It’s all magic. Anyone can become a millionaire without special anything. All you need is money, and … abracadabra … magic works itself. That magic is compounding, like a snowball rolling down the hill.
As Einstein once said, “the most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.” Well actually, nobody can confirm the quote’s true author. It’s just credit to Einstein himself to give the quote more weight. More weight as in the snowball rolling down the hill. More weight as in your investment account balance increasing.
Past S&P 500 Returns
Over the past 40 years (1978 to 2017), S&P 500 has had an inflation-adjusted annualized return rate of 8.11%, after having dividends reinvested.
After dividends and compound interest, $1,000 investment in 1978 would be $22,661*.
Over the past 30 years (1988 to 2017), $1,000 investment would be $9,595*.
Over the past 20 years (1998 to 2017), $1,000 investment would be $2,623*.
Over the past 10 years (2008 to 2017), $1,000 investment would be $2,054*.
* Note the investment values above are before any brokerage fees and taxes.
That just includes the initial investment. It doesn’t include periodic investments. Let’s include periodic investments as an example.
Time Is Power
Below you will see two people, Jacob and Kelly, making a periodic investment until they retire at age 65. The only difference is that Jacob starts investing at age 20. Kelly starts out late, at age 30.
Their investment will yield inflation-adjusted 5% annual return, and 2% dividend yield which automatically gets reinvested.
Jacob started out earlier and invested $20,000 more than Kelly. However, he came out way ahead of her by a whopping $499,659. Time is money. The power of time and compound is real. Very real!
Start investing as soon as you can. The earlier, the better.
Start investing as much as you can. The bigger, the better.
Before you close this article, one more thing. You notice how a male (Jacob) made way more money than a female (Kelly)? Highlighting income inequality.
Oh, wait! One more thing. You notice how a female started out so late than a male? Highlighting other gender gaps across four thematic dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Political Empowerment, and Health and Survival.
Anyway, thank you for listening today. I mean reading. Have a nice day.
Let’s get to the ugly truth. Since inception (July 2014), my passive portfolio is up only 2.18%, 19 times less than the market return during the period. For 2017, the portfolio returned only 3.82%, 6 times less than the market return. Um….um….um, let me try to justify the low returns.
My peers and people jealous of me would be laughing like this:
When I opened the account in the summer of 2014, TD Ameritrade gave me 2 months to trade for free. So during that time, I wanted to fill the account with stocks. The only problem was I did not know which stocks to buy. At the same time, I did not know how to research potential investments.
Mostly guided by “expert” recommendations and positive headlines, I bought some stocks which destroyed my portfolio, including Ford (F), J.C.Penny (JCP), Cisco (CSCO), General Electric (GE), and General Motors (GM). In 2015, I still did not know which stocks to buy. I wanted to do my own research. I decided to research all the stocks that were bought the previous year.
From my research, I found CSCO, GE, and JCP attractive. So I decided to keep them in the portfolio. I even wrote about CSCO and GE on the blog. I did not write on JCP as I was not profoundly convinced. Funny thing is I have never shopped at JCP, just at its competitors. Even my mother did not like J.C. Penny.
I did not like F, yet I decided to keep F in the port because it was not worth getting rid of them at $10 commissions. For GM, I was on the fence. In addition to these names, I decided to research new names and bought some of them. 70% of my portfolio was in cash in January of 2015. In December, it was 42%.
The new stocks I bought in 2015 were non-dividend yielding risky names, such as Bellatrix Exploration (BXE), Twitter (TWTR), and GoPro (GPRO). All of which did not work out well to this day. BXE, because I tried to find a good energy company at the time every energy companies were distressed. I’m very active on Twitter and use GoPro most of the time. So I wanted to invest in them. At that time, I thought Twitter would get acquired, and GoPro management would start to turn things around, and the Karma Drone would be positive for the company’s financials.
In 2016, I continued to research new stocks. However, I did not invest in any of them. I deposited more money into the account during that year. At the end of 2016, 82% of the portfolio was in cash.
I always found real estate interesting. Used to read about them. My interest in the real estate market skyrocketed after my first ever internship, at a small real estate firm. In January of 2017, I decided to buy WPC, a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). During the year, I also bought Verizon (VZ). I did not want the remaining cash in the port to sit idle. So I decided to purchase free commission based short-term bond funds, very stable dividend yielding cash parking (and one high-yield ETF). At the end of 2017, 17% of the port was in cash.
Over the past month, I have been researching consumer goods companies. I’m looking to add one to the port. When I do, I will be sure to write about it.
I’m currently holding 10 companies; CSCO, GE, GM, BXE, WPC, JCP, F, TWTR, GPRO, and VZ.
All shares of 10 different companies belong to 1 class: domestic equity. 62% are in large cap., and 38% are in mid-cap.
On February 16, 2015, I recommended going long Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) when the share price was $43.95. Since then, it is up 101%*. I made a mistake of not buying when I wrote about it. “Put your money where your mouth is, Khojinur.”
On April 12, 2015, I recommended going long General Electric (NYSE: GE). Since then, GE is down 33%*. Dividends are automatically invested in new shares. Average price I paid for the shares is $26. I’m down 29%. Despite the 50% dividend cut recently, I’m staying with the stock for two reasons. The cost-cutting will be the best bet for us the shareholders. The $7 commission fee won’t be worth it, especially since the stock was bought in 2015 when I had less money. If I can open second Robinhood account, I’ll transfer from Ameritrade to the free-commission based brokerage.
In the summer of 2015, I wrote about CSCO (part 1, part 2 AND 4Q FY’15 earnings report). Since the first article, the networking giant is up 44%*. Average price I paid for the shares is $25.11. I’m currently up 57%.
On November 21, 2015, I wrote my first article on LLY and believed it was overvalued (it still is). Since then, the pharmaceutical company is up a mere 1.25%*. The second article on LLY was posted a year after the first article. I personally am not short the stock as I cannot short.
On December 26, 2015, I recommended going long GoPro (NASDAQ: GPRO) and believed it was a buy. Since then, the action camera maker and I are down whopping 59%.
On January 20, 2017, I recommended going long W.P. Carey (NYSE: WPC). Since then, the REIT is up 11%*. Average price I paid for the shares is $61.44. I’m currently up 10%.
On May 9, 2017, I recommended going long Verizon (NYSE: VZ). Since then, the telecom is up 46%*. Average price I paid for the shares is $46.05. I’m currently up 47%.
*dividends not calculated
Estimated the portfolio dividend yield is 2.48% (that is very similar to the 10-year yield), with largest being 6% and lowest 0%. I plan to increase the portfolio dividend yield by getting rid of non-dividend yielding stocks and/or buying dividend-yielding stocks. That will happen fast, if I can make second Robinhood account and transfer the portfolio to there.
When I started doing research in-depth and writing down my findings and thoughts, everything started to improve. Writing is powerful!
Every new trade and investment will first be announced on Twitter. Almost always!
Happy New Year! I have no resolutions since every day is like a new year for me.
In 2017, I focused more on active equity/commodity portfolio than the other portfolios as I finally was able to trade free of commissions, found more opportunities there and had money saved up from off-book jobs.
WHAT A BORING YEAR…for the stock market. Sometimes, boring is good. S&P 500 was up 21.64%.
The geometric average return since the financial crisis is 8.42% (2008-2017). Geometric average better reflects the returns over time since there’s always volatility in the market and volatility lower investment returns.
Since inception (November 2016), active equity/commodity portfolio is up 15.74%. For 2017, the portfolio returned 11.86%,way way below the market. No wonder active managers are not anyone’s favorites at this time.
I will address the significant drawdown you see in figure 2 at the bottom of this post.
The biggest gain of the year, both in a percentage and nominal terms, came from the first trade in 2017. The trade was long NUGT (3x leveraged gold ETF). I believed gold was unfairly beaten down and would recover around the new year as portfolios would be rebalanced and uncertainty with Trump’s economic plans at the time would force investors to hedge their portfolio. And that’s what happened in January 2016. I closed the position at 28% gain.
While trading 3x leveraged ETFs, Be cautious as they always go down even though the underlying security goes up. The structure of leveraged and inverse ETFs are different than most retail investors think. They are not a good idea to be held for a longer time and as a significant portion of a portfolio.
The biggest loss of the year, both in a percentage and nominal terms, came from the 5th trade in 2017. The trade was long TVIX (2x leveraged volatility ETN, not ETF). I believed volatility would pick up from February to March (and it did a little bit). However, after TVIX underwent 1:10 reverse split in mid-March, I did not want to risk having the ETN go to single digits once again. So I closed the position at 17% loss.
To briefly sum up, the biggest gain was 28% and the biggest loss was 17%. In positive nominal terms, the profit was three times larger than the loss (positive number).
At the time, both NUGT and TVIX were a significant portion of the portfolio (Robinhood). Over time, I deposited more money into the account as I saved up from off-book jobs and summer internship. The account is now 6 times larger than it was at the beginning of 2017. Larger account allowed me to have more flexibility and lower my exposure to a single trade.
I can only go long securities on Robinhood. Current positions are VRX (The biggest gainer at the moment, 112%. 14% of the portfolio), ORCL, XIV, ILMN, OMER, PSQ, SH, COL, TEVA, MTSI, and AXON (The biggest loser at the moment, -77%. 0.5% of the portfolio).
When talking about % gains on trades, traders should also look at those trades as a % of the portfolio. If I’m going to speculate on a one-time event, such as FDA ruling on a drug, I’m going to have a small exposure to that company (such as AXON). If I am profoundly convinced on the fundamentals of the company and/or technicals of the stock, I will have a higher exposure to that company (such as VRX).
It’s important to point once again these gains/losses are unrealized. The returns are subject to change…until the position closes.
Both PSQ and SH are inverse ETFs of the market. I have bought them as a small hedge for my portfolio as I’m long individual U.S. stocks.
Why am I long the stocks mentioned above? I will not go in-depth here.
$VRX: Extension of debt. Time flexibility to restructure the company.
$ORCL: Unfair share-price beat down after positive earnings report and market, in general, is trending higher.
$TEVA: TEVA calls were active after Allergan (AGN) was halted. Speculated upcoming positive news for TEVA. The week after, new CEO news. Sticking to TEVA as the new CEO has a great reputation and I’m confident his tenure will reward the shareholders.
$MTSI: Calls active and social media sentiment.
$AXON: Speculation on Alzheimer drug data. Chances were low, but I believed even a small positive side of the drug would help the stock price. I was wrong. Was initially 2% of the portfolio. Now 0.5%. Still open as I have nothing to lose.
As you saw in figure 2 (and figure 3 below), there was a large drawdown in the portfolio. Over 12% of the portfolio lost value in less 2 months. Why was that? It was largely due to VRX and TEVA tumbling. Both were little longer-term strategy and high conviction both companies would turn itself around. After 2 months, both stocks rebounded and hit 52-week highs afterward. Other stocks in the port during the 2 months were performing fine.
If it is one thing I learned as a trader, it is that high conviction leads to an ego which then leads to losses most of the time. So did I have an ego in this case? I don’t believe so. I was sticking to the initial trade strategy on VRX and TEVA, and there was no material news. It was the market noise. If the company fundamentals changed, then I might have changed my strategy on the trade (either close, cut down, or buy more shares).
Upcoming ‘Portfolio Performance’ articles will be on other portfolios.