Want to save some money, time, and anxiety? Get out of your car and walk. According to a report released Tuesday by Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, your average rush-hour driver wasted over a full workweek -- 51 hours -- sitting in traffic in 2001. The study looked at 75 urban areas and determined that gridlock cost us $69.5 billion in wasted time and gas.
Foolish solutions: Long distance running to work (lose weight, too!). Buy a bike. Telecommute and email your boss a lot so she thinks you're in the office. Or, quick, everyone up and move to Montana!
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Will Day Traders Ever Learn?
- Shameless Plug: Broker Center
- Netflix Puts on a Good Show
- Quote of Note
- Big Blue, Pink Slips
- Discussion Board of the Day: IBM
- More Fool News
- And Finally...
Will Day Traders Ever Learn?
There's nothing like a 60% return in less than a year -- as we've seen from the Nasdaq -- to make some people think they've got the Midas touch. Yes, the day traders are back. It seems like some people never learn.
According to Tuesday's edition of The Wall Street Journal, brokerage firms such as Ameritrade
To attract this lucrative business, many of the brokerages are lowering commissions for customers who make between 108 and 250 trades a year, depending on the company.
When we say "lucrative," we emphasize that this is lucrative for the brokers, not the traders. Even during the bull market of the '90s, only 11.5% made a profit, at least according to a study by the North American Securities Administrators Association.
According to managers of day-trading firms cited in a Washington Post Magazine article published during the bull market, about 90% of day traders "are washed up within three months." David Shellenberger of the Massachusetts Securities Division has noted that "Most traders will lose all of their money." A principal of a day-trading firm even admitted that "95% [of day traders] will fail in the first two years."
The Journal article says the volume is still well below the pre-bear market activity, and that traders seem to be holding onto shares a bit longer than they did three years ago. A USA Todayarticle on the comeback of day trading says today's traders are more disciplined, and most still keep their day jobs. (Both articles say that day traders prefer other labels, such as "active trader" or "semi-professional trader," which is like calling someone with a drinking problem a "moderate alcoholic.")
The resurrection of day trading is a disturbing development, especially when coupled with the increasing use of margin. The risk is great for everyone involved, yet the reward goes to very few. The short-term movements of a stock, or the overall market, are impossible to predict.
We leave you with these words from the Securities and Exchange Commission: "Day traders typically suffer severe financial losses in their first months of trading, and many never graduate to profit-making status. Given these outcomes, it's clear: Day traders should only risk money they can afford to lose."
Shameless Plug: Broker Center
We're not even sure we'd be risking money we can afford. But even if you're keeping your trading to a Warren Buffett minimum, you -- how did George Foreman put it? -- don't want to pay a lot for that stock trade. If you're in the market for a reliable, low-cost broker, look no further than our Broker Center. We can help you choose and use a broker, compare notes with others, and even get started investing online.
Netflix Puts on a Good Show
The service ended September with 1.29 million subscribers, ahead of expectations and sending the stock as much as 11% higher this morning. Shares are rising despite general concerns about competition from Blockbuster
Surrounded by competition, Netflix (selected by David Gardner in the June issue of Motley Fool Stock Advisor, in the low $20s) has advantages that include novelty (it's the hippest option for young audiences, and the young happen to rent a lot of movies); it pioneered renting DVDs through the mail (it was the "first mover"); and it has an attractive "all-you-can-rent" pricing scheme that's tough to compete against. All this is generating impressive market penetration.
In its native San Francisco Bay area, Netflix claims to reach 5.4% of households, up from 3.5% a year ago. Nationwide, the company cites 1.2% household penetration, up from 1% last year. With these gains, second-quarter sales reported in July rose 74% to $63 million.
The company has big goals. By sometime between 2007 and 2009, it aims to hit $1 billion in annual revenue, 5 million subscribers, and $100 million to $200 million in annual free cash flow. Skeptics abound, making Netflix one of the most shorted stocks on Nasdaq. At $40, it trades at 45 times the $0.88-per-share 2004 consensus earnings estimate. Third-quarter results will be announced Oct. 15.
Quote of Note
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." -- Mark Twain
Big Blue, Pink Slips
It's a steely pin poked deep into the gut of tech's inflated balloon of optimism, it is. International Business Machines
Skill rebalancing is what IBM is calling it, as management looks to better match its outlook with the skills of its workforce. Euphemism. Coming as this does on the heels of layoffs in the company's software and microchip divisions, maybe money managers are due for a little portfolio rebalancing too.
Why go black and blue on Big Blue? Well, it's just that most people are expecting an increase -- not a decrease -- in tech spending next year. Shouldn't IBM be installing "take a number" machines rather than pink slip dispensers?
Perhaps it sees a high-margin services industry that's about to get a lot more crowded. You're already seeing companies like Hewlett-Packard
Everyone wants to serve man, but here comes IBM in a Twilight Zone plot twist shouting, "It's a cookbook! It's a cookbook!"
IBM has played games in the past. It has used currency exchange gains to boost results and buried asset sale gains as operating cost savings. Passing off employee cuts as rebalancings rather than blunt assertions that it feels its market share threatened isn't cool. It's like stacking a banquet hall with unused chairs at a poorly attended function and trying to pass it off as standing room only.
Discussion Board of the Day: IBM
Big Blue's scaling back. Is that a concern? Do you think corporate IT spending will increase or decrease in 2004? All this and more -- in the IBM discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
More Fool News
Human nature makes for a whacky, whacky stock market. At least that's what our own Jeff Fischer concludes in Our Irrational Stock Market. Alyce Lomax, meanwhile, is just trying to keep tabs on the crazy thing online and cries, Down with Dial-Up. We've a creeping suspicion that things might go a bit more smoothly if we had more Women in Charge. What do you think?
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Paul Elliott, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, Jeff Hwang, LouAnn Lofton, Alyce Lomax, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Dave Marino-Nachison, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim