Short Selling

There are so many different ways to make money in the stock market. The most basic way with stock shares is to buy them low enough and then sell them at a higher price later.

Did you know that it’s possible to make money in the reverse? You can sell shares in the market at a higher price first and then buy them back at a lower price later. This is called short selling.

The concept of short selling had me confused at first. I’d only heard that it was something a lot of traders did when they anticipated a drop in stock prices. None of it made sense until I executed my first short sale.


My First Short 

Many years ago, a certain company messed up royally and was getting a lot of bad press. Shareholders were selling in a panic and the share price was dropping in high volumes. I saw that the price was at around $76 and I believed it would go down more. I lined up my order to sell 600 shares at the current market price and I hit, “Short.”

After that, the price fell considerably. In the order box I clicked on, “Cover,” and I bought back 600 shares at the new market price of $74.75. That is a share price difference of $1.25. With 600 shares, I made $750, excluding commissions.

Broken down, it looks like this:

  • I short sell 600 shares for $76 per share (600 x $76 = $45,600). By doing that, I’m borrowing the shares from my brokerage to sell in the market for that price;
  • The share price falls;
  • Then I buy back (or cover) 600 shares at the current price of $74.75 (600 x 74.75 = $44,850)
  • At the end of my trade, those borrowed shares are returned to my broker. I get to keep the difference in the short sale for a profit of $750;
  • $45,600 – $44,850 = $750.

Despite the order at which the transactions occurred, the concept of buying low (at $74.75) and selling higher (at $76) is still preserved.


The Downside of Short Selling

As great as it sounds to make money when share prices are heading down, short selling is a riskier practice. Here are some reasons to consider:

1.Many investors don’t short sell or even know what that is. This means you don’t always have the majority of the market on your side.

2. Shorting is made possible when your brokerage firm has the shares to loan you from its own inventory of stocks. These stocks are either from the firm’s own positions or from the positions of the firm’s clients. If your broker doesn’t have the shares to loan you, you cannot short sell the stock. You end up missing out.

3. The market is generally optimistic. This means the fear and panic don’t always last as long as you might hope to support your short sell. Price reversals can happen fast. You generally need to have a shorter time horizon for shorts and you need to be watching your positions more closely.

4. When you buy a stock in the standard fashion, the worst thing that can happen is that your share price drops to zero before you’re able to sell it. In this scenario, the most you can lose is the entire amount of your investment. When you short a stock, the share price can go up indefinitely — this means you can lose more than the entire amount of your original position. Potential unlimited losses is what makes shorting considered a high-risk practice.

5. Profits from short selling are normally taxed as income rather than as capital gains. This is not favourable taxation.

6. If the company that you’re short selling is paying out a dividend, you have to pay the dividends owing to your firm or to the client those shares are being borrowed from.


Why I Don’t Short Sell

The reasons above are enough to discourage me from shorting, though there are many more that I haven’t mentioned. Short selling is a more advanced way to make money in the stock market and is best left to the pros. I don’t short stocks anymore because I prefer to own them.

I normally don’t discuss short selling because it’s not for most people, not to mention it’s really confusing. I only feel like it’s relevant to discuss shorting in a market like the current one so that new investors can understand the additional reasons why the prices of their stocks might be going down so much. It’s not just from investors collecting profits or abandoning their stocks out of fear of losing more — it’s also from short sellers trying to profit.

After the short sellers have had their fun and after all the panic selling and pessimism have subsided, it usually takes a while for a stock to recover before going up again with more investor confidence. I’ve got my wish list of stocks to consider buying when all the selling is over, so I’m just waiting for good setups and a better market.


Alternatives to Short Selling

Even when the whole market is negative, I don’t always want to sell my stocks, nor do I short any stocks, as you already know. Sometimes to combat the downward funk, I will buy shares of inverse ETFs to make money in the interim.

Inverse ETFs are exchange-traded funds made up of more complex financial instruments that generate money when the market is moving down. Like a regular ETF, its movements mimic the market index ETF it is modelled after, however, it’s designed to go in the opposite direction. Basically, when the market index goes down, the inverse ETF goes up. 

Index ETFs are often created in a way to move up to 3 times more than the index performance or up to 3 times less. These differences in performance can either enhance your trade or really hurt it when you’re wrong.  You have to be careful and consider this when selecting ETFs.

I still regard buying an inverse ETF a very risky strategy as it’s still in theory ‘shorting’ the market. Also, inverse ETFs tend to have higher management fees because they consist of higher maintenance assets than most regular ETFs. Higher fees and MERs in funds diminish their value and overall returns. For this reason, I usually only buy and sell them for shorter-term swing trades.


Before investing in an inverse ETF or deciding to short sell anything, please consider the risks. At this point in time (it’s December 2018), I think the market will go up a bit more before it goes down again early in the new year. We’re so close to the year’s lowest trading levels of the US markets. I don’t think things will really start moving up again until we at least break below those 2018 levels first.

I know a lot of investors who have been feeling beat up and want to do something to save their portfolios. If you’ve been feeling this way for the last few months, the best thing to do at this point is to think of your future strategies for your portfolio and be ready for them once the market is more positive.

Remember that downswings and bear markets are a normal part of the cycle for stocks – nothing goes only in one direction forever. Going short now after the market has gone down so much is not only is riskier, the returns won’t be as great had you gone short in early fall.

Market View from Costa Rica

20180909_1246071210966888-e1540933721266.jpg

Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

It seems like a lifetime ago since I last posted a blog in February. I’d made a lot of life-changing decisions since the start of the year. I left my amazing job; I travelled to many places; I finished the courses I needed to become a certified equities trader; I moved to Costa Rica where I now live with my spouse; and when I’m not working on my rusty Spanish or chilling on the beach, I’m trading for myself.

My life may seem as volatile as the market these last few months. I don’t view volatility as a bad thing, though. I feel that drastic changes force us to adapt and stay sharp. We should be in a better place by the time we make it to the other side.

I’ve been hearing from friends who are concerned about the market. It’s understandable. The bear market I’d been anticipating came hard and fast. As of yesterday, the Canadian market’s gains of 2018 and 2017 have been wiped out. My answer to my friends has been consistent: You can either get out now or you can hold on — either way, be ready for when the time comes to get back in.

I’m not new to market drops. I started to learn about stock trading in 2008. It was a good time to learn because I saw how bad things can get before they get better again. Each time fear and pessimism took over (in 2011 and 2015/2016), after the market freak-out, I eventually found bargains of some very solid stocks. And I learned from these times which stocks I really wanted to own in my portfolio for the long term. Should there be another 2009, I want to be ready to buy when there’s a recovery. My stock wish list is comparable to my Christmas wish lists as a kid: unrealistic but crazy optimistic that one day, it’ll all be mine!

My current outlook is a lot more short-term and I’m taking less risk by using fewer shares and making fewer trades. Some of my stocks I thought I would own for a long time, but I had to let go and bank on the gains while they were still there for me to take. I find myself sitting out more often on what normally would be great opportunities. Am I always right? Of course not. It’s just not the right market to jump on most opportunities. I feel that my best play is to think defensively and to be more hands-on by watching the prices of my stocks more closely than usual.

The US market is still above its lows from this year. If it takes that out and then eventually 2017’s lows, the move will cause more downward pressure on the Canadian market. To what extent, I’m not sure. I’ll be paying attention to the support levels of previous years.


My Stock Wish List

My wish list consists of mostly American stocks, some Canadian, and some ETFs. It’s likely to change and that’s fine, I have plenty of time to decide. I already own a few of these stocks, but I keep them on my wish list because I want to remember to buy more of their shares later on.

  • ADBE
  • AMZN
  • ADT.A.TO
  • AXP
  • BABA
  • COST
  • DIA
  • DIS
  • DOL.TO
  • FB
  • FDX
  • GOOGL
  • HD
  • JNJ
  • LULU
  • MA
  • MSFT
  • NFLX
  • NKE
  • QQQ
  • SBH
  • SBUX
  • SPY
  • TSLA
  • ULTA
  • V
  • WEED.TO
  • WTW
  • XIC.TO
  • XIU.TO

 

 

The Market Dumps

 

Dailies

The SPY, QQQ, DIA, and XIC ETFs on freestockcharts.com

While some investors have been freaking out, I’ve been casually checking the market and my portfolios. Is this the correction I’d been impatiently waiting for?

Looking at the daily charts of the SPY, the Qs, the Diamonds, and the XIC, you can see a few major things happening here. A big precipitous move often creates another one. Look at the XIC on Monday, Jan 29. It gapped down and just kept going. Something similar happened to the Dow on Tuesday. While there was some defending going on, it still broke its trend on Friday. The SPY and Qs had a huge down day like the others on Friday; however, their uptrends are still intact. It will be interesting to see if there’s a bit of a bounce before these go down even more and break their shorter-term trends.

 

Weeklies

When we pan out and inspect the weekly charts, it’s hard not to notice the glaring red candle on the XIC. Whoa, Canada! In one week, it wiped out all the gains made since mid-October. The other charts only came down past the gains from the last week or two. If this is the start of the move down for the US market, it might be wise to take some profits off your US stocks before they correct even further.

Monthlies

As for me, I’m just hanging onto everything and waiting for my next buying opportunity. In fact, I transferred more cash into my registered accounts so that I’ll be ready when I see a good trade is on.

I’m noticing some beautiful monthly corrections on the weed stocks. You can bet that I will be scaling into these before their next big move. If you have difficulty selecting which weed stocks to buy, then just buy the ETF, HMMJ. You can visit this link to get more information on the fund and its stock holdings. I created a watchlist on freestockcharts.com with all the stocks that are in the HMMJ ETF. I like to cruise through the charts and check out which ones are helping the portfolio or weighing it down.

Stock Picks

selloffs

Market ETFs: SPY, QQQ, DIA, and XIC on freestockcharts.com

The US market is making me nervous as the charts get higher with bigger candles. At some point, it’s gotta sell off, right? I notated on the charts the last months where the most selling happened.

Market cycles can either be four months for the shorter term, or eight to ten months. The SPY and DIA show their last major sell-offs were in March of last year. The Canadian market, on the other hand, looks like it could be halfway through its current move up. It could pause for a bit at the current highs before continuing its move. If the US market pulls back, it’ll be interesting to see how the Canadian market will react.

It’s been a hectic week for me and I’m gearing to go back to work tomorrow. I managed to do a quick search and I found some decent charts to check out:

  • BB.TO
  • PD.TO
  • ACBN.TO (watch for a consolidation setup on the daily chart)
  • ENB.TO

Be sure to check the sector and do your necessary research and take the right amount of risk so that you can feel confident in your trades/investments.


Oh, and happy new year!

 

The Transparent RRSP: Vacay

The week of November 27
  • I deposited $150 into the RRSP ahead of December. There is $351.89 cash in the RRSP account.

JP and I are going away for a week to Costa Rica (we’re going to the Pacific side). We decided to only bring our tablet and phones. Neither of us has plans to trade while we’re away. Our main focus is to relax, enjoy the warm weather, check out the real estate situation there, and read and swim at the beach. I might squeeze in some study time whenever I can. Derivatives and options have my brain turned in on itself – to take a week off could mean excruciating reviewing when I return.

The airfare was too hard to turn down: $770 CAD for both our tickets! Yes, we’re travelling at a time when the weather isn’t totally unbearable in Ontario yet. We do, however, plan to go to Florida in late February. That’s usually when the cabin fever is at its most intense and could use a warm disruption. Before I take off, I must, of course, look at the markets.


 

November markets

SPY, QQQ, DIA, XIU ETF charts on freestockcharts.com

 

I don’t know how the market will trade after the US Thanksgiving holiday. December could be positive because of a stronger retail sector around this time. The bearish correction in the fall that I was bracing/hoping for never came. (And that is why we trade the trend, even if we don’t believe it’s still there.)

The trade volume in the US markets seems to be coming down while the prices are going up. The confluence of those two factors often means that: 1) savvy investors start to take profits, and 2) the public starts asking those investors if it’s a good time to buy Apple. The best thing to do is wait for 3) to happen, which is an actual correction.

I was in the Caribbean on my first and last cruise in early 2015 when this happened:

Caribbean

XIC ETF on freestockcharts.com

When JP and I checked our email for the most expensive 10 minutes of our lives, we also checked the markets. At the time, we were only day trading, which meant we were holding no positions in our accounts. Although we weren’t losing money, we figured good opportunities would be short-lived. We were concerned about entering a more hostile trading environment in which small fish like us would get eaten by the bigger, well-funded fish.

After we returned and got our sea legs back, we looked at Canadian companies that traded on both Canadian and US stock exchanges. We discovered they were CHEAP. We bought just a few to hold long term and had a gangbuster year. I doubt the market will do that in the week that we’re gone. Perhaps next January?


I have some stock charts worth checking out:

  • FIRE.V (New and risky, but cheap. Take fewer shares.)
  • IMH.V (Same as above.)
  • TCW.TO
  • SSL.TO (I already have this in my RRSP.)
  • SMF.TO

Please check the company, the sector, the earnings, the market, and the fundamentals that you think are important. Always do your due diligence to trade with confidence while respecting your risk tolerance. I do think that the market could pull back early in the new year. You could wait until then before buying or take fewer shares now and more later.

Sector Action

The Canadian and U.S. markets closed strong this week. There was a bit of weakening on Wednesday, but some big moves for Microsoft and Amazon last night helped the NASDAQ as well as other tech stocks. The energy sector just had a strong couple of days which helped the rest of the market.

oils

Oil/energy ETFs HOU.TO and XEG.TO on freestockcharts.com

A lot of Canadian oil stocks were in play today. Here are a few:

  • RRX.TO
  • CPG.TO
  • CVE.TO
  • CFW.TO
  • TCW.TO
  • TOG.TO
  • ERF.TO

The charts for these either had good daily, weekly, or monthly charts – but none of them had great setups on all three of these timeframes. I decided to take a look at a couple of the energy ETFs, the HOU.TO and XEG.TO.

While it looks like the recent surge could take the sector higher, I checked to see if there is room to move up. The bullish move had already started in September, now nearing previous resistance as marked off on the charts. If the sector moves sideways a little longer with more buying and less selling, it could result in a more substantial move up.

This weekend, as you attend your costume parties and chat about the markets with your friends, try not to get too swept up in all the hype. It’s tempting to get really excited over all the market action that’s happened in the last while. Before you start buying up tech and energy stocks, watch how the market digests this over the next week or two.


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Trading this Market

On Monday, JP went through all the Canadian stocks and gave me a list to check out. I went through it and thought the following were great charts:

  • RME.TO
  • FRU.TO (A royalty company.)
  • LCS.TO (A fund)

The next day, he asked me which one(s) I was going to buy. I told him none of them. He couldn’t believe I was just going to sit on a bunch of cash without investing it. Of course, I had some explaining to do. It was very simple: I didn’t like the market. I figured the market was going to offer hokey bullishness all week which it did, ending with a big hoorah day on Friday.

 

Market Monthlies

The XIU, SPY, QQQ, and DIA ETFs on freestockcharts.com

Here are the monthly charts for the Canadian XIU ETF, and the U.S. ETFs: the SPY (S&P 500), the QQQ (the NASDAQ), and the DIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average). There are seven trading days left in this month. If we close at new highs with lower volume, then I will happily wait for a correction next month.

I noted on the charts the months when we last saw a correction or a reset. On the DIA chart, I put a star over March 2017. Even though there wasn’t a proper sell-off/ correction, it consolidated and traded sideways for the following three months, which is often a good setup for another run.

Out of all of them, Canada’s XIU looks the best. If the U.S. markets undergo a correction, then trading Canadian stocks could be the next best play. I’d keep a close eye on the Canadian financial stocks, though, to see whether they reset or have a substantial sell-off that could weigh down the Canadian market.

For the rest of the week, JP kept asking me for my contribution of picks in return. I flat out declared I’d rather sit on cash than to buy anything right now. (Honestly, I was too lazy to look, but we both knew that.) He agreed that although the market looks overbought, sector rotation could keep it churning and that unless something fundamental changes in world economics (like a big war), we’re going to keep going.

I found some charts worth watching over the next week or two:

  • CCO.TO (Needs better setups on daily, weekly, and monthly timeframes.)
  • MX.TO (Could tighten up on the monthly, but decent daily and weekly charts.)
  • ALA.TO (Nice monthly, but it went up a lot already on the daily and weekly.)
  • ATZ.TO (I own this already. This must set up on all timeframes.)
  • H.TO (I own this already. The monthly chart is meh.)
  • DRT.TO (I own this already. The weekly isn’t that clean.)

JP’s picks definitely look better than mine. However, I feel these are worth watching as they had more recent corrections on the monthly timeframe. None of these have great patterns on all their daily, weekly, and monthly timeframes. I find that often when the pickings are slim, we’re due for a correction. By the time the correction or reset comes around, these picks could be even tighter. That’s the benefit of having cash ready and waiting in your account: you’ll be ready to go once the best opportunities are there. You can always afford to be patient.

 

 

 

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Thanksliving Day Weekend

The week of October 2
  • On Oct 2, I bought 10 shares of ZPR.TO at $11.61. This cost me $116.10.
  • To my horror, I realized later on that I meant to buy 15 shares of ZPR, not just 10. So I ended up buying another 5 shares the next day at $11.67 a share (6 cents more!). This cost me $58.35. Aw phooey!
  • I would have bought more ZPR on Wednesday when I finally had more funds in the account, but the price was up higher by that point. Instead, I bought 15 shares of GRL.TO at $7.96 per share. This cost $119.55.

I have $37.92 in cash left in my RRSP.

GRL and ZPR

Price charts for GRL and ZPR on freestockcharts.com

I bought both of these stocks earlier this year. In early January, I got 50 shares of ZPR for $10.86 and 50 shares of GRL for $7.74 in mid-February. When you work out the average price, it looks like this:

ZPR

  • 50 shares @ $10.86 + $0.50 in commission* = $543.50
  • 10 shares @ $11.61 = $116.10
  • 5 shares @ $11.67 = $58.35
  • This totals to $717.95
  • Take the total cost of $717.95 and divide it by 65 shares. You get $11.05 a share for ZPR.

* I forgot to buy this under the “Free ETF Investment” commission structure with Virtual Brokers. I did remember to choose the correct commission structure this time around. At least I got one important thing right.

GRL

  • 50 shares @ $7.74 + $0.50 in commission = $387.50
  • 15 shares @ $7.96 + $0.15 in commission = $119.55
  • This totals to $507.05.
  • Divide $507.05 by 65 shares = $7.80 a share

Oh, what fun math can be! 

I really need to work this out for all the stocks I’ve averaged or scaled into. I scaled into a few of my other stocks last week — as I’ve been doing throughout the summer. I wish I could be a little more type A when it comes to tracking.

My new year’s resolution was to get more organized with tracking my trades. I still use post-it reminders occasionally. I now have two bulletin boards and a whiteboard to post better visual reminders for my trade ideas, upcoming strategies, and items that need attention. While I’ve made improvements in keeping up with things, I’m still floundering in the tracking department.


Thanksgiving Day 

Tomorrow my in-laws are coming to stay with us for a few days. They know it’s going to be a vegetarian ‘Thanksliving’ (the term courtesy of Jesse Eisenberg), so I’m sure they’re getting their turkey fill tonight with the other half of the family in Calgary before they fly in tomorrow.

I’ve got yummy Tofurky on the menu (don’t knock it until you try it) along with savoury kale chips, grilled veggies, dessert cookies, and other things that go well with good wine and craft beer. This may seem unappetizing to many, but we’re decent cooks for a couple of veg-heads and have yet to disappoint our guests. Cholesterol levels will not be spiking tomorrow!

I’ve got some cleaning and prep to do tonight so that tomorrow, I can trade in the morning for my US margin account as the US markets are open. Once I’m done trading, Thanksgiving cooking – and drinking – begin in the early afternoon.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Portfolio Choices

The Week of Oct 2
  • Over the weekend, I deposited $150 into the RRSP. I will have $328.22 in cash in the account as it takes a couple of business days for the transfer to show up in the account.

September was a bit of hectic month for me. Other than scaling into THCX.V, a stock which I already owned in my TFSA, I didn’t do much in the portfolio department. Sometimes you just have to take care of other business before you can properly take care of the business.

Last week, I finished the Trader Training Course with the Canadian Securities Institute. The night I found out I passed, I immediately signed up for the Technical Analysis Course. Even though I read charts all the time and dream about them in my sleep, I always like to read up on the basics. The text and course have been recently updated and I must say, I’m pretty impressed so far with the really clear explanations. I’ve read a lot of other books on technical analysis and this one is the best one yet. It better be because it costs A LOT more!


Now that I will have more cash, I’m considering buying more shares of ZPR. Check it out.

ZPR

Price chart for the ZPR ETF on freestockcharts.com

In the summer, I was curious to see if this would continue trading sideways. It still is, but it could be starting to break out. The worst that could happen is that if the market turns, this one will too after I enter, but I don’t really care. They say you should never have a bias when it comes to your investments, but I can’t help but like this one. I have shares of this in my TFSA as well.

Since it’ll take a couple of days for me to have the other $150 in this account, I’ll put a limit order in for 15 shares on Monday (tomorrow). Once the other cash shows up, I’ll get more. We’ll see how it works out.


Some More Stock Picks

I like the monthly charts for the following stocks:

  • CPG.TO
  • WCP.TO
  • ERF.TO
  • EFN.TO (This one needs another week or so to set up better.)
  • ACB.TO (This could use another week or two to set up.)
  • EXE.TO (I already own shares of this. It needs to tighten up, but I’m watching this one closely.)
ACB

Price chart for ACB.TO on freestockcharts.com

ACB is interesting because it’s a young stock. When you don’t have much to go on for the longer term charts of the weekly, monthly, and yearly, then you have to look shorter term and rely on the daily, hourly, or even shorter intraday timeframes (30 min, 15 min). It becomes more of a risk when you have less historical information to make your decisions on. In these situations, you just manage your risk accordingly. Even though it’s a cheap stock, you might want to buy fewer shares. As time goes on and you have more information and encounter better setups, you can always buy more shares.

I say this because I normally wouldn’t enter a stock that has gone up for six straight weeks as seen on the weekly chart. It would have to have an amazing monthly chart, which this one doesn’t yet because it’s still new. However, the daily chart is great in that is has a lot of trade volume supporting its most recent uptrend. What’s also attractive about this uptrend is that it’s had four pullbacks testing the trendline since it started in late August.

I’m a little hesitant to buy a new weed stock for the RRSP, but I think I will take on a few shares of this for my TFSA.

As always, do your necessary research and only risk what you’re comfortable with!