Monthly Archives: August 2012

How to Buy Private Stock

Most people are aware that it’s possible to buy stock in various companies with the hope of it going up in value. However it’s not correct to say that all stock is the same. There are two types of stocks – public and private stocks. Public stocks are the ones most people are familiar with. They can easily be bought and sold so you have complete freedom in deciding which ones to get and which ones to avoid.

However this doesn’t apply to private stocks. So let’s find out a bit more about them and discover whether you can actually buy them.

How to find private stocks

This can be easier said than done. The fact they are private means they are much more difficult to find than public stocks. Private companies are not required to release financial information and thus you may not have any information at all to go on. In the past the easiest way to have a shot at buying these types of shares was to work for the company and hope you were issued some at some point.

Furthermore since the shares are not made public for anyone to buy, you may not have any opportunities to buy them. It’s very much a case of knowing someone who has these shares so you can ask if you are able to buy some. There is a relatively new way of doing this that makes good use of the internet. A new website called Sharespost has been launched recently (https://welcome.sharespost.com/) that aims to make it easier for people who want to buy private stock to get in touch with people who have private stock to sell. The major downside is the $2,500 fee required to buy or sell stock on this website. Thus the site is not for beginners.

An alternative is to consider Second Market (https://www.secondmarket.com/private-company) which also has a section that can bring together private stock buyers and sellers.

A notable caveat

As with any shares, it is wise to find out as much as you can before buying any of them. The very nature of private stock is that it is difficult to glean much information about in advance of purchase. This is why you are better off avoiding private shares altogether until you have some experience buying other shares. The more you get to know about the market, the easier it will be to stand a chance of putting yourself in a position to buy private shares.

It can be a good idea to ask people you know who work for these companies to see if this will create any opportunities for you. You never know, simply having a conversation with someone you know and trust could result in an opportunity to buy. However always do your homework and don’t buy simply because you know the person selling to you. Ask yourself why they want to sell and what this may mean for you. As always caution is advised.

New CEO Leads Revival at Infor

Infor was once the company where old enterprise application software went to eke out its last few years of viability. Since Charles Phillips, CEO at Infor came on board in December of 2010, the company seems to be moving at light speed. Acquisitions follow one another in a steady stream just as they did during Phillips’ tenure at Oracle. Marketing is crisper; strategy is clearer.Infor has finally seemed to find its focus.

Rather than squander resources on a myriad of disjointed products, since Phillips’ arrival, Infor has renewed focus on its two flagship products, Infor10 ERP Enterprise (formerly LN) and Infor10 ERP Business (formerly SyteLine). Both products were recently renamed during a corporate rebranding that has finally given Infor a market identity to call its own.

As CEO at Infor, Phillips has made acquisitions that appear reasoned and well thought out to enhance the company’s overall strategy, rather than a grab for installed base as in previous regimes. Phillips has also reached out to strengthen relationships with global consulting firms and other partners. He is developing a strong and healthy ecosystem around Infor products, just as he did at Oracle.

Infor has strategic partners that provide services on a global basis, and partners with Microsoft, IBM, and Progress for technology. Complementary product partnerships, such as the recently announced relationship with ClickSoftware, help Infor round out any remaining gaps in its products.

Phillips has also taken steps to beef up Infor’s channel and it shows in the constant stream of new customer announcements. With over 70,000 customers worldwide, Infor is easily on a par with ERP titans SAP and Oracle.

Infor10 ERP Enterprise and Infor10 ERP Business were both recently certified by BDO as compliant with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Companies with global operations need to adhere to regulations and reporting rules for each country where they have facilities. Multi-GAAP applications have been rare for ERP applications, and Infor now has two certified by BDO. Given Charles Phillips background in the financial world, one would expect that this key business requirement would not go unaddressed for long.

Phillips has pushed Infor out of its rut and announced strategies for addressing the three hottest trends in IT: Cloud Computing, Mobile Applications, and Social Interactions. The recently announced Infor10 HMS Hospitality Check-in application allows hotel guests to check in by interacting with roving hotel clerks equipped with iPads rather than wait in line. Infor10 ION fills in the social networking space with collaboration and communication tools. Infor leads its main rivals when it comes to its Cloud offerings, both in terms of user counts and flexibility. Infor’s Cloud offering and messaging appeals to customers looking for flexible deployment options, predictable costs, global accessibility and a simplified IT experience.

Selecting an ERP system is an important strategic decision for a business and generally becomes a long-term relationship with the selected vendor. With Phillips at Infor’s helm, customers are comfortable signing on and betting the future of their business on the decision.

10 Tips to Succeed With Mutual Funds

Investing in a mutual fund is one of the easiest things you can do if you want to get more involved in the financial markets. They enable you to invest in a range of ways that wouldn’t be possible any other way.

Here are some tips to ensure you reap the rewards from your own mutual fund investments.

  1. Are the returns consistently good?

This is very important to find out. Some mutual funds do not perform as well as others. Always look into past history to see whether there is a good or bad pattern there to consider.

  1. What are the fund managers like?

If they are not well known or do not have a good track record, steer clear and find some who do. If you cannot research their history, ask why.

  1. Stick with no load funds.

These will provide you with more in the way of profits and you’ll pay fewer charges too. There are other options but this is the best one.

  1. Learn more about the stock market.

Don’t dive in without finding out more about how the stock market works first. The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to pick a good fund.

  1. Know whether you want to opt for passive or active funds.

Passive funds tend to be safer than active ones, so you should think about whether you want to strive for a potentially bigger return, or whether you’re happier being safe.

  1. Know which strategy the fund managers will adopt.

Find out how they decide how to manage the mutual fund. This could have a large bearing on whether or not you want to join that particular fund.

  1. Buy into an established fund.

Never opt to get involved in a mutual fund that has only just got started. Look for an established one instead – it will have a history that may help to predict its future.

  1. Consider what else you are investing in.

What other financial vehicles have you invested in, or want to invest in soon? Will a mutual fund fit into your overall plan?

  1. Think about your appetite for risk.

Some people naturally gravitate towards risk, while others shy away from it at every opportunity. How much risk would you be happy with? Choose a fund which appeals to your sense of risk.

  1.  Think about growth or value funds.

Different mutual funds offer different things. For instance value funds can offer a better outcome than growth funds, which are more likely to backfire and lose money. Nothing is certain of course, but you should know the difference between the two.

So you see there are lots of things to consider if you are thinking about investing in mutual funds. The more you know and understand in advance, the easier it is to ensure you are going to invest in the right mutual fund for your needs and goals. Go back through those ten steps again to see how they assist you.

How Are Stocks Classified?

If you’re just starting to explore the world of stocks and shares, you’re probably wondering how to figure out which stocks to buy and which ones to steer clear of. It’s best to start by looking at the different types of stock classifications that exist, because this helps to divide the stocks into specific categories.

To this end, we’ve listed some of the most popular classifications here. You’ll find you start coming across these terms as you start considering which stocks to invest in.

Small, mid and large cap

‘Cap’ stands for capitalization. To work out the capitalization of a particular stock, you take the volume of outstanding shares and multiply that figure by their actual price. Small cap usually means the capitalization is under a billion dollars; mid means one to five billion dollars and large is anything over that.

Blue chip stocks

This is one phrase most people will be aware of, regardless of whether they have been involved in buying stocks or not. A blue chip stock is one released by a blue chip company, i.e. a company that has been around for a long time and which consistently delivers good results. They may not deliver huge profits but they are seen as reliable and they have far less chance of delivering a loss.

Cyclical stocks

As the name would suggest, these stocks perform well at some times and not so well at others. Take energy stocks for instance. There will be times when there are big leaps forward in this industry, particularly with regard to green energy. At these times you can expect stocks to improve in value. However there will also be times when there is less demand for energy or poor news relating to the sector, and thus the value of stocks will go down.

Defensive stocks

Just as cyclical stocks focus on business sectors that can go up and down, defensive stocks focus on those that are more reliable. Any company that provides a staple item – such as food for example – will typically fall into the defensive stock category.

How can you get the right mix of stocks in your portfolio?

Defensive stocks will be more consistent in their returns than cyclical ones. They are reliable but having said that they won’t produce impressive returns. Cyclical stocks may produce better returns but only at certain times of the year.

Clearly a balanced portfolio is in order if you want to make the most of your returns. It will take time and effort to learn more about the different types of stocks you could invest your money in. However this time is worth spending because you stand a much better chance of receiving a good return.

It is also worth remembering there are many other different types of stocks – hundreds of different classifications – you could delve into. The ones listed here are some of the main ones, providing a good starting point to work from when you are just getting involved in the stock market.

Are You a Knowledgeable Investor?

How much do you know about investing? Many people stick with what they know, rather than trying to expand their knowledge in any way. For instance they might stick with plain savings accounts instead of looking into the potential returns offered by investments in the stock market. They will limit their outlook depending on what they already know, instead of trying to learn more about the potential opportunities available to them.

The question here is obvious – how knowledgeable are you and do you make any effort to expand the knowledge you already have? It’s a bit like going to your local bakery and assuming it bakes the best rolls in town, simply because you don’t have anything else to compare it to. If you started looking a little further afield you might discover a bakery two streets away that bakes the most amazing rolls – far better than your local bakery produces. Wouldn’t you start going there instead to get a better return for your efforts?

It’s all about expanding your field of vision. If you don’t see stocks and shares, you won’t consider investing in them. The same holds true of tax free options and any other investment you may care to think about.

The good news is you don’t automatically have to opt for a new investment you find out about as a result of your exploration. However it will enable you to learn more and take a more educated approach to your investments. You may be missing out on the best investment for your needs, simply because you don’t even know it is there.

You might feel put off by the word ‘educated’. This makes it sound as if the process of learning more about investments is going to be dull and boring, like taking lessons at school. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can learn as much or as little as you like. If you don’t have any interest in penny stocks, don’t learn about them. If you find you like the idea of investing in long term bonds, start exploring the nature of these bonds so you know what to expect. You’ll soon see you can drift towards those areas of investing that appeal to you, and which might turn out to be profitable for you to sink some money into.

Being a knowledgeable investor isn’t about learning everything there is to know about investing. It’s about letting your interests take you in specific directions. It’s about learning how you can best invest whatever funds you have available in the right areas for you. It’s about developing your own knowledge in the directions that make sense to you. It’s not about following in the footsteps of others or doing certain things because you think that’s what you should do.

So if you feel like you want to develop your investment knowledge, let your own ideas and thoughts lead the way. You might be surprised as to where they take you.

Getting Out Of Medical Debt

Eleven months went by before I realized that I had a serious gallbladder condition. I wasn’t 100 percent sure, but the symptoms aligned with what I was experiencing. In November of 2011 I made myself go to the hospital to get an official diagnosis. As a person without health insurance, I knew this would be an expensive adventure.

The High Cost Of No Insurance

At the hospital I was given morphine, six prescriptions and a physical exam. They also did tons of blood work and an ultrasound. These things combined cost me $3,000 total. That is a huge number for someone without a lot of cash to begin with. I only got my diagnosis of gallbladder disease. Surgery was not an option since my condition wasn’t severe enough. I was in pain for about eight hours total, and the visit took four hours of waiting. The hospital couldn’t deny me treatment, but they could hound me for every penny owed.

Getting Started

The worst part was taking the first steps to get out of debt. I felt nauseated facing the huge bill before me. I was told to get started with a savings account just for setting aside money for emergencies like this. I also called the hospital and asked if anything could be reduced in price or eliminated from my hospital bill. This helped a lot in lowering what I owed. Without calling in, I would have still owed the $3,000. I was able to knock my debt down to $2,200.

Keeping Up With Payments

I made payments whenever possible. I made sure to make at least one payment per month to keep my account from going to collections. When I had extra money, I made larger payments. This gradually reduced the amount I owed. It was relieving to work on paying it off, but it wasn’t easy. I had to cut back on buying things that I didn’t need.

Reaching The End

Getting close to the end of my debt was relieving. I called and asked about another reduction if I agreed to pay in one large chunk. They lowered by outstanding debt by $150. This wasn’t much, but it did make a difference in my financial situation. I was grateful for that reduction.

Ignoring debt doesn’t make it go away. Sometimes you have to dive in and tackle it from whatever angle you can. Putting it off will only make things worse.