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Never Buy A Mutual Fund

Never buy a mutual fund unless it is a no-load index fund with the lowest cost structure. (I will tell you where to find it later.)

Why Stock Options are better than Mutual Funds

The Great Myth Of Out-Performing Mutual Funds

Every year, dozens of financial magazines, newspapers, and newsletters dutifully report the top-performing mutual funds, based on 1-, 2-, 5-, or more year time periods. Presumably, the mutual funds that scored the highest in the past are the ones we can expect to continue to outperform in the future. This presumption is a myth.

To me, these scorecards are like reporting the most recent numbers which won at a roulette wheel – they indicate little or nothing about what is likely to happen on the next roll. Every year, we see entirely new mutual funds at the top of the lists. In fact, in many instances, the funds that will perform the best next year can be found at the bottom of last year’s list. (Bad luck got them at the bottom last year, just as good luck got the best performers at the top. In both cases, luck, not skill, was the primary determinant of success.)

The Best-Of-The-Best Mutual Fund Managers Make Their Picks

At the beginning of 2001, Business Week magazine selected four experts to invest a hypothetical $100,000 in their 10 favorite stocks. These stock-pickers were good, apparently the best in the business. One manager had earned an average of 20.3% a year for 3 years, placing her in the top 2% of her peers. Two of the fund managers had lost a little during 2000, but their losses were only 1/5 or 1/6 of the average for their kind of mutual funds.

One manager’s secret was to “buy improving companies dirt cheap” – he was quoted as saying that “Cisco at $52 was a reasonable valuation” (of course, a year later, it was under $20, but what the heck, it must have been a real bargain then). The fourth manager specialized in small-caps, and had returned 16.6% for the past three years vs. 1.8% for his small-cap peers. So Business Week had identified the cream of the crop of mutual fund managers to make their very best picks for the year.

Of Course, 100% Of The Absolutely Best Fund Managers Can Still Be Wrong

At the end of the year Business Week (December 31, 2001-page 106) sheepishly reported the results. If you had bought all four portfolios (spreading your risk over 40 stocks), you would have lost 26.7% of your investment for the year. Remember, these were the best of the best experts in their field who were making the picks.

Of course, 2001 was not a great year for stocks. Had you bought an S&P 500 Index fund, your loss for the year would have been 13%. But how would you have felt to have paid these “best of the best” experts by buying their mutual funds (and paying them their 3% or so management fee), and experiencing a loss twice as great as the market average? For sure, they were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars each for their work in 2001 (when a dart thrower could presumably have done twice as well).

The On-Going “Experts Challenge The Darts” Contest

For many years, the Wall Street Journal has run a contest between the top stock picks selected by four “experts” and stock choices made by random darts thrown at the financial pages. Six months after the picks are made, the results are tabulated. So far, the experts hold a narrow lead over the darts.

This contest is not fair, however. The darts are handicapped. Millions of investors are introduced to the single best stock pick of four recognized experts. What’s more, investors read the expert’s reasoning behind his or her choice. This publicity is sufficient for many investors to buy companies they may never have heard about before the contest. I, for one, have bought stocks recommended by these experts on many occasions. All this new buying serves to push the prices higher for the experts’ choices. Presumably, not too many investors run out and buy the darts’ stock picks.

A fair way to run this contest would be to wait two weeks after the contest was announced, and use those prices as the starting points for both the experts and the darts. Of course, then the experts might be totally humiliated. It’s bad enough that they get beat a good share of the time already.

One Of The Great Mysteries Of The Investment World

If portfolio managers really can’t outperform the market, why do we pay them so much? Year after year, millions of investors pay mutual fund managers billions of dollars to under perform the market. It’s one of the investment world’s strangest mysteries to me. Does it make sense to you?

Where To Find The Lowest Cost (Index Or Otherwise) Mutual Funds

You can find any mutual fund’s annual percentage cost (and these costs vary unbelievably), at www.personalfund.com. Check it out. No one should buy a mutual fund without going there first. This website could save you thousands of dollars every year.

I don’t get paid anything to send you there – it’s my way of thanking you for coming to my web site and learning about ways to double your money with just a little effort.

If the investment pros can’t beat the index averages, how do you think the ordinary investor can match up? Probably not too well, even with a full-time research effort. I firmly believe that if you want to invest in mutual funds, you should stop trying to guess which one will have the hot hand next year, and content yourself with the lowest-cost index fund instead. In the long run, you will be way ahead.

Make A Little Extra Effort And Multiply Your Returns

I feel even more strongly that instead of being a passive investor in index mutual funds, you should direct at least some of your money into an active investment that might yield you three or seven or ten times as much as the index fund does.

I’m talking about stock options in general, and LEAPS in particular. It doesn’t take too much to learn about these little-known instruments, and the returns can be tremendous. Tip #1 – All About Options includes a short primer on stock options.

My program is designed to show you several methods to double your money. Tip #5 – The Lazy Way To Double Your Money Strategy involves only two trades at the beginning of the two-year period, but can’t be used in an IRA.

My favorite strategy, Tip #6 – The 10K Strategy, involves a little work and trading every month but can generate superior returns even in a flat market. Sign Up For My Free Options Strategy Report and receive two free reports – “How to Make 70% a Year with Calendar Spreads” and “Case Study – How the Weekly Mesa Portfolio Made Over 100% in 4 Months”.

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TERRY’S TIPS STOCK OPTIONS TRADING BLOG

September 26, 2022

Housing Poor

Homebuilding stocks got a boost early in the week after a prominent housing analyst upgraded the entire sector, including a rare “double upgrade” for Lennar (LEN) from underweight to overweight. The rationale was that housing tends to outperform coming out of a bear market and that “early pain = early gain.”

Now, he could very well be right … at some point. Housing stocks, along with the broader market, will eventually pull out of this bear market. But that’s off in the future. We’re still in the “early pain” phase.

LEN got a boost from the news but then trended lower after a mixed earnings report and another 75 bps rate hike from the Fed (with more to come). The stock could not pierce its declining 20-day moving average (blue line), which has kept a lid on LEN’s rally attempts after turning lower two months ago. Furthermore, the 50-day moving average (red line), which is now headed lower, sits overhead, ready to provide resistance.

This trade is based on more “early pain” for the homebuilders based on rising interest rates, mortgage rates at 14-year highs and the looming prospect of a recession. We are playing a call credit spread with the short call sitting above the 50-day, meaning that LEN will have to overcome two points of resistance to move the spread into the money.

If you agree that LEN will continue to slide lower, consider the following trade that relies on the stock staying below $82 (green line) through expiration in six weeks:

Buy to Open the LEN 4Nov 85 call (LEN221104C85)
Sell to Open the LEN 4Nov 82 call (LEN221104C82) for a credit of $1.05 (selling a vertical)

This credit is $0.02 less than the mid-point price of the spread at Friday’s $77.07 close. Unless LEN sags quickly, you should be able to get close to that price.

The commission on this trade should be no more than $1.30 per spread. Each spread would then yield $103.70. This trade reduces your buying power by $300, making your net investment $196.30 per spread ($300 – $103.70). If LEN closes below $82 on Nov. 4, both options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would be 53% ($103.70/$196.30). 

September 20, 2022

Pumped Up

Much is made of gas prices declining for so many weeks in a row (I think we’re at 13 and counting). And that’s great for drivers. But what about the oil companies. Don’t they suffer when pump prices decline? Apparently not.

Gas prices peaked in mid-June and have dropped about 25% since then. But Chevron (CVX) has gained more than 5% during that period. For the year, CVX is up 33%. Its only major blip this year was the June swoon that pulled all stocks lower. But the decline was supported by the 200-day moving average, which allowed just a handful of daily closes below it in mid-July.

This trade is based on the strength of oil companies continuing for the next couple of months. More specifically, it is relying on the continued support of the 200-day. Note that the short put of our spread is right on the 200-day (blue line) and will be below it given the trendline’s current slope. Thus, CVX will have to penetrate that support to move the spread into the money.

If you agree that CVX will respect the 200-day, consider the following trade that relies on the stock staying above $148 (red line) through expiration in six weeks:

Buy to Open the CVX 28Oct 145 put (CVX221028P145)
Sell to Open the CVX 28Oct 148 put (CVX221028P148) for a credit of $0.75 (selling a vertical)

This credit is $0.05 less than the mid-point price of the spread at Friday’s $156.45 close. Unless CVX pops quickly, you should be able to get close to that price.

The commission on this trade should be no more than $1.30 per spread. Each spread would then yield $73.70. This trade reduces your buying power by $300, making your net investment $226.30 per spread ($300 – $73.70). If CVX closes above $148 on October 28, both options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would be 33% ($73.70/$226.30). 

September 12, 2022

September 12, 2022

Warp Speed for This Lithium Producer

Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM) producers highly sought after commodities, most notably lithium and potassium fertilizers. Though it missed on earnings in its August earnings report, it easily beat on sales. A couple of analysts raised their price target after the news, though the overall mood toward the stock is between a buy and a hold.

But what do analysts know? SQM is up 120% this year (not a typo) … and it pays a dividend of more than 11%. The stock has recovered what it lost following earnings and came within four cents of hitting an all-time high in Friday’s trading. Though it has traded mostly sideways for the past three months, the overall uptrend remains intact, as the stock continues to put in higher lows. Plus, its 20-day and 50-day moving averages are pointed higher.

This trade is a play on SQM’s continued strength as it sits in one of the most favorable sectors within the global economy – supplying EV battery makers. We are thus going with a put credit spread with the short put sitting below the 20-day moving average (blue line). 

If you agree that SQM will continue its uptrend, consider the following trade that relies on the stock staying above $100 (red line) through expiration in six weeks:

Buy to Open the SQM 21Oct 95 put (SQM221021P95)
Sell to Open the SQM 21Oct 100 put (SQM221021P100) for a credit of $1.10 (selling a vertical)

This credit is $0.02 less than the mid-point price of the spread at Friday’s $111.12 close. Unless SQM pops quickly, you should be able to get close to that price.

The commission on this trade should be no more than $1.30 per spread. Each spread would then yield $108.70. This trade reduces your buying power by $500, making your net investment $391.30 per spread ($500 – $108.70). If SQM closes above $100 on October 21, both options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would be 28% ($108.70/$391.30). 

Upcoming Market Dates:

Monday September 5th. Market closed for Labor Day
Monday October 10th. Market closed for Columbus Day

Making 36%

Making 36% – A Duffer's Guide to Breaking Par in the Market Every Year in Good Years and Bad

This book may not improve your golf game, but it might change your financial situation so that you will have more time for the greens and fairways (and sometimes the woods).

Learn why Dr. Allen believes that the 10K Strategy is less risky than owning stocks or mutual funds, and why it is especially appropriate for your IRA.

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