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Welcome to Investing for Beginners podcast. This is episode 165 tonight. Andrew and I are going to go back to the well and answer a whole bunch of answer Allistor questions. We have some fantastic ones that we want to read to you guys on the air and go ahead and answer them for you. So I’m going to go ahead and read the first question. So the question is the question for you loving the content. What are the ask you about your opinions on volatility, indexes, BICS, or VIX slash TBI X and others? Why is something like the T Vicks tied inversely to the S and P 500? Isn’t it its own company. So why doesn’t it trade on the NYC or New York stock exchange and new to investing, but have been educating myself intensely for the last two months and interested in your thoughts on this? So am I, Andrew, what are your thoughts?
Okay, so the VIX is the volatility index. Essentially. You might hear about the Vicks in times when the stock market’s in turmoil when you see a sharp crash, that’s usually when you have a lot of volatility. And so like last March. Yeah. Like last March, that would be what the VIX tries to track. And then the T VIX that he’s talking about is basically like a leveraged ETF. So, you know, if the VIX were to go up to like a 60, then the T VIX would go up to double like one 20, something like that. So you mentioned that why is something like TVX tied inversely to the S and P, so it’s not a guarantee that high volatility means that the market’s going to go down, but frequently when there’s a crash, there tends to be a lot of volatility. So, you know, that volatility could look like the market bouncing up and down, like it did in March where it’s up 5% down, 5%, 5% down, 5%, something like that.
So you can have, you know, like a relatively strong market with a high VIX to people like to use the Vicks kind of like as a recession indicator, not, not recession like a bear market indicator. And so, you know, sometimes they’ll try to trade the VIX on that. You know, I’ve heard traders talk about, well, why don’t I just mix a stock long stock portfolio with a VIX component? It’s like, you can’t lose, right? Because if the stock market crashes, then the VIX should go up and then so that those trades will profit while your long trades on the market or are going down. But that doesn’t work out that easily. I’ll give, I’ll give one example. So particularly with this T VIX that this listener’s asking about, it’s a leveraged ETF. And so the problem with those is any leverage.
ETF is just really bad to own over the longterm. They have, I think it’s called a tracking error. That’s one reason for it, another reason which I’ll try to illustrate. So when you have a leveraged ETF, you’re taking the returns and magnifying them. So like I said, if, if the VIX is up 2%, the ETF will be up 4%. If it’s down 3%, the ETF will be down 6%. You haven’t leveraged his stumbling. The problem with that is it’s doing that daily, and it’s leveraging daily. And so the problem with volatility, and if you’re not only, you know, volatility is fine for a longterm investor, because as long as you’re not jumping in and out, you know, as long as it goes up over the longterm, you’re fine. You’re not taking those losses as real losses, but something like a leverage ETF, which is rebalanced every day, it needs to buy and sell it at the beginning and end of those days.
And so those big swings up and down, up and down, they’re magnified because they’re leveraged. And now, you know, when it loses, it loses a lot and then it needs to make that up. And so if you know the math behind gains and losses, if you lose 10%, it’s going to take 11% to gain that back. If you lose 25%, it’s going to; it’s going to require gaining 33%. If you lose something like for the percent, you’re going to need a 60% return, I believe. And it just gets worse and worse. The more money you lose. And so with a leveraged ETF, as those things are swinging up and down, they’re taking those losses and taking those gains. And so over the very longterm, if you’re holding something like a T VIX in your portfolio, you’re fighting against mathematics because you have to take those losses every single day.
And it’s generally just doesn’t work out. And so it’s, it’s not anything like the type of investing we like to teach. We like to teach buying stocks for the longterm. Having part ownership in these businesses and having these businesses grow their cash flows over time, and then be able to pay some of those cash flows back to you and grow the value of the business. When you’re talking about trading vehicles that are leveraged and an index, there’s not anything underneath them, other than just more financial instruments. And so they’re not creating real business value. You know, I buy a business, it has a brand, it provides a customer with something that makes them happy. That’s why they pay for it provides an employee with a job that provides shareholders with profits. There’s a value-added there. These things are leveraging these fancy financial instruments.
They’re not doing anything other than just pushing numbers around and trading law pieces of virtual paper. So, you know, there’s, there’s no economic value added at the end of the day. And a lot of times these things don’t grow over time. Because again, they’re not crew, they’re not creating anything. They’re not creating cash flows. It’s not something that can compound in a way that’s, that works for you unless in the, in the case of a VIX or the T VIX, if you just happened to be buying them at times when there’s high volatility. But if you look at the history of the market over the very, very long term, volatility is more of a special event than it is a recurring feature. And so it’s not something I’m interested in. So it’s a good idea, and it’s a good understanding of the concepts of it, but, you know, for all those reasons is why I don’t, I don’t buy them as longterm stuff.
That was very interesting. I learned a thing or two; I was honestly not super familiar with the Vic. So thank you for sharing that with us. I appreciate it. Yeah, no worries. Alright.
All right. Let’s move on to the next question.
Sure. I’m new to investing, but studying rigorously, I’ve been listening to your podcast was with Dave is retained earnings, okay. To use when measuring a company’s earnings growth year to year. I understand it’s not the only measurement of growth. Could you recommend a good free program for keeping track of the important info associated with buying and selling a stock? Thank you for your time, Mitch. Andrew, what are your thoughts?
Let’s tackle this in two parts. Dave wrote a post. I know it was a while ago. It was like back in February. You uncovered retained earnings pretty well. So if you can try to break it down in like layman’s terms for us, assume somebody who doesn’t know anything about retained earnings, what, what are we talking about here? And is it a decent measurement for earnings growth?
Okay. So retained earnings, retained earnings is a line item that you will find on a balance sheet. So when you go to a balance sheet at, towards the bottom, you’ll see a line item that says retained earnings. Now what that includes is, in essence, it’s money that’s leftover after the company pays out; dividends will pay out any sort of buy share repurchases or pays off any debt. So, in other words, it’s all the money that the company has over the, you know, year or so. And they park it there until they decide what they want to do with it. Generally, it is something that you would like to see go up, but maybe not as much as you’d like it to see, go up as something like earnings. And here’s the reason why some companies depend on where they are in their life cycle.
For example, if you’re looking at a company like Coca Cola, Coca Cola is going to take the majority of their earnings, and they are going to pay them back as dividends. I’m not exactly sure what their payout ratio is, but I’m going to guess it’s in the 75 to 85% range, which means that the majority of the money that they make. So if they make a hundred dollars, they’re going to give $75 worth of those hundred dollars back to shareholders in dividends, or they could do it in a combination of dividends and share buybacks, however, they choose to do it. So those $25 they have leftover wood would go in the retained earnings section. And then a company can choose to use that to either reinvests in the company, or they may hold onto it because they have a project may be that they’re going to be undertaking in a year or two or something along those lines. So essence, that’s what retained earnings is. So is that, is that clear? It’s
Very clear. I would like to make an input, I guess,
I think that confused me for a very long time about retained earnings basically to the point where I just ignored it. Was okay, So you have the balance sheet, right? And you can take this with your finances, just like you can take it with a business, you have assets, you have liabilities, and you have equity. So generally on wall street, when you talk about these businesses, you’re talking about what they call equity is also called shareholders’ equity. And so you’ll have, you know, let’s say we have 50 million in cash. We have 150 million in inventory and everything else. And then let’s say there’s 25 million in debt. So you take all of that. And then what’s leftover is the equity.
When I figured out that Retained earnings are just another expression of shareholders’ equity, that’s where that made sense to me. So like, you have to separate it from the balance sheet, even though it’s technically inside the barrel. And so yeah, The balance sheet there, they’re going to list out the assets, they’re going to list out the liabilities and then the equity part. And then if you think of retained earnings as part of that equity, and then the other part is capital stock. That’s what they call it. It’s the equity Say that
It’s just put into the business when they start the business. So Dave and I were to make a brand new startup and let’s say we both put in $20 million into this startup to fund it. Then my 20 million has 20 million would be for the million. And that would be the capital stock. And then any earnings we, we earned on the startup on top of that would go into retained earnings. Now what those earnings look like on balance, like on the balance sheet or as they, like, they have explained you could pay them out in dividends, right? Or you could keep it internally to grow the business. Those earnings might come in different flavors or different expressions. So, you know, maybe 10 million we use to buy a new store or buy the land for a new store, maybe another 15 million. We used to buy inventory.
So you like, you’re not pulling that 15 million, that 10 million from retained earnings is just kind of keeping the score. It’s like keeping a box score of how much the company earns or loses over time. So you have the capital stock; you have the retained earnings together that make up the equity. And then the other parts of the balance sheet will tell you where, where like the actual numbers are. So that kind of threw me off for a long time. And I didn’t understand it until I kind of separated it from the balance sheet. So you have to understand like retain the earnings. Aren’t a thing. It’s not like a number in a checking account for the business. It’s just more like a tally of how the business has done. So like, let’s say if the business has been losing money, let’s say Dave and I had our startup, and we put 20 million in each.
So we have 40 million in capital stock. And then instead of earning money, we’re losing money. So let’s say we lose 15 million now our capital stocks down to 25 million. Right. And so instead of retainer is going up, it’s going down. And so what that’s going to do, it’s going to add liabilities to our balance sheet because we’re going to have to borrow to continue to fund losing a company that’s losing money. And so that’s where you know, that new debt to fund this money that we’re burning essentially will show up on the balance sheet. And so that’s how the shareholder’s equity will come down to match how the capital stocks reducing, just like on the flip side, when you’re earning money, and you’re adding equity. So you might add inventory, you might add land, and that adds to your shareholder’s equity. And then that’s where it also balances by adding to the retained earnings. I hope that’s not like crazy too deep into the weeds, but that’s, that’s how I think of it. And I think that’s, that’s how you need to think about it. It’s like a separate entity from what the rest of the balance sheet is trying to describe.
Yeah, that’s perfect. I would agree with that. So let’s, let’s tackle the second part of that question then. So
He asked if he, we understand it’s he, I understand it’s not the only measurement of growth. I don’t personally look at retained earnings as a measure of growth at all. When I’m talking about growth, I’m either looking for earnings growth or revenue growth retained earnings growth. For me, like Andrew was saying, it’s more of an accounting function as opposed to actual official physical cash; it’s money that the company owns and, and can use, but it’s not like Andrew was saying, it’s not sitting in a bank account. And so when we’re talking about growth, what you really want to look at is more along the lines of revenue or earnings growth as a measurement of the performance of a company, a retained earnings are something that you want to follow and look at more as a, what is the company doing with the money that they’re making and do they have plans for that money either now, or sometime in the future? It’s not necessarily a measurement of growth. You’re not going to look at an analyst report to have them talk about retained earnings. It’s not something that is discussed on those lines. Andrew, what are your thoughts?
I, yeah, I guess I’m a generally agree with that.
Could you recommend a good free program for keeping track of the important info associated with buying and selling a stock? What are your thoughts on that?
I guess I keep track of my spreadsheet, so I can’t be helpful with that. I’m not selling in and out of a ton of stocks. Yeah. I don’t need to keep track of the training history too much. So I just made up A spreadsheet on Google sheets. I put the positions I have in there, and that’s, that’s the extent of me tracking my buying and selling. And how about you?
Yeah, same. I do that too. I know that there are seeking alpha; for example, I know their portfolio, they have updated the ability on the website now to enter information about companies that you buy. For example, you can, you can notate when you buy Apple, and you can notate how many shares you buy and at what price you buy so that they can kind of keep track of your performance per se. I also know that with Schwab, that I can go on my brokerage account, and I could see how the companies are, you know, how the portfolio is doing as well as any cost basis. My gains losses, all that kind of stuff. I can see all that on there as well, but I do the same thing with Andrew. I just, I look at a spreadsheet that I created easy peasy. Yeah. I mean, the brokers make it
So easy these days. They do, they do for sure.
All right, moving on to the next question. Hey Andrew, my name is Fernando, and I am a fan of your podcast and investing values. I am currently binge listening to the episodes, and I am in episode 42. Hopefully, I can catch up quickly. In episode 39, you mentioned how you are $150 a monthly portfolio as an IRA. My question is, is that still the same? Currently? I am about to open an account with fidelity, and I want to follow your method. That episode was aired in 2017. And I’m just wondering if anything has changed. Thank you, Andy, for your time and help keep up the amazing work kind regards Fernando.
Yeah, so I stick to $150 because it’s simple. It’s easy. It’s a nice habit. Certainly, some of the following along can, can increase that, especially, I don’t know, as inflation hits overtime or as these contribution limits to IRA’s raise your year to year to year. You know, I certainly have my retirement strategies too, but as it pertains to the real-money portfolio, which I post in the leather, it’s just a simple $150 a month. It’s supposed to be something achievable. It’s supposed to be something simple, and you know, something that hopefully you don’t have to make too many sacrifices to follow that path along. And so, yeah, I mean, it’s better than doing nothing. And, and what was nice about that number 150 was, did the compound interest calculator. You saw what average stock market returns could do if, if you had something even as small as 11% per year, which would be a 1% outperformance on, on the stock market based on whether it’s averaged for a very long time, then that one 50 monthly could become a million dollars over for the years.
So if somebody starting relatively young or, you know, perceives themselves to live, to be relatively old, they could have a million dollars and not have to, you know, hit the, hit the lottery or, or, you know, do something immoral or, or, or anything like that. Right. Just a small sacrifice, $150 a month. So that’s kind of the driving story behind it. And, you know, w what’s $150 a month these days, it’s like, you know, a cell phone bill or maybe a couple of nights out at the restaurant. So it’s not asking you to change your life or anything like that radically. Just to reshuffle some priorities and, and try, just have some sort of a habit that’s sustainable that over time will build wealth. And so, yeah, I mean, I still recommend it. Then, the real-money portfolio still does it. And if you can do more than do more obviously as much as you can do and save and invest the better, but I think it’s a fantastic place to start,
I guess, a question for you then along the lines of Fernando’s question then, or is the portfolio still in an, a Roth IRA?
Yeah. I’ve had to shuffle accounts around as I mentioned in the past, you know, moving away from Ally, depending on the year, I’ve had to deal with like backdoor Roth. So it kind of complicated, but, you know, you can, you can look that kind of stuff up, but even, even somebody who doesn’t necessarily qualify for a Roth anymore, they can still find ways to do it through like a backdoor Roth. And so it should be a path, you know, as the laws are now, it should be something that anybody can continue for, however, the lungs, however long the laws allow those types of accounts then. Yeah.
Yeah. I would agree with that, man. My am, I have my account in a Roth IRA as well. It’s, it’s easy to do. It’s super easy to open up when you open your account with fidelity, you just get to choose what kind of account you want, and you choose a Roth IRA, and then you kind of go from there. But before you make that choice, I would consider what is best for you and your particular circumstances, just because Andrew and I have chosen to use Roth. Iras does not mean it necessarily. Everybody else has those particular circumstances, whatever they may be. Some people, it may be better for them to use a combination of Roth and traditional or all Roth or all traditional. It just really depends on what your, what your financial situation is. And as well as consideration of taxes and how close you are to retirement and all those other things. But it’s very; they’re very easy to open. It’s like opening any other account. You can do it in five minutes, so it’s not complicated.
I think being this question kind of highlights, it is perfectly beating in a podcast medium. We’ll have people listening to this years in advance. And so, you know, the contribution limits, change the rules change all the time. I think it’s a good time to talk about them; you did a module. You did a whole module on IRAs and broke it down for absolute beginners. It was a part of our investing for beginners’ master class, and we are reopening it now. So you can look at a lot of the basics, you know, why do you invest IRA for beginners? What’s, what’s that all about? What’s a stock, whether bonds talk about interest rates, talk about some of the more gritty earnings per share dividends, you know, price to book, start talking about the balance sheet there. So that’s, we just reopened that, that could be a way to learn more too. I also just highly recommend you have a website. I have a website, there are topics been covered before, but yeah, everybody’s financial situation is different. Everybody’s kind of income is a different tax. The situation’s different, and it changes over the years, but it’s worth investigating for sure.
Isn’t it? It is not a complicated process. And just really quickly, the, I guess the main difference between the two, if you, if you are going to look at is traditional, is I don’t pay my taxes. Now I pay them later, and a Roth is I pay them now I don’t pay them later. And that’s the basic gist of them. There are more details to that than that. But those are the quick, easy ways to think about the differences between them. Do I want to pay my taxes now, or do I pay my taxes later? Because Uncle Sam is going to want their money at some point. So there is no way to avoid that. You have to, you have to give them their money, but really with, with the Roth of the traditional IRAs, that’s the consideration. One of the considerations you have to think about.
So we’ll move on to the last question. It’s more of two questions here says, Hey, Andrew, I sent you a separate email test at the bottom. He says, ah, is it a smart slash safe strategy to have a portion of my Roth IRA in ETFs, as well as single stocks, or will that dilute my returns? So let’s talk about that one first, having an allocation, ETFs thoughts
That is your comfort level, and that’s how you want to invest. I have no issues with it. I prefer to buy a single stock, but that’s not for everybody ETFs versus single stocks. I can’t see how it would dilute his returns other than maybe the single stocks. Okay. Go for it. If you got opinions, man, share them.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to derail your train. I mean, no, I think you covered it pretty well. It is come down to a preference between if you believe in your abilities to pick individual stocks, or if you just kind of want to take a more passive approach and buy ETFs, the, I guess if you feel good about your stock selection strategy, if you feel good about your skills as a portfolio manager, then I think having a big basket of stocks would dilate your turns in the sense that it would, it will bring you closer to the average returns, Nina. So ETFs that word can mean so many different things. You could be talking about a theme ETF; you’d be talking about the market ETF. And so there’ll be different implications behind that too. I don’t see anything particularly wrong about it in the sense that like Dave said, if it’s, if it’s in your comfort zone, then, then go right ahead.
You know, if, if you feel like you’re, you’re not correctly exposed to, I don’t know, emerging markets or precious metals, anything like that. I mean, it could be a nice filler in there. I would just try to be intelligent about how you’re allocating it. And it does come down to your portfolio, the stocks you already have the stocks you’re looking to get. And you know, like a time where let’s take an indefinite period where the top four or five big technology stocks in the S and P 500 makeup of the vast majority of the index, right? I might have more of a problem buying one of those verses let’s say, I want to invest in airlines, but I don’t want to pick a single stock. So I want to do like an ETF. Then you could do something like that. And maybe that’s less diluting than buying a huge market-weighted index. That makes up just a few names that might be overvalued based on the fact that everybody’s buying them.
That’s a good way to think about what, what he was asking. I think that’s probably the better, the better way to go. It comes down to what you’re comfortable with. Like Andrew was saying, if you’re comfortable with your abilities to pick individual stocks and manage a portfolio, then I think going that route is the best way for you. If that’s not something that floats your boat, but you really want to be invested, and you just want to work with ETFs, there’s nothing wrong with that. And Warren buffet talks about it all the time, being probably the best way to go for a great majority of people. And if that’s the way that you want to go, then, by all means, jump right in and, and work it. But like Andrew was saying, I think trying to be Judicious about the choices you make with these Etfs will also go a long way towards how you do with the market. If you’re buying exotic themed type ETFs, then I think you might struggle more than if you buy a few more mainstream type ones and go with those kinds of things. I think you’ll probably do a lot better over the longterm.
I made the opposite point, but sort of that works too. It’s like a tool, right? The ETFs could work like a tool where maybe I want to use a very, very sharp saw, you know? And it’s because I feel strongly about an industry, but I don’t want to pick a stock, or maybe I feel strong about emerging markets, but I don’t want to pick a country. Right. Yeah. Right. Yeah,
Exactly. Yeah. Andy Schuler was talking about that. One of his blog posts, he chose the, was it the jet ETF? I believe it was because he wanted to try to dabble in airlines, but he didn’t feel comfortable picking Delta versus United. So he just went with that instead. I haven’t asked him how he, how, how that did for him, but I thought it was a good thought. It was a good idea because he just wasn’t comfortable stepping into the industry for sure.
It’s a good industry to be cautious and, yeah,
That’s for sure. The last six months have proven that have they not
Moving on to the next part of his question, I found your podcast about a month ago, and I’ve binged the first 95 episodes so far. I’ve just about maxed out my Roth IRA. And I was wondering whether my regular taxable account should generally hold the same stocks as my IRA, or should I choose completely new stocks. I plan on only investing in dividend-paying companies that will contribute about $500 a month if that helps. Thanks again, Dave and Andrew, Eric, Andrew, what are your thoughts on that?
So I’ve found with my portfolio that the opportunities change from month to month, and that’s particularly being, I think, a more value-focused investor. So a lot of the times I’ll have a stock otherwise say a lot of times. So it sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, but it happens that I’ll have months where I’ll, I’ll buy a stock, and they’ll go up to five, 10, 15, 20%. And so is it still a good buy 10 or 20% more expensive than it was when I bought it originally? Because he talks about having these stocks in his IRA already. And he’s like, should I buy more of them? So, you know, maybe if you have a stock that’s still around the same price and you still feel good about it. You want to buy more, buy more. If it’s, if it’s cheaper, now you can get it on sale.
Nothing terrible has happened with the business buy more. Why not? But the kind of like the other question to keep it in the context of your whole portfolio. That’s something I think we all need to keep in mind as investors, whether you’re possibly handing it off passively, just kind of randomly doing allocations in a retirement account, or whether you are doing something more active like this try to have. I would, I mean, I’m a spreadsheet guy I’m going to, I’m going to advocate a spreadsheet, but you know, I do look at what I’m exposed to from month to month, not only for the individual stocks, I’ve been trying to look at secularly, how am I exposed? So it’s like, I think I figured out something like 35% exposed to stocks. I will probably jump if we get the COVID vaccine. And then I was something like 15% allocated to if we had a recession.
And so I had some, you know, more defensive stocks in there and then you have a certain percentage that maybe would do better if we had a weaker dollar. So I don’t think you have to get as, as granular as that. I’m, I’m, I guess I’m a lot more experienced than the average investor. Who’s just starting, but I think it’s important to when you ask a question like I have a portfolio already. I have stocks already, how should I allocate my next money? Well, it depends how much money you have now, how much of that is in how many stocks, what the percentages are there and then what the markets are giving you now, what weight you’re looking at for opportunities and somewhere in there, I think a good answer will pop up and then you just keep going from there. I mean, for me, when I’m making these recommendations for Eli, there, I am pretty much trying to think of the best new idea every single month.
And I’m constantly reevaluating that. So even though I might like a business more, if it’s 20% more expensive, maybe it’s not as great of an investment as this other business that has a 30% margin of safety. And you know that sometimes it’s going to depend on what Mr. Market is quoting you. And so that’s why you, you kind of have to take an album on the month to month and you don’t want to say, well, just do this or do that.
All right, folks. Well, that is going to wrap up our conversation for this evening. I wanted to thank Eric Mitch and Fernando for taking the time to write us those fabulous questions. We appreciate you guys taking the time to do that. And we hopefully answered your questions satisfactorily, and you guys got some good knowledge out of our conversation tonight. So without any further ado, I’m going to go ahead and sign this off. You guys go out there and invest with a margin of safety emphasis on safety. Have a great week, and we’ll talk to you all next week.
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