CFDs Explained

By: IS
Date posted: 09.21.2016 (1:50 pm) | Write a Comment

The next Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting will occur in late September 2016. There have been many arguments both for and against an interest rate hike in September. Now, whether the Federal Reserve decides to raise or leave the Fed funds rate, major market indices should be affected. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500), Nasdaq-100 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average should react to the Fed’s decision in September. Now, instead of trading options, futures or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), some market participants may want to consider contracts for difference (CFDs). Now, some may be wondering what CFDs are and how these products function.

CFDs Explained in Brief

A CFD is a tradable financial instrument that seeks to mirror its underlying asset’s movements. Now CFD trading is less costly than trading options, futures or ETFs, since CFD investors and traders do not have to own the underlying asset and are not obligated to do so.

CFDs allow market participants to speculate on market prices, regardless of the direction of the underlying asset. For example, if an investor is bullish on the S&P 500 Index, the investor could purchase CFDs tied to the index. Consequently, the investor would benefit from a rise in the S&P 500 Index. Conversely, if an investor is bearish on the S&P 500 Index, the investor could sell short CFDs tied to S&P 500 Index, therefore, the investor would benefit from a fall in market prices. Therefore, risk tolerant investors who understand the product could use CFDs during the next September FOMC policy meeting.

Arguments for Fed Funds Rate Hike

Goldman Sachs’ Chief Economist Jan Hatzius is one of the few economists who believe the Fed will raise interest rates during the FOMC’s September meeting. Jan Hatzius argues that the U.S. economy is adding jobs at a pace that is satisfactory for many members of the FOMC to vote for an interest rate hike in late September. Although the August U.S. Employment Situation report came in weaker than expected, one month’s disappointing numbers does not reflect the overall trend.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman said, “Indeed, in light of the continued solid performance of the labor market and our outlook for economic activity and inflation, I believe the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months,” at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming annual summit.

Moreover, Hatzius stated, “Growth in nonfarm payrolls was weaker than consensus estimates at +151k, but above the pace Fed officials typically consider sufficient to hold the unemployment rate steady over time—the so called ‘breakeven rate … we therefore see this report as just enough for a large majority of officials to support a September rate increase. We have therefore raised our subjective odds of a hike this month to 55% from 40%.”

Although the U.S. economy only added 151,000 jobs in August, which was well below consensus estimates, the moving average over the past three months is an average addition of 232,000 jobs. Consequently, the risk of a recession occurring over the short term is low and the Fed could raise rates.

Arguments Against Fed Funds Rate Hike

Conversely, there are economists who believe that the Fed is unlikely to raise rates in September. Canaccord Genuity’s chief market strategist said, “I don’t think they’ll hike in September … the economic cycle is not about duration. The economic cycle is driven by Fed policy, short-term interest rates, which create strength in the long-end of the curve.” With all this chatter regarding interest rates, it’s difficult to discern whose arguments are stronger. Either way, investors should be gearing up for the potential Fed rate hike.

As stated previously, it is expensive for some investors to purchase options and futures on the overall market. Investors who wish to place a trade on whether the market will go up or down could place trades on CFDs related to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 Index or Nasdaq-100.

 

2 New Trades ($TRIP, $TWTR, $AMZN, $NFLX)

By: ispeculatornew
Date posted: 09.19.2016 (3:00 am) | Write a Comment

Today I am opening my 18th and 19th trades of the year which will be my last 2 ones for the year (for tech long & short). It’s been a rocky year, my worst on record, hopefully these 2 help start a turnaround. As is always the case, you can see past 2016 (and previous years) trades here:

http://www.intelligentspeculator.net/livetrades

Let’s start off by looking at the numbers:

TickerNamePricePE RatioPE Next YearReturn YTDSales GrowthAnalyst ratingBook ValueBetaEarningsRevenue/ShareSales 5Y Avg GrowthEPS 5Y Avg Growth
TRIPTripAdvisor Inc61.2972.729.78-27.4819.743.0810.331.4111/3/201610.3618.9-8.13
TWTRTwitter Inc19.11N/A31.44-20.9258.093.056.451.3410/25/20163.35107.43N/A
AMZNAmazon.com Inc778.52191.1347.2613.8820.254.734.891.0210/20/2016229.1325.2N/A
NFLXNetflix Inc99.48304.1989.38-14.923.163.735.631.5310/17/201615.9221.8181.15

And the usual chart that I like to bring up:

Long Tripadvisor (TRIP) & Short Twitter (TWTR)

Being long Tripadvisor has certainly been a difficult position to hold in the past few months but I think it’s getting closer to its bottom. On the other hand, Twitter has been a big story in the past few months. There are some rumours that it will be acquired and that is clearly a risk but the company seems to be determined to find a better way out. The NFL deal has been perceived as a bid win for Twitter and in many ways it is. It got the rights for extremely cheap, was able to deliver a very solid broadcast in the first game, and got a lot of eyeballs. That being said, it remains unclear to me how this fits into the company’s longer term goals, how it will help deliver more visitors to its site or more money. I think the stock gains are clearly unjustified.

 

 

Long Amazon (AMZN) & Short Netflix (NFLX)

I will be writing more in-depth very soon about these two companies but I think one clear opinion is that Amazon is starting to create issues for Netflix, pressure on its growth and while I do remain optimistic about Netflix’s long term future, I think Amazon will put more pressure on NFLX’s margins and at these high valuations, I prefer the upside/downside risk of Amazon in this trade.

 

 

Disclaimer: Prior to opening this trade, I have a long position on $TRIP

Learn Lessons the Current Retired People Learnt the Hard Way

By: IS
Date posted: 09.07.2016 (3:01 pm) | Write a Comment

 

 

Learn Lessons the Current Retired People Learnt the Hard Way

There is little room for maneuver as you get older. As retirement looms you may begin to realize that you have not made sufficient preparations. More and more people are continuing to work past retirement age but it is not always an option, certainly with an existing employer. Your Social Security benefits are available at 62 but the figure you will receive is only 75% of what you would receive at the standard retirement age some time during your 67th year. Even then the average monthly figure based on the best 35 earning years you have will go nowhere near providing for comfortable retirement.

There is a bonus of around a further 30% for delaying your benefits until your 70th birthday but that will not be an option for those who have to finish working.

It is worth looking at what retired people are saying about their regrets after finding life difficult once their regular monthly pay check stopped.

  • They retired too early.
  • They were too optimistic
  • They took Social Security benefits too early.
  • They simply didn’t prepare properly then found they were spending too much after they retired

Early

Sometimes people have retired without using logic. N apparently significant fund may actually diminish far more quickly than they expect even if there is no apparent waste.

Optimism

It is important not to take risks with finance in your retirement. Your fund will still earn interest by you have little scope for recovering from a setback. That means your investment strategy has to chance to more conservative products. It means some of your calculations are based on optimistic returns. The recession struck a fatal blow to portfolios that included anything that did not guarantee returns.

Social Security

The temptation to take benefits at 62 is real. If it is out of necessity then they had no real strategy for the future; it was about living for the present. As retirees live longer problems were inevitable.

Preparations and Spending

It is difficult to resist the temptation to spend as soon as you retire. You now have plenty of free time on your hands. It can seem like a permanent holiday and many people spend more money on holiday than during a normal working week. There are obvious consequences for doing that.

Easy Answers?

Frankly there is no easy answer for people who have not prepared for their retirement beyond looking for ways to earn money and that means part time or even returning to full time employment. That is not always possible for health and practical reasons. Even when it is in the short term there will come a day when they are simply unable to work.

If you are reading this article and starting to worry then so you should worry. Whatever your age you should sit down and start to analyze your finances in detail. The younger you are the more chance you have of saving to create a significant retirement fund. In order to do that you should pay off expensive debt like that on credit cards. You are wasting money paying a high rate of interest on any balances you are carrying forward. You should negotiate a realistic credit loans which in today’s market will be at a much more competitive interest rate. Bad credit Loans are readily available for those in employment with a regular monthly pay check with the debt divided into equal monthly instalments over the term of the loan. At the same time you should prepare a proper budget and even do some research to see if you can save money on some of your regular bills such as utilities, telephone and insurance. There are comparative websites that will do many of the basic research for you.

A budget will not work without self-discipline and that means using a credit card only when you can pay off the transaction in full when the monthly end statement comes in. The incentive for doing this is clear in the stories that retired people have made about the mistakes they made leading up to and in the early years of retirement. After all you do not want to find yourself in the same situation do you?

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New Trade: Long Alphabet (GOOG) & Short eBay (EBAY)

By: ispeculatornew
Date posted: 08.22.2016 (3:00 am) | Write a Comment

Today I am opening my 17th trade of the year between between 2 names that I have traded quite a bit over the years, which will hopefully help me rebound from a few rocky weeks of long & short trading. As is always the case, you can see past 2016 (and previous years) trades here:

http://www.intelligentspeculator.net/livetrades

Let’s start off by looking at the numbers:

TickerNamePricePE RatioPE Next YearReturn YTDSales GrowthAnalyst ratingBook ValueBetaRevenue/ShareSales 5Y Avg GrowthEPS 5Y Avg Growth
EBAYeBay Inc30.6319.0214.7111.06-2.253.55.70.997.110.03100.44
GOOGAlphabet Inc775.42N/A19.312.4513.624.64N/A1.21N/A19.1913.78

Long Alphabet (GOOG)

Alphabet is a company I’ve traded less than you’d expect, mostly because as much as I love Google as a consumer, it’s not as straight forward in terms of investments. Why? Lack of discipline and transparency, but also the moonshots. While all of those issues still exist to some extent, I’d say they’re all getting better (with the hire of a new CFO, the new Alphabet structure, etc) so I do feel more confident in going long Google in a “short term” trade like this one.

GOOG_chart

 

Next earnings: October 13th 2016

Short eBay (EBAY)

While this could certainly look like I’m taking a negative view on eBay (in a way it is of course), this is more of a play on my strongs doubts about eBay being able to turn things around and/or come up with spectacular numbers. Ebay’s P/E and forward P/E ratio are not way off but do still point to more growth than what I think the company can pull off, especially in the face of Amazon, Walmart and others competing.

EBAY_chart

 

Next earnings: October 12th 2016

Disclaimer: Prior to opening this trade, I do not have a position on GOOG or EBAY
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New Trade: Long Facebook ($FB) & Short Blue Nile ($NILE)

By: ispeculatornew
Date posted: 08.15.2016 (3:00 am) | Write a Comment

Today I am opening my 16th trade of the year between between 2 names that I have traded quite a bit over the years, which will hopefully help me rebound from a few rocky weeks of long & short trading. As is always the case, you can see past 2016 (and previous years) trades here:

http://www.intelligentspeculator.net/livetrades

Let’s start off by looking at the numbers:

TickerNamePricePE RatioPE Next YearReturn YTDSales GrowthAnalyst ratingBook ValueBetaRevenue/ShareSales 5Y Avg GrowthEPS 5Y Avg Growth
FBFacebook Inc124.8860.0524.5919.3443.824.617.560.986.448.81N/A
NILEBlue Nile Inc30.6634.6929.02-16.541.3831.291.0841.147.434.53

$FBLong Facebook (FB)

No surprise in me picking Facebook which has done great things for me personally. I continues to be my largest single position and Facebook continues to execute extremely well. I do have a bit more worries when I look at the landscape for Facebook, especially about its ability to position itself against Snapchat but for that I reason I did very much like the most recent Instagram move of launching stories. Facebook continues to deliver on the top and bottom lines and it’s crazy to me to see it trading at a comparable forward valuation as Blue Nile. In many ways Facebook qualifies as a “platform” and I continue to think those will be long term winners. Just think of a recent phenomenon Pokemon-Go. You could argue that Apple is making as much as any of the parties that are actually involved in creating and licensing the game. This is playing over and over and the platform players are getting their “tax” on each transaction.

FB_chart

Next earnings: November 2nd 2016

$NILEShort Blue Nile (NILE)

Long term readers of this blog know that I’ve been bearish regarding this stock for a very long time and have shorted it quite a bit over the years. For some reason this stock has traded at very high valuations over the years with very little to justify it. NILE has continued to show very little ability to generate growth and I continue to expect increased competition, eventually from the likes of Amazon which will certainly send the stock much lower.

NILE_chart

 

Next earnings: November 3rd 2016

Disclaimer: This trade on FB-NILE will be done on today’s opening, but i am already long Facebook (FB) as a consequence of my long term speculative pick.
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The fastest growing businesses in 2016

By: IS
Date posted: 08.12.2016 (1:37 pm) | Write a Comment

 

Despite the perils of Brexit, the fragility of the British pound and continued financial uncertainty in many markets, companies continue to drive forward with their business plans. Many success stories are making the headlines this year, as businesses innovate and diversify to uncover new products or business synergies to explore.

Leading the way, as is common, are the IT and technology-focused companies. A new trend for the year are smart artificial intelligence bots, improving customer interaction and automation. Led by the likes of Facebook, Cisco, Microsoft and many startup companies, they are helping bots take over on customer service phone lines, websites, in-store kiosks, reception areas and other locations to help people find the information, advice or products they need faster. Bots in the office can help staff find business documents, plan travel and find the lowest cost products or those that can be delivered fastest, all in a matter of seconds.

Another area of growth is communication services, with unified communications allowing workers to make themselves available by the most appropriate means, be it a traditional phone, voice over IP calls, mobile, chat or video message. A unified communications service can save a company on capital expenditure and expenses on its phone bills, line rentals, communications equipment and so on.

The final fast mover from the technology world this year is personal health, with a wide range of smart weighing scales, health and heart rate monitors, and smartphone apps all encouraging consumers to be healthier and stay fitter. Fitness brands are leading with the likes of British firm Under Armour and its new Healthbox, but smaller companies can find niches and appeal to specific demographics.

Perhaps in relation to that, many traditional businesses are also thriving in 2016. Health clubs and gym memberships are on the rise again, while many small businesses are starting up their own niche healthy living ranges like office-based exercise products . Finding a new type of exercise or one specifically for a particular age group or the time poor is one of this year’s major opportunities, encouraged by health insurance benefits and rewards. ‘Corporate wellness’, as the sector is known, benefits from many of these initiatives, as businesses try to encourage their staff to be healthy for a better working environment, less time off sick and improved morale. Any company investing or innovating in these areas will find plenty of opportunities in this and coming years.

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Closing 2 New Trades

By: ispeculatornew
Date posted: 08.08.2016 (3:00 am) | Write a Comment

Wow, how things have turned around. I might have fixed issues on the website in regards to speed and the site showing up but I certainly didn’t fix the trading returns. I will be closing 2 very bad tech long & short trades this morning, they have turned out to both return around -40% as of my writing this.

Long Apple (AAPL) & Short eBay (EBAY): -41,47%: My sentiment on Apple has been changing over the past few months and while I remain bullish, I would probably not place it at the top of my list as I have done a few times. And no, that is not due to the fact that this particular trade crashed. In fact, the cause here is eBay which has been performing incredibly well.  When eBay spun off its Paypal (PYPL) position I believed I had a clear view on what it was. Yes, eBay has quite a few different divisions and websites but it does remain a big Amazon (AMZN) competitor which I don’t think will end well. In the meantime though, ebay has been showing strong growth and expanding its horizons. It doesn’t yet reach into broader areas such as SMS loans in Norway but it does remain a broad ecommerce play and for that reason ebay has been a bad short to have on the books this year.

TZOO_chartLong Facebook (FB) & Short Travelzoo (TZOO): -46.75%

Without a doubt, this is the one position that completely taken me by surprise. I didn’t see much risk in shorting Travelzoo and that has obviously been a very bad position to hold with the stock jumping by 45% in the last 5 months. I continue to have reading to do on this one (I’m behind on my Q2 earnings and earnings call readings) and will certainly report my findings but safe to say I didn’t see this one coming.

With all of this, the YTD return of the portfolio now stands at -12.90% which would be a second straight negative year if things don’t turn around. I will have some things to reflect on and write about if this keeps up:) Thankfully, it does remain a small part of my portfolio and despite the temptation to increase it given the long term solid history of returns, I did keep it around the same levels. As is always the case, you can see all of my current and past tech long & short trades here:

http://www.intelligentspeculator.net/livetrades

 

Closing 2 trades ($GOOG, $NILE, $TRIP, $YELP)

By: IS
Date posted: 07.06.2016 (6:15 am) | Write a Comment

This morning, I will be closing 2 trades that unfortunately have not lived up to expectations. This has dragged down the return of the overall portfolio to 3.50%, well below what it was a few months ago. The 2 trades are:

March 24th: Long Google (GOOG) / Short Blue Nile (NILE)

GOOG_NILE_chart

May 12th: Long Tripadvisor (TRIP) / Short Yelp (YELP)

TRIP_YELP_chart

As is always the case, you can see all of our 2016 (and past years) long & short stock tech trades here:

http://www.intelligentspeculator.net/livetrades

 

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Is Tech Making CFD trading Better or Worse?

By: IS
Date posted: 07.06.2016 (6:00 am) | Write a Comment

CFD basically stands for Contract for Difference. CFDs are derivative products that are contractual. The parties involved in CFDs are usually two. There may be a buyer and seller. The nature of the parties involved varies in this regard. What this means is, depending on the contract, the parties involved could also be a client and broker. CFDs usually reflect the movement of the asset that underlies it. When the asset moves in the financial market relative to the position taken, profits or losses may be realized. The asset itself is never owned by any of the parties involved.

The CFD centers on a binding agreement that the buyer will be paid by the seller the difference between an asset’s value at the time of the contract and its current value.

With CFDs, traders can benefit from the upward movement of prices in what is known as long positions. Even when the prices move down in short positions, traders can take advantage of the financial instruments underlying the particular derivative.

Is Tech Making CFD trading better or worse? The answer to this question is a resounding yes. There are a number of mobile and online trading platforms and software available. Financial giants like CMC Markets have been trendsetters in the technological aspects of CFD trading. Despite these technological advances in CFD trading, traders are still reliant on the behavior of markets and strategies that are employed when trading.

Practical and Effective Trading Tools

Modern CFD trading platforms have great trading tools and features to assist traders. These tools provide accurate analyses and real-time CFD trading news items.

Reliable Real-Time Data and Information

Online and mobile CFD trading platforms provide CMC Markets and Reuter’s News insights. Such insights are quite reliable and ensure that the trader is kept well informed of emerging trends in CFD trading.

Pattern and Trend Monitoring

Technological advances enable traders to use features like pattern recognition scanners. The scanners automatically detect any common patterns that are exhibited by the CFD trading market. This enables traders to make accurate trading decisions that are informed.

Technology also enables traders to access valuable and useful economic calendars on a real time basis. Such calendars are developed and powered by reliable CFD market trackers like Dow Jones. With economic calendars, traders are able to make trades based on established and reliable timelines that are dictated by current economic events. The calendars also allow the trader to be able to determine which particular economic event will affect their CFD trading and at what particular instance.

CFD trading benefits greatly from advances in technological fields in that a trader can make use of features like advanced order tickets when trading. The trading platforms also have integral price ladders. These ladders are able to indicate the extent and depth of various CFD prices.

Traders are also able to access economic announcements, briefs, technological patterns and CFD trading price alerts. Technology has ensured that CFD traders are able to closely monitor trends in the market. The tools also analyze CFD trading trends for the traders and eliminate the hassle of doing so.

Customizable Interfaces

CFD trading platforms are designed to be customizable. The trader can tweak the platform to suit their individual trading preferences and needs. The tools and features in the CFD trading platform can be organized using a variety of intelligent layout formats. The trader is also able to store the particular layout that appeals to their particular trading style.

Client Service

In case the CFD trading markets are still open at whatever time of day, traders have access to great client support services online. These services are quite useful in case the trader has a query or needs to resolve a particular trading issue.

With CFD trading, technology has been greatly beneficial and has changed the way traders’ trade using CFD financial derivatives.

Comparison Charts

CFD platforms typically have advanced charting tools with a number of preset candle patterns. They also have technological indicators that show various CFD parameters in a concise and accurate manner. The online or mobile CFD trading platforms also have a variety of charts and comparison charts.

Is Tech Making CFD trading better or worse? It is quite evident that CFD trading has benefited greatly from technological advances. These advances have enabled traders to trade more efficiently and effectively. Online price comparisons and analyses enable traders to make informed decisions. Technology has revolutionized CFD trading in a positive and beneficial way.

 

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Spotting Trends: The Growth of Fintech

By: ispeculatornew
Date posted: 06.27.2016 (8:35 pm) | Write a Comment

The financial services industry has always tried to embrace new technologies in order to offer additional convenience to customers and operate more efficiently. But in recent years with the rise of cloud-based apps and mobile technology, there has been a new wave of technological innovation that is driving growth and launching promising new businesses in the financial services sector: this is the rise of fintech. The fintech industry has become one of the most exciting industries for investors and technology enthusiasts because the rise of new financial technologies is making it possible for banks and financial firms to offer new levels of convenience, efficiency, cost savings and even the ability to develop entirely new financial products that were never possible before. Fintech startups are finding new ways to process payments, collect donations, and loan money – and they’re doing it with online software and an emphasis on speed, convenience and mobile technology.

Here are a few of the reasons why the fintech industry is worthy of its recent buzz:

The Financial Services Industry is Ripe for Disruption

The financial services sector is often thought of as being a slow-moving, heavily regulated industry that is full of big, entrenched players, making it slow to change. However, the truth is, financial services is one of the industries that is most prepared for disruption by innovative outsiders. According to a survey of Inc. 500 CEOs, financial services was rated #2 of the top five sectors that are ripe for disruption (#1 was health care). The established big banks should not be too smug and complacent – many small companies are looking for new ways to deliver financial services more efficiently and in a way that better serves customers, and customers are starting to notice that there are excellent online tools available to process payments and manage other banking tasks.

Fintech Cuts Costs

A recent article from The Economist found that online lenders (some of the most prominent fintech startups) tend to have a much lower cost structure than traditional banks. For example, online lenders typically have business expenses that are only about 2 percent of their average outstanding loan balance, compared to 5-7 percent for traditional bank lenders. Fintech firms are typically able to reduce costs because they often operate online, without the costs and bureaucracy of a traditional bank’s network of brick-and-mortar branch locations. Lower costs make it possible for online lenders to issue loans more affordably, or serve a broader base of customers who might not have been able to get loans from a traditional bank.

Consumers are Ready for Fintech

People love their smartphones, and mobile apps have quickly become the everyday assistants of billions of people all over the world. People are using their smartphones and mobile devices to research products, shop online, and exchange confidential information about health care, insurance and many other aspects of their personal and financial lives – so why should financial services be any different? Consumers (and small business owners) are more comfortable than ever with online banking, mobile technologies for financial services, and other key trends in the shift to mobile marketing. This presents a huge opportunity to fintech firms.

For example, an article from the Financial Times found that transaction volume at traditional brick-and-mortar bank branches has decreased by one third in the past six years, as consumers are starting to do more of their routine banking business via online and mobile banking. The Adobe 2015 Mobile Consumer report found that 75 percent of Millennials and Gen Xers want to do online banking each month, more than 20 percent of Millennials (and 14 percent of Gen Xers) say that they want to apply for banking products online, and more than half of U.S. and U.K. mobile consumers would like to use mobile-only banking services.

The rise of fintech is keeping with several other key trends: the rise of mobile technology, the innovation of online software apps, and the growing appetite of consumers for more online and mobile banking. Anyone who is interested in seeing the latest opportunities for business growth and the evolution of the consumer economy should pay attention to the continuing rise of the fintech sector.

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