Investing for Dummies

While my spam filter manages to cull out the vast majority of unwanted missives each day (along with a few wanted ones) some of the craftier messages still get through. Among the frequent survivors are bulletins notifying me that certain stocks are about to go through the roof and anybody not willing to drop everything and invest immediately will be crying in his beer before the end of the week. The very fact that these offers seem too good to be true makes them a good candidate for deletion.

I started thinking about the possibility that these offers might in fact be legit and I just might be crying in my beer having purposely passed up an opportunity to triple my investment in the course of a single week. However, while intrigued with the possibility of a quick and dramatic windfall I wasn't all that eager to drop any real cash to test my hypothesis. This called for a bold move. It was time to invest heavily using theoretical greenbacks.

I extracted four candidates from the spam pile and started entering ticker symbols into my stock tracking software. No need to read up on the companies being represented. I didn't have time. This was, after all a once in a lifetime deal. I decided for simplicity's sake to buy 500 shares of each stock, which brought my total up to $2,050. One nice thing about theoretical investing is the lack of commission fees.



So I was now the proud virtual owner of 500 shares each of SPBV, UACP, IVVO, and CXTI. I figured a two-week run should yield me enough to make some virtual repairs to my virtual house.

Unfortunately things started off badly for the market. Oil prices started inching up and the entire market slid during the first day. At the closing bell my new portfolio was in the red by $10. Still, it was just a minor slip considering the rough day in the market. Things would look up. After all, these stocks were poised to triple!

Whether inspired by news of the war, fluctuating oil prices, or bad profit and loss statements, things continued to slide that week. On the third day, one of the stocks disappeared from the ticker. The company issued a statement saying that they had been the unwilling victims of a spam campaign pushing their ticker symbol. The CEO admitted that while he thought that the prospects of the company were good, investors should do due diligence before investing in his or other stocks. The next day they reappeared with a new ticker symbol.

But the entire portfolio continued a downward trend. At the end of the first week the portfolio had hemorrhaged close to $300 of my starting equity. Perhaps another week was what it would take to reach the impressive growth figures outlined in the e-mails.

Alas, it was not to be.

At the end of the second week, all four stocks had dropped in value. My portfolio had declined $470 in total and lost close to 25 percent of its value. As I poured a beer, I could smile that my losses had been purely virtual. But it did leave me feeling pretty confident that if I were to continue pointedly ignoring offers like these, my portfolio would be no worse off.

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