2015 was another record year of growth for StockTrader.com and our parent company Reink Media which owns and operates multiple financial sites: StockBrokers.com, StockTrader.com, and InvestingTeacher.com.
For StockTrader.com, the highlight story of the year was the transition to the new domain StockTrader.com in June, effectively bidding farewell to our old name “StockTradingToGo”.
My day job is running our portfolio of websites. As a result, I trade only when I have free time.
As a result, trading is strictly a passion and hobby.
More specifically, I leave my retirement assets to low cost passive indexing with Vanguard and keep my personal trading portfolio small. In 2015 I had ~$60,000 allocated to trading. Thus, this is the number I used to calculate my performance returns against the S&P 500 below.
I ended 2015 with a portfolio return of +$6,709.87 after commissions or +11.4% vs the S&P 500 Return of -0.7%. For a full detailed breakdown of trading results, including my largest winning and losing trades, check out my post from earlier this week.
Below are my trading portfolio returns for 2015. Like thousands of other users here on the site, I manually enter my trades using the free StockTrader.com Trade Journal.
Overall, my trading station setup at work and at home are identical. Same desk, similar spec machines, same monitor stand, same monitors, mice, keyboard, etc. This makes it seamless if I ever trade from home.
While my desktops are a bit older, built back in late 2013, they still get the job done just fine. I upgraded to Windows 10 on both in 2015 and have no issues running any of the top stock broker trade platforms (I run them all throughout the year for StockBrokers.com testing).
Because I head research at our sister site StockBrokers.com, I have money spread across over a dozen online brokers. While there are a lot of great online brokers out there, finding the right one depends on your specific needs as an investor.
In 2015 I traded almost entirely through Merrill Edge to take advantage of free trades through the Bank of America Preferred Awards program. For 2016 I am transitioning to Fidelity to give them a whirl. Again, my broker changes almost yearly as part of my industry research efforts.
If you are looking for a new broker or are considering a switch, I welcome you to read my online broker guide here on the site, or better yet use the best broker lists and broker comparison tool on StockBrokers.com.
Investment Sites, Services, Subscriptions
I use a variety of different services to help me research and monitor the market. Here’s my video from last year’s tools of the trade post. A year later the list is identical.
The below services and subscriptions are a part of my daily routine. It should be noted that some of these services are provided for me at no cost since we occasionally use the research in our daily market recaps.
- Trade Journal – Free – Inspired by my passion for post trade analysis alongside a goal to bring my personal excel trade log to the web, the StockTrader.com Trade Journal was born. This is where I log all my trades, notes, chart images, and analyze performance.
- MarketSmith – MarketSmith ($999 per year) + Pattern Recognition add on ($14.95 p/m) – MarketSmith is a browser based charting software provider powered by Investors.com CANSLIM data. Besides the easy to read charts and auto pattern recognition, the real value drivers are the IBD metrics that display with each chart.
- Bespoke Investment Research – ~$400 per year up to ~$2,000 per year – Bespoke Premium offers a slew of research via newsletters, research reports, data, and the like. Three tiers of paid service are offered; I use Bespoke Premium ($750 per year). Daily newsletters range from trades of the day to market summaries and ETF reports. Research reports cover anything and everything, leveraging historical data to help breakdown the noise of the market and bring clarity. The Bespoke blog is a good feeler for the content provided to paid subscribers.
- Evernote.com – Free – I am a huge Evernote fan. Evernote is a service for journaling and note taking. You download the software to your computer and it syncs with the web so you can view your notes on any device, at any time. My “Stock Research” notebook within Evernote has 338 entries as of this post and has been a critical part of my growth as a trader.
- Briefing.com – Subscriptions start at $50 per month – Briefing.com (read my full Briefing.com review) is a 24/7 research service that monitors the markets, social sphere, and beyond to deliver real-time news and a slew of research reports. I started using Briefing.com earlier in 2014 and I now can’t operate without it.
- StockCharts.com – Free and paid (basic package $14.95 p/m) – StockCharts.com is the site we use to produce all the stock charts for the nightly market recaps here on StockTrader.com. The primary reason we have the basic package is so we can have access to more than three years of chart data and save chart layouts. The free version is the exact same as any paid package less a handful of features.
- FINVIZ Stock Screener – Free – FINVIZ’s stock screener is the best free stock screener available on the web. Period.
- ChartPattern.com – $125 per month – ChartPattern.com is home to Dan Zanger (read my full Dan Zanger review) who is the world record holder for the largest portfolio return in one year. His claim to fame is turning $11,000 into $42 million during the late 90s. Dan sends out a nightly newsletter several times a week with technical analysis and personal notes. He also has a chat room for subscribers. Overall if you enjoy our easy to read charts, you’ll really like Dan’s newsletter.
While I am historically a CANSLIM investor, the last few years has forced me to challenge my roots. The market has been extremely tough to trade, so I’ve worked hard to evolve as a trader.
On the whole, I have learned to respect both fundamental and technical analysis. I rely on my own passion for technical analysis to drive my trading and leave the fundamental research primarily to Marketsmith / Will O’Neil (IBD).
My best trades of 2015 were Netflix (NFLX) and Valeant (VRX). Netflix was a classic CANSLIM leader, momentum name and Valeant was a tale of negative sentiment creating short term value. Both trades are great examples of the strategies I focus on today.
I see investing as a life long game. Every trade is another lesson to be learned and even though I have over a decade of “experience”, I am still learning something new each day.
What tools and services do you use for your own trading? Feel free to email me and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
Stay frosty (sharp) out there and I bid you a successful year of trading!