Is DCA Right For You?

Dollar cost averaging is sometimes boasted as the best way to invest your money – over time in order to avoid investing a lump sum at a time of over-inflated prices. If you contribute to a 401k plan every pay check you are involved in this investment strategy, however the benefits of such a strategy are largely focused on investor’s emotions rather than being the statistically right choice.

If you want to eliminate the seasonal trends of the stock market, then a DCA over a period of one year might be right for you – for example investing $100,000 into the stock market by adding $8,333.33 to your portfolio each month. Some folks take a different stance and invest around November and sell their investments in April – based on a historical trend of stocks rising in these months more than the others. This is called the “Best 6 Months” strategy.

However, the best 6 months strategy when applied to taxable investments will always result in short term capital gains which are taxed more heavily than long term capital gains (See Stocks for more information). Also keep in mind that you are losing out on dividends when you don’t hold shares. If you are planning a six month strategy I suggest doing so in a tax-free account such as a Roth IRA using a mutual fund to capture a large portion of the market.

Most folks engage in DCA through regular 401k contributions, many companies match a portion of this contribution. It would be foolish to not contribute up to the employer match.

How to Weather the Storm

Are you fearful of a market crash? Do you want to prevent what happened to your portfolio in 2008 and 2002? The simplest and fastest way to protect yourself from a market crash is to sell all of your stocks and wait – the only problem with this is that you are not making any returns on your cash, another more sophisticated way of buying “insurance” is to buy call options for negative ETFs or buying put options for stocks you own.

The first example could mean buying call options for such ETFs as “DOG”, “SH”, etc. (You can look these up later)

Buying put options will yield you much greater returns as these would take the maintenance cost of inverse ETF’s out of the equation. In fact, buying put options for positive ETF’s is probably an even better strategy since that would be putting the downward pressure from fund maintenance in your favor.

For example, if you owned 100 shares of Apple (Ticker AAPL), you could write a single put option for AAPL that expires next year with a strike price of $90 per share. That means if you’re holding Apple stock and it drops below $90 per share you won’t have to sell your stock but instead you would be gaining for every cent below $90 may fall by the time your option expires. That means you can also hold your shares without worrying until next year about how Apple stock price performs if you are in it for the long haul.

The only disadvantage to using options is that they expire, so the worst timing would be if they expire right before a huge market crash. To avoid this you can continue to buy put options as long as you hold shares – you need to pay for these options but doing so will insure you from the possibility of a even larger loss.

If you do the math many times this strategy will still yield more returns than holding cash but will offer a sort of insurance. The actual price today for a put option that expires in January for AAPL is $160. If Apple falls to $80 per share by that time, you will have made ($10 * 100 shares) – $160 investment, or $840 dollars. As you can see, you may also use this strategy to aggressively bet against the stock – something I do not subscribe to but something that would have paid off considerably in previous stock market pullbacks.

Below is a profit/loss chart for a $90 put option of Apple, as of September 27th. If we see a bear market or if Apple stock in particular falls, you will see the price for the option increase over time and you have the ability to sell your option up until it expires.

profit loss chart


Keep in mind that historically the stock market will continue to rise, but given it’s 2013 leap and uncertainty about the world economy and prime interest rates it doesn’t hurt to keep your bases covered.

How To Avoid Pump and Dump Schemes

On September 11, 2014, 8 traders were indicted on duping almost $300 million out of mom and pop investors [1]. How do you avoid this trickery and avoid buying stocks for companies that are “shells”?

The answer is simple- look at the company’s market capitalisation. These fraudster’s companies usually have a very small amount of market capitalization if any reported and shown, such as less than two million dollars. Any major fraud involving the stock price of a multi billion dollar company is rare and will get news coverage equivalent to what Enron or MCI Worldcom received in the 90’s and early 2000’s. My rule of thumb is to never invest in companies with less than 300 million in market capitalisation. Looking at the integrity of the company’s website is not a sure way of knowing if you are dealing with a legitimate company. After market capitalisation, you should avoid buying shares ‘Over The Market’ – instead stick with companies listed on the Dow Jones or Nasdaq.

One of the websites they channelled their spam through was called ‘’, and of course now the website is offline. In order to research what type of stocks these fraudsters had I used the WayBackMachine on

Take a look at XUII, it was the symbol blaring on their unbecoming website as their “Monster Pick”, it now trades at $0.0003 per share on the over the counter market (a.k.a. bankrupt) – take a look at it’s price history starting on June 13th when they were advertised.

Scammers inflate the price to draw more people in along with sending spam, then they dump the stock.

Scammers inflate the price to draw more people in along with sending spam, then they dump the stock.

As you can see the price was 23 cents on June 13th, and inflated to almost 68 cents when the scammers started selling – pushing the stock down to 6 cents in just two months.


[1] Rosenburg, Rebecca. “8 Traders Indicted in $300M Pump and Dump.” New York Post. New York Post, 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 11 Sept. 2014.

Wartime Investments

How can you protect your financial assets in times of war? This depends first of all on which country you’re in and how is involved in the war.

If your country is the one being invaded then the best way to protect your assets would first of all be keeping it all in international bank accounts so that they cannot be physically taken from you and stashing up food and another vital supplies.

On the other side if you are in a aggressor country be prepared to put your money into inflation secure investments as most likely your country is funding your war with debt, something that ultimately results in increased inflation.

War commodities include petroleum/oil-based products, metals, and rubber to name a few – keep this in mind if you’re a commodities trader. The equity angle to this would be to invest in producers of the above products. There are also ways to invest in commodity futures through exchange traded funds (ETFs) that can closely follow the price of a future or even double the price change each day. Such funds that double the price are called ‘Ultra ETFs’, they are leveraged and carry a higher risk/reward – it is not recommended to hold these for extended periods of time based on their average upkeep. A recommended Ultra that may prove profitable during wartime or even a military buildup (due to speculation) is UCO.

Some straightforward investments that often beat the market during wartime include DoD contractors, both service and hardware providers. Notable stocks that fall into this category include Lockheed Martin (LMT), General Dynamics (GD), Boeing (BA), and Raytheon (RTN). The more conservative investors may consider buying gold, which will protect them from price inflation but is still subject to demand.

Most importantly, invest in your own health and well being during times of war.

Call Options for Dummies

What is a call option, and why should you know about them? A call option is a investment tool used to in essence bet on the price of a stock in the future – read some more details about this type of transaction here. People buy and sell these because they can get a huge return for a small investment or receive small payouts for holding shares of a company with the risk of having to sell the stock at a certain price.

Simple example below for buying a call option using real prices as of today.

You buy a call option for Google that expires the middle of next month (October 19th, 2013). The strike price for which you buy the option is $900 and you pay $14.60 per share for the option (options are bundled into stacks of 100 shares so you will pay $1,460 total). The person who sold the option to you immediately receives around $1460 for their holding of 100 shares currently valued at $860 per share or $86,000. This means they immediately get almost 1.7% of their entire holding of the stock in cash.

Why would anyone pay $1460 for this option? See the three example outcomes below:

Google goes up to $950 by October 19th – the buyer of the call option will receive $50 per share for his option ($950 – $900). That means he will have made $5,000 minus what he paid for it ($1,460) for a total of $3,540 in profit. That equates to more than 340% returns on investment, a hefty profit indeed. The seller of the option will be forced to sell the stock at $900 per share, so he is losing out on $5,000 but still has to consider what he made from writing the option ($1,460) which puts him at losing the potential $3,540. Luckily, he is still making money since the stock has risen above $860 so he makes $40 per share plus the price he wrote the call option for totaling $5460.

Google remains at $860 by October 19th – the buyer of the call option loses everything, since the option did not reach the strike price. The writer of the option keeps what he made from writing the call option ($1,460). The writer also does not need to sell his stocks.

Google plunges to $500 per share – the buyer of the call option is only out what he put in ($1,460). The writer of the call option did not sell his shares since he has a option on his holdings and doing so before he buys back his call option puts him at infinite risk. He gains $1,460 more than if he had held the shares and not wrote the option, but has lost $36,000. His total losses are $34,540.

Now, consider the optimal situation for the writer of the call option – The stock climbs to $949 per share before expiration, a dollar short of the strike price. If this happens the seller can go ahead and write another call option for the same shares for the next month!

The optimal situation for the buyer of the call option is for the stock to skyrocket of course, so he can make profits on his investment.

The lose-lose situation is if the stock plummets, although you may argue that the writer of the call option still comes out better than if he didn’t write the call option if he was going to retain the stock either way.

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