Welcome to Investing For Beginners podcast, this is episode 42. Andrew and I are going to do something fun tonight; we’re going to answer some reader questions.
- Correction about how to treat capital gains when selling a stock.
- What options are there to check the financials of a company before year’s end.
- Different strategies to utilize when prices fall to help protect your investments.
- Tips to find the right broker for you.
We’ve gotten some emails in the last week, or so that had some interesting questions. Andrew and I thought we would chat a little bit about those so without any further ado Andrew I’m going to turn it over to you big guy and let you start us off.
Andrew: yeah let’s catch up on some of these huh yeah okay first one person. Alan, he says “hey Andrew in the last episode 39 the question was asked when you buy stocks over time and then you sell which gets sold first, the ones you bought or later ones?
Alan says you and Dave said it didn’t matter from a profit standpoint is correct, but for calculating capital gains tax, it can mean the difference between long-term and short-term capital gains. So if I buy ten shares of stock XYZ a year and a half ago assuming long-term capital gains kicks in after one year and I bought another ten shares three months ago and today I sell ten shares will I pay short-term or long-term capital gains on the sale?
So, Alan, you’re right it does matter as far as capital gains taxes go. I mean like we mentioned in the episode there’s that cut off time of 12 months, and so if you’ve held the stock for less than 12 months, it’s short-term capital gains. Longer than that’s long-term so in essence, if you were to sell the shares that you can hold for as long then yes that would affect how much you get in at the end of the day because you’ll be getting short-term and long-term capital gains.
The way I look at it, Dave you can correct me if I’m wrong, but either the brokers going to do that for you and then if they don’t because it’s a thing right where the broker is going to give you a form while your tax implications based on your buys and sell. And then you will either take that to an accountant or if you’re doing a Turbo Tax thing whatever that may be.
But at least with my accountant, I’m usually telling him like my dollar amounts as far as how much stock I sold and then saying if it’s a long-term or short-term capital gains. I don’t know if that’s the case I’m assuming if you’re doing a Turbo Tax that’s value you will enter it manually.
So I’ll be aware of it yourself and then interact so you know if you’re buying 20 shares ten of them would be long-term ten short terms and you’re selling just the long-term capital gains. Be aware that worth to the IRS that and then if there are any discrepancies if you get audited by the IRS the trade histories all going to be there with your broker.
So if anything anybody wants to challenge what you’ve inputted it’s just the case of looking back, and it’s a simple math thing, and you’re just look looking at the difference between the dates and then looking at the activity I don’t see it being an issue, but it is good that you look.
But because there is that difference, and we didn’t clarify that an episode 39, again I’m not a tax professional. This isn’t any professional advice but for my honor for my understanding the capital gains things are things that you are self-reporting to the IRS.
And in the case of an audit, you should have the proper documentation from your broker that they sent in the mail.
Dave: Yeah, exactly I know in the past when I’ve done my taxes with, and I’ve done mine through TurboTax. It does ask you that question if you have any capital gains and whether they’re long or short and you report them because I remember on my, then Trade King reports it just showed me the dollar amount.
It didn’t specify whether any of them are long-term or short-term, so it didn’t break it down from that point, and I guess they’re not responsible for that. I guess you are as the taxpayer and so I do remember having to put that on there, and it is important to be aware of those.
It gives because that does affect you know your bottom line because you know when you pay Uncle Sam the money you owe him that’s coming out of the profit that you would have made from selling that company. So it is important, so I appreciate Alan taking the time to write to us and tell us about that so that we could correct everybody for their benefit.
That’s very timely to write considering everything that’s going on at the GOP tax stuff which I mean I’m not obviously expert or anything like that. I think it’s important to follow along with what’s going on. They are changing or their all proposing to change the way that they calculate cost basis.
So everything we just talked about right now applies to that as well for my understanding. It’s not going to affect if you’re just doing a simple buy and then the simple sell it should be the same kind of capital gains implications.
There’s speculation, or it might even be true I don’t know I didn’t read the bill or anything, but the actual tax rates will probably change as far as the percentage is wise and based on your income and everything like that.
But from the viewpoint of just doing a simple, I bought ten shares and then in two years I sold ten shares. As long as you’re not buying shares of multiple different prices a basis thing. Well, whatever change they’re talking about what the whole cost basis thing.
I don’t think that’s going to affect us but to at least be somewhat aware and I’m sure it’s something that won’t go into effect for several years down the line.
But oh no I think it’s worth as an investor like you said it’s going to be your responsibility so if you pay Uncle Sam more than you should have that’s your fault.
So we don’t have to be tax professionals but let’s just get some of these basics down, and I think that covers it well.
Dave: yep I agree. So the next question that we had was from Jeff and Jeff had several questions. So they said.
“Hi, Andrew I want to thank you so much for providing this easy start to share investing. no one I’ve ever asked about errors has explained it so simply with the ratios and the limits on these, keep the emotions out of the decision-making I’m 49 it just got started so have some good ground to make up.
I’m currently using my self-managed super fund in Australia to fund my first shares.
Dave: we have a lot of people listen to us from out of the country it’s kind of interesting.
“I’ve had a few questions to put to you I hope you can help out. Number one is there anyway between the yearly, and half-yearly company reports to get up-to-date update figures? Particularly the balance sheet values to track debt?”
Andrew: no, I mean like there are different websites, and then you can get the data. I don’t like the idea of getting like up to date day you know like that, for example, you could have the p/e ratio on updates pretty much every day when with the changes of the price.
When I’m researching a company, I like to look at the very source of it, so that’s why we recommend sec.gov for other stocks. Another country might be a different website, I just know because I’m in the States, the United States requires that these companies file these consolidated reports that are audited and then it’s a big process, and they’re all regulating SEC.
I’ve used other websites like advfn.com, and I’ve seen discrepancies there because you know these are websites they’re all pulling from the same source. So if you can get from the data source than any mix-ups as the data gets transferred, you won’t have to have that kind of analyst you make them yourself.
So the question is yes I’m there’s plenty of websites where you can get up-to-date figures, but personally, I like to only go to the source because of what I said about the whole data integrity thing. And also I don’t like looking for there the core there and doing anything less than a year because you know they make the company’s annual report, and it’s something that you’re supposed to they’re supposed to post every year, and it’s hard to evaluate companies over a quarterly basis because every industry is different.
Take retail, for example; they’re going to have their q4 to be at a much higher profitability than most every other industry.
If they’re taking advantage of holiday shoppers and everything like that so and that’s going to be different by some industries at lower parts of the clock.
Yes so basically at stock market you’re using these sectors perform in a different way the only way to have an even measuring stick so to say is to look at by the year and just look at yearly results so that’s why I don’t like looking at anything like if there’s a new earnings release or a new you know a couple of quarters of new data that are fresher or more updated than the annual report nine months in and if they haven’t filed annual report anew.
I’ll still be looking at that older data because I like to look from a bigger standpoint longer-term standpoint. Let’s look at the big picture, let’s not get caught up in the minutiae and so that’s what I do, and that’s what I recommend just sticking with the whole annual report the 10k thing and not trying to get up-to-the-minute, up to the day kind of kind of data and not really worrying about that.
So I know that it’s not the answer you want and Jeff, but it’s my take on it, and I’m sure a couple of Google searches could get you maybe what you’re looking for. But I think anything whenever your country’s equivalent to sec.gov and advice would be would probably be the way to go, and I wouldn’t worry about getting those updated by the day or the minute.
Dave: Jeff an idea that I like to use is the trailing 12 months TTM you’ll see that on different reports and what that does is it takes an average of every quarter from the last quarter.
so let’s say you’re in your third quarter before the end of the year and you want to look at something then what you do is you just take each quarter from your quarterly data and you just add those altogether and you get an average for four quarters and that kind of helps you give in a closer idea instead of having to wait until you get the annual 10k report.
So I understand why you want to do that and looking at it quarter by quarter can drive you a little bit nuts but if you do it annually, you will help save your sanity. Also with doing the trailing 12 months, it gives you a kind of a good snapshot if you’re about like I said halfway or three quarters through the year it can help you give you a little bit of better insight into where the company is at that particular moment, so I hope that helps.
Andrew: yeah that’s excellently put, what’s more, elegant than I did having much more concise. That’s pretty usual.
Okay the second part of this question I’ve read that it is foolish not to protect your assets and that share prices can quickly fall to zero dollar sign how do you do this some people use put options and other insurance methods, so they have how would you protect your assets knowing that share prices can fall quickly.
Dave: the simple answer is trailing stops.
Andrew: yep trailing stops and obviously the VTI which is his next question. I’m sure most of the listeners know about the VTI by now if you don’t it’s just based on company data and financials and looking at what has made companies fail in the past and then using that information and avoiding companies that have those characteristics.
So his third question is, does your VTI work with any share market? I’m assuming that uses standard / common metrics I’m using the ASX200 that present which by the way that’s for Australia.
I would like to buy your VTI package soon can you recommend any good overseas markets after I’ve finished with ASX?
Andrew: so yes the way the VTI works as I said, it’s based on audited reports from the SEC. So the SEC requires three reports here in the United States.
It is the income statement, the balance sheet, and the cash flow statement. So if you are looking at stocks doesn’t matter what country it is if they have an income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement then you can use a VTI with it. To be more specific if you have net revenue earnings as total assets, total liabilities shareholders equity and net cash and the viewer then you can use it.
So it doesn’t go like super in-depth into the financial reports it just uses kind of the main pieces the risks that are involved if you’re investing outside of the United States and it’s going to depend on what country you are doing it from.
I think it’s something we should bring up but you know the SEC is very strict and one of the good things about that regulation is that it reduces fraud and reduces the kinds of things where companies are lying about what’s going on with their business.
Some of the other less regulated countries and stock exchanges I’m thinking particularly things like what we saw I don’t know the exact date if it was the earlier late-2000s. But you had like these reverse splits or something or reverse something that with the Chinese markets where there’s the just rampant amount of a fraud and all these just really nasty kind of things.
So there are some risks I don’t know much about the indexes outside of the United States, but I’m assuming the big ones are obviously going to be more credible. He asks “you know what else to look at besides the ASX?”
We have a lot of Canadian listeners, and that’s actually what the next group of questions is going to be about there seems to be a lot of resources and financial data on those stocks. The other one I can think of would be the United Kingdom and obviously Australia like he said so you know and don’t count out the US market.
There was a data point that I saw a while back which was an infographic stating that something like 70% of market capitalization of the world was in stocks in the United States. So even though there are all these fluctuations with the currency and people are talking about how the dollar the US dollar is slowly being abandoned as the world reserve currency…
There’s still a very large amount of total stock market in the United States; there’s Japan too which would be something to look at. But the U.S. is huge and people it’s popular here in the United States to have people kind of bash the United States just because I think it draws a lot of attention. Especially if you’re a listener from here but I mean don’t count it doesn’t count us out. Warren Buffett’s kind of one of those another one of those guys who pounds the drum about the US, and I’m pretty sure he’s like almost 100% the United States, and so I’m the same way.
And I think the whole fall of Rome thing has been talked about for a long time, and I’m don’t want to say it that kind of thing won’t happen, but there’s been a lot of stock market gains in the past, and it could continue for a very long time and so there’s obviously a lot of value here and I like where Jeff’s mind is I hear he’s considering a lot of things outside of his own like what his kind of circle of confidence could be.
So I think that’s cool but understand there’s a lot of things to learn about that. What’s nice about something like the VTI indicator is it is not only is it applicable to any stock for the most part. As long as it’s as long as we can look at the data. It also is very timeless, so the metric said it’s looking at are things that aren’t going to change you know.
You could have a metric like a company’s website visitors and what’s the monetary value of per visit on their webpage but something like profit that’s never going to change no matter even a thousand years around sure the idea of having profit having cash isn’t going to change.
So that it’s important to align your values with things that are timeless like that and kind of work from there. So I hope that answers those questions if you have anything to add to that Dave?
Dave: okay yeah we aren’t international experts, and I think we’ve talked before about how there’s a lot of tax implications with that in particular.
But one thing that I would like to add to what Andrew was saying was the tax implications are one of the big reasons why I have not ventured outside of the United States. There are you know large tax implications for the US investing outside of the country because of the conversion rate and different things than that nature.
One thing that I know we’re talking to Brad last week from England and he was able to find a broker that allows you to buy United States stocks without having to pay the taxes.
Now, I’m not exactly sure the ins and outs and how all that works but I would imagine in this day and age if you dig around a little bit you might be able to find something somewhere that would be offered in your country of Australia, and that might be a really good place for you to start looking into another option for finding the stocks outside of your country and you know not that there’s anything wrong with any stretch of imagination.
Investing in your own country but if you’re looking for other options that might be something that you might want to investigate and see if there is something there for you to be able to do that there are ways that you can get around this, and there are other options for you outside of Australia.
Andrew: for sure I wouldn’t necessarily be disappointed in that answer if I was Jeff like I mean it can kind of sound daunting because there’s a lot to take in and a lot of different things to research but in the end he’s going to have plenty of stocks to choose from in the end . ASX I mean it’s not like it’ some small rinky-dink company or country you got lost for days down there.
Andrew: okay let’s keep the theme of international move on the last question:
“Hi Andrew I am investigating buying your Eletter there just a few questions I’m Canadian will I have access to the same stocks you do?”
I have a couple of Canadian Eletter subscribers, and they’ve given me some feedback. Depends on your broker that’s a crappy answer but so I’ve heard there’s been like I think it was like an employer-provided broker or just one of like a broker I just never really heard of and that broker wasn’t allowing the eletter subscriber to buy some of the stocks I was recommending.
I’ve talked plenty of times before about how I like small-cap US stocks the other value stocks a lot of those are like so small. Too small to be for whatever reason the brokers not allowing people to buy that I don’t know if that’s an international problem or if it’s just because they’re just literally only offering stocks at a market cap of X and above but that’s something to keep in mind that there could be that limitation of my broker is not going to let me buy these stocks.
Because I’m international, so that is just something to consider. She also asked how where do I buy stocks so you’d go to your broker and so you know I was answering these questions for her and I did some research about the different Canadian brokers I had also gotten feedback from the same a leather subscriber of saying how you couldn’t drip on this Canadian broker.
So I did some poking around I found the broker called quest trade. So if you’re Canadian, there’s a broker called quest trade. It’s very similar to Trade King, now called Ally.
Here in the States, we have Ally, and that’s for ninety-five trades it’s by far the cheapest trades other than Robin Hood which we discussed in the past. But what’s nice is you can drip what’s nice is they have great customer service, and it’s just like the complete package without having to pay a higher transaction fee cost for my understanding for myself with my research question.
It’s the same thing they do have like an account an annual account fee if you have under five thousand dollars. So once you cross over that five thousand dollar a mile you don’t have to pay every month every year, and you’re still getting those four ninety-five trades, and they do drip.
DRIP, dividend reinvestment plan, means automatically getting those dividends and being able to purchase more shares with your dividends.
So that’s huge I mean check that out and I did ask her you know if she’s having any issues I I’ll give her a refund if she’s not able to buy any of the stocks in the Eletter, so just I think something for everybody to be aware of is your broker is kind of important.
You know if they’re not offering drip you’re losing out on the whole half side of the compounding equation and or not Dave, and I never recommend buying the stock that’s like 100 million dollars in market cap.
For example, one that’s so small that it could be swallowed up and we did talk about that last week, but you know there should be a reasonable amount of smaller cap stocks that you should be able to buy. So maybe even before you put money into a broker it’s worth looking into to see if the wider range of stocks you’re looking for is something that’s available to you, and that’s a big reason why I prefer the IRAs over the 401ks and obviously most employers off for 401ks and definitely utilize that match but one of the downsides of that is they often limit the funds that you can pick and then a lot of times you can’t buy individual stocks in the 401k. One reason why the IRA is cool, and it’s something to max out if you can and to take advantage of maybe in parallel with like a match from a 401k. All kind of technical kind of boring questions but these are very important to consider and to make sure that you have all your ducks in a row.
When it comes to buying and investing and holding for the long term because these small things make a big difference in the decades the potential decades to follow so do that and you know if you have money in a broker, and your broker is not doing certain things just closing and go to new one maybe what an hour of your time to set you up for much better results down the line that it’s definitely worth it.
The last couple questions here from Daniella she says
“I’ve been listening to your podcasts are these the ones you buy and hold for a long time or do you make frequent changes?”
Kind of covered that in the past but between the stocks I’m buying I split those into the regular portion and the dividend fortress. There’s differences in the selling conditions between the two, and this can impact the holding period for each.
“Do these stocks pay a dividend, will dividends automatically be reinvested?”
Yes, all the Eletter positions pay dividends and I’m one of the guys who are I guess out there standing on my hill to say that I believe that all stocks you buy should pay a dividend. I think an investment is an investment because it provides you an income and cash and I think while you can make more money with stocks that don’t pay dividends, a lot of dividend stocks do also make the kind of great gains that you see out there, and you can get higher results with dividend stocks that grow their dividend and compound that over time.
If you search dividends on my blog einvestingforbeginners.com you can go to the successful dividend characteristics in the post I did, and that one showed a bunch of stocks that compounded at 17 percent or higher year.
They saw their share price and the dividends grow and they’ve just made for some fantastic returns. I think some of the higher ones even earn 20 the 25 percent a year talking about like a 25 year period that these stocks compounded wealth and they were all dividend stocks. So it’s possible it’s kind of a different viewpoint to what a lot of different investors say.
But I’m kind of strong on that dividend thing, and that’s why all the stocks I buy our dividend stocks and those are the ones I recommend.
So I know this episode was kind of all over the place and our kind of other different questions here and there. But I think these will kind of hopefully fill in some of the gaps and on somethings and some important details that everybody should keep in mind. This is obviously a huge thing right it’s your money so you got to take care of it and then take care of it tightly and there’s a lot of different moving pieces there even though there’s a lot of different details and intricacies like this I don’t think it’s something to be discouraged about.
I think it’s something that you just kind of pick these things up and try to retain them as the days go on and you don’t have to get it all right at the beginning, and you can invest your money and not have a compound in the most maximal way as possible.
But if you’re picking up little bits of information as you go along getting better as you go along and getting tips like this and asking questions and therefore preventing certain aspects of losing out on the money here and there. Then you accelerate that learning process and kind of get to mastery sooner.
So I think yeah I like episodes like this-this is a cool little Q&A, and hopefully, it was helpful for everybody out there.
Dave: all right folks well that’s going to wrap it up for us tonight. I hope you enjoyed our little back and forth with the Q&A. We had some very interesting questions that Andrew received, and we thought we should take a moment to answer them for them as Andrew likes to say if one person is asking a question you know there are ten people out there thinking the same thing.
So we’re all here to help you, and we hope you found some value in what we were talking about today and without any further ado go out there and find some great intrinsic value invest with a margin of safety emphasis on the safety. You guys have a great week, and we’ll see you next week.