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On-line Investing
for fun and profit

Les Hudson has been going to Alamo PC SIGs since before the move to Central Park Mall. As far as the stock market is concerned, he's still learning.

On-line trading has become commonplace in the past few years. All the major brokerages now offer on-line accounts. Commissions run from $7 to $30. Much more if you call to have a broker make the trade for you. I know of two brokers that have offices here in San Antonio. They make it easy to open accounts. I have a CharlesSchwab account and have had no bad experiences. There have been three or four extremely high volume days in the past year when investors could not log on to trade and brokers did not answer the phone. Computer crashes have caused a few brokers to be down for hours.

There is a new breed of on-line brokers that specialize in trading on the Internet. They have no offices to walk in to. They advertise on TV’s financial programs and in financial newspapers.

This article is not about day trading. That is quite different from on-line trading. People that do that often buy and sell a stock in a matter of minutes. From personal knowledge, I can tell you that nine out of ten day traders lose money. My accountant will verify that! Sic

Using the Internet for research is easy. In fact, there is almost too much information out there. A lot of web sights are free. Here is a current list, collected from members of our financial SIGs (Special Interest Groups) and in no particular order.

List of web sights for information:

With an on-line account, most brokers offer portfolio tracking, cash balance, research, and real-time price and volume ticker. They take care of dividend reinvestment and other bookkeeping chores automatically. End-of-year buy and sell tax information is sent out the first of February. That makes life easier. They would not last very long if they were not completely safe.

Alamo PC has four SIGs dealing with the stock market. Individual stocks and mutual funds are used as examples but buy and sell recommendations are not given. The main reason I go; I get to talk to smart and successful people. Like they say, “If you want to fly with the eagles, don’t hang around a bunch of turkeys”. Come to one of these to get personal questions answered. (We all have opinions).

  1. The Financial SIG 
    meets the third Saturday from 9am till noon. General market topics are discussed. Some members present their favorite subjects and guests are invited to give presentations. Time is allotted for questions. Norm Black is the whip.

  2. IRL (Investors Reference Library) 
    meets first Thursday from 7 till 9pm. This SIG uses IRL to screen stocks. A wide verity of technical and fundamental criteria can be selected as a filter to cut down the 8000+ stocks to a few that you would like to own. Maynard Burstein chairs this SIG.

  3. TC-2000 SIG 
    meets the first Monday from 2 till 4pm. The group uses this software package to mine for the best stocks to own. They share information and methods of using the product. Dick Troost is the contact.

  4. Monocle SIG 
    meets first Wednesday at 7pm. Monocle deals more with mutual funds. If you are interested in mutual funds, this software keeps you in the hottest one. Talk to Eric Weissgarber or Walter McGinnis.

Normal stock market hours are 9:30am to 4pm east coast time. But the overpowering volume demanded longer hours. Recently, individuals have been allowed to trade extended hours, about 1-½ hours before and after normal hours. Pacific rim, Japan, and Europe stock exchanges stretch trading times around the clock.

While visiting a chat room recently, I heard about this fantastic company. Obscuer Company of Indonesia. As soon as the patent clears, it will revolutionize the auto industry. When the president of the company gets the first contract signed, the rest of the automakers will have to go along or go out of business. Unfortunately, this type of story is a scam to get people to buy and run the price up. The person who puts out stories like this, dump their stock when the suckers buy in at the higher prices. The take-home lesson here is ‘‘Be careful in chat rooms’’.

If you are using the research available to you and buy a stock with medium or long term in mind, you don’t need a fast modem. A fast connection is nice when bringing up charts, one after another. For me, Road Runner pays for itself. I can cover more ground. Some spend one or two hours a weekend, and others, hours each day doing research. For people that do not have the time, knowledge, or interest, mutual funds may be the way to invest. With funds, you are hiring a management team to watch things for you. I read a book once in a while (ok, with pictures), and watch CNBC. I learn something every time I go to a SIG.

Everybody is in the stock market indirectly. If you have insurance, or your job has a retirement plan, you are in the market. It’’s no longer ‘‘Just for the rich’’. 51% of Americans own stock.
There are more than 8000 stocks and about that many mutual funds. Stock screening programs and good data at your fingertips is available thanks to the Internet.

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