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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trading Dreams and Stocks to Watch

Trading Dreams Can Reveal Good Ideas 

I have always been prone to having work dreams after I’ve been at a place for a while. When I was a very active trader, price charts were a constant occurrence in my dreams in which they had the strangest capacities. For instance, I couldn’t open a door until a stock price went up another 50 cents. Or I couldn’t get to a party until I made $1000 on a trade, so I’d have three trades open. Weird stuff like that.

I had one profound dream where I was talking to my buddy about stocks. In real life, I knew he had gambled unsuccessfully on penny stocks and sports. In this dream, we were catching up while looking at a glass wall that had a stock chart on it.

He told me that he stopped wasting his time on penny stocks. Instead, he decided to keep things simple. He bought the stock of a company that made sense to him. This company started to become successful rather quickly. Every time he had extra savings, he would just buy more shares and increase his position. Over the next five years, the stock kept going higher in share price. As he explained this, the chart on the glass wall started to grow live on a timeline. The chart finally stopped moving once it reached the present day. At that point, he was up $18,000 with that one stock.

Scaling In

While I don’t believe it’s a good idea to put all your money into one stock, I do believe in the strategy of adding to a good position. At the time of this dream, I wasn’t confident enough in my own methods to add to any position. If anything, I was exiting too soon. Over the years, I got over my fears; it eventually became a practice I employ in the situations I feel most confident in.

I’ll often decide on a stock because I like the chart and its sector. My initial strategy might be shorter term. I might sell shares to take profits or lighten my position and just keep some shares for the longer term. Other times, I’ll change my outlook. If the chart and the stock show more potential for longer term growth, I’ll buy more shares of it at the next opportune setup.

I don’t think of investment decisions in definite terms because there’s no way to predict exactly how much you’re going to make. I like the idea of interacting with your investments over time in order to be fluid with the demands of the market or to take advantage of new opportunities that come up.

My Own Stocks

The market has been doing a nicely controlled correction – thankfully, it hasn’t dropped rapidly. I don’t know if it will react further to the news next week if we find out for sure that interest rates will go up. The market doesn’t like surprises, so if interest rates do go up, then there should be no major shock to the market. If anything, the anticipated news is already priced into the market and we can move on once it comes out.

I’ve been casually looking for stocks, yet I haven’t been very inspired by much of what I’ve seen out there. When this happens, I become more interested in watching how the stocks in my own TFSA portfolio are doing. Some of them are either consolidating nicely or seem to be doing their own thing. Here are some of my stocks that I might scale into:

  • ZPR.TO
  • MSI.TO
  • ECN.TO

These other ones I’ll be watching for more confirmations from the sector and/or market:

  • BBD.B.TO
  • EXE.TO
  • TECK.TO
  • APH.TO

This week, I was actually considering buying shares of APH.TO for the RRSP, but it’s not quite ready yet. I know this one is capable of developing really good patterns. Once I see the trading range tighten, the selling volume lessen, and a pattern improvement on the daily and weekly charts, then I’ll pick the price I’d like to enter at and I’ll put in an order. I’ll give it another couple of weeks. If it ends up going up while I’m waiting for these things to align, I won’t be too concerned if I miss the run. It will either set up again later or I’ll find something else.


N.B.

The last thing I want to do is to make stock calls for the purpose of getting others to pump up my own stocks. I tend to pick stocks that trade higher in volume, so price jumps are less likely to occur unless A LOT of investors step in. I lack that kind of influence – this is a low-key blog, not BNN. I expect investors to do their own necessary due diligence before making investment decisions.

 

Money Talks

 

Recently, I did a presentation at the Toronto Public Library on investment basics. I had no idea how it would turn out, but I ran through my head a number of best and worst-case scenarios. It was better than I could’ve ever imagined.

I’d never seen a more diverse audience in age, background, and investment interests. Each person was comfortable enough to engage or ask questions – great questions, I might add. To all those who attended, I’d like to offer my deepest gratitude for your participation. This was the conversation I’ve been dying to have with people. This is the type of conversation more Canadians need to have with each other.

Today I’m going to share with you the questions that I can remember. I’ll add parts of my original answers, but I want to answer the questions more fully. These are in no particular order.


How long does it take for you to do your investment research each week?

Now, it’s a few hours a week, anywhere from two to six hours. But I also apply up to 20,000 hours of previous learning and experience. I hope that I can help others enough so that you don’t have to take as long as I did to learn how to invest.

I’d like to also add that many of my decisions result from bouncing ideas off my man, JP. He has put in the time and discipline to learn as well. We have the advantage of combined knowledge and experience. I share a lot of these very ideas in my weekly blog.

As much as I’d like to spend more time doing research and trading more actively, I would become more prone to micro-managing my trades. I’ve done a lot better with a more passive and hands-off approach.

How did you get a 70% return last year?

2015 was a terrible year for the Canadian market. The loonie and the Canadian economy were weak. We patiently waited for the market to stop going down. This happened around late February 2016. We looked for stocks that we knew traded actively and had suffered huge drops in share price. It was a very good time to get into the market. These opportunities don’t come very often.

We bought shares in TECK.B.TO, ECA.TO, BBD.B.TO when they were really cheap, and then in April, bought some APH.V (now APH.TO). We bought a few other stocks, but these few alone did very well after just a few months. We kept selling shares incrementally each time the stocks surged in order to secure profits (called ‘selling into the strength’), but they kept going up. We could’ve done much better had we just kept the shares in and moved up our stops (selling prices). It became a decision between banking on certain profits and waiting to see what will happen. We did a bit of both and we still have shares in all those stocks.

I don’t anticipate as big a return this year, unless the market has a major correction, soon after which there’ll be many more big buying opportunities (a bad and selfish thing to wish and wait for, I know, but…). My US portfolio, though, has been my big winner this year because I had the same idea with US tech stocks last summer.

One of the things I always say is that investors are always looking for new opportunities.

What ETF should I buy?

Many financial institutions create ETFs. Some are:

  • BMO
  • Horizons
  • Vanguard
  • iShares
  • Claymore

When doing your research, consider your investment objective – dividend income, market index performance, sector selection (like banking), fixed income, etc. Also consider the MER, share price, distributions, and frequency of distribution payments, to name a few things. You can look up this information on the ETF info sheet. For me, I only select among ETFs with higher trade volume.

Market ETFs can swing a lot in price because of the demand of traders in the market. So the ETF might be worth more (or less) than its actual value (NAV). Would it make sense to put some money in a market index ETF and some in an index mutual fund (which will be less prone to price swings)?

If you want to invest in the market, consider an ETF or an index fund – or both. The major distinction between these is the MER as it’s a lot higher for mutual funds than it is for ETFs; however, it can be more affordable to buy units in an index fund than it would be to buy shares in an ETF.

An actively traded market ETF can experience more volatility than the actual index it’s based on. Its price will vary based on the demands of buyers in the market. If buyers drive the price up, it’s possible for the ETF to be worth more than the net asset value (NAV) of its assets, so you’re paying a premium in share price. If investors are fearful, heavy selling can drive its price down below its NAV, so it’ll be trading at a discount. For index funds, the NAV is what it is after the market closes. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t notice a big difference between similar index funds, be it an ETF or a mutual fund. (If you do, the mutual fund will likely be underperforming because of the MER.)

What’s most important is that you’re 1) comfortable in what you’re investing in, and 2) you’re not paying too much in fees.

What do you think of mortgage-backed securities?

These have had a bad reputation as these were hugely responsible for the 2008 recession, but mainly because they were deregulated. They’re just bundles of mortgage loans that pay investors interest.

If you’re after real estate income, the REIT (real estate income trust) is great because it can pay investors their share of the distributions which will come from a mix of rent, mortgage interest, capital gains, as well as return of capital. You can also get real estate ETFs. Because of the mixed forms of investment income that come from these, they’re best held in registered accounts. Also, keep in mind the MER. I own a couple of these to add diversification to my portfolio. Other than the value of real estate happening in my own backyard, I don’t really follow the real estate market as much as I should.

What brokerages do you use?

I have opened accounts in the past with Disnat Direct and Questrade. I now have accounts with Virtual Brokers and Interactive Brokers. I’ve been with the last two for years.

What do you pay in commissions per trade?

With Virtual Brokers, I pay 1 penny per share. It’s less if the stock price is under $1. With Interactive Brokers, it’s 1 penny per share, but a minimum of $1 per trade. So if I buy 125 shares, I pay $1.25 plus any market data fees.

Both of these accounts were opened as margin accounts – trading on margin means you need to open with and maintain a minimum amount of cash in the account which allows you  3 times the buying power. So if you open with $25,000, your buying power is $75,000. To attract active traders, the commission fees are very low.

I also have TFSA and RRSP accounts with Virtual Brokers (VB). Thanks to JP’s slick skills in negotiation, we managed to have the same awesome rates extend from the margin account to our registered accounts. Often with registered accounts, you get charged a quarterly administrative fee. With VB, they do charge $25 plus HST unless your account has a minimum of $5000 in it.

I am an active FOREX trader. How should I be doing my taxes every year?

With an accountant. I did our taxes the first couple of years we started day trading. I had the advice of a friend who’s an accountant. She gave me samples on how to calculate the adjusted cost base of securities and their exchange rates, etc. It was actually a really good exercise in learning about taxation for the self-employed and how to factor in fees and expenses; on the other hand, it was a total headache. After that, we started using an accountant who magically does it all in a few days.

What is your take on robo-advisors?

They’re great if you don’t know what stocks or ETFs to buy, or when to sell them. They take away from you the inconvenience of guessing and researching and they make those decisions for you. I’d just be cautious about the frequency that the portfolio is rebalanced and focus on the ones that meet your criteria and charge the lowest fees. As you get more comfortable and savvy with reading the market, you should compare how your portfolio is performing against it and decide then if you might be better off investing in an ETF.

What is your advice for women and their investment choices, especially as they age?

Women have developed a reputation for being great long-term investors because we typically make conservative, less risky decisions. I feel that the financial markets have shifted so that being conservative could work against us in the long-term. Those traditionally conservative decisions, like owning a lot of GICs and low-risk mutual funds, could leave us with less money than what we actually need to have, especially as we live longer and longer. We should be thinking about how our portfolios need to keep generating income as we age. In my opinion, we should consider dedicating more of our portfolio to more medium-risk choices, like blue chip funds or stocks that pay us a dividend.

I know I have a pretty aggressive approach when it comes to making money, but I’m careful with most of my money and more risky with a smaller amount of it (or maybe that’s just what I tell myself and it’s more like half and half). A big part of my own early retirement plan is to live off of dividends, although I still want to make money on capital gains if I have to sell my shares to rebalance my portfolio.

What are good websites that could tell me more about Canadian securities?

I drew a blank – thank you to the audience members for their helpful input. Motley Fool Canada and Retire Happy were mentioned. I also think that Canadian Couch Potato and My Own Advisor are excellent.

You must have a really diverse portfolio?

Yes. It not only keeps things interesting, it spreads and reduces the risk factors within my portfolio. A lot of my trade decisions come from looking at the sector or industry first. That’s why the economy is a big part of my book. I have stocks and ETFs across many different sectors.

I risk very little for each stock, so I’m not worried if it turns out to be a dud (a rare occurrence). After a while, if I like a stock enough, I’ll buy more shares if there’s a new entry (called scaling in).

How do you research fundamentals?

I said I cared about two things: the price I got in at and dividends. I’ll admit, it was a shortcut answer. I don’t pay as much attention as I should to the fundamentals mainly because I learned about stocks from traders who studied price charts and used only technical analysis. When it comes down to it, even if a company’s fundamentals look good, if the stock price has gone too far up or isn’t trading well, I just won’t enter.

I use technical analysis for all my decisions and I apply very general guidelines when considering a company’s fundamentals. One day, I’d like to take the time to figure out how to use both forms of analysis to become an even better trader. For now, I rely on good charts that indicate signs that a trend is about to start; I look at the sector the stock is in; and I compare the stock to other stocks in its sector. Then I cross my fingers hoping that the rest of the market catches on and buys the stock up.


We all have different ideas on what we want to do with our money. There are so many different ways to apply strategies, even between people who have similar takes on risk and opportunity. What I think we all need to have is a general basis of knowledge and from there, we each can branch out and find our own approach to investing.

Thank you, TPL! I had a wonderful evening.

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Managing Doubts

Action taken the week of May 22
  • I reviewed my holdings in both my RRSP and TFSA. I am considering buying more shares of TransAlta Corp. (TA.TO) next week because I like the monthly chart.

A Glance at the Market

XIC may

The XIC ETF price history charts on freestockcharts.com

As you can see on the weekly chart, there has been mostly selling in May, which is consistent with the saying, “Sell in May and go away.” It would take more buying than all the selling that’s gone on all May for the market to trade above that. If the selling continues to consistently happen, even in small amounts, we’ll start to move lower.


When I’m in Doubt I Stay Out

I’ve been going over my portfolio and considering each stock that I bought and sold over the last year. First, I listed my primary and secondary financial goals for each one. If I had sold the stock or some of the shares, I made note of why I made the sale. Then I looked at the price history charts for each stock on my list and considered whether the stock’s performance was still in line with my intentions and goals.

Of course, my ultimate financial goal is to make money in any stock that I invest in. The major distinctions between each of them are determined by how I want to make money (dividends? capital gains? both?) and when (in the next few months? in a few years? in decades?). It was interesting to see how many of my holdings were initially intended for a swing trade after which I ended up wanting to keep them for much longer. This tends to be a pattern with me.

I’ll often buy a stock with this thought process: Let’s see how this performs. If it’s good, I’m keeping it. I might sell some and keep the rest. I might buy more the next time it has a good setup. If it’s a dud (a stock that sees zero action despite the market or its sector), then I’ll opt to sell it at break even or for a small profit and move on.

Selling at a loss is almost never an option for me. This only happens if, for whatever number of reasons, it becomes obvious beyond any doubt that the stock appears to be worth significantly less. I then have to ask myself if I’m willing to hold until that lower point and then wait for its recovery. If it does recover, at what price will it likely recover to before it goes up – or down – again? I rarely have to address the prospect of selling at a loss. This is not because I’m a decent stock picker. It’s because after years of trading, I saw that most of the stocks I sold at a loss ended up doing well weeks, months, or years after I bought them and sold them.

This basically means that it doesn’t matter if a stock has a good chart or not. It also doesn’t matter if you can time the market. More time in the market surpasses any well-timed entry. For a chart reader like myself, admitting this an act of hypocrisy! The price history chart is merely a tool that helps me understand the bigger picture.

Once I decide to invest, I rely on my ability to be patient. I believe strongly that patience is the key factor to growing a strong portfolio. Getting in and out of stocks frequently can really mess with your mind and potential to do really well. I learned that the biggest threat to patience is doubt. Doubt can be very powerful if you don’t trust the market, the world of investing, and yourself.

Whenever doubt starts to creep into my thoughts, I remind myself this: There is a finite amount of money and this puts a limit to the value that we place on things. Collective optimism makes things go up, but not forever. Collective pessimism leads to fear and this makes investors sell, but only until that fear exhausts itself. Humans are generally optimistic, and this is reflected in the overall market’s tendency to go up. I can’t always time everyone’s optimism or predict the end of all pessimism. If I get into a stock during its early signs of new optimism, it’s easier for me to exercise patience, even if it takes a while before market consensus helps the stock take off.

The main reason why I look at charts is because I can’t wait around until some analyst goes on TV to talk about a security that has been doing well already. While many investors might feel more confident in making investment decisions by waiting for an expert to give his or her opinion, it’s often too late for me at that point. I am more likely to act on doubtful thoughts if I know I got into a stock later rather than early on. I end up self-sabotaging my efforts by looking only for factors that confirm my doubts and fears. I’ve done this enough to know not to listen to such counter-productive thoughts. I’ve learned to trust my process and to stick with the strategies that give me the most confidence. Now, I only buy – and sell, even at a loss – when I’m confident in the factors contributing to the decision. I’m not afraid to make mistakes, but I don’t and won’t act on doubt.

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Market Analysis

No action was taken the week of March 27

I have been busy looking for good picks. I found one, but it’s too expensive for the RRSP. If I had more money in this account, I would have bought shares of Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE Inc., ticker symbol BCE.TO). Instead, I bought BCE for my TFSA. It had a nice setup of sideways trading starting from November with a tighter consolidation forming this week. It also pays a great dividend.

Bell is my service provider for internet connection. Thankfully, I don’t have the headache of dealing with them, JP does all of that. He has the patience and persistence required to get the service we need. This week he also managed to get our monthly rate reduced – yet again!

I’m not too concerned with how this stock moves in price as this is a pricier stock. If it goes up, then I’m glad I got some shares at a lower price when I did. If it goes down, then I’ll wait for a good time to take on more shares. Whether it goes up or down a lot in price, I will always wait for a setup before getting more shares. That’s just how I roll.


Now it’s time for some market analysis. I’ll use my favourite ETF, the XIC, to figure out what’s going on with the Canadian stock market.

xic

XIC stock charts on freestockcharts.com

1. The daily chart shows the market has been moving sideways for all of March. If you look at the trade volume, you can see that there has been a bit of a tug of war between buyers and sellers.

I believe this push and pull happens because people get nervous when the market feels a little toppy; as I said early on this month, it’s gone straight up for much too long. I wanted to finally see a bit of a pull back in the market because I expected people to be taking profits after a six-month run. I’d much rather take new positions after the market sanely resets itself than to follow a euphoric run that doesn’t stop or pause for air.

2. The weekly chart provides a cleaner and clearer view of March’s action. I like bigger time frames because they have less noise than smaller time frame charts. The candles on this chart cover a wider price range than previous candles. Wider candles mean more volatility and uncertainty. The volume week-to-week shows buying, selling, buying, selling, then more buying in this final week of March.

There could still be yet a further correction in early April. Whether this happens or not, what I’d like to see is the price range tightening up before the market goes up again. Tighter trading ranges typically mean greater consensus among investors. The volume week-to-week should also be mostly green to signify more buying is happening.

3. The monthly chart finally gave me the candlestick bar ‘pivot’ that I wanted. It went below February’s price low of $24.32 and down to $24.24 this week. I like pivots because they’re a more distinguished correction on a price chart. I like to think of them as a likely turning point. 

The arrow on the monthly chart points to a lot more trade volume this month than all the previous months. Interestingly, the last time it saw trade volume to this level was in March last year. This big volume bar is green, so there was mostly buying this month. Based on my rough observations in the market day-to-day, I saw a lot of accumulation action in the metals, particularly in gold.

___________________________________________

Will the market go down again? Yes, but I think it will in the summer. Historically, the market either stays where it’s at for April, or it goes up a bit more. This generally happens because of earnings season and it’s the investors’ final run at making profits before things slow down in the summer. Also, with all that buying this month, if gold makes a bullish run for it, this will also send the market up.

As the saying goes, “Sell in May and go away.” Something out of the ordinary will have to occur to break this typical cycle.

 

Couples Who Invest Together Stay Together…Right?

Beach Talk

“What do you mean you have a bunch of money just sitting there?!?”

My forever man, JP, one of the calmest people I’ve ever known, had a mini conniption when I casually told him that I had a large chunk of uninvested cash in my TFSA. I had no explanation to offer other than a sulky, “I’ve been too busy to figure out what to get.” Saying that to someone who is busier than you won’t get you far. Thankfully, this conversation happened on a sunny beach in Florida last week, so it wasn’t hard for him to simmer back down in the face of my cringe-worthy apathy.

“Just buy anything that pays a dividend. Buy more shares of ZPR or SPB. Anything. How else are we going to retire in five to ten and live off dividends if you don’t have those shares? You know what to do. All your money should be working,” he gently advised before taking a deep swig of his particularly strong grapefruit juice and returning to his beach reading. 

I couldn’t argue with him about putting your money to good use – I tell people to do this all the time, after all. Now that I’m back from vacation and resettling into my icy reality, I’m ready to hunker down and start looking for stocks again.

We ‘Split Up’ and Went Our Separate Ways

When we were learning about stocks, JP and I started off trading together. However, we discovered the hard way that we often had different ideas that threatened the other’s need to try something a little off-script. We then split our account into two and started to operate separately. As our respective accounts grew, so did the number of accounts. We each now have three trading accounts.

We now share our ideas, but that doesn’t mean we act on them. Sometimes we’ll take the exact same trade, entry and all, but many of our trades are done without telling the other until later. It was when we started making independent decisions that we started to see our respective portfolios truly take off. The reason I think this improvement in portfolio performance happened is because we wouldn’t get shaken out of our positions due to fear of trade criticism.

In chat rooms, I’ve seen traders and investors criticize each other’s decisions. This is why I left chat rooms. People always share ideas and then sometimes scare each other out of taking chances or out of the trades they already took. It’s already bold enough to take a position, the last thing you need is an outside voice to instill fear or add doubt. If you invest from a position of little faith, you will have incredible difficulty at succeeding financially.

Whether or not we totally agree with each other’s stock picks, JP and I support and trust each other’s decisions because we share the same long-term vision. We want to have a second property in a hot place, we want most of our income to come from our investments, and we want to help others learn how to achieve their financial goals through investing.  Most importantly, we want to help each other become better investors.

Moving Forward in Harmony

For 2017, I resolved to be less of a ragtag investor. JP is so disciplined in that he reviews our stock portfolios – mine and his – almost every day and then he emails me (so I don’t misplace it) his watch list of stocks to pay attention to. I have missed many opportunities. Maybe I should just post his lists for my readers?

I am trying to be more organized and watchful of my stocks. I’m working on being more proactive with my investment ideas, and thanks to weekly blogging, I’m getting a bit better at it. It’s only February so I won’t beat myself up over how far I have yet to go. 

There is rarely a completely straight and easy path to any goal, but my conversation with my partner in life and business reminded me that it’s time to get back on track and to contribute more to our joint efforts. Our future beach bum selves are counting on it.