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$$$Trading Stocks --- Its the easiest way to make a million, when you start with two $$$

Super sites for Investments

Yahoo! Finance go to MSN.com
CNNMoney.com  

 

Discount Brokerage Firms

Brokers

Commission

Phone Number

TradeKing $4.95  
$6.95  
optionsXpress $14.95  

$7.00 1-800-619-SAVE
$9.95  
  1-800-653-4732
  1-800-494-8939
Morgan Stanley   1-800-688-6896
  View Your Wells Fargo Accounts
Cititrade    

Premium Brokers

$10.95  
E*TRADE FINANCIAL $9.99 1-800-786-2575
12.95  1-800-225-8570
Bank of America Higher Standards Home $7.00  
TD AMERITRADE $9.99  
$25.00  

Taken from June, 2009, Smart Money

 

 

Direct Purchase

Buy stock directly from the company

 

Great Stock Tracking Sites

CNET is a must for tech hounds.

EarnigsWhispers.com

 

Morningstar.com

Splits Calendar

US Earnings Calendar

 

International Stock Market

 

IPO

IPO Central - Basic education on IPOs

 

Employee Report

Consumer Confidence Index

US Leading Index

 

 

Great Index Funds

Diamonds Trust (DIA)

Know as the Diamonds, this fund tracks the Dow Jones Industrial Average

Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipts (SPY)

Often referred to as the "Spiders", this fund tracks the S&P 500

Nasdaq 100 Index tracking stock (QQQ)

This ETF tracks the Nasdaq 100

iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index Fund (DVY)

This ETF tracks the Dow Jones Select Dividend Index, which consists of 50 of the highest dividend-yielding securities.

Wilshire 5000 Index

Started in 1974, the Wilshire 5000 is often referred to as the Total Stock Market Index because it seeks to track the returns of practically all publicly traded, U.S.-headquartered stocks that trade on the major exchanges. Although this index is less well known than the others, it is in fact the largest index by market value in the world. Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund replicates Wilshire 5000 Index.

Motley Fool Index Center

Good reference for Index Fund

VTI

Vanguard Total Stock Market Index

List of all ETFs

 

 

10 rules for building wealth

Fumbling when it comes to investing? Don't panic. There are easy ways to get your money to work for you.
By Jia Lynn Yang, Fortune reporter
1. Start early
More than any one stock or mutual fund pick, the age you start investing will determine how much wealth you build. To illustrate: Employee A starts putting away $100 a month when she's 22. Her money grows at 8 percent a year, and after ten years she stops contributing - and lets her stake grow. Employee B waits until he's 32 to set aside $100 a month, also growing at 8 percent a year, and he keeps it up until he hits 64. When they both retire at 64, she will have $234,600, and he'll have only $177,400. Need we say more?

2. Start early
More than any one stock or mutual fund pick, the age you start investing will determine how much wealth you build. To illustrate: Employee A starts putting away $100 a month when she's 22. Her money grows at 8 percent a year, and after ten years she stops contributing - and lets her stake grow. Employee B waits until he's 32 to set aside $100 a month, also growing at 8 percent a year, and he keeps it up until he hits 64. When they both retire at 64, she will have $234,600, and he'll have only $177,400. Need we say more?

3. Keep it simple
If you have a full-time job and it's not picking stocks, acknowledge that. Choosing three or four index funds - say, an S&P 500 fund, an EAFE fund, and a small-cap stock fund - will give you broad exposure. ETFs (low-cost mutual funds that trade like stocks) are also an easy way to invest in more exotic asset classes, like commodities. If you're close to retirement, consider life-cycle funds from Vanguard or T. Rowe Price, which will automatically rebalance your account according to your goals

4. Don't try to beat the market
Even the best fund managers have trouble beating the S&P 500, so give up the chase. The most straightforward way to avoid this trap is to diversify your assets and then rebalance your portfolio at least once a year. Check your asset breakdown with Morningstar's free Instant X-Ray tool (www.morningstar.com). Essentially, rebalancing means selling some winners that are taking up too big a share of your portfolio and redeploying that cash to bulk up in areas that have lagged. (Buy low, sell high - get it?)

5. Don't chase trends
You want to grow your money for the long haul, so you can't switch your strategy every time you read the headlines. If you see an asset class that's catching fire - like real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the late '90s or commodities this year - ask yourself some basic questions: Can I describe how it works in plain English? If not, start your research at Investopedia.com. Why is it so popular right now? If the answer is "Paris Hilton bought some," best to stay away.

6. Make saving automatic
No one wants to think about saving - so don't. Already more companies are making 401(k) enrollment automatic (34 percent of big companies, vs. virtually none ten years ago). If you're already maxing out your 401(k), see whether your company can transfer money directly from your paycheck into your Roth IRA or a taxable account. Or ask if your bank can transfer a set amount (even $100 a month) from your checking account into a high-interest-bearing online savings account (check out HSBC's and ING's offerings).

7. Go heavy on stocks
The more time you have, the more risk you should take. If you're just starting out, 80 percent to 100 percent of your assets ought to be in stocks. "If you have, say, 30 or 40 years, what happens over the next three months or even three years doesn't matter. If you need the money in two years and it drops 40 percent in one year, that's a problem," says Stuart Ritter, a certified financial planner with T. Rowe Price. The simplest trick? Subtract your age from 120: That's the percentage you should have in stocks; the rest should be in bonds.

8. Hold down fees
Be wary of any mutual fund charging a management fee higher than 1 percent (a few stellar managers may be worth it; most are not). A manager with a high buying and selling rate (called "turnover") should also set off warning bells. If you aren't interested in watching your fund manager like a hawk, stick with an index fund, like one from Vanguard, where expenses are typically around 0.2 percent. And if you're trading stocks, don't be fooled by low commissions: They add up.

9. Ditch credit card debt
All debt is not created equal, so rank yours by interest rate and pay off the bad stuff first. That usually means credit cards, which can carry interest rates as high as 30 percent. (Compare your card's APR with others at Bankrate.com.) On the other end of the scale are student loans. Those rates are generally between 3 and 6 percent, so consider making the minimum payment and investing in your 401(k) instead. Hey, even Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was still paying off his school loans when he joined the bench.

10. Ditch credit card debt
All debt is not created equal, so rank yours by interest rate and pay off the bad stuff first. That usually means credit cards, which can carry interest rates as high as 30 percent. (Compare your card's APR with others at Bankrate.com.) On the other end of the scale are student loans. Those rates are generally between 3 and 6 percent, so consider making the minimum payment and investing in your 401(k) instead. Hey, even Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was still paying off his school loans when he joined the bench.

Earnings Per Share (EPS)
The portion of a company's profit allocated to each outstanding share of common stock. EPS serves as an indicator of a company's profitability.

Calculated as:

In the EPS calculation, it is more accurate to use a weighted-average number of shares outstanding over the reporting term, because the number of shares outstanding can change over time. However, data sources sometimes simplify the calculation by using the number of shares outstanding at the end of the period.

Diluted EPS expands on the basic EPS by including the shares of convertibles or warrants outstanding in the outstanding shares number.
Earnings per share is generally considered to be the single most important variable in determining a share's price. It is also a major component of the price-to-earnings valuation ratio. 

For example, assume that a company has a net income of $25 million. If the company paid out $1 million in preferred dividends and had 10 million shares for one half of the year and 15 million shares for the other half, the EPS would be $1.92 (24/12.5). First, the $1 million is deducted from the net income to get $24 million. Then a weighted average is taken to find the number of shares outstanding (0.5 x 10M+ 0.5 x 15M = 12.5M).

An important aspect of EPS that's often ignored is the capital that is required to generate the earnings (net income) in the calculation. Two companies could generate the same EPS number, but one could do so with less equity (investment) - that company would be more efficient at using its capital to generate income and, all other things being equal, would be a "better" company. Investors also need to be aware of earnings manipulation that will affect the quality of the earnings number. It is important not to rely on any one financial measure, but to use it in conjunction with statement analysis and other measures.
Price-Earnings Ratio (P/E Ratio)
A valuation ratio of a company's current share price compared to its per-share earnings.

Calculated as:
 

For example, if a company is currently trading at $43 a share and earnings over the last 12 months were $1.95 per share, the P/E ratio for the stock would be 22.05 ($43/$1.95).

EPS is usually from the last four quarters (trailing P/E), but sometimes it can be taken from the estimates of earnings expected in the next four quarters (projected or forward P/E). A third variation uses the sum of the last two actual quarters and the estimates of the next two quarters.
 
Also sometimes known as "price multiple" or "earnings multiple". 
In general, a high P/E suggests that investors are expecting higher earnings growth in the future compared to companies with a lower P/E. However, the P/E ratio doesn't tell us the whole story by itself. It's usually more useful to compare the P/E ratios of one company to other companies in the same industry, to the market in general or against the company's own historical P/E. It would not be useful for investors using the P/E ratio as a basis for their investment to compare the P/E of a technology company (high P/E) to a utility company (low P/E) as each industry has much different growth prospects.
 
The P/E is sometimes referred to as the "multiple", because it shows how much investors are willing to pay per dollar of earnings. If a company were currently trading at a multiple (P/E) of 20, the interpretation is that an investor is willing to pay $20 for $1 of  current earnings.

It is important that investors note an important problem that arises with the P/E measure, and to avoid basing a decision on this measure alone. The denominator (earnings) is based on an accounting measure of earnings that is susceptible to forms of manipulation, making the quality of the P/E only as good as the quality of the underlying earnings number.

 

 

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This page was last updated on Monday August 10, 2009

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