Author Archives: Passive Income Earner

The Big Short in Canadian Banks

Reviewing history, the Big 5 Canadian banks actually don’t have a high short interest, except for CIBC. The Big 5 Canadian banks are some of the most profitable businesses on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

For long-term investors who are looking for stable dividends and stable growth, it does not make sense to sell your stakes in the banks, unless you have a huge allocation, own a large stake in CIBC, or are worried about the health of the housing market in Canada. You’ve got to hold the stock to get the dividends!

We believe there’s a higher probability of slower growth or stagnant growth in the housing market than a meltdown.

Should You Sell Your Big Canadian Bank Shares?

Should you sell your bank shares? The short answer is “no” unless you own CIBC stock and are worried about the health of the housing market. Royal Bank has the least short interest, which indicates investors are finding it to be the safest bank perhaps because the bank is the leader and largest among the Big 5 and also has a focus on high net worth clients.

Here’s a longer answer to the question. Ultimately, investors should answer these questions for themselves and then make a decision on whether to buy/hold/sell accordingly:

  • Why did you buy the big banks in the first place? What’s your goal?
  • What’s your allocation in the Canadian banks or each bank?
  • What’s your investment horizon?

Here’s our answer with regards to our situation:

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How To Choose Better Stocks

Consider investing in the best stocks from an industry you’re interested in, instead of buying more than two from the same industry, as there usually aren’t that many great investing ideas.

If you’re a low-risk, conservative investor, you should consider focusing your investing dollars on stocks that:

  • have stable earnings or cash flow generation,
  • have an investment-grade credit rating or stocks that have little to no debt and are not rated, like Facebook (FB),
  • have weighted average interest rates of about 4% or lower,
  • don’t dilute shareholders,
  • have little short interests, and
  • are trading reasonable valuations.

Stocks from the same industries are subject to the same operating environments/challenges and risks. So, it makes sense to compare stocks from the same industries. Additionally, you’d generally want to compare with peers of similar size (i.e., large cap to large cap and small cap to small cap).

In general, you don’t want to hold too many stocks in the same industry because such stocks tend to move in tandem, and you want to reduce risk through diversification. Besides, why not choose the best stock from an industry you’re interested in? The aim is to lower your risk for satisfactory returns.

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Are High Return Investments Too Good to be True?

Who doesn’t want high returns on their investments? However, when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. More specifically, when certain stocks deliver excellent returns, ask yourself what’s the risk behind them.

coins stacking higher and higher with plant behind each stack indicating growth of money

Here are some examples.

High Return Tech Stocks

Shopify (TSX:SHOP)(NYSE:SHOP) has got to be one of the highest return tech stocks out there. Here’s a chart that shows its total returns since inception compared to other big tech names.

Yes, Shopify stock kicked the butts of the FANG stocks, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)(NASDAQ:GOOG).

SHOP Chart

SHOP data by YCharts

However, Shopify’s valuation is super duper expensive. At about US$200 per share, it trades at a blended P/E of about 500 and a PEG ratio of about 20.

Compare that to:

  • Facebook’s P/E of about 23.2 and a PEG ratio of about 1.5 at US$175 per share,
  • Amazon’s P/E of about 83.6 and a PEG ratio of roughly 1.4-2.8 at US$1850 per share,
  • Netflix’s P/E of about 120 and a PEG ratio of 2.4-3.9 at US$361 per share, and
  • Alphabet’s P/E of about 27.3 and a PEG ratio of 1.5-1.9 at US$1208 per share for GOOGL.

Surely, Shopify is growing at a super fast rate. For example, revenue growth was 59% in 2018. However, because of its astronomical valuation, it’s especially subject to an especially huge drawdown when we experience a market meltdown.

By the way, I don’t categorize the little correction we had from October to December 2018 as a market meltdown. In that period, Shopify fell from a high of about US$168 to a low of about US$120 for a drop of 28%. Imagine what a real market meltdown can do to Shopify stock (at least in the short term).

Biotech Stocks

Biotech stocks did very well for a long time. The long-term price chart of iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NASDAQ:IBB) illustrates the big picture.

Source: Google Finance with author annotatio
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