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: My Own Stocks and Father’s Day

No actions taken the week of June 12

It’s been a very busy week for me, but it’s a good time to be busy as the markets are still looking like they’re headed lower. I don’t feel the need to take action quite yet. The US markets need to go down through May’s lows – at the very least – before going up again. This could affect the Canadian market; we have already been weakening the last couple of months and going through our own correction. If the US market goes down more and we don’t, then that’s a good sign for us that our correction could be over.

markets.jpg

Price charts of QQQ, AAPL, XIC, and SPY on freestockcharts.com

Apple (AAPL) is a big part of the NASDAQ (ETF: QQQ) and it’s been weakest of the big tech stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google). Until it stops going down and levels out, it will continue to lead the NASDAQ down.

It’ll be interesting to see if the rest of the US market follows suit. I’ll keep my eye on the S&P 500 (the SPY ETF). Its financial sector (XLF) has been quite strong, but this sector is due for a correction. A slower summer market could cause it to stall and look less inspiring to investors. A correction in the financial sector could take the SPY down. There was a lot of selling last week in some of the big US banks (BAC, JPM and WFC) as well as Visa (V). Other big financial stocks (C, MA, and AXP) were trading strong. A divergence between a sector’s biggest stocks creates uncertainty.

Summer Trading Means Fewer Selections

Often, when the leading market heads lower, other markets eventually do the same. However, it can be different in the summer because of less trading volume. Performance is more stock and sector specific and less market dominant.

Investors and traders pile onto the fewer, more promising opportunities that stand out. Sectors kind of do their own thing and are less prone to overall market moves because there’s less of a dominant trend. It becomes more obvious which sectors are stronger and which ones are weaker. It’s actually a very good time to look for sectors and stocks that are about to embark on a new move or trend before it gets busier again in the fall.

For me, the summer is usually the time when I focus on the quiet under-performing sectors and I try to see if there will be a new longer-term opportunity in it. I’m going to watch the Canadian financial sector as it’s been weak since late February. I feel that it should correct just a titch more, and if it does, I will watch very closely for when it sets up again. If this happens, Canadian banks, here I come!

I didn’t have time to do a stock search this week – I only had time to look at my own portfolio. Here are a few of my stocks that I’m considering buying more shares of:

  • Aphria Inc. | APH.TO
  • Aritzia | ATZ
  • Bombardier | BBD.B
  • BMO SP TSX Laddered Index ETF | ZPR
  • ECN Capital Corp. | ECN
  • Extendicare REIT | EXE

I’ve been complaining a lot about having too many stocks. It’s better for me to focus on what I have and get more shares of the ones that I like. I just have to wait for a new entry point.


Thanks Dad!

My dad passed away in 2009. He was 59 and battling a long-term ailment. At least I can say that shortly before his death, he was living life to the fullest. What happened to me after his passing was something worth thinking about. Without his guidance, his half-believable stories, and hilarious anecdotes, I had to use whatever resources he’d passed onto me to keep going. I’m sure this recognition was all subconscious, but I finally had the courage to see things for what they were and let them go in order to do the things I most wanted to do. I took a promotion at my job, saw my career trajectory and said, “On second thought, I’m going to learn how to trade stocks. However that turns out.” The rest is my history.

I’m halfway through reading Jack D. Schwager’s, Market Wizards: Interviews with Top Traders. It’s been an incredible read so far. I’ve heard of some of these guys before. It’s so cool to hear about how they all had to overcome so many barriers to get to where they were. One thing none of them had to overcome was their gender. I can honestly say that neither have I, even though I am a woman.

Since I was young, my dad convinced me that being a girl was an advantage. His dad, my grandfather, was in the US Army, and he was away a lot. He served in WW2 and in Korea. So my grandmother ran the show when my grandpa was away. My dad was the youngest of seven siblings, four of whom were older, amazing sisters. My dad ended up being a very macho guy – who saw women as being greater than anything macho.

Because of my dad, I never felt disadvantaged for being a woman. I actually thought that I could do whatever I wanted to because I was female – he’d long convinced me it gave me an edge. Maybe it is true – our society has yet to accept this concept. Or maybe he just told me a tall tale knowing what I’d be up against. As I got older, I became more painfully aware of the disadvantages women frequently encounter. I love trading because the market doesn’t care about your personal details. You’re either in at the right time and right price, or you’re not. It doesn’t get more gender neutral than that.

As I’m reading Market Wizards, I feel that I can relate to these traders on so many levels, but it feels a bit too much like a boys club. I know there are a lot of extremely successful female traders out there. We’ll just have to cover our own stories. Whether or not I become a market wizard worth writing about one day, I’m sure my dad would be proud of me.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

 

The Transparent RRSP: Share Prices & Flash Crashes

Action taken the week of June 5
  • Bought 20 shares of TransAlta (TA.TO) for 7.74. This cost me $154.80 + 0.20 cents of commission. I now have 45 shares of TA. There is $16.90 in cash left in the RRSP account.

If you buy a stock at different times and at different prices, then it makes sense to figure out the average cost of the shares. The previous 25 shares of TA were purchased at $7.63 per share. I’ve worked it out below:

  • 25 shares * $7.63 = $190.75 + $0.25 commission = $191
  • 20 shares * $7.74 = $154.80 + $0.20 commission = $155
  • $191 + $155 = $346
  • $346 / 45 total shares = $7.69

This is also known as the adjusted cost base, or ACB. I use the share price of $7.69 to determine how much I make in profits (or losses) when I sell the shares at a different price later on.

If I want to determine just the average price of the shares, I can do the same thing, only I leave out the commission fees. It works out to be $7.68. It doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but that’s only because my commissions are extremely low.


Flash Crashes

Yesterday the Canadian market closed positive. We traded sideways all week. Not much action, which I prefer. The US market, mainly the NASDAQ, however, experienced a flash crash. I saw the charts and so I had to see what the news had to say about it. They explained that the mega-cap tech stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google – aka FAANG) were starting to sell off. They weren’t the only ones selling off hard before the crash. The semiconductor stocks (SMH is a semi-conductor ETF in case you’re interested in viewing its chart) were selling off heavily after noon. It had been a long while since the tech sector had shown any major weakness.

After hitting new highs this week, investors were starting to collect profits and play defence by unloading some shares to be less exposed to a sell-off. Well, if enough investors with large holdings (particularly institutional investors) get the same idea, this triggers a mass sell-off. These sales which began around noon triggered the automated trading programs to sell later on in the day, which led to an overall big sell-off in the market. This domino effect happens when giant stocks fall; sometimes even one giant stock can affect the general market. The NASDAQ market lost its last three weeks of gains in minutes. It recovered partially at the end.

I have shares in a few of these tech stocks and I was thinking this week, “Wow, I can’t believe it just keeps going up! When will it come to an end?” I had sold some shares to collect profits a few weeks ago; I was left with the disappointing feeling that I had acted a little too soon. However, I did so because I was anticipating this. (If you’ve been reading my blogs, then you know this isn’t hindsight commentary.) I’ve lived through enough flash crashes to know that I’d rather make my decisions away from such events, not in reaction to them. I still have some shares left in these stocks, but I’ll see how they do over the next couple of weeks.

The Canadian market came down a bit in reaction, but it came back and closed positively. These flashes tend to be more pronounced in the US markets. Because the US market is so big, a crash can affect the global markets if sustained recovery doesn’t follow.

It’s events like this that could deter people from wanting to ever invest in the market in the first place. These things can happen in any market, though, because people are prone to panic. Rather than cave into your feelings and react out of fear of the worst to come, it’s best to try to be objective: Observe the sentiment of other investors and see how your holdings are doing on the bigger time frames like the monthly charts. There is a good chance that your charts are still looking healthy. A correction here and there is to be expected as nothing ever goes straight up. All I can say to all that is to keep calm and let your stock carry on!

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The Transparent RRSP: Stock Picks

Action taken the week of May 29
  • I deposited $150.00 into the RRSP account. There is now $169.90 of available cash in the account.

I’m still waiting to see if the Canadian market will have a more definitive correction than what it gave in May. It could set up over the next few weeks/months for a new run, but I doubt it. The monthly chart looks like the market is inching downward. I still would like to see the market come down to the same level it was at in mid-November.

With the lower trading volume during the summer months, I put less emphasis on the market (as long as it’s not making any extreme moves that invite concern or attention) and I pay more attention to individual stocks that are getting a lot of action. I might casually pad my trading accounts now and then with extra cash so that should opportunities present themselves, I’m ready to take action.


Some Stock Picks

I found some stocks with nice charts, some of which are seeing a lot of recent action in price moves and trade volume. These have been trading better than the market – which doesn’t say much.

  • BBD.B.TO – I don’t like that Bombardier has gone straight up the last two weeks, but it’s been stronger than the market. I would prefer a correction on the daily time frame. It’s worth watching as the weekly chart is promising with a breakaway candle that held strong with increasing volume. I’ve owned this stock since early February 2016 and I can tell you that it’s not much of a mover. This can be a good thing when this stock experiences volatility because it’s less of a shock to your portfolio (unless you have a lot of shares and took on too much risk). While the monthly chart is very nice, the yearly chart is not inspiring.
  • BTO.TO
  • HGU.TO (This is a gold ETF.)
  • TD.TO
  • MG.TO
  • RY.TO
  • NA.TO
  • TA.TO – This is already in the RRSP. I was beyond busy this week and I wish I had a chance to look at the chart earlier this week. Depending on what it does next week, I might buy more shares.

If you’re not inspired to take on any risk, you can just watch these over the next few weeks and months and see how they do with or without the market. If you do feel inspired to trade, I’d recommend taking on less risk and buying fewer shares. I only say this because I still think the market will correct further and this could take down your stock and it could be a while before it starts to improve.

As always, please keep in mind the industry, sector, the company and its fundamentals, any recent news, upcoming earnings announcements, the amount of risk you’re taking, how it fits within your portfolio, your anticipated time horizon, etc. It’s always important that you look into what you need to in order to feel confident in your investments.

The Transparent RRSP: Just Watching

No action was taken the week of May 15 
  • I had been uneasy about the market all week, so my only play was to sit on my hands.

The last few months, I’ve been chipping away at making my trades easier to track, record, and analyze. This process was always interrupted by the market, attractive stock picks, sections of my portfolio that needed immediate attention, and addictive Netflix series. Each time I got back to where I left off, I found I disliked my method or format. You would think that after all these years, I’d have figured this out by now.

With summer coming, I expect the market to lighten up in volume and offer fewer opportunities. This means it’s a good time to get back on track with getting organized. I’ve been spring cleaning my house as well as all the portfolio information that I manage, making a bit of progress each day. It feels great to de-clutter my living space and streamline all the pertinent information for my trades. All I can do is keep at it until I’m in a place where I can function effectively on a consistent basis – and still watch my Netflix!


What a week! Here is my market analysis:
xic

The XIC ETF on freestockcharts.com

#1. The trade volume candlestick bars of April 24 and April 25 show an abnormal amount of buying.

With all that buying, there was such little price movement as you can see by the small size of the price candlestick bars. Big volume with little price movement often signifies a reversal. To trade beyond those prices would require even more buying. The following volume bars show that the market could not sustain so much buying. Another thing to note: we have not penetrated those prices since.

#2. What messy, volatile trading!

After April 25, there was more selling than buying. The candles show wider trading ranges, particularly the red bars, which depict heavier selling. I drew a square around this week alone to show you how, in such a short amount of time, the market can drop because of uncertainty, volatility, and buying fatigue.

On Wednesday (the day of that big red candle, third to last), the US market reacted to bad political news and this affected us (as well as many other markets). I believe that generally, markets are more prone to news when they’re already uncertain or weak. A strong market won’t be affected very much or will bounce back quickly. The following Thursday and Friday did show some buying. It will be interesting to see whether or not we can get back up to the previous trading ranges of the last two to three months.

#3. Lots of selling volume.

The trade volume over the last four weeks shows mostly selling. When you’re looking at longer time frames for longer-term buying opportunities, this situation is not tantalizing.

#4. First red monthly candle in almost a year!

We hit a new 2017 low with that one little day on Wednesday this week. What I like about the monthly chart is that it provides a bigger, clearer perspective.

The last time we saw significant selling volume was in June last year (remember the Brexit referendum?) and before that, the last major selling low was in January 2016. We’ve been going up for a year and a half. This new low is minor compared to the massive run we had. Way to go, Canada! If your portfolio didn’t do well last year, then maybe you should take a break from your advisor and consider buying a market index ETF – once it’s a good time to get in.


It will be interesting to see how we trade until the end of May. Whether we close positive or negative, this summer I would like to see a more substantial correction that comes down all the way back to where we were in November before going up again. For most folks – especially unrealistically optimistic people like me – this seems like a drastic thing to wish for. However, I believe that if you want a meaningful run in the market, you need a meaningful correction, not a one day sell-off like Wednesday’s.

I will be watching for how the US market impacts the Canadian market. The tech sector needs to take a break while the energy sector looks like it’s itching to make a run to the upside. I don’t think oil will ever trade back to its previous inflated levels, but I do think it will make a very short-term bullish move along with a short-lived rush in the gold sector. I don’t know if that would be enough to help the US market continue its upward trend. The Canadian market could still go down on its own, but it will to a greater degree if the US also makes a considerable correction.

 

The Transparent RRSP: Some Stock Picks

Actions taken the week of May 8
  • I think I bought 100 shares of Mariana Resources (MARL.V) for $1.70 per share.

This morning, I put in a limit order for the above values. I usually put in a market order which means buying a stock at whatever the market is currently selling the stock at.

When I perform a basic limit order, I put in the price I’m willing to buy a stock at. I like to think of it as this is the most I’m willing to pay per share for a stock, it’s my price limit. Limit orders can have different conditions going for it. My US margin account with Interactive Brokers lets me get a little creative with my orders. Today I put in a limit order because I have to go to work and can’t watch the market live.

If this order goes through, it will cost me $170.00 plus a commission fee of $1.00.

 

marl.v

Price history charts for MARL.V on freestockcharts.com

 

I don’t normally buy charts of stocks that gap up so much in price. Usually, gaps occur because of surprising news. If it’s good news and the stock gaps up, I don’t take action because it just committed a huge price move. Other investors who were in at a lower price will likely take some profits. Often, stocks that gap up go back down to where they started.

When you see a stock gap up, the best move to do is to watch and see how the stock holds. In this case, it held and consolidated for two weeks. The volume has remained intense compared to its previous trading volume. It’s been looking a lot better than the market.

This is a diversified mining company. Recently, the mining stocks are starting to heat up. So if the metals start to move, that will cause this one to take off too. I like this one because it’s been trading on its own page for a while now. I chose it for the RRSP because I think it would be a good hedge and it’s cheap. If it really starts to move in the right direction, I might treat half of it as a swing trade and choose to take profits if the charts indicate a big move is over. We shall see how it does.

This is one of those trades where a part of me says don’t do anything right now and another part of me says go with the momentum while it’s early. So I’m going for it. That is if my order actually gets executed!


I did a search and I have a few other stocks that might be interesting to check out. I’ll disclose that I already own some of these, but they came up in my search. I was happy to see that they were setting up for new entries.

  • Bombardier | BBD.B |$2.21
  • Encana | ECA | $15.56 – I’d watch this first. I think it needs to consolidate longer and shape up.
  • Timmins Gold | TMM | $0.63
  • Aritzia | ATZ | $15.99

Check these out, look at the charts, consider the sector, the company fundamentals, the stock price, etc. Ultimately, consider your risk tolerance and look into whatever you have to in order to feel confident in your investment.

The Transparent RRSP: Book Review

No action was taken the week of May 1

I did an extensive search and didn’t find any good candidates for the RRSP. I think that once we see a more substantial correction in the market followed by some stabilization, we’ll see more options.


 

Market

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

 

Chart 1 is the weekly chart of the XIC ETF. It didn’t budge much last week and traded sideways for the most part. However, as you can see from the arrow I drew, it had some strong selling as indicated by the red trade volume bar.

Chart 2 shows the monthly chart of XIC. We finished close to where we opened. The arrow shows that overall for the month of April, there was more buying. As we’ve seen from a shorter timeframe of the weekly chart, there was heavy selling last week. Well, investors like a strong finish.

Already in this week alone, we traded lower than the month of April’s lows. This means investors are getting cautious and losing a bit of confidence. They’re selling shares, taking profits, and holding out on new opportunities – and if investors do trade, it might be with fewer than normal shares to reduce risk. No market can go straight up, so this isn’t anything to get too nervous about.

Chart 3 is the monthly chart of the SPY for the US market’s S&P 500 Index. The arrow identifies trading in March. You can see there was heavier selling in March. April had more buying than selling, however, it wasn’t able to trade higher than it did in March. All week it has been trading sideways. It might still have a positive May, but watch the volume and look for signs of less buying.

Chart 4 is the monthly chart of QQQ ETF for the Nasdaq 100 Index. The tech sector, especially the semiconductors, have been extremely strong since last summer. May will mean the seventh month up on a strong move. The arrow shows that April had a huge move up, but with lesser buying than in March. Are the Qs losing steam? We shall see…

There is naturally lower trade volume going into the summer months, starting in May. I will be keeping a close eye on the weekly and daily charts to look for more immediate signs of a reversal in the markets.


Last week I finally finished reading Michael Lewis’ hugely entertaining book, Liar’s Poker. I was sad to be done, but I feel like the story hasn’t ended because I’m living it through my own trading and from watching the markets. There is a story behind every trade and each investment decision. He skillfully addressed throughout the book how the human element of emotion is what drives markets.

This true story was about Lewis’ introduction into Wall Street as a bond salesman for Saloman Brothers, a securities firm. Every successful sale was done by convincing an investor that what he was selling them was going to be worth more later on. This sounds conniving and this book reads more like a humourous confessional as Lewis grew increasingly conflicted the more successful he became.

Even though this book focusses on the bond market, it translates the same way for stocks and any other security for that matter. Optimism is what drives the markets and allows them to thrive and continue. Pessimism morphs into fear and will make most investors regret their decisions and jump ship into something else.

All year so far, I’ve been providing you with analyses of the ups and downs of markets and making shorter-term projections based on price moves and the corresponding trade volume. These moves occur because of optimism and pessimism. The reason why I trade is because I’m generally an optimistic person and my long-term view is that the markets will always keep going up because I believe that most people are inherently optimistic. That is why, despite all these tales of glory and failures that come out of Wall Street, it’s still around. The markets aren’t going anywhere and I’m happy to believe that more of us are getting involved.

 

The Transparent RRSP: Month-end Market Read

Action for the week of April 24
  • I transferred another $150.00 to the RRSP account’s current cash of $29.90, which will give me $179.90 for the month of May.

I also didn’t do anything for the RRSP last week (the week of April 17). I mainly sold more shares of other stocks in my TFSA. I was feeling exposed having so many stocks at a time that I feel the market is going to have a correction. The fact that I still have 28 stocks in this account is still a head-scratcher. I managed to make a decent profit on some of these, so I’m sitting on more cash than I have in a long while.


Marks

The XIC and SPY ETFs on freestockcharts.com

The Canadian Market

You can see on the XIC that the Canadian market has just been trading sideways. At the time of writing this, there still remains one more trading day this month. There is usually a lot of selling at around month-end mainly because funds are re-balancing their portfolios for cash to pay investors. So, it remains to be seen how we’ll close, but I don’t think it will be too far off from where we closed last month.

The Canadian market has been lagging the US market this year so far. It’s not a surprise. Check out the two bottom charts where I drew the circles. Upon quick visual inspection, you can see we covered way more distance in 2016 than the US market. We (our economy and our loonie) got beat up so badly from the underperformance of oil/energy in 2015, that we had so much room to climb up and recover. And that we did. Our sectors in energy, mining, and finance gave great performances.

Every good run needs a break to slow down and catch its breath. If I want to find out what is making the market do what it’s doing, or where the market could be heading, I will look at the major players. I’ll either check out the sector ETFs, or the biggest companies in the influencing sectors.

For this scenario, I’m keeping an eye on the banks, all of which are in the process of a correction. It could be just a bit of a selloff, or it could be a substantial selloff that will keep going until mid-late summer or fall. Now, don’t go on selling your dividend-paying bank stocks – I’m just saying keep an eye on them if you want to have a better gauge as to where the market is going.

I will suggest that if you’re interested in accumulating more shares in bank stocks, you might want to wait a while for the prices to come down more and have settled down for a bit before going up again. I am a huge fan of waiting for new buying opportunities and I will wait months, even years, to get into good stocks.

The US Market

I can’t invest or trade or think anything stock-related without looking at “the SPY,” the most popular American S&P 500 Index ETF. It’s more out of habit having used it so much for day trading than it is out of necessity. I look at it to get the feel for the market, its momentum, and its sentiment. It often is quite off from the actual S&P 500 Index, but it’s where the action is at. This is where I discovered the importance of monitoring trade volume.

I never look at the SPY without looking at the QQQ, the NASDAQ Index ETF. Plus, I never look at “the Qs” without looking at some of its big players/action stars: Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, etc. I attribute the US market’s most recent run, not as much to its new president (but I’m sure he’ll take full credit for it, very true), but to the technology sector. I’m sure this would stir a lot of debate, but I’m speaking from an on-the-ground perspective because I own a few tech stocks.

The tech sector has been the leading sector over the last year, so it’s important to keep an eye on it along with its biggest stocks. You can watch the Qs and the tech ETF, XLK and the semiconductor ETF, SMH. When observing the big players in tech, look out for shifts in volume and ask is the buying volume is lessening? is the selling volume increasing? or whenever the prices drop, is there a lot of buying or just a little?

I would also be watching the US financial sector’s ETF, XLF. Like Canada’s, the US financial sector has been pulling back the last couple of months. If tech starts to come down along with the financials, then I’d expect a more prominent correction in the US market before more new buying opportunities start presenting themselves again.


This is my process and how I see the market. I’m always trying to find clues that indicate optimism (buying), euphoria (heavy buying with big price moves), panic (heavy selling with quick and large drops in price), pessimism (selling), or neutrality (lower volume, sideways trading).

I still hear over and over that timing the market is useless. I don’t look at it as ‘timing’ because it’s not a science, nor is it something you can accurately measure. It’s more about reading the market. Investors’ feelings and sentiment move the markets, not numbers. I hope that one day, more people will see it this way and learn how to invest with the flow.

 

 

 

 

Your Special 4/20 Newsletter of 2017: Medicinal Stocks

“What weed stock should I buy?”

If there is one question I am asked the most, it’s the cannabis question. I’m asked about this more than whether to buy Facebook, Apple, or Lululemon. I don’t know anything about cannabis strains, but I can speak a bit more about cannabis stocks.


2016 to 2017

Last year I posted a newsletter on this celebrated day. I listed a few stocks to check out:

  • Canopy Growth Corporation | Ticker symbol CGC.V | $2.60
  • Aphria Incorporated | APH.V | $1.56
  • OrganiGram | OGI.V | $1.10
  • Mettrum Health | MT. V | $1.66
  • Emerald Health Botanicals | EMH.V | $ 0.17

This is where they’re at now:

  • Canopy Growth Corp.| Ticker symbol now WEED.TO on the TSX | $10.24
  • Aphria Inc. | APH.TO now on the TSX | $7
  • OrganiGram | $2.87
  • Mettrum Health | It halted trading at $7.05 because it’s merging with Canopy Growth Corporation
  • Emerald Health Botanicals| $ 1.54

WOW.

I wanted to buy all of them out of pure excitement, but at the time, it was a decision between me and JP. We decided on Aphria, mainly because of its price and proven earnings.


Cannabis presents a new industry for the public, and it’s still in its early stages as it’s working its way through various long and rigorous legalization processes. You can’t expect this journey to be straight and easy, but it’s going to happen whether you agree with legalization or not. (Interesting personal observation: Among the people who ask me what weed stocks to buy, half of them are very conservative and would never smoke it. The other half smoke it and still have shown no indication of buying any of these stocks.)

I remember the time when Colorado and the few other states were legalizing. It was impossible to tell which weed stocks to buy on the US exchanges. They each had the patterns of the new publicly traded company in a speculative industry: cheap with wild swings in volume and price moves. I had to wonder if a company was going places or was just another pump and dump.

I watched a lot of media coverage on Colorado. There was definitely a saturation of industry players – in other words, too many suppliers. Some went just as quickly as they arrived. The stronger, more resilient, established, and adaptive ones survived and endured. Others joined forces and resources to become bigger companies. It will be interesting to see how the industry plays out in Canada.

I’d purchased a couple of other weed stocks since, both of which trade on the TSX Venture Exchange. I bought shares of:

  • Maple Leaf Green World Inc. | MGW.V | 0.62 and
  • The Hydropothecary Corporation | THCX.V |$2.28

I did a quick search and found other stocks with good trading volume:

  • ICC International Cannabis Corp. | ICC.V | $1.29
  • Aurora Cannabis Inc. | ACB.V | $2.84
  • CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. | CMED.TO | $11.61

Oh! And I love that Horizons has created a new ETF: Horizons Medicinal Marijuana Life Sciences ETF (ticker symbol HMMJ.TO, $10.80). It’s got a wonderful mix of medicinal cannabis stocks from Canada, the US, and the UK, including one of my portfolio darlings, Aphria. It also owns some of the stocks mentioned in this newsletter so far. At some point, this ETF will start paying distributions (none yet). If this is a long-term investment for you, then you might want to hold this in your RRSP to avoid withholding taxes.

There are a few things to note about Canadian cannabis stocks. They’re inexpensive and they all overreact to any cannabis information that comes out of Trudeau’s mouth. They settle down after the market reaction to any news and shape up again for more investors to get on board before the prices go up for another run. It’s generally been run after run at higher and higher prices.

Most of these stocks trade very similarly to each other, with only their prices and trading ranges that might differ. If your stock isn’t moving like the others, you might have to wait longer to better see whether or not it’s a dud before getting rid of it. It also might just be a company that needs a lot more time before it proves itself to the market.

If you’re considering buying shares of cannabis stock, you’d have to look deeper into the company’s fundamentals. Remember, because they’re new and in their early phases of development, they all promise growth. I would pay most attention to company earnings and pick the one generating profits already.


The Cannabis Industry vs. the Market

Without trying to sound the alarm, I will strongly suggest that I feel that the market is going to have a major correction soon. The market had a huge nine-year run. We’re now facing rising inflation rates, a new US president, and heavier selling volume in the market as of late. Major stocks that had a good run outshining the market, are showing signs that their investors are now being cautious, even uncertain.

As proactive investors start to unload their positions, they’ll be executing their defensive plays (getting into utilities and consumer staples), as well as looking for what is trading on its own page and less affected by market moves. I think that cannabis stocks, given their industry newness and lower prices, will provide that opportunity for investors.

You might feel conflicted about cannabis and if you do, then you should probably feel the same way about alcohol. As we all know, booze was once outlawed and look at it now. The same will happen to weed. They say if you can’t beat them, then join them. What’s nice about a cannabis stock is that you don’t have to smoke it to own it.

 

 

 

 

The Transparent RRSP: Post #15

Actions taken the week of April 3
  • I deposited $150.00.
  • I bought 25 shares of TransAlta (ticker symbol TA.TO) for $7.63 per share. This cost me $190.75 + 0.25 cents in commission which makes it $191.00 altogether.

This leaves me with $21.90 in cash. Penny stocks, anyone?

I bought shares of TA because the monthly chart caught my eye. The daily chart displays a long consolidation that shows this stock has been trading in this price range since late November. I had been checking this stock out for a few months now. I never took action because I wanted to wait for a better setup on the monthly chart. The weekly chart is a little sloppy, but I’m not as concerned because of its strong monthly chart.

ta

TA price charts on freestockcharts.com


I’ll just mention that for my TFSA, I bought some shares of TransAlta Renewables (a subsidiary of TransAlta, ticker symbol RNW.TO) at $15.73. I feel like I was late to the party for this one. I just kept missing the good entries. Its price moves are around $2 in range (as you can see from the arrows on the chart below). This stock has already moved up $1.30 since its last selloff in early March. If this goes up from here, it’ll probably stall at around $16.50. We shall see.

I’m not thrilled about the monthly chart; however, the daily and weekly charts, volume action, and monthly dividends made me want in. I like subsequent consolidations because it shows a lot of consensus among investors in price areas just below my entry. This is what traders call ‘support’ because if the stock does fall below my entry point, it’ll likely land softly around the $15.00 area where a lot of people have been buying shares at since January. I’m counting on strength in numbers to hold this stock up.

rnw

RNW price charts on freestockcharts.com

The market was positive this week. If nothing out of the ordinary happens (politically/economically), the market will likely trickle up for the rest of the month.