Stock Up (page 2)
Hypothesize that given an imaginary $10,000 to invest, you can select stocks to buy and sell, and build your initial investment by 10 percent within three months.
- Computer with an Internet connection
- Daily financial newspaper (The Wall Street Journal or Investor's Business Daily)
- One or two books on an introduction to the stock market
- Three months' time
- Paper and pencil
Go to a bookstore or your local library and read one or two books on an introduction to the stock market. Become familiar with some of the terms you encounter.
Pick up a copy of a daily financial newspaper (The Wall Street Journal or Investor's Business Daily) and browse through it.
In the project, the initial capital invested is constant. The stocks in your portfolio (you can buy and sell them anytime during the three-month period) and the fluctuations of the stock market are variables.
These are the rules of our short-term trading portfolio:
- You have $10,000 initially to invest. If any of your stocks increase in value and you sell them at a profit, you can use the extra money to buy shares of another stock.
- You can buy and sell any stock at any time. However, assume there is a commission fee of $10 for every transaction. When you buy a stock, add $10 to the total cost. When you sell a stock, subtract $10 from the profit you receive.
- Any money left over from the $10,000 that is not invested in stock is assumed to make 4 percent annual interest, as it is swept into a money market account by your broker. Calculate the daily income from that uninvested money and add it to your three-month total. (4 percent divided by 365 days in a year is about .01 percent per day earned on the uninvested balance.)
- At the end of three months, sell all your stocks. Total their value and add any other profit you made from the selling of stock during the three-month period. Add money market interest. Subtract any losses you incurred by selling a stock that was underperforming.
- You must maintain at least six stocks in your portfolio at all times. This will give you diversity, which lowers your risk of losing money by not "putting all your eggs in one basket," in case one stock takes a big drop.
To select the initial six or more stocks to begin your portfolio, you need to make a list of potential stocks to invest in. Start by writing down the names of companies whose products you like or use. Do you like to collect Disney toys? Do you like to drink Pepsi Cola? Is McDonald's your favorite hamburger stop? Is your hobby surfing or rollerblading?
Once you have a list of about ten companies, do research on each one. The Internet has hundreds of free web sites where you can get information on a company, including a profile, fundamentals (the highest and lowest stock price for the year, Price to Earnings (P/E) Ratio, number of average daily shares traded, and so forth), and a price chart showing the history of the stock.
Internet Web Sites For Free Stock Market Research
Studying a chart is called technical analysis and, although a stock's history is no guarantee of what will happen in the future, it often gives a good indication of which direction the stock is likely to be headed. If a chart shows a stock price has been dropping for the last three months, it is probably a company you want to avoid.
The Internet, daily newspapers, and financial TV programs are good sources for hearing news about your companies. This requires daily monitoring. If a cold winter is expected, that might be an opportunity to invest in coat manufacturers. If a company is being sued, whether it is in the right or not, this can put a drag on the stock until the matter is settled.
The whole market goes up and down, and it can carry stocks with it. The stock market is controlled by perceptions of the investment "crowd." The least little thing can drive the market up or down. If the President stubs his big toe, the market may drop. But in such cases, it will probably bounce back up. During times when the whole market takes a dip, don't panic and sell all your stocks. As long as there is no change to the fundamentals of your individual companies, stay the course.
At times, there will be important news on your companies that will affect their price. One of the biggest factors that affects the price of stock is quarterly earnings, and you should pay close attention to earnings' estimates.
As you follow your stocks daily, you can learn about the factors that affect a stock's price: earnings, selling off a division of the company, acquiring other companies, announcing a stock split, and expanding overseas operations.
You can also get ideas for your initial portfolio list by reading financial newspapers and magazines. Also, be observant of products around you. What brand of shoes are most of your friends buying? Where are they buying their school clothes? Who makes your favorite computer games?
Write down the results of your experiment.
Come to a conclusion as to whether or not your hypothesis was correct.
- Generally, financial advisors recommend buying a stock and holding it for a long time to get the most benefit. Continue your project for six months or even one year. Do your stocks do better over time?
- Get a book on an introduction to the options market. Set up a portfolio of stocks and paper trade writing covered calls, buying Call options, which represent the investor's right to buy stock, and selling Put options, which represent the investor's right to sell stock.
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.