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The 10 golden rules of investing

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This article was originally published on Bankrate.com.

Investing can often be broken down into a few simple rules that investors can follow to be successful. But success can be as much about what to do as it is what not to do. On top of that, our emotions throw a wrench into the whole process. While everyone knows you need to “buy low and sell high,” our temperament often leads us to selling low and buying high.

So it’s key to develop a set of “golden rules” to help guide you through the tough times. Anyone can make money when the market is rising. But when the market gets choppy, investors who succeed and thrive are those who have a long-term plan that works.

Here are 10 golden rules of investing to follow to make you a more successful—and hopefully wealthy—investor.

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Rule No. 1: Never lose money

Let’s kick it off with some timeless advice from legendary investor Warren Buffett, who said “Rule No. 1 is never lose money. Rule No. 2 is never forget Rule No. 1.” The Oracle of Omaha’s advice stresses the importance of avoiding loss in your portfolio. When you have more money in your portfolio, you can make more money on it. So, a loss hurts your future earning power.

Of course, it’s easy to say not to lose money. What Buffett’s rule essentially means is don’t become enchanted with an investment’s potential gains, but also look for its downsides. If you don’t get enough upside for the risks you’re taking, the investment may not be worth it. Focus on the downside first, counsels Buffett.

While stocks have been volatile, they’re based on the earning power of global businesses. As earnings rise, so will stocks, at least over time. Contrast that against cryptocurrencies, which usually have no basis—such as earnings or hard assets—to back their valuation. That is, cryptocurrency could ultimately be worth nothing—not the kind of risk that Buffett wants to take.

Rule No. 2: Think like an owner

“Think like an owner,” says Chris Graff, co-chief investment officer at RMB Capital. “Remember that you are investing in businesses, not just stocks.”

While many investors treat stocks like gambling, real businesses stand behind those stocks. Stocks are a fractional ownership interest in a business, and as the business performs well or poorly over time, the company’s stock is likely to follow the direction of its profitability.

“Be aware of your motivation when investing,” says Christopher Mizer, CEO of Vivaris Capital in La Jolla, California. “Are you investing or gambling? Investing involves an analysis of fundamentals, valuation, and an opinion about how the business will perform in the future.”

“Make sure the management team is strong and aligned with the interests of shareholders, and that the company is in a strong financial and competitive position,” says Graff.

Rule No. 3: Stick to your process

“The best investors develop a process that is consistent and successful over many market cycles,” says Sam Hendel, portfolio manager at Kepos Capital. “Don’t deviate from the tried and true, even if there are short-term challenges that cause you to doubt yourself.”

One of the best strategies for investors: a long-term buy-and-hold approach. You can buy stock funds regularly in a 401(k), for example, and then hold on for decades. But it can be easy when the market gets volatile to deviate from your plan because you’re temporarily losing money. Don’t do it.

Rule No. 4: Buy when everyone is fearful

When the market is down, investors often sell or simply quit paying attention to it. But that’s when the bargains are out in droves. It’s true: the stock market is the only market where the goods go on sale and everyone is too afraid to buy. As Buffett has famously said, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”

The good news if you’re a 401(k) investor is that once you set up your account you don’t have to do anything else to continue buying in. This structure keeps your emotions out of the game. You’ll continue purchasing stocks when they’re cheaper and offer better long-term values.

Investors who continued to buy throughout the 2020 downturn rode stocks up throughout 2021, and the same will likely apply to future downturns as well.

Rule No. 5: Keep your investing discipline

It’s important that investors continue to save over time, in rough climates and good, even if they can put away only a little. By continuing to invest regularly, you’ll get in the habit of living below your means even as you build up a nest egg of assets in your portfolio over time.

The 401(k) is an ideal vehicle for this discipline, because it takes money from your paycheck automatically without you having to decide to do so. It’s also important to pick your investments skillfully—here’s how to select your 401(k) investments.

Rule No. 6: Stay diversified

Keeping your portfolio diversified is important for reducing risk. Having your portfolio in only one or two stocks is unsafe, no matter how well they’ve performed for you. So experts advise spreading your investments around in a diversified portfolio.

“If I had to choose one strategy to keep in mind when investing, it would be diversification,” says Mindy Yu, former director of investing at Betterment. “Diversification can help you better weather the stock market’s ups and downs.”

The good news: Diversification can be easy to achieve. An investment in a Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fund, which holds hundreds of investments in America’s top companies, provides immediate diversification for a portfolio. If you want to diversify more, you can add a bond fund or other choices such as a real estate fund that may perform differently in various economic climates.

Rule No. 7: Avoid timing the market

Experts routinely advise clients to avoid trying to time the market, that is, trying to buy or sell at the right time, as is popularized in TV and films. Rather, they routinely reference the saying “Time in the market is more important than timing the market.” The idea here is that you need to stay invested to get strong returns and avoid jumping in and out of the market.

And that’s what Veronica Willis, an investment strategy analyst at Wells Fargo Investment Institute recommends: “The best and worst days are typically close together and occur when markets are at their most volatile, during a bear market or economic recession. An investor would need expert precision to be in the market one day, out of the market the next day and back in again the following day.”

Experts typically advise buying regularly to take advantage of dollar-cost averaging.

Rule No. 8: Understand everything you invest in

“Don’t invest in a product you don’t understand and ensure the risks have been clearly disclosed to you before investing,” says Chris Rawley, founder and CEO at Harvest Returns, a fintech marketplace for investing in agriculture.

Whatever you’re investing in, you need to understand how it works. If you’re buying a stock, you need to know why it makes sense to do so and when the stock is likely to profit. If you’re buying a fund, you want to understand its track record and costs, among other things. If you’re buying an annuity, it’s vital to understand how the annuity works and what your rights are.

Rule No. 9: Review your investing plan regularly

While it can be a good idea to set up a solid investing plan and then only tinker with it, it’s advisable to review your plan regularly to see if it still fits your needs. You could do this whenever you check your accounts for tax purposes.

“Remember, though, your first financial plan won’t be your last,” says Kevin Driscoll, vice president of investment services at Navy Federal Financial Group in the Pensacola area. “You can take a look at your plan and should review it at least annually—particularly when you reach milestones like starting a family, moving, or changing jobs.”

Rule No. 10: Stay in the game, have an emergency fund

It’s absolutely vital that you have an emergency fund, not only to tide you over during tough times, but also so that you can stay invested long term.

“Keep 5% of your assets in cash, because challenges happen in life,” says Craig Kirsner, president of retirement planning services at Kirsner Wealth Management in Pompano Beach, Florida. He adds: “It makes sense to have at least six months of expenses in your savings account.”

If you must sell some of your investments during a rough spot, it’s often likely to be when they are down. An emergency fund can help you stay in the investing game longer. Money that you might need in the short term (less than three years) needs to stay in cash, ideally in a high-yield online savings account or perhaps in a CD. Shop around to get the best deal.

Bottom line

Investing well is about doing the right things as much as it is about avoiding the wrong things. And amid all of that, it’s important to manage your temperament so that you’re able to motivate yourself to do the right things even as they may feel risky or unsafe.

 

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Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights: Alphabet, Tesla, Shopify, Amazon and Palo Alto

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – February 2, 2023 – Today, Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights Alphabet GOOGL, Tesla TSLA, Shopify SHOP, Amazon AMZN and Palo Alto Networks PANW.

Which of These Stocks Has Been the Best Buy, Post-Split?

Stock splits have been a regular occurrence in the market over the last several years, with many companies aiming to boost liquidity within shares and knock down barriers for potential investors.

Of course, it’s important to remember that a split doesn’t directly impact a company’s financial standing or performance.

In 2022, several companies performed splits, including Alphabet, Tesla, Shopify, Amazon and Palo Alto Networks. Below is a chart illustrating the performance of all five stocks over the last year, with the S&P 500 blended in as a benchmark.

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As we can see, PANW shares have been the best performers over the last year, the only to outperform the general market.

However, which has turned in a better performance post-split? Let’s take a closer look.

Tesla

We’re all familiar with Tesla, which has revolutionized the EV (electric vehicle) industry. It’s been one of the best-performing stocks over the last decade, quickly becoming a favorite among investors.

Earlier in June of 2022, the mega-popular EV manufacturer announced that its board approved a three-for-one stock split; shares began trading on a split-adjusted basis on August 25th, 2022.

Since the split, Tesla shares have lost roughly 40% in value, widely underperforming relative to the S&P 500.

Palo Alto Networks

Palo Alto Networks offers network security solutions to enterprises, service providers, and government entities worldwide.

PANW’s three-for-one stock split in mid-September seemingly flew under the radar. The company’s shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on September 14th, 2022.

Following the split, PANW shares have struggled to gain traction, down roughly 15% compared to the S&P 500’s 3.3% gain.

Shopify

Shopify provides a multi-tenant, cloud-based, multi-channel e-commerce platform for small and medium-sized businesses.

SHOP shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on June 29th, 2022; the company performed a 10-for-1 split.

Impressively, Shopify shares have soared for a 50% gain since the split, crushing the general market’s performance.

Alphabet

Alphabet has evolved from primarily being a search engine into a company with operations in cloud computing, ad-based video and music streaming, autonomous vehicles, and more.

Last February, the tech titan announced a 20-for-1 split, and investors cheered on the news – GOOGL shares climbed 7% the day following the announcement. Shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on July 18th, 2022.

Alphabet shares have sailed through challenging waters since the split, down 10% and lagging behind the S&P 500.

Amazon

Amazon has evolved into an e-commerce giant with global operations. The company also enjoys a dominant position within the cloud computing space with its Amazon Web Services (AWS) operations.

AMZN’s 20-for-1 split was a bit of a surprise, as it was the company’s first split since 1999. Shares started trading on a split-adjusted basis on June 6th, 2022.

Following the split, Amazon shares have lost roughly 18% in value, well off the general market’s performance.

Bottom Line

Stock splits are typically exciting announcements that investors can receive, with companies aiming to boost liquidity within shares.

Interestingly enough, only Shopify shares reside in the green post-split of the five listed.

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Media Contact

Zacks Investment Research

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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$13 million investment in Campbellford Memorial Hospital

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The Campbellford Memorial Hospital will be receiving a $13 million investment from the Ontario Government to address infrastructure concerns.

The announcement was made at the hospital by Northumberland—Peterborough South MPP David Piccini.

The $13 million is broken down as follows:

  • $9,639,900 will be going to CMH as one-time capital funding to address the HVAC and generator
  • $1,874,929 for reimbursement of CMH’s COVID-19-related capital expenses
  • $771,797 in COVID-19 incremental operating funding
  • up to $600,000 in one-time funding to support the hospital’s in-year financial and operating pressures
  • $163,600 in pandemic prevention and containment funding
  • $81,132 through the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund
  • $46,884 in health human resources funding.

Interim President and CEO Eric Hanna welcomed the news, saying much needs to be done about the HVAC and generator.

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At the announcement, Hanna spoke of the issues with the generator.

“I’ve got the wee little generator up at the lake and then I’m thinking well, everything should be going well at the hospital,” Hanna told the audience in attendance.

“You get a call from the person in charge who says, ‘Guess what Eric? Generator didn’t start. Oh, so what does that mean? There’s no power in the hospital.’  That’s happened a couple of times in the past year and the generator is over 30 years old.”

Hanna says the solution was not as easy as replacing the generator.

“You can go buy the generator and that may be about a million dollars. But then when we found out afterwards, we came to hook up the new generator to the electrical distribution system and said it won’t work with that because your electrical distribution system is 1956. You can’t plug this generator into that. So now we’re putting close to $5 million into a whole electrical distribution system so the generator will work. It’s part of that ongoing thing and that’s why these costs continue to go up.”

The HVAC system was also something addressed by Hanna.

“It’s a contract close to $7 million to replace that. This wing, for example. There’s no fresh air in this wing. It hasn’t worked in here for 15 years. So now this is administrative areas and the concern was that in some of the patient carriers, it wasn’t working either.  So – having those discussions with David (Piccini) and saying what we have to do to correct this.”

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Chile’s Enap Set to Slash Debt Burden That Weighed on Investment

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(Bloomberg) — Enap, Chile’s state oil and gas company, plans to use near-record earnings to slash its debt burden, while increasing investment in its refineries and in exploration and production.

The company aims to reduce its debt load to about $3 billion “medium term” from the current $4.3 billion, Chief Executive Officer Julio Friedmann said in an interview. Plans include a bond sale in the first half of this year to refinance some securities.

The improved financial position — with 2022 profit surging to $575 million — comes after Enap’s oil and gas operations in Egypt, Ecuador and Argentina got a boost from high crude prices, while healthy international refining margins benefited plants in Chile. Those trends are expected to extend into this year and next, enabling the company to pre-pay some short-term obligations. About half of the current debt burden matures in the next three years.

“We are going to issue bonds,” the MIT-trained executive said Wednesday from the Aconcagua refinery in central Chile. “We are closely evaluating the local and international markets.”

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At the same time, Friedmann, who took the reins at Enap in November, plans to increase capital expenditure to about $700 million this year from $550 million last year.

The increase comes after underinvestment in the past few years because of Covid restrictions and the heavy debt load. Spending will focus on making treatment processes cleaner and upgrading infrastructure, as well as a more aggressive approach to increasing gas reserves in the far south of the country, he said.

Gas Markets

Enap plans to expand in both liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas markets in Chile, focusing on the wholesale business and eventually selling directly to large-scale consumers such as mines. Organizational changes to enable the expansion will be announced soon. There are no plans to enter the final distribution business, Friedmann said. The company wants to supply more gas to southern cities as a way of replacing dirtier fuels such as wood and diesel.

Enap and its partners are also preparing pipelines and a refinery near Concepcion to start receiving crude from Argentina’s Neuquen basin sometime this year in an arrangement that could supply as much as 30% of its needs.

While there’s plenty of potential do collaborate more with energy-rich Argentina, particularly in the Magallanes area, that would require greater long-term visibility on supplies from the neighboring country, Friedmann said.

He sees a role for Enap in the development of green hydrogen in Chile. It’s in talks with three companies to enable its facilities in Magallanes to be used to receive all the wind turbines, electrolyzers and other equipment that will be needed to make the clean fuel. Enap is also evaluating its own small pilot plants and will consider whether to take up options to enter other green hydrogen projects as an equity partner.

While the company will maintain its focus on meeting rising demand for traditional fuels, it anticipates new regulation that will require lower emissions. It’s also looking closely at clean-fuel options for aviation, Friedmann said.

(Adds clean fuel plans in last paragraph. I previous version corrected spelling of CEO’s surname.)

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