Preferred VERSUS Common Stock?

Is there a Difference?

What is the Difference?

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By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP®

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A common stock is the least senior of securities issued by a company. 

A preferred stock, in contrast, is slightly more senior to common stock, since dividends owed to the preferred stockholders should be paid before distributions are made to common stockholders. 

However, distributions to preferred stockholders are limited to the level outlined in the preferred stock agreement (i.e., the stated dividend payments).  Like a fixed income security, preferred stocks have a specific periodic payment that is either a fixed dollar amount or an amount adjusted based upon short-term market interest rates. 

However, unlike fixed income securities, preferred stocks typically do not have a specific maturity date and preferred stock dividend payments are made from the corporation’s after tax income rather than its pre-tax income.  Likewise, dividends paid to preferred stockholders are considered income distributions to the company’s equity owners rather than creditors, so the issuing corporation does not have the same requirement to make dividend distributions to preferred stockholders. 

So, preferred stock is generally referred to as a “hybrid” security, since it has elements similar to both fixed income securities (i.e., a stated periodic payments) and equity securities (i.e., shareholders are considered owners of the issuing company rather than creditors). 

Convertible preferred stocks (and convertible corporate bonds) are also considered hybrid securities since they have both equity and fixed income characteristics.   A convertible security whether a preferred stock or a corporate bond, generally includes a provision that allow the security to be exchanged for a given number of common stock shares in the issuing corporation. The holder of a convertible security essentially owns both the preferred stock (or the corporate bond) and an option to exchange the preferred stock (or corporate bond) for shares of common stock in the company. 

ASSESSMENT: Thus, at times the convertible security may behave more like the issuing company’s common stock than it does the issuing company’s preferred stock (or corporate bonds), depending upon how close the common stock’s market price is to the designated conversion price of the convertible security.

CITATION: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

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Discount Brokerages versus On-Line Brokerages

Physicians Must Appreciate the Differences

By Daniel B. Moisand; CFP® and the ME-P StaffME-P Blogger

Here are a few questions for all physician-investors to consider in 2009:

1. True or False? 

The key to investment success is to pay as little for a trade as possible.

2. True or False? 

The higher the number of trades in an investment account, the better the investment results.

3. True or False? 

The majority of revenue of a discount or on-line brokerage comes from trades. 

A: The answers should be crystal clear! False, False and True. It is almost entirely that simple.

Cost Control

Much like a medical practice, keeping costs down is an important objective of personal finance but, it is certainly not the key to success.  There are many studies that show that active trading garners inferior results compared to a longer term buy and hold type of strategy. One of the most publicized recently was conducted by a UC-Davis team led by Dr. Terrance Odean. The study examined the actual tracing activity of thousands of self-directed accounts at a major discount brokerage over a six-year period. The results were clear. Regardless of trading level, most of the accounts underperformed the market and showed that the higher the number of trades, the worse the result.

Of Bulls and Bears

While the U.S. markets were on a dramatic upswing a decade ago, the general interest level in them increased as well.  More households owned financial assets than ever before. Demographics drive much of this surge. The older edge of the baby boom generation is finding that as the children leave home, they have more income than ever before and saving for retirement becomes a higher priority. The proliferation of defined contribution [401-k, 403-b] retirement plans has also forced more people to take responsibility for their long-term security. When, the US stock market was on a tear; one would have be wise to remember an old Wall Street saying – “Don’t confuse brains with a bull market.” Unfortunately today, far too many self-directed investors did not heed the warnings. The media is full of stories about investors whose portfolios were decimated by the recent bear market. While this loss of wealth is somewhat tragic, in almost all cases the losses were made possible by poor planning and/or poor execution that a mediocre advisor would have avoided.

The Business of Advice

One also cannot conclude that everyone is acting as his or her own investment advisor. The advice business continues to thrive. Sales of load mutual funds have continued to grow, as has commission revenue at full-service firms. No-load funds have continued to grow as well and gain market share from the load funds. However, it would be inaccurate to tie that growth to do-it-yourselfers. Much of the growth of no-load funds can be attributed to the advice of various types of advisors who are recommending the funds. In addition, several traditionally no-load fund families have begun to offer funds through brokers for a load.

The Discounters

For physicians and all clients, the primary attraction to a discounter is cost. Everyone loves a bargain. Once it is determined that it is a good idea to buy say 100 shares of IBM, the trade needs to get executed. When the trade settles one owns 100 shares of IBM, regardless of what was paid for the trade. There is no harm in saving a few bucks. However, the decision to buy the IBM shares and when to sell those shares will have a far greater impact on the investment results than the cost of the trade as long as the level of trading is kept at a prudent level. The fact is that most good advisors use discount firms for custodial and transaction services. The leading providers to advisors are Schwab, Fidelity, and Waterhouse.fp-book1

Ego Driven

In addition to cost savings, discounters appeal to one’s ego for business. Everyone wants to feel like a smart investor; especially doctors. Often, marketing materials will cite the IBM example and portray the cost difference as an example of how the investor is either stupid or being ripped off. There is also a strong appeal to one’s sense of control. An investor is made to feel like they are the masters of their own destiny.  All of this is a worthy goal. One should feel confident, in control, and smart about financial issues. Hiring a professional should not result in losing any of these feelings, rather solidify them. Getting one’s affairs in order is smart. The advisor works for the client so a client should maintain control by only delegating tasks to the extent one is comfortable. Knowing that the particular circumstances are being addressed effectively should yield enhanced confidence.

Sales Pressure Release

The final reason people turn to discount and on-line brokerages is to avoid sales pressure. Unlike the stereotypical stockbroker, no one calls to push a particular stock. Instead, sales pressure is created within the mind of the investor. By maintaining a steady flow of information about stocks and the markets to the account holders, brokerages keep these issues in the forefront of the investor’s minds. This increases the probability that the investor will act on the information and execute a trade. Add some impressive graphics and interfaces and the brokerage can keep an investor glued to the screen. The Internet has made this flow easier and cheaper for the brokerages, lowering costs and increasing the focus on trade volume to achieve profitability.

Assessment

The pressurized information flow however, does little to protect investors during a bear market. Ironically, this focus on trading is one of the very conflicts investors are trying to avoid by fleeing a traditional full service broker.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What are your feelings on discount and internet brokers? Tell us what you think. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Challenging Standard & Poor’s 500 Index

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Dr. Jeremy Siegel Opines

[By Staff Reporters]56371606

According to Financial Advisor News – an electronic trade magazine on March 17 2009 – Standard & Poor’s underestimate the earnings of its S&P 500 Index. So says, Jeremy Siegel PhD, a finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and author of Stocks for the Long Run.

The Dilemma

The problem started when the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed piece by Siegel that argued Standard & Poor’s uses a “bizarre” methodology for calculating the earnings and P/E ratio for the S&P 500. In it, Siegel explained that the earnings of S&P 500 companies are currently treated equally, but should instead be weighted in proportion to their market capitalization. Market capitalization weighting, he noted, is used to measure the S&P 500 returns. Such a system gives larger weight to the earnings of a company such as Exxon-Mobil, and lower weight to an S&P 500 member such as Jones Apparel.

Siegel’s Example

For example, “a 10% rise in Exxon-Mobil’s price would boost the S&P 500 by 4.64 index points, while the same fall in Jones Apparel would have no impact since the change is far less than the one-hundredth of one point to which the index is routinely rounded,” Siegel wrote.

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Outcome

As a result of the above, if capitalization weightings were applied to 2008, the earnings of S&P 500 companies would have been $71.10 per share instead of $39.73 per share.

S&P’s Support

In response, an S&P official said Siegel’s argument “fails the test of both logic and index mathematics.”

Conclusion

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Types of Common Stock

Physician Investing Basics

 [By Julia O’Neal; MA, CPA]

fp-book1There are several different types of common stock listed below, and more. 

Utilities: Utilities are companies in public-service businesses, such as electric utilities, natural gas delivery, or telephones, which pay high dividends and are often used by investors for income. 

Blue chips: These are high-quality, well-known, large-capitalization, dividend-paying companies with long track records of steady, secure earnings.  

Capitalization: Market price × Number of shares outstanding. Usually market cap of less than $500 million is considered “small capitalization,” but in recent years, companies between $500 million and $1 billion are also being considered “small caps.” 

Growth: Companies with earnings growth in excess of industry or market averages. Although these companies have strong earnings, they usually reinvest them into research or expansion rather than pay them out as dividends. 

Emerging growth: Smaller capitalization companies with even stronger earnings potential. Smaller companies are on the early part of the growth curve. While the start-up phase is the riskiest, the expansion phase follows, where growth is the fastest. Small companies may be in new businesses or new markets, and they often have the advantage of being able to react quickly to change. Some investors look especially for smaller companies that are “under-owned by institutions”—that have not been discovered by the big professional investors. 

Cyclical: Companies in businesses providing basic materials or products that are subject to the economic cycle; profits are based on increased consumer demand for high-cost items that can be deferred in tough economic times. Some examples are steel, autos, and building materials. These may be big, strong, mature companies that pay dividends, but they are not blue chips because the possibility exists that earnings may slump drastically and dividends may disappear during economic downturns. 

Defensive: Companies that continue to produce earnings in all economic cycles because they provide a necessary product or service (for example utilities, healthcare and food companies). 

Assessment 

Of course, stocks are further subdivided by industry type, from retailing (department stores and other direct sellers to consumers) to restaurants to technology to steel. The list is long, and sectors are often classified differently.

New areas, such as bio and nano-technology and networking software, are constantly being added. 

Conclusion 

And so, do you prefer common stocks, mutual funds, index funds or ETFs, and why?

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