning concept, go to
theestatepreservationadvisor.com/freevideo.htm

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