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What is the “Riskless” (or Risk-Free) Rate of Return?

For comparisons of the risk/return ratio of an investment, one must start with a benchmark of a risk-free rate of return in the current market. Since U.S. Treasury bills are backed by the full faith, credit, and taxing power of the U.S. Government, they are considered “riskless,” or as close to riskless as we can get. The current yield on a 10-year Treasury note is generally considered the risk-free rate of return. Continue reading...

What is the Risk/Return Trade-Off

There are investments which have the potential for very high returns, but they will always be that much riskier than the lower-yielding alternatives, and this is part of the risk/return trade-off. The relationship between risk and return is a positive linear relationship in most theoretical depictions, and if an investor seeks greater returns, he or she will have to take on greater risk. This is called the risk/return trade-off. For more stability and less risk, an investor will have to sacrifice some potential returns. Continue reading...

What is the ‘Risk-Free Rate of Return’?

The risk-free rate of return is the rate an investor can get on a risk-free asset at a given time. It is usually the current yield on a 10-year treasury, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government and is considered risk-free. The risk-free rate is used in several calculations and considerations in finance, to show what return can be earned in the current market environment without being exposed to any risk. Continue reading...

What is market risk?

Market risk is the chance that an investment will not maintain its value when it is dependent on the many factors that influence the health of the economy and the stock market. Investors must be aware that investing money in a stock or mutual fund is to tie the fate of that money to the fate of the company or companies that they have invested in. The other side of the coin, of course, is the potential for gains. The potential gains of an investment are the premium that is paid to an investor in exchange for allowing a company or mutual fund to take risks with the investor’s money. Continue reading...

What are the Risks Associated With Stocks?

Stocks are inherently risky, and an investor has risk of capital loss. As with most things in life, no risk yields no return. Theoretically, the greater the risk, the greater the potential return. A new company which has not established itself yet will have a decent chance of crashing and an investor can lose all invested capital. But — what if it takes off? Your potential gains in such a situation are potentially vast. There is a point when the rate of increased return per degree of risk begins to slow down. Continue reading...

What is Risk?

Risk can be defined as exposure to the possibility of loss of an asset. Risk might be used to denote the cause of the potential loss, or the probability of the loss. In finance, it is common to hear about the correlation between risk and return; more risk may yield a higher return, but it also has the potential for more loss. The situation requires that an investor willing to take such a risk must provide the capital to fund the investment which may grow or may fail. Continue reading...

What is the “efficient frontier”?

The “Efficient Frontier” is a modern portfolio theory tool, which demonstrates to investors the best possible returns they can expect from their portfolios, relative to the amount of risk they’re willing to accept. For investors that find themselves below the “Efficient Frontier,” it means their strategy is not providing enough return for the level of risk assumed. The opposite is true as well. What the theory means to communicate is that investors would be wise to include some higher growth, higher risk securities in their portfolios, but combine them in a strategic way so as to gain risk/reward value that comes with diversification. Continue reading...

What are Balanced Funds?

Balanced funds offer a well-diversified investment that includes relatively equal exposure to stocks and bonds. Balanced funds combine stocks, bonds, and money market instruments to give investors some upside potential along with a goal of capital preservation. While they are considered to be safer, they also have more modest returns in most market environments, because, of course lower risk investments have lower potential returns. Continue reading...

What is the Current Ratio/Liquidity Ratio?

The current ratio is a measure of a company’s immediate liquidity, calculated by dividing current assets by current liabilities. The value of this ratio lies in determining whether a company's short-term assets (cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities, receivables and inventory) are sufficient enough to pay-off its short-term liabilities (notes payable, current portion of term debt, payables, accrued expenses and taxes). Generally speaking, the higher the current ratio, the better. Continue reading...

What is alpha in investing?

Alpha is a risk ratio which measures gains or losses relative to a benchmark, indicating whether an investor is being compensated with a return greater than the volatility risk being taken. Alpha’s counterpart, the Beta figure, measures how closely an investment follows movements in the market as a whole or, when examining mutual funds, how similarly the funds move to their relevant indexes. Alpha is expressed as integers, which can be translated into percentage points above or below a benchmark for a time period. Investors are interested in higher Alpha figures: the larger the positive Alpha, the more the fund in question has outperformed its benchmark. An Alpha of 2 indicates a performance 2% greater than its benchmark; inversely, a -2 Alpha would denote 2% underperformance. Continue reading...

What is Unsystematic Risk?

Unsystematic risk is idiosyncratic or unique risk that does not reflect a direct correlation with the risk present in the market, or systematic risk. Most securities and portfolios experience risk and variations which are not attributable to the market as a whole, and this is known as unsystematic risk. Systematic risk, on the other hand, is the risk borne by all investors in the market, where broad changes in the market cannot be avoided through diversification of a portfolio. Continue reading...

What is the Capitalization Ratio?

The capitalization ratio measures a company’s leverage, or the amount of long-term debt it holds relative to long-term debt + shareholder equity. Essentially, it is a measure of how capitalized a company is to support operations and growth. Continue reading...

What are Small Cap Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds that invest heavily in companies that are small, but not micro-size, can be described as small cap funds. A small capitalization mutual fund primarily invests in small companies. Small companies are usually defined as companies with market capitalization of under $2 billion. The companies in this category are larger than those in the “micro” and “nano” cap categories. A mutual fund investing in small cap companies will generally experience higher price volatility than both mid cap and large cap mutual funds. Over time, small cap companies as a group have tended to outperform the broader market, so the higher risk is associated with higher return. Continue reading...

What is the Debt Ratio?

The debt ratio measures a company’s total debt to total assets. It is the simplest calculation available for determining how indebted a company is on a relative basis. The debt ratio is crucial for determining a company’s financial standing, and should be considered by potential investors. To calculate the debt ratio, one only needs to divide total liabilities (i.e. long-term and short-term liabilities) by total assets. Continue reading...

What is Sharpe Ratio?

The Sharpe Ratio is a risk-weighted metric for returns on investment. It measures whether an investment offers a good return for the amount of risk assumed by the investor. The risk/return trade-off is a positive linear relationship in most theoretical depictions – if an investor seeks greater returns, they will have to take on greater risk. For more stability and less risk, an investor will have to sacrifice some potential returns. Continue reading...

What is the Price to Earnings Ratio (P/E Ratio)?

The Price to Earnings ratio is a company’s stock price relative to its net income per share. A low P/E indicates that a stock is trading at a low premium to earnings, which may indicate that the market thinks low relative growth rates are ahead for the company. A company with a high P/E means investors are willing to pay a premium for growth, perhaps anticipating high future growth rates for the company. The P/E ratio is calculated by dividing the market value per share of a company by its earnings per share. Continue reading...

What is the Price to Book Ratio (P/B Ratio)?

The price to book ratio compares a company’s current stock market price to its book value (which is generally speaking a company’s net assets). To calculate, an analyst need only divide a company’s latest market price by it book value, which is calculated by taking ‘Total Assets minus Intangible Assets and Liabilities.’ The P/B ratio gives some idea of what premium an investor is paying if the company went bankrupt immediately. Continue reading...

What is the Price/Earnings to Growth Ratio (PEG Ratio)?

The Price/Earnings to Growth Ratio (PEG Ratio) is used to determine a company’s value relative to its expected growth. The PEG ratio can be calculated by dividing a company’s P/E by its annual earnings per share growth. A lower PEG ratio may indicate that a company is undervalued relative to its expected growth, and a general rule of thumb is that a PEG ratio below 1 is favorable. Continue reading...

What are Risk-Weighted Assets?

International banking regulations set forth in the Basel Accords require that institutions maintain a certain amount of capital relative to the amount of risk-weighted assets (RWA) they have. Conservative investments such a treasury notes have a risk weighting of zero, while corporate bonds have a weighting of .20, and so forth. The exact weighting system is laid out in Basel agreements. The system is designed to reveal a bank’s level of exposure to potential losses, and the capital requirements are there to balance out the risks and to protect the global economy from a meltdown in the financial system. Continue reading...

What is the Operating Cash Flow Ratio?

The operating cash flow ratio, or OCF ratio, is used to measure whether a company’s cash flows are sufficient to cover current liabilities. It essentially measures how many times a company can use cash flow from operations to cover debt expenses. It can be measured by dividing a company’s cash flow from operations by its current liabilities. Companies with high (relative to their peers or other companies in the sector OCF ratios are generally in good financial health, meaning they can adequately cover ongoing liabilities with cash flow from operations. Continue reading...