Tag Archives: comv

Time to Take My $5000 Losses

Investing is scary. Even when you’re diversified and even when you buy stock in megacap companies that pay stable dividends, it’s scary. I don’t like it. But I’m just as scared of not having enough money in retirement with my Bank of America riskless CD earning a whooping .35% interest.

A few weeks ago, I sold 69.7 shares of OSTK, taking a $450 hit. I’ve realized that while “buy and hold” is an overall good strategy (I’m not planning on becoming a day trader or options speculator), there are many times when companies are not doing well, and aren’t going to be doing well for a while. Granted, I shouldn’t buy these companies in the first place (I’ve learned that too), but I made some of these mistakes early on in my investing career. OSTK was one of them. $1000 spent, down to $548.54 in 6 months. Luckily I only owned 70 shares of it.

The one stock that has been killing my whole portfolio is COMV. I kept hoping it would go up again… I’ve dollar-cost averaged down from $18 to a point where I owned 1200 shares for an average of $5.05 a share. Unfortunately the stock kept tanking, even as I added to my position thinking it couldn’t get worse, it got worse. I’ve invested $6452.46 into this stock that is now worth $1828.74. A $4623.72 paper loss. Ouch. Continue reading Time to Take My $5000 Losses

To Sell or Not to Sell: COMV (Loss $4515)

One of my earliest mistakes investing was getting over excited about how easy it was to invest in stocks. I first invested in mutual funds and index funds, and then quickly got into buying a little of this and a little of that. As I detail in Monday’s upcoming post, my portfolio has been up (28%!) and down, but right now it has practically lost all its gains. So much for compound interest.

Of all the losers in my portfolio, the biggest loser of all is Comverge. They seemed to be doing reasonably well when I bought it, knowing it was a risky small cap stock. I started out with a small amount of investment, a few hundred dollars, and somehow dollar-cost averaged down to the point where I invested $6252 in it. I was pretty¬†adamant¬†about not putting more than $2k into any one individual stock unless it was clearly an out performer, but I must have gotten caught up into the excitement of getting a “deal” on the stock as it went down and down and down.

The first time I bought Comverge, it was at $18 per share. I didn’t buy all of the stock at that price (luckily?) but today it’s a whopping $1.56 per share. All that’s left is $1836 of that stock. So right now I’m wondering if I should cut my losses and sell, or wait until the stock (maybe) bounces back a bit before selling (though that might just be asking to lose another $2000!)

Of course, the other option is to keep dollar cost averaging down. That is seeming more and more foolish at this point. It could have worked for some larger companies that just got hit in the recession (ie I wish I put all that money into Whole Foods at the time!) — in any case, right now I’m baffled by investing, and afraid that my minimal gains over the past five years will be completely washed out with a few bad stock choices. Besides, there has to be a better place to put $2,000 to perform than a stock that has lost so much of its value in the last four years, right?


My highly unscientific stock investing method

A few years ago, I opened a Sharebuilder account to test the waters on buying ETFs and individual stocks with my $50 or so a month of leftover savings once I maxed out my Roth IRA. Investing $50 here or there into stocks like MCD and GOOG gave me a little rush… as they were riskier than the index funds the remaining $5k went into every year.

Since I opened the account in 2008, that account has amassed $53.6k in investments. I’ve watched the account lose 30% of its value during the great recession, kept investing at the market lows in stocks that seemed cheap, watched my account hit 25% profit, and return to 7%. Needless to say, my “for fun” stock and ETF account really has way too much money in it now to be “for fun,” but I’m not sure what to do about it.

For what it’s worth, many of my investments are in ETFs or very large companies that tend to be stable investments. I have 24 different ETFs and stocks in the account, including AAPL, AMZN, AND, COMV, CSCO, ENOC, EPI, EWZ, FTR (this was a split from VZ and I own like $3 of it), GE, GLD, GOOG, IHI, JNJ, KOL, MCD, OSTK, PBD, PG, T, VWO, VZ, WFMI, and XLF. (Recognize any of those?)

The worst performing by far is COMV, which is a small cap cleantech stock that has been all over the map. It’s doing really poorly right now so part of me is tempted to sell and part of me is tempted to wait and another part of me wants to buy more because based on my limited knowledge of the company, their history and potential, it seems like it’s cheap at the moment… and even short term it will probably move up again from where it’s at now. I don’t base this on any stock charts so really I don’t know. Shares are about $4.50 right now, my avg purchase price was $6.50, and I own around 700 shares.

On the other end of the spectrum, AAPL has performed very well, but it is SO expensive. I started investing when it was $250 a share, and now it’s around $340 a share. Along the way I’ve accumulated 70 shares of the stock, which really isn’t a lot given stocks don’t just keep going up and up once they’re so far up (do they?)

I’m probably most excited about AND, IHI, VWO and XLF. I wish I bought more WFMI for the long time it was doing poorly and my stock in it was down something like 60%.

I really don’t own a lot of shares of any one stock… COMV with 667 shares is my largest ownership from a sheer number perspective. Next up in my list, XLF, with 281.7 shares. Then VZ at only 119.59 shares. Needless to say, since this is just my Sharebuilder account (not including my Sharebuilder IRA, my Roth IRA and Vanguard accounts, or 401k from my last company) I’m likely over diversified and making poor investing decisions.

The way I look at it, though, is that at least I’m investing. It would be so easy to take that money and throw it away on a nicer apartment or other things I don’t need. At least in the stock market there’s a chance I’ll have some compound interest value on it over time. Then again, it’s extremely risky to put my money in the market this way… even though I am “buy and holding” I’m riding the same market that everyone else who is shorting and buying options and doing all those complicated investing things that I don’t understand in. So it’s hard for a novice like me to even understand what it all means, other than to put my money on as many spots on the roulette wheel as possible, and sit back as it spins.

Is this a terrible investing strategy? Do you have any advice for me?

Sharebuilder Experiment — An Expected Failure?

My Sharebuilder account is down about $134 right now, and I doubt it’ll enter an uptrend anytime soon.

The biggest burner is one stock pick – COMV – that I bought a measly 4 shares at for $29 a piece. Those shares are now worth about $10 a piece.

Meanwhile, GLD, the “gold ETF,” which was actually doing very well a few weeks ago, is now “correcting” itself, and I’m down $30 on that investment. $30 isn’t bad, but I have a feeling that it will be a while before GLD hits $100 a share again. I think it will, one day, given that every so many years the economy looks bleak and people start to pour money into gold. I don’t know if it will ever go beyond that. I don’t know how long it will take to get there again. I don’t know how much money I’ll “lose” in the meantime. I see people saying GLD could be worth $70 a share or less. That’d be a “big” loss. I own about $500 worth – 5 shares. So a $30 drop per share would be a $150 loss.

I guess that’s not that bad. If I want to hang on to GLD as a backup. It’s supposed to be “insurance” in a portfolio. Of course, most people say it should be in metal form, not paper. But GLD is kind of like owning the metal, right? It’s investing in the bullion anyway.

I wonder if I should have sold GLD when it was up to $100 a share. I would have made a nice little profit of $47 at its highest… which would have been better than losing $300. Much better.

I’m happy to hold on to all of my investments for many years. I’m trying to invest and then “forget” about my investments, even though I follow how they’re doing, but as soon as I put my money into that account I pretend it’s play money so I don’t have to worry about it. Maybe that’s an awful investing strategy?

Regardless, I stopped investing in GLD. The $500 is enough of my portfolio at the moment to devote to that.

Meanwhile, I’ve started diversifying a bit more. Away from GLD and away from individual stocks. Right now my Sharebuilder portfolio is:

GLD: $507.10 (5.8 shares)

BMXX: $251.83 (money market)
EWZ: $244.33 (3.08 shares)
MCD: $194.83 (3.41 shares)
PDB: $163.46 (6.2695 shares)
KOL: $109.10 (2.88 shares)
WFMI: $106.01 (3.069 shares)
EPI: $105.73 (4.48 shares)
XLF: $69.65 (2.65 shares)
COMV: $43.48 (4 shares)

The first Investing cut is the deepest

I’m an impulsive person, for better or worse. Sometimes I think about something for a long time trying to come with a rational conclusion, and then I make an un-wise spur-of-the-moment decision anyway. I need to stop doing that.

Well, about two months ago now I decided I wanted to start investing on Sharebuilder. It was a way for me to get to know more about the stock market, the overall economy and perhaps make some money.

My first purchase was four shares of COMV at $26 a share. This was a company I had been wanting to invest in ever since I covered it as a business journalist covering cleantech. I noted in a previous entry that I knew my experience covering them as a private company that was doing fairly well (yet not turning a profit) would not really translate to how they would perform as a public company. Regardless, I wanted in. I finally could, without any conflict-of-interest, try to nab a piece of a company that may eventually skyrocket to success.

A cleantech energy management company, they basically get contracts with utility companies to start demand response programs in place. These programs help the grid remain stable during times of high demand (like in the summer when everyone has their air conditioning on full blast). Instead of overloading the grid, the software and hardware installed by the company would reduce the amount of energy used in a building, therefore limiting the amount of demand on the grid. If this is done in a bunch of buildings, it can extremely reduce the likelihood of a blackout.

Anyway, I liked the idea, but didn’t do enough research about the financial matters of the company.

The thing is, they could still do good in the long run. They just scored a multi-million dollar contract with a utility, and maybe they can make a profit this year and the stock price will go up.

I feel bad for the folks who bought the stock at $40 and who were holding. I got in on the downward trend.

I bought four shares of COMV for $26 each.

The stock is now worth $14.

The other day it was back up to $19.50 and I figured if it got to $22 I might just sell it and put the money into one of my ETFs that are performing much, much better.

The next day it had dropped $3.20 a share. I’m not sure why it did this, after all the company seemed to put out good news the day before. Or maybe it was bad news in disguise and I just missed what the other investors saw. Or maybe the stock market just had a bad day.

Regardless, my little experiment is paying off in knowledge and not-so-much in profits. I invested in three individual stocks and three ETFs. All my ETFs are up, all my individual stocks are down. One individual stock (the one I’m talking about in this entry) is very, very down.

Lesson learned. I will not be investing in individual stocks anymore. I may or may not keep my four shares of COMV out of curiosity. And, right now I have little to gain by selling. My shares are worth a measly $50 and it will cost me $10 to sell them. I’d rather watch the money deplete itself entirely than sell at this point. I’m just glad I was lucky enough to splurge on the stock when it was at $26 and not $40!

With Sharebuilder I get six “free” investments a month (for a $12 monthly fee). I’m investing about $300 a month if my funds allow. So in the future, I’m going to move more into ETFs and on occasion put some money into the two individual stocks I own that will at the very least pay some sort of dividends (McDonalds and Whole Foods). I knew COMV was a risk from the get-go and I was right. Good to know my instincts are accurate sometimes, even when I fail to listen to them.