J.J. Butler

A "put" is a negotiable contract giving the holder the privilege to sell a specified number of shares of a certain stock to the maker at a fixed price, within a specified time. A "call" is the exact reverse. It is a negotiable contract giving the holder the privilege to buy a specified number of shares of a certain stock from the maker at a fixed price, within a specified time. The price fixed in a put or call is set away from the market price a certain number of points, depending upon the stock and the condition of the market.

We maintain that there is only one basis upon which successful speculation can be carried on continually; that is, never to buy a security unless it is selling at a price below that which is warranted by assets, earning power, and prospective future earning power.

There are many influences that affect the movements of stock prices, which are referred to in subsequent chapters. All of these should be studied and understood, but they should be used as secondary factors in relation to the value of the stock in which you are trading.

A "stop-loss" is an order to your broker to sell you out if the market sells down a certain number of points. Many speculators place stop loss orders only two points from the market price. The idea is that when the market starts to go down it is likely to continue going down, and by taking a two-point loss you may save a much greater loss. It also can be applied to a short sale, when you give your broker instructions to buy in the stock for you if it goes up a certain number of points.

In deciding what stocks to buy, it is well to consider first the classes of stocks, and then what particular stocks you should buy in the classes you select. We would first of all divide all stocks into two classes, those listed on the New York Stock Exchange and those not listed on the New York Stock Exchange. As a rule, it is better to buy stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange, although there are frequent exceptions to this rule.

It is said that the desire to speculate is very strong in the American people. That is why our country has made greater progress than any other country in the world, because progress is the result of speculation. We are not referring merely to stock speculations, but to the word in its broadest sense. Every new undertaking is a speculation.

A great deal more can be said about stocks you should not buy than about stocks you should buy, because the list is very much larger.

There are two kinds of stock traders. One kind nearly always makes a profit, and the other wins sometimes and loses other times, but eventually loses all if he does not change his methods. The first kind buys stocks on liberal margin or outright and is not worried when the market goes against him, because he has good reasons for believing that prices eventually will go up. If he does have to take a loss occasionally, it is likely to be small compared with his profits.

Stocks should be bought when they are cheap. By being cheap, we mean that the market price is much less than the intrinsic value. In Chapters X. to XV. we talk about influences that affect the price movements of stocks. By studying these carefully you should be able to decide when stocks generally are cheap. Of course, not all stocks are cheap at the same time, but the majority of listed stocks do go up and down at the same time, as a rule.

What are the possibilities of profit in stock speculation? That question is frequently asked but it is difficult to answer. James R. Keene is quoted as having said: "Many men come to Wall Street to get rich; they always go broke. Others come to Wall Street to operate intelligently for fair returns; they usually get rich."

While it is true that nearly all stock traders who try to make unusually large profits in a very short time in stock trading lose, yet unusual profits can be made if you exercise good judgment and have patience.

There are times when stocks should not be bought, and that is when nearly all stocks have advanced beyond their real values. It is doubtful if there ever is a time when all stocks have advanced beyond their real values, but when the great majority of stocks have so advanced, there is likely to be a general decline in all stock prices. The stocks that are not selling too high will decline some in sympathy with the others. Therefore, there are times when we advise our clients not to buy any stocks.

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