Daily Gains Letter

leverage


Bears Becoming Bulls En Masse as Optimism Rises

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 15, 2014

Bears Becoming BullsIncreasing optimism is dangerous for key stock indices. Sadly, this is exactly what we’re seeing in the markets right now. It is very evident wherever you look. Stock advisors are saying, “Just buy stocks, and you will do alright.” Investors feel good about stocks. Those who were bearish on the key stock indices since the crash in 2008 and 2009 are also turning bullish—the bears are declining in numbers each week; it’s becoming especially difficult for them to keep their pessimistic stance these days.

One of the key economic indicators that I follow when looking at the optimism in key stock indices is called the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) total options put/call ratio.

This indicator, at the very core, shows the ratio of volume of puts and call options. When there are more call options, this ratio stands below one. When there are more put options than call options, the ratio stays above one. Currently, this ratio stands at 0.6—a level last seen in 2011. Since at least 2007, this ratio of call options to put options has reached this level only a handful of times, as you can see in the chart below.

CBOE Options Put-Call Ratio Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

When call options increase, it means investors are bullish towards the key stock indices. When the put options increase, it means investors believe the key stock indices will experience pressures ahead. The current put/call ratio suggests investors are not worried.

Another indicator I look at to assess the optimism on key stock indices is margin debt—the amount of stock purchased on borrowed money. When margin debt is high, this shows that … Read More


Three Bullish Reasons to Renew Your Trust in Gold

By for Daily Gains Letter | Nov 15, 2013

Trust in GoldGold has gained a significant amount of negative attention lately, being called a “slam-dunk sell” not too long ago. While the bears have their reasons, I continue to be bullish on the shiny yellow metal for a few reasons of my own.

First of all, central banks around the world are continuously printing or using easy monetary policies to spur growth in their respective countries—these policies are rigorous and extraordinary, to say the least. For example, the central bank of Australia has lowered its benchmark interest rates by more than 40% since the beginning of 2012. The cash rate in the country stood at 4.25% in early 2012, and now it sits at 2.5%. (Source: “Cash Rate Target: Interest Rate Changes,” Reserve Bank of Australia web site, last accessed November 12, 2013.)

Similarly, not too long ago, we heard a surprising announcement from the European Central Bank: it cut interest rates to their lowest level after the eurozone’s economic health didn’t show signs of improvement.

On the printing front, the Federal Reserve continues to be at the forefront. The central bank is still printing $85.0 billion a month and buying U.S. bonds and mortgage-backed securities. Note that we hear gold bullion is going down in value these days because the Federal Reserve will be tapering quantitative easing. Sadly, they forget that tapering still means more printing, just at a slower pace.

Secondly, the demand for gold bullion continues to increase. We have seen mints across the global economy sell a record amount of gold bullion coins, consumers rush to buy the precious metal, and nations that are thought to be … Read More


Time to Rethink Your Gold Investments?

By for Daily Gains Letter | Nov 11, 2013

Rethink Your Gold InvestmentsIs it time to rethink your gold investments? This question is being asked by those who have held on to their investments as the prices of the precious metal have come down significantly. It wasn’t too long ago when gold bullion prices soared beyond $1,900 an ounce; this year, they are facing scrutiny. Gold bullion prices witnessed plunges in April and June, and now sit close to $1,300—down more than 31% from their peak.

This decline in gold bullion prices has caused concern, and I completely understand why. For example, gold miners’ share prices have collapsed—both senior miners and exploration companies.

With this in mind; I certainly think it’s time to rethink the gold investments that investors hold in their portfolio.

Before going into any details, let me make this very clear: I continue to be bullish on gold bullion prices ahead. I see the most basic principles of economics, supply and demand, are at play; gold bullion is seeing increased buying worldwide, while supply becomes anemic every day that the prices remain stressed.

The reason for rethinking gold investments is due to the basic portfolio management principle that things can change very quickly and investors have to change with them. Investors have to keep in mind that the deeper the losses get, the harder it is to break even. For example, if an investment has come down 50%, it will have to go up 100% just to break even.

Let’s face it: some gold producers have come down significantly and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which provide leverage to gold bullion prices, have tumbled downward, too.

If investors hold gold producers … Read More


How Investors Can Limit Risk When Using Leverage

By for Daily Gains Letter | Nov 7, 2013

Investors Can Limit RiskLeverage, at its very core, is borrowing money to invest. If investors want to use leverage in their portfolio, it can be very risky. My friend, Mr. Speculator, who I met not too long ago, disagrees with this claim; he thinks it’s the greatest invention: “With leverage, your gains can be huge and your portfolio grows much faster,” he said.

As usual, Mr. Speculator isn’t very clear about a very important concept of investment management.

While Mr. Speculator is in favor of taking leverage, I tend to be very cautious about it. At the end of the day, it’s all dependent on the investor and if they want to take on leverage or not.

Leverage can be both beneficial and troublesome for the portfolio; it’s a double-edged sword investors really have to be cautious about. What it does is maximizes the gains, meaning profits are much bigger, but it increases the magnitude of losses as well, making them become massive really quickly.

Consider an investor who has $100.00 to invest and knows that he or she can purchase 10 shares of company XYZ. Now, if we assume over a one-month period that shares of XYZ go up by 10%, then without borrowing money to invest, this investor’s return will be 10%, or $10.00.

On the other hand, if we assume the investor borrows $100.00 on top of the money they already had, their gain would be 20%, or $20.00. This is because they had doubled the money—great, right? But if the investment goes down 10%, their loss will be 20% as well.

Is leverage necessary for the portfolio?

Investors who … Read More