Wall Street Money Machineby Wade B. Cook, Wade B. Cook
From Wade B. Cook, once a New York City cab driver and now a renowned stock market cash flow strategist, comes Wall Street Money Machine, his bestselling small-press book that has turned into a national investing sensation. 2 cassettes.
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Wall Street Money MachineVolume 1
By Wade B. Cook
LighthouseCopyright © 1999 Wade B. Cook
All right reserved.
Making Great Investments
I am about to stray from conventional investment wisdom and go off on my own path, but before I do, let me state the investment basics with which I agree. I firmly believe, and will stress repeatedly in this book, that the underlying premise in all stock market deals has to be that you like the company in which you are investing.
Do not buy stock, or options to buy the stock, or a convertible bond which may lead to buying stock, unless you like the company. My market research leads me to a lot of computer charts and other measures of a company's performance. However, even if all the numbers don't measure up, if I like what I see in the real world about a particular company, I usually buy stock in it. I am not oblivious to a company's financial status and projections--I enjoy reading quarterly statements and annual reports--but after all the numbers are crunched and all the words spoken, my investment decisions come down to a few basic points:
1) Can I explain what the company does in a sentence or two? Is the mission of the company so hard to explain that even a detailed analysis will not accurately reflect what it does to make money?
2) Does it have "jazz"? Is itexciting? Does the jazz create a desire to own the stock, and more importantly, will a lot of other people respond? Remember, supply and demand cause stock prices to rise and fall and are the outgrowth of market sentiment--created by news from or about the company.
3) What is the debt of the company? This is easy to find out from reports. I want to make sure no more than 45-50 percent of the assets are offset by debt, which can be the killer of most businesses. Lack of cash flow to cover excessive debt can drive a business into insolvency and, sometimes, into bankruptcy so fast it will make your head spin. So I am very concerned about debt ratios.
4) What is the book value or the break-up value of the company? While you may have a hard time finding these numbers yourself, a good stockbroker or brokerage analyst can figure this out for you. There are also other value ratios to figure, such as price/earnings (see my remarks on price/earning ratios in "Common Mistakes to Avoid" in the chapter entitled, "Making Your Money Work Harder"), book value, and sales-to-book value. What I really want to know is this: Is the company valuable to other people? For example, is it a possible takeover candidate? Does it have assets (meaning companies, divisions, subsidiaries or products) which can be spun off into a new entity? In short, what is the break-up value of the company?
This leads to a system that has rarely failed me: building wealth by buying assets at a discount. If you've seen my other books or seminars, you know that I cut my teeth in the real estate investment arena. My most lucrative angle to real estate was to make a profit going into the investment, not just coming out. This simply means the investment was undervalued. I picked up assets at a discount.
If you are going to buy stock and sell it for cash, remember, one of the fastest ways a company can improve is for the stock to come up to the price where it should have been trading--in other words, for the price to reflect the "actuality" of the company's status.
If you were to buy a company's stock close to its all-time trading high, as reflected not only in book value but also in its price/earnings ratio, then the chance for it going higher, obviously, is slim. A lot of factors would have to work together for an increase in its valuation. However, if you were to buy into a company at a substantial discount, you could either wait for news to get out on what a good company it is or wait for other institutional investors to start buying in. This way you could get out at a substantial profit a lot faster.
5) Where is the exit? This question has been my trademark in many of my seminars. It is easy to buy stock but often hard to sell it at a profit. It is easy to get involved in real estate, hard to end the involvement. It is easy to get into personal relationships, and sometimes hard to get out. It is always harder to get out of something than it is to get in. So the emphasis should be on getting out. I always want to know where the exit is.
I'll explain this strategy more when I get to the rolling stock section. But it is important to bring it up here, even if you are holding stock for the long term. The simple point is this: is there enough interest in the company to trigger substantial buying and selling? When it is time for me to unload my holdings, are there going to be other people who will want to buy it? This does not come down to market timing, but to knowing my exit before I go in. Note: To learn how to get out of options, please see my section on the percent-to-double rule, page 79.
Peter Drucker, in his famous book The Effective Executive, said it best: "Our decisions should be based on conflicting opinions." If everything is good, if everybody is bullish, if everybody is buying a certain stock, if the institutional investors are jumping in, I have a real problem, because the exit door can get very crowded when the opinions turn around.
Obviously, analysts working for several different firms are not going to come up with the same opinions about a particular company. It is effective, though, to have accounts at different places, to get their opinion reports, find out why certain analysts evaluate a stock good or bad, and why they have chosen to upgrade or downgrade it. I don't put complete faith in analysts' remarks since most of them are not making anywhere near the kind of money they need to be making in order for me to follow their advice. However, it is nice to surround oneself with all of these different opinions.
My particular format is to learn as much as I can about a company and to learn what other people are saying about it. Then I let it settle down for awhile and make the decision a few days or weeks later. The stock will always be around. Usually, two or three weeks after analysts upgrade a company and all the stockbrokers get really hot on it, its stock settles down to the original price anyway. You can then evaluate the company based on the fundamentals and the other things I have been writing about so far.
To summarize: I want to make my decisions based on solid principles. I have found formulas that work very well for me. I also look at the different components of each particular investment and then make my own decisions. I have passed up opportunities on companies when I did not like some of the information I was receiving. A few times I have been burned by not investing in companies that other people invested in, but all-in-all I look back and say that trusting my own opinion (after surrounding myself with a lot of contrasting opinions) has worked best for me.
Risks and Rewards
There always has to be a trade-off. The road to wealth is not a freeway. As a matter of fact, many times it is a very rocky road with many bumps, dips and detours along the way. Not only are most people not willing to take the risk, but many are not willing to get on the road. That is fine with me, but for those of you who have decided to play the stock market game, one of the greatest areas in which you can invest and receive the greatest rewards is your own brain power.
I know that sounds trite, but your success in the stock market will be directly connected with the efforts, knowledge, and energy you apply. The quality of your investment decisions is based on the quality of the information you feed into the thinking, meditation and decision-making process. There is no substitute for good information, and there is also no substitute for timely action. Remember, even though the "how to's" are very important when it comes to determining how to make profits, the stock market is not so much a "how to," as a "when to."
If you want to invest in equities or debt and have no risk at all, the easiest place to put your money is in short-term government securities. With these investments, you can determine the rate of return or yield. Quite simply, there is virtually no risk. However, your profits will increase as you move on up the risk potential scale. I think that you would have to be completely naive not to realize that as you take more risks, the rewards become greater, as do the potential losses.
At some point along this risk versus reward line, you need to determine where you are happy and comfortable. This is usually determined by where you are in your life. Is there a need in your life right now for more income? Do you need more investments producing tax write-offs? Are you shopping around for investments you hope will grow and become worth a lot down the road? Very seldom have I met anybody who just needed more income without needing the tax write-offs and growth vehicle to accompany them--most of us need a blending of all three. However, increasing income or cash flow probably stands out as the most important.
Your need for tax write-offs will go up and down from year to year, depending on the income and losses you have. Your need for growth (you should be contemplating and investing for it at all times) will be heavier in your later years. However, your need for cash flow will always exist and will always be growing. This is evident not only from my years of looking at my own investment portfolio, but also from looking at the portfolios of countless thousands of other people--those who have come through my seminars and relied on me and my company to help establish their different business and family structures. Our goals have been to 1) maximize their cash flow, 2) lower their liability and risk exposure, 3) prepare for a great retirement, 4) make substantial amounts from either real estate, stock market, or business interests, and then 5) make sure that their family eventually gets everything through what is called bequeathment.
I have come to realize that cash flow is king. Once again, this is a cliche, but one with so much meaning. The dynamic of cash flow reaches far into everything else we do. It controls our standard of living. It can control the simple "nitty-gritty" things, like which colleges our children attend. It controls what car we drive, what house we live in, when we go out to dinner, and what types of restaurants we frequent. I have based the bulk of my seminars and books around income generation.
This income generation theme came into focus with one underlying concept: to create a grouping of assets that continually produce monthly income for you. You want the assets, not you, producing the income. Remember when you first started working? You were probably flipping hamburgers at McDonald's and making minimum wage. After you graduated from high school and went on to college, you probably started making $8 to $20 an hour. Later on, you were put on salary, making the equivalent of $40 to $50 thousand a year and/or you started your own business.
All of these forms of making money are what we call earned income. From a tax point of view, earned income is taxed in a specific way and certain offsets can be applied. As you grow older and start accumulating wealth, you start generating what is called unearned income. Unearned income could be from royalties or rents, it could be dividends, capital gains, or any other way of making money whereby your money is making money, not you. Unearned income is probably the goal of most people reading this book. The theme of my seminars, my books, and indeed my whole life has been to teach people how to generate or acquire assets, usually on a leveraged basis, and to generate the kind of income they need to either grow into another lifestyle or sustain the lifestyle they have. This is not only for now, but for their future--for a rich retirement.
Now back to risk and reward. I must emphatically say now, at the very beginning, I hate losing money! As you read on and get into my different strategies for making money, you will realize that a lot of what I do is designed to stop any cash flow drains or any reduction in asset value. A lot of what I do is defensive in nature. Simply put, the first strategy in winning is to not lose. Yes, I have chosen some very unique ways of making money, and some of them will be new to you. I hope they are as exciting to you as they are to me. The strategies I am going to show you have been tried and proven effectively, but they fly in the face of conventional wisdom. I hope they'll make sense to you, but they don't to institutional investors. Remember, we as individual investors can simply go for the income, while the people who are supposedly advising us want to make sure that we have a balanced portfolio, or that we buy their current investment "recommendation of the week."
You can create a balanced portfolio, once you have excess income. So, the first job is to create the excess income, but we are always running into interference. It seems that every time we run down the field, we get sidestepped by a strategy or we get tackled by a particular stock. It is hard to make a living in the stock market, because it seems that all the conventional forces are determined to keep us at the bottom of the pack, like a crab trying to crawl out of the pot with all the other crabs pulling him back down. I am reminded of a statement made by Woody Hayes, the famous football coach. He had a good halfback on the field who kept getting tackled. Time after time, he tried to run down the field and was met with resistance. Woody finally pulled him over to the sideline and said, "Boy, run where they ain't!"
This is what I have done--sometimes inadvertently--I "run where they ain't." I set my own course, which is to continually develop more cash flow, allowing my family and myself to live off the income from these investments.
Now, if I can create excess income and also keep on adding to my asset base (which will continue to produce more income), then, in fact, I'll get into a cycle of ever-increasing wealth and ever-increasing cash flow. Most people never get into this type of cycle (they go to work, pay the bills, go to work, pay the bills, and on and on) and it seems like there is never enough at the end of the month. I have tried to jump off that merry-go-round and get my money earning more money and keep that money compounding and earning yet more money. Once this is started it becomes a habit, and with ever-increasing cash flow I am also able to purchase the investments that will grow for the long term.
Today, I believe that the best way to make money is through an aggressive approach to real estate or an aggressive approach to the stock market. I have done the real estate deals and made my first fortune that way. When I started teaching seminars, I realized my true love in life was to share these strategies with other people. The benefits I receive from teaching are simply that I get to see people spending more time with their children, giving more to their churches, and spending those special moments with their spouses. The highest reward for me along this risk and reward spectrum, after working out some of the bugs and taking the risks myself, is to share some of these methods with other people.
Remember, you need to walk in the moccasin of the Indian if you want to really feel what the Indian feels. You need to have the experience yourself. If there is anything that I can do to help you learn a few short cuts, avoid some problems, and show you a better way of getting to your ultimate enhanced cash flow level, then my job as your educator, and this book, will be a success.
Look at your own life and try to determine what you should really be going for. I am going to make a case for building up your income and developing more cash flow, from a weird and contrary point of view. I use what I call "The Mack Truck" theory: you sign a deal, you make an arrangement, you go into business, you buy a property or make another investment, and then you walk out into the street and get flattened by a Mack truck. What do you leave behind for your family? What have you saddled them with? What responsibilities must they now take over? With your life, job, or business the way it is, if you were laid up for six months to a year in a hospital, what income would support you?
Some of the answers are obvious: you can get disability insurance, or for the ultimate bang in life, you can get life insurance. But, simply put, what would happen to you, your family, and your business? You may have a great business today, earning you a lot of money, but how fast could that change? Then what would your family do?
What I am driving at here is that you should build up income from a separate source. You can call this two-stepping your wealth if you want--people have called it that for many years. Two-stepping your wealth means that if you have a nice profit center now--a cash cow--and you are living comfortably, then take some of your profits and move them a step away from your business. I know from running my own business, it is easy to keep recycling all of the money into the business and get into a never-ending spiral of growth. While this may be good in the early years, at some point, you must take some of the money and put it into other types of investments.
A lot of businesses find excess funds going into 401K plans, Keogh plans or other types of corporate pension plans. Other businesses open up brokerage accounts or bank accounts in the name of the corporation or business and start investing money there. My point is to take some of the money and turn it into a business. Then, if there is a downturn in your business, you have income from another source that can support your lifestyle.
I know many couples who have worked this together, where the husband or the wife is intensely running the business while the other spouse handles the investments. You can share information and consult with each other, so it is almost like having two businesses going, with one being a money management business. However, if you are truly going to turn money management into a business in and of itself, then I think you will find the strategies here helpful. Most of them are designed to treat the stock market just like a business, which is to buy low and sell high and put the emphasis on selling and creating income.
As A Business?
Those of you who have your own business know how hard it can be to start it and keep it profitable. I am amazed at how many people think they will have all the freedom they want and need when they own their own business. While it is, and should be, very rewarding, not only from a financial but an emotional point of view, running a business does require a lot of time and energy.
Remember the old nine-to-five days, when you were working for someone else? Now, you own your own business and all of a sudden you are working from six or seven in the morning until seven or eight at night, sometimes six days a week. You must think about your competition, what they're doing, where they are going, and what you can do to counteract their advances. You need to think about your own management, hiring and training people to handle different aspects of your business, and you need to worry about little nitty-gritty things, like time clocks and employee theft. You also need to worry about compensation plans and measures to protect your business, such as noncompetition and nondisclosure agreements with employees and management.
You have a whole host of things to worry about and now you want to enter the stock market? Guess what? Your best bet is to invest in a dozen or so companies all worrying about these same things. The reason is that you have leveraged knowledge that will help you succeed. In running your own business, you have learned many company strategies and you can look for good management in other businesses.
Remember, bet on the jockey, not on the horse. When we are investing in a company, the number one consideration should be its management. How good are the leaders, what are their experiences, and how will they handle adversity? If they have a great product, but a mediocre management team, the results will be only mediocre. On the other hand, if they have a mediocre product, a good management team will either enhance it, figure out a way to sell it, or create new products and services that will make the company successful.
When I think of the many people I have been able to teach and consult with, I continually ask myself the question, "What is it that I need, and what is it that these people need, to sustain ourselves as the kind of people we truly want to be?" It comes down to the simple economic fact of having income that will sustain us through our lives. You've heard of PMA: Positive Mental Attitude; well forget that and go for PMI: Perpetual Monthly Income. This whole concept of developing assets that will produce income--even perpetual income--is my financial goal.
Outwardly, this has nothing to do with the spiritual or emotional areas of my life, yet I have learned by happy and sad experience that my financial status affects a lot of other things. I want to ask a few questions, and I know that these are weird questions: Could you be a little bit better you if you had more money coming in? Could you give more to your church? Could you spend more time with your kids or grandkids? Could you give more to charities? Could you go back to college and take classes and learn things that you haven't been able to learn?
My continual challenge in life is to balance these aspects. But now, in the financial arena, I want to share those things that will help you fundamentally alter your outlook on money. By the time you finish reading this book and applying these techniques, principles, and formulas, I want you to be successful and have more income, doing the things in life that you really want to do.
Excerpted from Wall Street Money Machine by Wade B. Cook Copyright © 1999 by Wade B. Cook. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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The book is great and the strategies Wade teaches really do work - but don't think it's easy. Making these strategies profitable takes practice and dedication. This book is just the beginning of what you will have to learn/do in order to get rich from trading. I have been following Wade's books/lectures for years and although they do alot to get the reader excited, don't think for even a moment that you'll be a pro trader right from the beginning. Best of luck.