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Your Ultimate Guide to Trading Stocks Read Article
Company spotlight Ally Invest Built for investors who want to manage their own portfolios, Ally’s self-directed trading gives you all the tools you need to buy and trade stocks, optimize your portfolio and stay on top of the market, all without the need for... Read Reviews
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Value investors pride themselves on their ability to locate undervalued, under-appreciated stocks with a lot of untapped upside potential. It takes due diligence to be able to identify the key characteristics of a value stock – low P/E, low PEG and minimal debt. Many also have little to no analyst coverage, a dividend payment and a market cap of less than $2 billion. These stocks usually have one other defining characteristic – they usually haven't been outperforming the broader indexes. Unlike growth investors who focus on fast-growing companies with a high P/E and a chart that looks like a 45 degree upward climb, value investors prefer patience. By knowing a stocks true intrinsic value, they can wait out impatient investors, temporary trends and anything else that doesn't interfere with the stocks future potential. But it's not as easy as screening for just a few key ratios. Many would-be value stocks are actually traps that can quickly sink any portfolio. Triggering the Trap A real value stock has the potential for outsized gains. What separates a successful value investor from a… Read more

A successful investor understands the value of due diligence. While technical traders follow patterns of momentum and volatility, those with long term winning track records use fundamental analysis. Understanding comparative ratios, earnings growth and other financial details are what helps an investor know the real value of any stock they want to invest in. Information about a publicly traded company is freely available to investors. It can be found by pouring through financial statements, such as the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. This information is updated quarterly along with a plethora of other financial information including risk assessments, loans, acquisitions and other things. Investors that want a leg up on the competition can find it all on the 10-K statement (10-Q for quarterly statements) – easily found on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website. Reading a 10-Q/K The first thing you'll notice when opening a 10-K statement is that they are usually highly detailed and sometimes over 80 pages long. There's all kinds of information available, but most investors don't know what's important or what parts to pay… Read more

An investment portfolio can take on many different forms. It might include stocks, bonds, currencies, precious metals, commodities, futures, mutual funds, ETFs and more. It might have just some of these asset types or it might include a little of everything. Diversification is a term that gets passed around on Wall Street often, but seems to be misunderstood more often than not. The basic idea is to diversify assets so an investor isn't overly exposed to one kind of risk over another. Some investors seem to think that means buying a lot of different things is the best way to accomplish diversification, but in reality, this strategy will dilute your portfolio's total return potential. One way to avoid diluting returns without giving up on diversification is by using investment vehicles that contain a portfolio of holdings like a mutual fund or ETF. And investors have already begun picking up on this idea with ETFs becoming more popular and more prolific each year. Successfully incorporating ETF's into a portfolio There's a trend in the last few years: investors leaving mutual funds… Read more

Successful investing requires doing a certain amount of due diligence to avoid making costly mistakes. Pouring over financial statements, analyzing ratios and charts, and reviewing comparable statistics to other similar stocks takes time. But it's all worthless unless you understand exactly how much a stock is actually worth. Knowing when to buy a stock and when to sell it is the difference between good investors and great ones. Finding value is meaningless if you don't know what the number actually is. Before buying, you need to have a number in mind to sell at – whether it's 10%, 20%, or 50% higher. You need to know how to put a price target on stock. Determining Value A stock's value comes from a number of different metrics working together. A company's earnings are only part of the equation – the other part is the multiple investors have placed on the stock, commonly known as the price-to-earnings ratio (P/E). A stock trading at $20 per share with earnings of $1 per share would have a P/E of 20. Earnings change over time,… Read more

Investors are always looking for a way to make their money go further. Investing in speculative high growth stocks can generate returns in excess of 100 percent or more over a couple of years. Those with an extremely high risk tolerance might play the futures market and gain leverage, as much as 200:1 in some cases, to increase returns. But there's another way to boost returns without having to take on an exceptional level of risk. As a general rule of thumb, one must take on more risk in order to increase possible returns. That means more volatility, more chance of under-performing other portfolios and more time spent analyzing the market and keeping track of current trends and issues. But option trading seems to be the exception to the rule. On one hand, higher risk seems obvious, but when looked at from a long-term time frame, certain option strategies can leverage your money to increase returns without having to take on exceptional risks. Spread Options: Low Risk, High Gains One of the biggest misconceptions investors have about options is that… Read more