When you are interested in investing in the stock market one of the first things you will need is a reliable and affordable stockbroker.
At one point in time, a stockbroker was seen as a very high priced person that was extremely hard to understand. In today’s world, stockbrokers have become much different, they have begun to make their services cheaper to obtain and in such a way that is easier to understand. This is an extremely wonderful change for the simple reason that you will not be able to trade in any way, shape, or form without a stockbroker.
One of the major rules within the stock market is that no person is allowed to trade within the stock market unless they are a certified stockbroker. A stockbroker, within the United Kingdom twelve million investor’s trade in the stock market, performs every trade that occurs and each one has enlisted the services of a stockbroker.
So you are probably now wondering, what exactly can a stockbroker do for me?
There is a wide range of abilities and services that any stockbroker can offer you, at the same time there are also various ranges of fees that will be collected from them. Typically, a stockbroker will charge a commission, a set fee, or some combination of the two. In regards to the services a stockbroker can offer you, there are three basic levels that include only execution, portfolio management, and advice.
When a stockbroker only deals with the selling and buying of particular shares, per the instructions you give them, this is generally called execution only or in softer terms dealing only. With this type of service, they do not offer you any type of advice on any action you want perform. Typically, investors that are experienced or novice in investing will use this type of service. Execution only is cheaper and extremely efficient the fees the stockbroker charges can range anywhere between £20 to hundreds of pounds, this will depend on the specific stockbroker you choose.
Portfolio management is extremely detailed and the most expensive type of service performed and dealing with advice is typically a little more expensive than execution only, because the stockbroker will offer advice and views on what is happening within the stock market. The stockbroker at this level of service will also take the time to explain anything you may not understand very well.
Within the portfolio management service, you can separate these into two other categories these are advisory and discretionary. When under the advisory category, the stockbroker will create a proposal of a portfolio for you; however, he or she will not take any action without express permission from you. Within the discretionary category, your stockbroker will completely run all aspects of your portfolio and will give you reports as needs on how the portfolio is working.
Learn the techniques needed to become a successful penny stock trader
Penny stocks represent an excellent investment vehicle for producing gains, while the risks are equally as high. When you finally decide to get involved in penny stocks, to go ‘Beyond the Brink,’ there are some things you need to know.
In fact, whether you have been burned by penny stocks in the past, or have never even invested, the following theories are designed to give you an instant and significant advantage over all those inexperienced and uninformed traders. After all, to make money in stocks someone usually has to be losing money. Which side of the fence do you want to fall on?
Lots of people have made lots of money from trading penny stocks. Lots of people have lost plenty, as well. What is the difference between a successful micro-cap trader, and one who continually takes it on the chin?
Uses professional stock picks and research. Does their own due diligence. Observes patience. Takes lessons from past trades and stock activity. Takes lessons from other traders. Decides between 10 stocks at a time.
Uses tips at work, rumors, and so-called ‘inside scoops’ to pick stocks. Doesn’t investigate financials and corporate position. Falls victim to negative emotions like greed, anger, and desperation. Makes the same mistakes more than once. Looks at one stock alone on its own situation.
So Let’s Learn
The fact that you have taken the time to review this feature demonstrates that you have the characteristics of a successful trader, specifically the willingness to learn from experts and the experiences of other traders.
So let’s learn. As mentioned above, you should always examine groups of stocks together when looking for a new issue to invest in. For example, make a chart and write down the revenues of each. In the next column list the earnings. Follow this by each of the subsequent criteria you think are important. With all of the data on one table and available at a glance, you can easily get a clear picture of which are the one or two strongest companies from your pool of potential investments.
However, understand that stock prices do not necessarily act in concert with the underlying fundamentals of a company. For example, there is nothing saying that the stock of the worst company on your list won’t out perform the top ranked one.
For that reason you should also include factors such as trading volatility, your opinion of a potential break-through due to some new product, potential positive press releases, etc… This method is not intended to reveal the best stock, but instead to give you additional clarity about which are the best few and worst few according to your own weighting of the various factors you have chosen.
Get a discount broker. Monitor your portfolio online, do your research online (and offline), and place your trades online. Embrace the technology, because it provides superior advantages all across the board. You can screen stocks, put those into comparative charts, instantly access the corporate press releases, check the latest industry news, and then place your trade… all for about $20.
Then you can monitor your trade order fulfillment, verify that the money and shares traded hands, track the progress of the stocks, get instant alerts for press releases… It is truly endless and complete, and each step that you take full advantage of leaves other traders one step behind you.
Keep small amounts of money in each stock, and only ‘risk’ money for penny stocks. While these low-priced, volatile investments can produce some truly incredible gains, they usually bounce among all sorts of price ranges.
On a related note, if you get ‘freaked out’ or worried about a stock you hold, you should consider selling your position. Try to invest in solid penny stock companies that have a low share price because they are small or undiscovered, not because they are having business troubles.
Beyond… And After That
Some of the most successful traders have a few things in common. Firstly, they have made some major trading mistakes in their day. However, they learned more from these mistakes than they ever did from any of their great trades. Don’t squander your failures by trying to put them behind you.
Secondly, keep a journal with dates, specific trade amounts and prices, and even the stocks you were thinking of investing in but didn’t. You can use this for a hundred different purposes as you become a more advanced trader, such as seeing opportunities you missed, or learning that your strategies are valid, or just to monitor your improvement as you become more experienced from month to month.
If you have heard fund managers talk about the way they invest, you know a great many employ a top down approach. First, they decide how much of their portfolio to allocate to stocks and how much to allocate to bonds. At this point, they may also decide upon the relative mix of foreign and domestic securities. Next, they decide upon the industries to invest in. It is not until all these decisions have been made that they actually get down to analyzing any particular securities. If you think logically about this approach for but a moment, you will recognize how truly foolish it is.
A stock’s earnings yield is the inverse of its P/E ratio. So, a stock with a P/E ratio of 25 has an earnings yield of 4%, while a stock with a P/E ratio of 8 has an earnings yield of 12.5%. In this way, a low P/E stock is comparable to a high – yield bond.
Now, if these low P/E stocks had very unstable earnings or carried a great deal of debt, the spread between the long bond yield and the earnings yield of these stocks might be justified. However, many low P/E stocks actually have more stable earnings than their high multiple kin. Some do employ a great deal of debt. Still, within recent memory, one could find a stock with an earnings yield of 8 – 12%, a dividend yield of 3- 5%, and literally no debt, despite some of the lowest bond yields in half a century. This situation could only come about if investors shopped for their bonds without also considering stocks. This makes about as much sense as shopping for a van without also considering a car or truck.
All investments are ultimately cash to cash operations. As such, they should be judged by a single measure: the discounted value of their future cash flows. For this reason, a top down approach to investing is nonsensical. Starting your search by first deciding upon the form of security or the industry is like a general manager deciding upon a left handed or right handed pitcher before evaluating each individual player. In both cases, the choice is not merely hasty; it’s false. Even if pitching left handed is inherently more effective, the general manager is not comparing apples and oranges; he’s comparing pitchers. Whatever inherent advantage or disadvantage exists in a pitcher’s handedness can be reduced to an ultimate value (e.g., run value). For this reason, a pitcher’s handedness is merely one factor (among many) to be considered, not a binding choice to be made. The same is true of the form of security. It is neither more necessary nor more logical for an investor to prefer all bonds over all stocks (or all retailers over all banks) than it is for a general manager to prefer all lefties over all righties. You needn’t determine whether stocks or bonds are attractive; you need only determine whether a particular stock or bond is attractive. Likewise, you needn’t determine whether “the market” is undervalued or overvalued; you need only determine that a particular stock is undervalued. If you’re convinced it is, buy it – the market be damned!
Clearly, the most prudent approach to investing is to evaluate each individual security in relation to all others, and only to consider the form of security insofar as it affects each individual evaluation. A top down approach to investing is an unnecessary hindrance. Some very smart investors have imposed it upon themselves and overcome it; but, there is no need for you to do the same.
More investors are now inquiring about Coalbed Methane exploration companies. Just as uranium miners were flying well below the radar screen in early 2004, coalbed methane exploration may very well be the next very hot sector later this year and next. Historically, coalbed methane gas endangered coal miners, resulting in alarming fatalities early in the previous century. This is the fate suffered today by many Chinese coal miners in the smaller, private coal mines. Typically, the methane gas trapped in coal seams was flared out, before underground mining began, in order to prevent those explosions. Rising natural gas prices have long since ended that practice.
Today, coalbed methane companies are turning a centuries-long nuisance and byproduct into a valuable resource. About 9 percent of total US natural gas production comes from the natural gas found in coal seams. Because natural gas prices have soared, along with the bull markets found in uranium, oil, and precious and base metals, coalbed methane has come into play. It is after all a natural gas. But because it is outside the realm of the petroleum industry, coalbed methane, or CBM as many industry insiders call it, is called the unconventional gas. It may be unconventional today, but as the industry continue to grow by leaps and bounds, on a global scale, CBM may soon achieve some respect. Please remember that a few years ago, there was very little cheerleading about nuclear energy. Today, positive news items are running far better than ten to one in favor of that power source.
CBM is the natural gas contained in coal. It consists primarily of methane, the gas we use for home heating, gas-fired electrical generation, and industrial fuel. The energy source within natural gas is methane (chemically, it is CH4), whether it comes from the oil industry or from coal beds.
CBM has several strong points in its favor. The gases produced from CBM fields are often nearly 90 percent methane. Which type of gas has more impurities? No, it isn’t the natural, or conventional, gas you thought it might be. Frequently, CBM gas has fewer impurities than the “natural gas” produced from conventional wells. CBM exploration is done at a more shallow level, between 250 and 1000 meters, than conventional gas wells, which sometimes are drilled below 5,000 meters. CBM wells can last a long time – some could produce for 40 years or longer.
Natural gas is created by the compression of underground organic matter combined with the earth’s high temperatures thousands of meters below surface. Conventional gas fills the spaces between the porous reservoir rocks. The coalification process is similar but the result is different: both the coalbed and the methane gas are trapped in the coal seams. Instead of filling the tiny spaces between the rocks, the coal gas is within the coal seams.
One of the past problems associated with CBM exploration was the reliance upon expensive horizontal drilling techniques to extract the methane gas from the coal seams. Advanced fracturing techniques and breakthrough horizontal drilling techniques have increased CBM success ratios. As a result, a growing number of exploration companies are pursuing the early bull market in CBM. Market capitalizations for many of these companies mirror similar “early plays” we mentioned during our mid 2004 uranium coverage (June through October, 2004). Industry experts told us there would be a uranium bull market. Now, we are hearing the same forecasts about CBM.
SEVEN TIPS BY DR. DAVID MARCHIONI
We asked Dr. David Marchioni to provide our subscribers with his 7 Tips to help investors better understand what to look for, before investing in a CBM play. Dr. Marchioni helped co-author the CBM textbook, An Assessment of Coalbed Methane Exploration Projects in Canada, published by the Geological Survey of Canada. He is also president of Petro-Logic Services in Calgary, whose clients have included the Canadian divisions of Apache, BP, BHP, Burlington, Devon, El Paso Energy, and Phillips Petroleum, among others. He is also a director of Pacific Asia China Energy and is overseeing the company’s CBM exploration program in China.
Our series of telephone and email interviews began while Dr. Marchioni sat on a drill rig in Alberta’s foothills, the Manville region, until he finished outlining his top 7 tips, or advices, on how to think like a CBM professional.
1) COAL SEAM THICKNESS
Is there a reasonable thickness of coal? You should find out how thick the coal seams are. With thickness, you get the regional extent of the resource. For example, there must be a minimum thickness into which one can drill a horizontal well.
2) GAS CONTENT
Typically, gas content is expressed as cubic feet of gas per ton of coal. Find how thick it is and how far it is spread. Then, you have a measure of unit gas content. Between coal seam thickness and gas content, you can determine the size of the resource. You have to look at both thickness and gas content. It’s of no use to have high gas content if you don’t have very much coal. The industry looks at resource per unit area. In other words, how much gas is in place per acre, hectare, or square mile? In the early stage of the CBM exploration, this really all you have to work with in evaluating its potential.
3) MATURITY LEVEL OF THE COAL
This is the measure of the stage the coal has reached between the mineral’s inception as peat. Peat matures to become lignite. Later, it develops into bituminous coal, then semi-anthracite and finally anthracite.
There is a progressive maturation of coal as a geological time continuum and the earth’s temperature, depending upon depth. By measuring certain parameters, you can determine where it is in the chemical process. For instance, the chemistry of lignite is different from that of anthracite. This phrasing is called “coal rank” in coal industry terminology.
When you are beginning to think about CBM production, this and the next item must be evaluated. How permeable is the CBM property? You want permeability, otherwise the gas can’t flow. If the coal isn’t permeable at all, you can never generate gas. The gas has to be able to flow. If it is extremely permeable, then you can perhaps never pump enough water. The water just keeps getting replaced from the large area surrounding the well bore. The water will just keep coming, and you will never lower the pressure so the gas can be released.
In a very high proportion of CBM plays, the coal contains quite a lot of water. You have to pump the water off in order to reduce the pressure in the coal bed. Gas is held in coal by pressure. The deeper you go, typically the more gas you get, because the pressure is higher. The way to induce the gas to start flowing is to pump the water out of the coal and lower the “water head” of pressure. How much water are we going to produce? Are we going to have to dispose of it? If it’s fresh, then there may be problems with regulatory agencies. In Alberta, the government has restrictions on extracting fresh water because others might want to use it. One could be tapping into a zone that people use as water wells for farms and rural communities. Both water quality and water volume matter. For example, Manville water is very salient so nobody wants to put it into a river; this water is pushed back down into existing oil and gas wells in permeable zones (but which are also not connected to the coal).
To be able to access land and do some initial drilling, i.e. the first round of financing, it would cost a minimum of C$4 million. This would include some geological work and drilling at least five or six wells. In Horseshoe, that would cost around C$4 million (say 1st round of finance); in Manville, about C$9 million. This is under the assumption that the company doesn’t buy the land. The land in western Canada is very expensive and tightly held. Much of the work is done as a “farm in” drilling on land held by another for a percentage of the play. (Editor’s note: During a previous interview, Dr. Marchioni commented about his preference for Pacific Asia China Energy’s land position in China because comparable land in western Canada would have cost “$100 million or more.”
The geology only tells you what’s there, and what the chances of success are. You then have to pursue it. Can we sell it? Gas prices are “local,” meaning they vary from country to country, depending whether it is locally produced and in what abundance (or lack thereof). How much can we extract? How much is it going to cost us to get it out of the ground? Are there readily available services for this property? Will you have to helicopter a rig onto the property at some incredible price just to drill it? Will you have to build a pipeline to transport the gas? Or, in China as an example, are there established convoys for trucking LNG across hundreds of kilometers?
One addition, which we have mentioned in previous articles, and especially in the Market Outlook Journal, “Quality of Management Attracts PR,” it is important that the CBM company have experienced management. This would mean a management team that includes those who have gotten results, not only a veteran exploration geologist but a team that can sell the story and bring in the mandatory financing to move the project into production.
There are two primary reasons why many of these coalbed methane plays are being taken seriously. First, the macroeconomic reason is that rising energy costs have driven companies in the energy fields to pursue any economic projects to help fill the energy gap. Coalbed methane has a more than two decades of proof in the United States. The excitement has spread to Canada, China and India, where CBM exploration is beginning to take off. Second, the fundamental reason is that exploration work has already been done in delineating coal deposits. There are, perhaps, 800 coal basins globally, with less than 50 CBM producing basins. In other words, there is the potential for growth in this sector.
Bill Gates is super rich but his once high-flying software company has been in the doldrums since mid-2002 after falling from the $35 level. The problem with Microsoft (MSFT) has been its failure to grow both its revenues and earnings at the superlative rates the company once enjoyed.
Any company the size of Microsoft, with a market-cap of $242 billion, will find growth an issue because of its size. But this is not to say the stock is dead. Far from it, Microsoft remains a viable long-term software company and is cash rich with $34 billion or $3.28 per share in cash. This gives the stock plenty of financial flexibility to develop or buy growth technologies. Microsoft just announced it would spend $1.1 billion in R&D at its MSN Internet unit in the FY07. And according to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is exploring the possibility of taking a stake in Internet media company Yahoo (YHOO) to take on Internet advertising behemoth Google (GOOG).
But with an estimated five-year earnings growth rate of a pitiful 12%, the company has its work cut out for it. Trading at 16.30x its estimated FY07 EPS of $1.44, the stock is not expensive but appears to be priced not as a growth stock.
Its PEG on the surface of 1.51 is not cheap, but if you discount in the cash of $3.28 per share, the estimated PEG falls to around 1,0, a decent valuation. Also, if Microsoft can improve on its estimated 12% growth rate, the PEG would decline further.
The fact is Microsoft at the current price deserves a look. If you want to play the stock but don抰 want to shell out the $2,347 for a 100-share block, you may want to take a look at the long-term options, also known as LEAPS. For instance, the in-the-money January 2008 $22.50 Microsoft Call LEAPS not set to expire until January 18, 2008 currently costs $380 a contract (100 shares).
This means you risk a total of $380 for the chance to participate in the potential upside of 100 shares of Microsoft over the next 20 months. The breakeven price is $26.30. If Microsoft breaks $26.30, you would begin to make money on your LEAPS. Conversely, if Microsoft fails to do anything, your maximum risk is $380 on the initial option play.
Warning: The aforementioned example is for illustrative purposes only and not to be construed as an actual option strategy. Due to the higher risk inherent in options, I recommend you speak with an investment professional before deciding to employ any strategy involving options.