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Why Do You Want to Own the Shares of a Publicly Traded Corporation?

The idea is that a shareholder’s interest in a growing publicly traded company will become more valuable over time. The simplest answer is: to make money! Owning shares of a company’s stock is known as taking a long position, and this is done in the belief that the company is going to increase its earnings and profit margin into the future, or will at least remain steady. There are three ways to make money on stocks: Continue reading...

What is an Unrealized Gain?

Gains and losses are only "real" when shares are sold or withdrawals are made, but up until that point the gains were more of a notional amount, and are said to be "unrealized." A more salient way to understand unrealized gains is to look at the opposite: unrealized losses. If a person makes an investment of $1,000 and the value of the shares drops sharply the next week, has the person lost any money? The answer of course is no, not unless he sells the shares and takes the lower market price for them. Continue reading...

What is Capital Appreciation?

Capital appreciation is an increase in the value of an owned stock. Capital Appreciation occurs when the market price of a stock you own increases. For more information on stock prices, see "Why Does the Price of a Stock Change?" Until you decide to sell the shares, you have what is called Unrealized Gains on Capital Appreciation. Something to be wary of: having unrealized gains can be summed up with the old English proverb, "don't count your chickens before they hatch." Continue reading...

What does Capital Gain Mean?

A Capital Gain refers to the profits or gains made from selling a security at a higher price than the original purchase price. In stock trading, if an investor sells a stock for more than they bought it for (or the price inherited), the profit realized is a capital gain. The same applies to gains made in real estate. To note, assets held within tax-deferred accounts, like IRAs and 401(k)s, do not trigger capital gains when sold for profits. It only applies to taxable assets, like stocks held in a brokerage account. The capital gains tax is the tax paid on net capital gains in a given year. Continue reading...

How to use a Gann Fan in trading

W.D. Gann developed a suite of technical analysis tools around the 1930s, with Gann Fans being among the most essential in his toolkit. Gann fans are a collection of lines placed on a price chart that, in theory, help traders gauge potential price changes. Gann theorized that prices were likely to be sequentially bound by markers; that is, if a price broke through one marker, it would be likely to use the next ones as its new support or resistance level. The range between the lines gets wider the further they extend from the origin, which makes Gann fans suitable for long-term charting in which the number of traders and the size of total market cap grows over time. Continue reading...

What is Form 6781: Gains and Losses from Section 1256 Contracts and Straddles?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Form 6781 is used to calculate and report gains and losses due from Section 1256 contracts, which covers futures on commodities and indexes, as well as their derivatives, and from straddles, which are options strategies defined under Section 1092. 6781 is used to report positions in futures and options at the end of the year even if no gains or losses were realized through trades. The value of the positions will be marked-to-market at the end of the year, and these will serve to compute the gains and losses for these purposes. Continue reading...

What is IRS Publication 544 on Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets?

IRS Link to Publication — Found Here This guide is a reference for the tax implications of sales, transfers, barters, exchanges, forfeits, repossession, condemnation and abandonment of property. Where gains or losses are manifested, the guide helps to differentiate between capital gains and ordinary gains, as well as how to figure and report the gains or losses. Often when people sell or dispose of property in various manners there is a question of what the tax implications are, how much of the transaction is taxable, and whether any amount of it can be applied toward tax deductions. This guide, Publication 544, will outline all of the necessary filing forms and reporting practices for almost any kind of sale or disposition of property. Continue reading...

What Does Capital Loss Mean?

Capital Loss refers to a loss realized when a security is sold for less than it was purchased for. In stock trading, if an investor purchases stock ABC for $30 / share, and then sells the stock a few months later for $22 / share, they have realized an $8 / share capital loss. At the end of every year, as per U.S. tax policy, capital losses can be used to offset capital gains, so as to help an investor reduce their tax burden. A common year-end strategic approach is to “harvest” capital losses in an effort to offset any capital gains made from trading that year. Continue reading...

What is Dividend Arbitrage?

Arbitrage opportunities can be found in a few different places in the market, when risk-free profit can be made. If a stock is purchased before the ex-dividend date, and a put is exercised when the share price falls after the dividend is distributed, it is known as dividend arbitrage. Arbitrage is when an investor finds a situation where one thing can be exchanged for another, such as the same thing on two different exchanges or similar fixed instruments which can be swapped, when no risk is taken and a profit is gained. Continue reading...

What is an ETF? Definition

ETFs are very popular and useful investment vehicles that offer affordable diversification and professional portfolio management. An ETF is a basket of securities that is designed to ‘mimic’ the performance of an index, sector, or category of securities. For example, the ETF with ticker SPY is designed to track the performance of the S&P 500, and the company that creates the ETF (in this case Barclays iShares) builds the ETF simply by purchasing the 500 stocks in the S&P 500. Investors can purchase shares of the ETF as a means of gaining instant access to all 500 stocks in the S&P 500, thus tracking its performance. Continue reading...

What are the Tax Implications for Making a Profit (or Loss) On a Stock?

Gains on stock investments will be taxable in the current year unless they can be offset with losses. Stocks that appreciate in value do not incur any tax liability while they are held, unless they pay dividends. Dividends will generally be taxable as ordinary income. For this article we will focus on capital appreciation instead of dividends. Capital appreciation can be considered long-term gains or short-term gains by the IRS upon the sale of the shares. A stock held for less than a year will incur short-term capital gains taxes, which are taxed at ordinary income rates. Continue reading...

What is 'buying on margin' and margin trading?

A margin trade is one where the trader uses other securities or cash as collateral, for a transaction in which he or she has not purchased the security outright. The broker acts as a lender. If your broker approves you for a margin account, you have the ability to purchase new securities “on margin” by using your current holdings as collateral, or by depositing 50% (or more depending on the broker) of the market price of the security into the margin account. Continue reading...

What is Time Value of Money?

The Time Value of Money is a theme for discourse and calculations related to the effect of interest on money over time, and the interrelation between Present Value and Future Value. The Time in the equation of Rate of Return x Time x Present Value = Future Value has a value and an effect on the Future Value (or the Present Value depending on what you're solving for). The Time Value of Money is, at it's simplest, something which nearly everyone has seen but hasn't heard called by that name: turn this amount of money into that amount of money by letting it grow in the market for a length of time. Continue reading...

What is Turnover Ratio?

Turnover ratio is a term that can be used in reference to the rate at which a company goes through its physical inventory, or that a mutual fund sells and replaces its investment holdings. In the context of a company’s inventory of goods, a high turnover ratio is a positive sign. It means that a company is selling plenty of its products and is not wasting money on more warehousing space than it needs. This kind of turnover ratio is calculated as the cost of goods sold in a period divided by the average inventory during that time. In the context of mutual funds and ETFs, turnover ratio is a negative thing if it is high. Continue reading...

What is a Variable Annuity?

Variable annuities generally provide investors with downside protection for a fee (the insurance guarantee), while also providing market exposure that may give the investor upside potential. A variable annuity is characterized by offering market exposure, and the risk and upside potential that comes with it, in the form of “separate accounts” which are institutional-level mirrors of retail mutual funds. Typically a variable annuity will not deplete the amount of your initial investment with sales charges, and may even credit your annuity with an initial bonus amount of several percent. Continue reading...

What is Return on Investment?

Return on Investment (ROI) is a ratio used to compare the net income of a project or investment to the amount invested. Return on Investment is a ratio that can be applied in many contexts, and this makes it a very popular way to compare the cost and benefits of many types of investments, for individuals or businesses. It is often interpreted as a percentage, to express the total gain over and above the amount invested as a percentage of the original amount. Continue reading...

What is Dividend Capture?

Dividend capture is a strategy similar to dividend arbitrage that seeks to reap incremental gains somewhat reliably around the ex-dividend date of a stock. The investor seeks to benefit from the fact that stock prices don’t always go down as much as they should on the ex-dividend date, so by selling quickly at that point, the investor may still get a small gain from the dividend that will still be paid to him or her. Dividend capture is a strategy that plays on slight inefficiencies in prices around the ex-dividend date. Continue reading...

What is a Consolidated Tax Return?

A consolidated tax return is a single filing that covers several subsidiary companies and their parent company. One of the advantages of doing so is that the capital gains of one can be offset by the capital losses of another. It can also allow a profit sharing plan for the parent corporation to use profits from the subsidiaries. Corporations with subsidiaries can file a consolidated tax return that covers all of the affiliated companies. Continue reading...

What are index futures?

Index futures are futures contracts written on an index in which a large position can be held with a relatively small margin requirement. Index futures can be used for hedging or speculation. A "good faith" initial margin deposit (also called a performance bond) of a fraction of the contract size is all that is required to hold a substantial position, with a notional value worth significantly more than the amount invested. Continue reading...

What is Total Return?

Total Return is the measure of all appreciation and interest as well as dividends and other distributions from an investment. Often computations of return will only consider appreciation, and it can be an easy mistake to make when looking at performance data at times. When a stock pays significant and consistent dividends, it needs to be factored in to the computation of total return. This adds a significant compounding effect to the investment’s overall performance, but if you just looked at the sheets that said it had a 4% return and a 2% dividend yield, you would be missing the most important part. Total return can be calculated for different kinds of investments or an entire portfolio, and is often done on an annual basis once all distributions have been made. Continue reading...