An option that becomes worthless in the event that the underlying commodity or currency crosses a certain price level.
A technical analysis theory based on using odd-lot trading behavior as a contrary indicator, under the assumption that odd lots are traded primarily by small investors who are on average less experienced than institutional investors. The theory has declined in popularity as historical data has failed to support it.
forward outright rate
The forward rate of a foreign exchange contract, often expressed as U.S. dollars per foreign currency.
A loan made to a company from an individual shareholder or partnership that exchanges money for interest payments. The loan can be secured by the shares (an equity loan) or through a debenture. This type of loan ranks below commercial loans if it is not secured by collateral, making it subordinated debt. A shareholder loan is often associated with S Corporations.
A group of several securities created for the purpose of simultaneous buying and selling. Baskets often play a role in index arbitrage, program trading and hedging.
A collection of consumer goods and services that are tracked in the process of calculating a consumer price index. also called market basket.
An amount of an employee’s income that an employer sends directly to the federal, state, or local tax authority as partial payment of that individual’s tax liability for the year. When a person starts a new job, he/she is required to fill out a W-4 form on which he/she can indicate his/her filing status and the number of allowances he/she is claiming.
A method of converting options into stock that requires no initial cash payment to cover the strike price. Essentially, a broker briefly loans enough money to exercise the options, and a portion of the stock is sold immediately after exercise in order to repay the broker. In this respect it is essentially buying on margin. The broker is willing to enter this arrangement when that broker feels that the option holder will honor his/her commitment and quickly sell his/her stocks to settle the debt to the broker.
A category of options which includes complicated components and complex payoffs. Its payoff or other key values often depend on outside factors which vary over time, such as exchange rate. Because of their complexity, exotic options are often traded over the counter rather than through an exchange. Asian-style options are one type of exotic options. opposite of plain vanilla option.
book to market ratio
A stock’s book value divided by its market value. Book value is calculated from the company’s balance sheet, while market value is based on the price of its stock. A ratio above 1 indicates a potentially undervalued stock, while a ratio below 1 indicates a potentially overvalued stock. Technology companies and other companies in industries which do not have a lot of physical assets tend to have low book to market ratios.
The practice of buying and selling securities during a period of time when the major markets are officially closed. Once reserved for institutional investors, individual investors may now participate. Stocks are traded after hours on ECNs, which match buyers and seller with a computer system in order to execute trades.
Dow Jones Industrial Average. The most widely used indicator of the overall condition of the stock market, a price-weighted average of 30 actively traded blue chip stocks, primarily industrials. The 30 stocks are chosen by the editors of the Wall Street Journal (which is published by Dow Jones & Company), a practice that dates back to the beginning of the century. The Dow was officially started by Charles Dow in 1896, at which time it consisted of only 11 stocks. The Dow is computed using a price-weighted indexing system, rather than the more common market cap-weighted indexing system. Simply put, the editors at WSJ add up the prices of all the stocks and then divide by the number of stocks in the index. (In actuality, the divisor is much higher today in order to account for stock splits that have occurred in the past.)
Securities representing equity ownership in a corporation, providing voting rights, and entitling the holder to a share of the company’s success through dividends and/or capital appreciation. In the event of liquidation, common stockholders have rights to a company’s assets only after bondholders, other debt holders, and preferred stockholders have been satisfied. Typically, common stockholders receive one vote per share to elect the company’s board of directors (although the number of votes is not always directly proportional to the number of shares owned). The board of directors is the group of individuals that represents the owners of the corporation and oversees major decisions for the company. Common shareholders also receive voting rights regarding other company matters such as stock splits and company objectives. In addition to voting rights, common shareholders sometimes enjoy what are called “preemptive rights”. Preemptive rights allow common shareholders to maintain their proportional ownership in the company in the event that the company issues another offering of stock. This means that common shareholders with preemptive rights have the right but not the obligation to purchase as many new shares of the stock as it would take to maintain their proportional ownership in the company. also called junior equity.
Limited company. A business structure used in Europe and Canada, in which shareholder responsibility for company debt is limited, usually to the amount he/she has invested in the company. In some cases, the liability of shareholders is limited to specific pre-determined amounts (which are stated in a memorandum). Abbreviated Ltd or plc.
dollar cost averaging
An investment strategy designed to reduce volatility in which securities, typically mutual funds, are purchased in fixed dollar amounts at regular intervals, regardless of what direction the market is moving. Thus, as prices of securities rise, fewer units are bought, and as prices fall, more units are bought. also called constant dollar plan.
Over-the-Counter. A security which is not traded on an exchange, usually due to an inability to meet listing requirements. For such securities, broker/dealers negotiate directly with one another over computer networks and by phone, and their activities are monitored by the NASD. OTC stocks are usually very risky since they are the stocks that are not considered large or stable enough to trade on a major exchange. They also tend to trade infrequently, making the bid-ask spread larger. Also, research about these stocks is more difficult to obtain. also called unlisted.
Audited document required by the SEC and sent to a public company’s or mutual fund’s shareholders at the end of each fiscal year, reporting the financial results for the year (including the balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement and description of company operations) and commenting on the outlook for the future. The term sometimes refers to the glossy, colorful brochure and sometimes to Form 10-K, which is sent along with the brochure and contains more detailed financial information. All 10-Ks for public companies and mutual funds incorporated in the U.S. are available on the SEC’s website for free.
A separate IRA established pursuant to a rollover from a qualified retirement plan. No intermingling of other funds such as regular (non-rollover) IRA contributions is permitted. Money in a conduit IRA may be rolled into a new employer’s plan (if allowed), thereby preserving any favorable tax treatment associated with the distribution. There is no limit on the contributions transferred to a conduit IRA.
Series EE bond
A Savings Bond issued at a discount from par par with a fixed rate of interest, set at the time of purchase. All interest on the bonds is calculated semi-annually, but paid at maturity and exempt from state and local taxes. The federal tax incurred on the interest can be paid annually or deferred. Over the first six months to five years that such a bond is held, it earns interest at 85% of the average yield on six-month Treasury Bills. After five years, it earns 85% of the average yield on five-year Treasury notes. There is no secondary market for such bonds, but they can be redeemed before maturity. At maturity, the bond will automatically enter extended maturity and earn interest according to rates at the beginning of that period. EE bonds will continue to earn interest for 30 years after they are purchased. Once they have reached maturity, EE bonds may be exchanged for Series HH bonds in order to continue to earn interest and further defer federal taxes. An individual can purchase up to $30,000 face value in savings bonds in one year.
Arbitrage involving investments denominated in different currencies, using forward cover to reduce or eliminate currency risk.
forward cover taking
Buying a forward contract in order to hedge against exchange rate variability.
A report similar to the annual report, except that it contains more detailed information about the company’s business, finances, and management. It also includes the bylaws of the company, other legal documents, and information about any lawsuits in which the company is involved. All publicly tradecompanies are required to file a 10-K report each year to the SEC.
foreign currency option
An option which gives the owner the right to buy or sell the indicated amount of foreign currency at a specified price before a specific date.
A prolonged period in which investment prices rise faster than their historical average. Bull markets can happen as a result of an economic recovery, an economic boom, or investor psychology. The longest and most famous bull market is the one that began in the early 1990s in which the U.S. equity markets grew at their fastest pace ever. opposite of bear market.
out of the money
A call option whose strike price is higher than the market price of the underlying security, or a put option whose strike price is lower than the market price of the underlying security.
yen carry trade
A specific example of a currency carry trade, where an investor will exchange a specific amount of Japanese Yen for another currency with a higher interest rate, and then will invest the new currency in hopes of earning more interest than could have been earned with the yen.
Strategy of selling call or put options in quantity, hoping that they will not be exercised. Option writers do this when they suspect the underlying is incorrectly valued, and so the buyer will let the options expire and the writer will simply earn option premiums, but this is a risky strategy.
An option strategy involving the simultaneous purchase and sale of options of the same class and expiration date but different strike prices. also called price spread.
Taxation of the same earnings at two levels. One common example is taxation of earnings at the corporate level and then again at the shareholder dividend level. Another example is taxation of foreign investments in the country of origin and then again upon repatriation, although many countries have signed agreements to prevent this latter type of double taxation.
all or none
A stipulation of a buy or sell order which instructs the broker to either fill the whole order or don’t fill it at all; but in the latter case, don’t cancel it, as the broker would if the order were fill or kill.
A term used in underwriting indicating that if the underwriter isn’t able to sell all the shares offered, then the offering will be canceled.
A position consisting of a combination of put options and call options that collectively create commissions so high that it is almost impossible to turn a profit regardless of which direction the underlier moves. The term originates from the idea of the spread “eating the investor alive.”
working capital requirement
The amount of working capital a company determines it must maintain in order to continue to meet its costs and expenses. The working capital requirement will be different for each company, depending upon many factors such as how frequently the company receives earnings and how high their expenses are.
A foreign exchange rate of a foreign currency per unit of the domestic currency. In terms of U.S. dollars, an indirect quote is the number of U.S. dollars that one unit of a foreign currency could buy. For example, an indirect quote for the Japanese Yen could be 110 Yen = US $1. opposite of direct quote.
money market mutual fund
An open-end mutual fund which invests only in money markets. These funds invest in short term (one day to one year) debt obligations such as Treasury bills, certificates of deposit, and commercial paper. The main goal is the preservation of principal, accompanied by modest dividends. The fund’s Net Asset Value remains a constant $1 per share to simplify accounting, but the interest rate does fluctuate. Money market funds are very liquid investments, and therefore are often used by financial institutions to store money that is not currently invested. Unlike bank accounts and money market accounts, most deposits are not FDIC insured, but the risk is extremely low (only those funds administered by banks are FDIC-insured, but some others are privately insured). Although money market mutual funds are among the safest types of mutual funds, it still is possible for money market funds to fail, but it is unlikely. In fact, the biggest risk involved in investing in money market funds is the risk that inflation will outpace the funds’ returns, thereby eroding the purchasing power of the investor’s money. also called money fund or money market fund.
A mortgage that can be transfered with no change in terms. If an assumable mortgage is transferred, the buyer assumes all responsibility for repayment. The original lender must agree to the transfer of an assumable mortgage. The seller should receive a written release from the original lender stating that he/she has no responsibility for further payments. The buyer may have to meet certain standards to qualify and may be charged an assumption fee. Assumable mortgages can make a property more desirable if interest rates have risen, because the new buyer’s payments are at the original rate. By definition, assumable mortgages cannot have a due-on-sale clause.
General Securities Representative Examination
The exam for the Series 7 license. Everyone wanting to become a registered representative has to pass this exam in order to demonstrate adequate understanding of the securities industry. The test was developed by the NYSE and is administered by the NASD.
An arbitrage strategy usually consisting of the purchase of a particular security and the sale of a similar security (often the purchase of a security and the sale of a corresponding futures contract). Basis trading is done when the investor feels that the two securities are mispriced with respect to each other, and that the mispricing will correct itself such that the gain on one side of the trade will more than cancel out the loss on the other side of the trade. In the case of such a trade taking place on a security and the futures contract, the trade will be profitable if the purchase price plus the cost of carry is less than the futures price. also called cash and carry trade.
net capital ratio
SEC requirement that all broker/dealers maintain a ratio of no more than 15:1 between indebtedness and liquid assets. Indebtedness includes money owed to the firm, margin loans, and commitments to purchase securities. Liquid assets include cash and assets which are easily converted to cash. The purpose of this rule is to make sure that the broker/dealer will be able to maintain its operations and not adversely affect the capital markets even if it suffers a large amount of bad debt. called net capital rule.
An arrangement in which two companies in different countries borrow each other’s currency for a given period of time, in order reduce foreign exchange risk for both of them. also called parallel loans.
The difference between the swap rate on a contract and the yield on a government bond of the same maturity. It is used to represent the risk associated with the investment, since changes in interest rates will ultimately affect return. Swap spreads are based on LIBOR rates, the creditworthiness of the swap’s parties, and other economic factors that could influence the terms of the investment’s interest rates.
Employee Stock Ownership Plan
ESOP. A trust established by a corporate which acts as a tax-qualified, defined-contribution retirement plan by making the corporation’s employees partial owners. contributions are made by the sponsoring employer, and can grow tax-deferred, just as with an IRA or 401(k) plan. But unlike other retirement plans, the contributions must be invested in the company’s stock. The benefits for the company include increased cash flow, tax savings, and increased productivity from highly motivated workers. The main benefit for the employees is the ability to share in the company’s success. Due to the tax benefits, the administration of ESOPs is regulated, and numerous restrictions apply. also called stock purchase plan.
An investing technique which is undergone for the purposes of creating tax benefits. To do this, it involves purchasing specific futures or options contracts where the loss of one contract will balance out the gain of another contract, and push back the tax impact until the next year. This technique is no longer practiced, as laws have been passed which require most gains and losses to be realized at the end of the calendar year.
National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations system
Nasdaq. A computerized system established by the NASD to facilitate trading by providing broker/dealers with current bid and ask price quotes on over-the-counter stocks and some listed stocks. Unlike the Amex and the NYSE, the Nasdaq (once an acronym for the National Association of securities Dealers Automated Quotation system) does not have a physical trading floor that brings together buyers and sellers. Instead, all trading on the Nasdaq exchange is done over a network of computers and telephones. Also, the Nasdaq does not employ market specialists to buy unfilled orders like the NYSE does. The Nasdaq began when brokers started informally trading via telephone; the network was later formalized and linked by computer in the early 1970s. In 1998 the parent company of the Nasdaq purchased the Amex, although the two continue to operate separately. Orders for stock are sent out electronically on the Nasdaq, where market makers list their buy and sell prices. Once a price is agreed upon, the transaction is executed electronically.
economic value added
EVA. The monetary value of an entity at the end of an time period minus the monetary value of that same entity at the beginning of that time period.
For a company, after-tax earnings minus the opportunity cost of capital. As with any other entity, economic value added essentially measures how much more valuable a company has become during a given time period.
The number of shares that are being offered for sale at the ask price, often expressed in terms of hundreds of shares. Some traders try to use the bid size and ask size to measure impending short term upward or downward pressure on the stock’s price. This can work for stocks on exchanges such as NYSE and AMEX, but is far less useful on Nasdaq, which has market makers ready to buy and sell shares, rather than specialists who balance books of buy and sell orders.
Global Depositary Receipt
Gross Domestic Product. The total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year, equal to total consumer, investment and government spending, plus the value of exports, minus the value of imports. The GDP report is released at 8:30 am EST on the last day of each quarter and reflects the previous quarter. Growth in GDP is what matters, and the U.S. GDP growth has historically averaged about 2.5-3% per year but with substantial deviations. Each initial GDP report will be revised twice before the final figure is settled upon: the “advance” report is followed by the “preliminary” report about a month later and a final report a month after that. Significant revisions to the advance number can cause additional ripples through the markets. The GDP numbers are reported in two forms: current dollar and constant dollar. Current dollar GDP is calculated using today’s dollars and makes comparisons between time periods difficult because of the effects of inflation. Constant dollar GDP solves this problem by converting the current information into some standard era dollar, such as 1997 dollars. This process factors out the effects of inflation and allows easy comparisons between periods. It is important to differentiate Gross Domestic Product from Gross National Product (GNP). GDP includes only goods and services produced within the geographic boundaries of the U.S., regardless of the producer’s nationality. GNP doesn’t include goods and services produced by foreign producers, but does include goods and services produced by U.S. firms operating in foreign countries.
A system allowing individuals to perform banking activities at home, via the internet. Some online banks are traditional banks which also offer online banking, while others are online only and have no physical presence. Online banking through traditional banks enable customers to perform all routine transactions, such as account transfers, balance inquiries, bill payments, and stop-payment requests, and some even offer online loan and credit card applications. Account information can be accessed anytime, day or night, and can be done from anywhere. A few online banks update information in real-time, while others do it daily. Once information has been entered, it doesn’t need to be re-entered for similar subsequent checks, and future payments can be scheduled to occur automatically. Many banks allow for file transfer between their program and popular accounting software packages, to simplify record keeping. Despite the advantages, there are a few drawbacks. It does take some time to set up and get used to an online account. Also, some banks only offer online banking in a limited area. In addition, when an account holder pays online, he/she may have to put in a check request as much as two weeks before the payment is due, but the bank may withdraw the money from the account the day that request is received, meaning the person has lost up to two weeks of interest on that payment. Online-only banks have a few additional drawbacks: an account holder has to mail in deposits (other than direct deposits), and some services that traditional banks offer are difficult or impossible for online-only banks to offer, such as traveler’s checks and cashier’s checks.
A cash management technique employed by companies holding funds at financial institutions. Cash pooling allows companies to combine their credit and debit positions in various accounts into one account, and includes techniques like notional cash pooling and cash concentration. Notional cash pooling has the company combine the balances of several accounts in order to limit low balance or transaction fees. Cash concentration or zero balancing has the company physically combining various accounts into one single account.
A measure of credit risk calculated from a credit report using a standardized formula. Factors that can damage a credit score include late payments, absence of credit references, and unfavorable credit card use. Lenders may use a credit score to determine whether to provide a loan and what rate to charge.
Bond backed by collateral, such as a mortgage or lien, the title to which would be transferred to the bondholders in the event of default. The most common form of secured bonds are mortgage bonds. These bonds are backed by real estate or physical equipment that can be liquidated. These are thought to be high-grade, safe investments. Other bonds are secured by the revenues created by projects. If an issuer in default has both secured and unsecured bonds outstanding, secured bondholders are paid off first, then unsecured bondholders. Naturally, because unsecured bonds carry greater risk than secured bonds, they usually pay higher yields.
The date on which an option, right or warrant expires, and becomes worthless if not exercised. For stock options, this is the third Saturday of the month in which the contract expires, or the third Thursday of the month if the third Friday is a holiday.
The date on which an agreement is no longer in effect.
amortization of premium
Charges made against the interest received on a debt in order to offset a premium paid for the debt. Thus, with each periodic payment, a debtor is not only paying back interest, but also part of his or her premium. This leads to higher periodic payments than in the case when only interest is paid out. However, a payment schedule which includes premium amortization makes debt management easier, especially if the principal is large. While paying just the interest each period will lead to a low outflow of cash each month, the debtor might not save enough to pay the principal. Thus, amortizing the premium each period also reduces the credit risk of the debt, since the creditor gets some part of the principal each time period, as opposed to allowing a debtor to forfeit on all of it at the maturity of the loan. Amortization of premium is a common feature in cases when a person or company takes on a large amount of debt at one time, such as a mortgage.
accounts receivable financing
The selling of a company’s accounts receivable, at a discount, to a factor, who then assumes the risk of the account debtors and receives cash as the debtors settle their accounts. A firm that sells its accounts receivable may not be confident of its ability to collect those debts, or might think that the cost of collecting that debt is more than the discount which must be provided to the factor when of selling their receivables. also called accounts receivable financing.
Purchase price, including commissions and other expenses, used to determine capital gains and capital losses for tax purposes. This can be determined by several methods. For a purchased investment, the basis is the amount paid. If inherited, the basis is the value of the stock on the date of the original owner’s death. If received as a gift, the basis is the amount that was originally paid for the investment, unless the market value of the investment on the date the gift was given was lower. also called cost basis or tax basis.
The difference between the cash price and the futures price of a given commodity.
Insurance against loss by illness or bodily injury. Health insurance provides coverage for medicine, visits to the doctor or emergency room, hospital stays and other medical expenses. Policies differ in what they cover, the size of the deductible and/or co-payment, limits of coverage and the options for treatment available to the policyholder.
An option which can be exercised at any time between the purchase date and the expiration date. Most options in the U.S. are of this type. This is the opposite of a European-style option, which can only be exercised on the date of expiration. Since an American-style option provides an investor with a greater degree of flexibility than a European style option, the premium for an American style option is at least equal to or higher than the premium for a European-style option which otherwise has all the same features. also called American option.
One who buys and sells securities for his/her personal account, not on behalf of clients.
An investor who holds stocks and securities for a short period of time (a few minutes, hours or days). The goal is to profit from short-term gains in the market. The stock selection is generally based on technical analysis or charting which relate only to the stock price rather than a fundamental evaluation of the company as a business. The IRS offers some tax benefits to traders: they can deduct their interest expense without itemizing, and seminar costs can be deducted as well as home office expenses in connection with investing.
30-day wash rule
IRS rule forbidding a taxpayer from claiming a loss on the sale of an investment if that same investment was purchased within 30 days before or after the sale date. The purpose of the rule is to discourage investors from selling at a loss just to get the tax benefit. also called 30-day wash sale rule.
Negotiable U.S. Government debt obligations, backed by its full faith and credit. Treasuries are issued by the U.S. government in order to pay for government projects. The money paid out for a Treasury Bond is essentially a loan to the government. As with any loan, repayment of principal is accompanied by a specified interest rate. These bonds are guaranteed by the “full faith and credit” of the U.S. government, meaning that they are extremely low risk (since the government can simply print money to pay back the loan). Additionally, interest earned on Treasuries is exempt from state and local taxes. Federal taxes, however, are still due on the earned interest. The government sells Treasuries by auction in the primary market, but they are marketable securities and therefore can be purchased through a broker in the very active secondary market. A broker will charge a fee for such a transaction, but the government charges no fee to participate in auctions. Prices on the secondary market and at auction are determined by interest rates. Treasuries issued today are not callable, so they will continue to accrue interest until the maturity date. One possible downside to Treasuries is that if interest rates increase during the term of the bond, the money invested will be earning less interest than it could earn elsewhere. Accordingly, the resale value of the bond will decrease as well. Because there is almost no risk of default by the government, the return on a Treasury bond is relatively low, and a high inflation rate can erase most of the gains by reducing the value of the principal and interest payments. There are three types of securities issued by the U.S. Treasury (bonds, bills, and notes), which are distinguished by the amount of time from the initial sale of the bond to maturity.
The amount by which a bond’s par exceeds its market price.
The amount by which the Net Asset Value per share of a closed-end fund’s holdings exceeds its market price.
Anything selling below its normal price. opposite of premium.
In the case of a convertible security, the difference between the gross proceeds received on sale and the convertible’s price. This difference occurs whenever the market expects that the convertible security will be redeemed before the next coupon date, and so investors will receive accrued interest.
American Stock Exchange
AMEX. The second-largest stock exchange in the U.S., after the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In general, the listing rules are a little more lenient than those of the NYSE, and thus the AMEX has a larger representation of stocks and bonds issued by smaller companies than the NYSE. Some index options and interest rate options trading also occurs on the AMEX. The AMEX started as an alternative to the NYSE. It originated when brokers began meeting on the curb outside the NYSE in order to trade stocks that failed to meet the Big Board’s stringent listing requirements, but the AMEX now has its own trading floor. In 1998 the parent company of the NASDAQ purchased the AMEX and combined their markets, although the two continue to operate separately. also called The Curb.
Securities and Exchange Commission
SEC. The primary federal regulatory agency for the securities industry, whose responsibility is to promote full disclosure and to protect investors against fraudulent and manipulative practices in the securities markets. The securities and Exchange Commissio> enforces, among other acts, the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Trust Indenture Act of 1939, the Investment Company Act of 1940 and the Investment Advisers Act. The supervision of dealers is delegated to the self-regulatory bodies of the exchanges. The securities and Exchange Commission is an independent, quasi-judiciary agency. It has five commissioners, each appointed for a five year term that is staggered so that one new commissioner is being replaced every year. No more than three members of the commission can be of a single political party. The securities and Exchange Commission is comprised of four basic divisions. The Division of Corporate Finance is in charge of making sure all publicly traded companies disclose the required financial information to investors. The Division of Market Regulation oversees all legislation involving brokers and brokerage firms. The Division of Investment Management regulates the mutual fund and investment advisor industries. And the Division of Enforcement enforces the securities legislation and investigates possible violations.
A mutual fund that buys a combination of common stock, preferred stock, bonds, and short-term bonds, to provide both income and capital appreciation while avoiding excessive risk. The purpose of balanced funds (also sometimes called hybrid funds) is to provide investors with a single mutual fund that combines both growth and income objectives, by investing in both stocks (for growth) and bonds (for income). Such diversified holdings ensure that these funds will manage downturns in the stock market without too much of a loss; the flip side, of course, is that balanced funds will usually increase less than an all-stock fund during a bull market.