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The Best Retirement Investment: A Stock Index Fund

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The Best Retirement Investment A Stock Index Fund

What is your retirement money invested in? The safest and smartest investment is a stock index fund.

There are a lot of misunderstandings about investing in the stock market. Most are afraid and wary of this subject.

Try bringing up the subject with your spouse, or family, or friends. You’re bound to get concerned looks and questions like, “Isn’t that risky?”

They imagine trading stocks is like gambling large amounts of money at a casino. You can’t play against the smart, savvy Wall Street men – they’ll outsmart you every time!

Of course, it’s not quite like that. A stock index fund is not day trading. There’s no big, electronic screen with red and green numbers. There’s no well-dressed men sweating, picking up phones, and slamming them down.

Others are convinced they can trade stocks better than an index fund. They attempt to do research, but are unsure which stocks are best. How do you know if a company will succeed or fail? Which stocks should you buy or sell?

The answer to these fears and doubts is a stock index fund. This clever invention all but guarantees return. They have low expenses and are easy to manage.

In fact, Warren Buffett advises investing in a stock index fund:

“Over the years, I’ve often been asked for investment advice, and in the process of answering I’ve learned a good deal about human behavior. My regular recommendation has been a low-cost S&P 500 index fund” – Warren Buffett

In this post you’ll learn what a stock index fund is, why you should invest in one, and how to get started.

Let’s dive in.

What is a Stock Index Fund?

Stock (sometimes called a share) is a piece of a company that you own. If you have stock, you have a right to a portion of future profits the company makes. You also have the right to attend shareholder meetings and vote on company decisions, though you’re not obligated to.

The profits you receive from stocks are called dividends. Theoretically, if you own stock you can make profit for the rest of your life. However, companies do poorly from time to time, and dividends fall.

Analysts and financial advisors try to predict which stocks will do well and which ones won’t. They watch the news, ready to buy Apple’s stock when they announce a new phone. They’re ready to sell when a CEO has a public scandal.

The truth is you can never tell if a stock will do well in the future or not. They are too many variables. Besides, it’s stressful and induces anxiety.

A stock index fund looks at the long term growth of the entire stock market. Instead of worrying about which stocks will do well, a stock index fund invests in all of the stocks.

This clever invention operates on the theory that the collective stock market always wins. Meaning, even if some stocks do poorly, the overall performance of the stock market nets worth.

A stock index fund mirrors market indices. Let’s explain the difference between a market index and an index fund.

A market index records data on many stocks. These indices (the plural of index) are not investing in stocks; they are recording the rise and fall of stocks.

There are many market indices, but let’s look at a famous example: The S&P 500 (Standard and Poor’s). This index tracks the top 500 companies in the United States.

Now let’s look at index funds.

Index funds base their decisions off of these market indices. A popular index fund called the Vanguard 500 Index Fund bases their decisions on the S&P 500.

The Vanguard 500 Index Fund therefore copies the S&P 500 market index.

The Vanguard 500 Index Fund automatically buy all of the stocks, in the appropriate ratios, of the companies listed in the S&P 500.

Whenever the S&P 500 adjusts their index, the Vanguard 500 Index Fund also adjusts its portfolio.

You can track the Vanguard 500 Index Fund here. Here’s a screenshot of the fund’s recent activity:

If a company drops below the top 500, the S&P 500 records that. Then the Vanguard fund sells all of that stock, and invests in the new company now in the top 500.

Obviously not every company succeeds, but the collective of companies will. So if you invest in the 500 best companies, you will eventually, always make profit.

Pretty clever right? Let’s explain some more benefits.

Why Choose a Stock Index Fund?

There’s a lot of ways to invest your money – bonds, properties, high interest savings accounts. What makes a stock index fund different from these other options?

Low costs

Stock index funds are passively managed. This means there’s less of a human component in buying and selling stocks.

As explained earlier, stock index funds simply copy market indices. There’s no guesswork, no research, and no magic formula to follow. All a stock index fund has to do to buy the stocks listed on a market index.

Software can do most of this work. Therefore managing a stock index fund is very easy, and doesn’t require a lot of overhead.

As of April 2019, the Vanguard 500 Index Fund has a 0.03% expense ratio. If you invest 10,000 dollars, 3 dollars will go to overhead cost every year.

Compare this to actively managed funds, which can be as high as 1.5%.

Stock index funds also have low turnover rates. Meaning they don’t constantly trade stocks, but rather do it sparingly and rarely.

In some cases, all an index fund needs to do is rebalance their portfolio every 6 months to match its market index.

This keeps costs down tremendously, since buying and selling stocks can incur capital gains taxes. By having lower turnovers, it’s cheaper to manage a stock index fund.

Ultimately, that means it saves you more money.

Simple strategy that never changes

There are no surprises with a stock index fund. Other investments may require a change of strategy. For example, if property value goes crazy, you may be forced to sell properties you own.

Actively managed funds may change their style or philosophy over the years. Perhaps they stop investing in tech companies and start investing in oil companies.

Or perhaps your old fund manager retires and a new manager takes over.

That comes with uncertainty about the future. But this doesn’t happen with stock index funds.

The strategy is always the same – follow the market index and always adjust stocks to match the index.

This tactic remains the same for any manager, any time period, and in any situation.

You don’t have to worry about overcoming new challenges or answering future questions.

The strategy is set in stone.

Low risk

I won’t pretend there aren’t safer options. Investing in government bonds is widely considered safer than what I’m recommending.

However, investing in a stock index fund is safer than a lot people imagine.

As explained earlier, certain companies may do poorly, but the collective nets profit over time.

The reason is that the top companies are always competing, adapting, and trying to succeed in their industries.

With a stock index fund such as the Vanguard 500, you’re not betting your money on a particular company, but the U.S. economy.

Experts have tested this method for forty years. As previously mentioned, this is Warren Buffett’s common suggestion when giving advice on investing.

How to Invest in a Stock Index Fund

Investing in a stock index fund begins with research. You may want to consult with your financial advisor.

Then you must choose a fund. Not everyone will select the same one.

Some index funds are based on the Dow Jones, which only tracks the 30 largest public companies.

On the other hand, you can invest in a fund that tracks the entire US stock market. An example is the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Exchange Traded Fund (VTI).

Various funds offer different levels of exposure to risk, overhead costs, and returns. So start with research.

One option to consider is what Warren Buffett recommended – a fund that tracks the S&P 500. Earlier I mentioned one – The Vanguard 500 Index Fund.

You can learn more, and start investing, in this fund at Vanguard’s website. There is a minimum investment of 3,000 USD.

For several years, many have considered Vanguard a trusted institution.

Alternatively, you can invest in stock index funds for other countries.

Historically speaking, the United States has been one of the most business-friendly nations on the planet. So there’s wisdom to particularly investing in U.S. stock.

You can also use other companies to manage your index fund(s), such as Betterment.

Invest Well to Retire Well

Going into retirement with a chunk of money in a stock index helps tremendously.

They regularly pay dividends. You can additionally take out more money, and slowly deplete your funds.

If you calculate your money, and pace yourself, you can retire knowing you’ll have a steady supply of money.

And you won’t have to work ever again.

Start investing!

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drugs

7 Blockbuster Drugs Expected To Be Launched In 2020

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Pills falling out of bottle. (Image via Shutterstock)
By Shanthi Rexaline

Biotech stocks had a fairly decent run in 2019, thanks to record deal flow, several path-breaking innovation in drug research & development and the positive broader market sentiment. New molecular entity approvals totaled 48 in 2019, less than the 59 NME approvals in 2018.

The new year is expected to be risk fraught, as lawmakers are expected to step up their rhetoric on drug pricing. Even as the outlook for drug companies remains not-so-promising, some key drug approvals could still impart some momentum to the sector.

The FDA could expedite the review of some drugs, Evaluate Pharma said, citing some approvals in 2019 that came about well ahead of the scheduled PDUFA date such as Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated’s (NASDAQ: VRTX) Trikafta. Trikafta, a treatment option for cystic fibrosis, was approved five months ahead of the PDUFA date.

The following are the drugs with blockbuster potential that could make their way from lab to the shelves, according to Evaluate Pharma.

Trastuzumab deruxtecan

  • Sponsor: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Limited (OTC: DSNKY) & AstraZeneca plc (NYSE: AZN)
  • Indication: Her2 positive breast cancer
  • Status: BLA accepted with priority review status in October and the PDUFA date has been fixed for second quarter of 2020

Palforzia

  • Sponsor: Aimmune Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: AIMT)
  • Indication: Peanut allergy
  • Status: PDUFA date of January; A FDA panel, which met in September, voted 7 to 2 that the efficacy data and 8 to 1 that the safety data in conjunction with additional safeguards are adequate to support the use of Palforzia

Ozanimod

  • Sponsor: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE: BMY) (came into the company’s stable through its Celgene buy)
  • Indication: relapsing form of multiple sclerosis
  • Status: The FDA accepted for review the BLA in June and has set a PDUFA date of March 25

Inclisiran

  • Sponsor: Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS)(came into the company’s stable through its Medicines Company buy)
  • Indication: LDL-cholesterol lowering therapy
  • Status: NDA submitted in December for use in secondary prevention patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and familial hypercholesterolemia

Roxadustat

  • Sponsor: AstraZeneca/FibroGen Inc (NASDAQ: FGEN)
  • Indication: treating anemia associated with chronic kidney disease
  • Status: FibroGen, AstraZeneca’s partner in developing roxadustat, said it has submitted the NDA to the FDA in late December

Sacituzumab Govitecan

  • Sponsor: Immunomedics, Inc. (NASDAQ: IMMU)
  • Indication: treating metastatic triple-negative breast cancer
  • Status: After an initial snub, the company resubmitted the BLA and the FDA accepted the application for review Dec. 26, 2019, fixing a PDUFA action date of June 2

Filgotinib

  • Sponsor: Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) and GALAPAGOS NV/S ADR (NASDAQ: GLPG)
  • Indication: rheumatoid arthritis
  • Status: The NDA was submitted Dec. 16, 2019, with the review period expected to be expedited due to a priority review voucher submitted along with the application

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Finance

Dow Jones Industrial Average Breaks 29,000 For The First Time in History

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Screenshot of Dow Jones Industrial chart taken January 15, 2020.
By ELAINE KURTENBACH, AP Business Writer

Slight gains send Dow Jones Industrial Average above 29,000!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 29,000 points for the first time and the S&P 500 index hit its second record high in three days Wednesday.

The milestones came on a day when the market traded in a narrow range as investors weighed the latest batch of corporate earnings reports and the widely anticipated signing of an initial trade deal between the U.S. and China.

President Donald Trump and China’s chief negotiator, Liu He, signed the “Phase 1″ deal before a group of corporate executives and reporters at the White House. The pact eases some sanctions on China. In return, Beijing has agreed to step up its purchases of U.S. farm products and other goods.

“This was telegraphed well enough that the market is kind of looking through it and toward the next phase and what that means,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at Globalt Investments.

Health care stocks accounted for much of the market’s gains. Utilities and makers of household goods also rose. Those gains outweighed losses in financial stocks, companies that rely on consumer spending and the energy sector.

The S&P 500 index rose 6.14 points, or 0.2%, to 3,289.29. The index also climbed to an all-time high on Monday.

The Dow gained 90.55 points, or 0.3%, to 29,030.22. The Nasdaq composite added 7.37 points, or 0.1%, to 9,258.70.

Smaller-company stocks fared better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 picked up 6.66 points, or 0-4%, to 1,682.40.

The benchmark S&P 500 index is on track for its second straight weekly gain.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.78% from 1.81% late Tuesday.

While limited in its scope, investors have welcomed the U.S.-China deal in hopes that it will prevent further escalation in the 18-month long trade conflict that has slowed global growth, hurt American manufacturers and weighed on the Chinese economy. The world’s two largest economies will now have to deal with more contentious trade issues as they move ahead with negotiations. And punitive tariffs will remain on about $360 billion in Chinese goods as talks continue.

With the “Phase 1” agreement now a done deal, investors have more reason to focus on the rollout of corporate earnings reports over the next few weeks. Earnings have been flat to down for the last three quarters, and if the fourth quarter meets expectations, it should be around the same.

However, analysts are projecting 2020 corporate earnings growth to jump around 9.5%, which is why traders will be listening this earnings reporting season for any clues management teams give about their business prospects in coming months.

“We’re expecting a reacceleration in the back end of the year, so any (company) guidance that brings any type of skepticism to that could threaten the recent rally we’ve had and the gains that we’ve accrued in the past few months,” Buchanan said.

Health care stocks powered much of the market’s gains Wednesday. Several health insurers climbed as investors cheered a solid fourth-quarter earnings report from UnitedHealth Group.

The nation’s largest health insurer, which covers more than 49 million people, said its revenue rose 4% on a mix of insurance premiums and growth from urgent care and surgery centers. Its stock rose 2.8%. Other health insurers also moved higher. Anthem gained 1.6%, Cigna added 1.5% and Humana climbed 1.9%.

Technology companies also rose. The sector is reliant on China for sales and supply chains and benefits from better trade relations. Microsoft gained 0.7% and Advanced Micro Devices gained 0.8%.

Utilities and consumer staples sector stocks also notched gains. Edison International climbed 2.5% and PepsiCo rose 1.7%.

Financial stocks fell the most. Bank of America slid 1.8% after reporting weaker profits due to the rapid decline of interest rates in late 2019.

Energy stocks also fell along with the price of crude oil. Valero Energy dropped 3.3%.

Homebuilders marched broadly higher on news that U.S. home loan applications surged 30.2% last week from a week earlier. The pickup in mortgage applications reflects heightened demand for homes and suggests many buyers are eager to purchase a home now, rather than waiting for the traditional late-February start of the spring homebuying season. Hovnanian Enterprises jumped 6.4%.

Target slumped 6.6% after a disappointing holiday shopping season prompted the retailer to cut its forecast for a key sales measure in the fourth quarter. The company said weak sales of electronics, toys and home goods crimped sales growth to just 1.4% in November and December.

Benchmark crude oil fell 42 cents to settle at $57.81 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, dropped 49 cents to close at $64 a barrel.

Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.64 per gallon. Heating oil declined 3 cents to $1.88 per gallon. Natural gas fell 7 cents to $2.12 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $9.70 to $1,552.10 per ounce, silver rose 25 cents to $17.92 per ounce and copper fell 1 cent to $2.87 per pound.

The dollar fell to 109.91 Japanese yen from 110.00 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1150 from $1.1128.

Markets in Europe closed mostly lower.

AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed.

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Business

20 Stocks Every Investor Should Add to Their Watch List in 2020

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Best Stocks in 2019

Interested in what stocks to look out for this year? Then you’ll love this list of the best stocks to watch in 2020.

But before we get started, remember the most important advice when it comes to investing in stocks: the wisest way to invest is to use a stock index fund.

These funds purchase multiple stocks and spread risk appropriately across the top companies. This is the advice of Warren Buffett, who once said,

“By periodically investing in an index fund, for example, the know-nothing investor can actually outperform most investment professionals.”

If you’re looking for a stock index fund, check out Vanguard’s 500 Index Fund.

With that aside, here are the most promising stocks going in to 2020:

1. Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle is an international chain of restaurants specializing in tacos, burritos, and other Mexican style cuisines. They have establishments all over the world from the United States to Germany and France.

This beloved food joint performed very well in the first two quarters of 2020 and are expected to continue to grow.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 87.81

2. Constellation Brands, Inc.

Constellation is an international beer and wine producer. They are the largest importer of beer in the United States and command 7.4% of the market share.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 17.00

3. Lululemon Athletica

Lululemon Athletica creates athletic apparel such as performance shirts, shorts, and pants, as well as yoga accessories. They’ve built a brand over the years that millions recognize and love.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 47.51

4. Coty Inc.

Coty Incorporated is a multinational company that specializes in beauty products and services such as cosmetics, fragrances, skincare, and nail care.

Coty owns over 70 brands, such as CoverGirl, Clairol, and Bourjois. In 2018, the company’s revenue was over $9.4 billion.

As of August 2019, Coty Inc. stock is valued at 10.42 USD. Their P/E ratio is not yet available.

5. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation

Anadarko is in the natural gas and petroleum industry. This entails everything from gathering resources to treating and transporting gas. The company is also in the hard mineral business.

In early 2019, Anadarko had an estimated 1.47 billion barrels of oil in reserve, making it one of the biggest players in the industry.

As of August 2019, Anadarko’s stock is valued at 73.48 USD. Their P/E ratio is not available yet.

6. Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P.

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners acquires and manages infrastructure assets all over the world. They specialize in utilities, energy, and transportation infrastructure.

The company invests in ports, toll roads, pipelines, and telecommunication lines. In other words, things that people will always need and use.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 75.27

7. ONEOK Inc.

ONEOK (pronounced “one – oak”) Incorporated is in the natural gas industry and is a key leader in the gathering, storing, processing, and transporting natural gas in the United States.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 22.62
TerraForm Power Inc.
TerraForm Power specializes in renewable energy, particularly solar and wind power. There is an ever-growing trend that demands less damage to the environment.

As the world values green innovations, companies like TerraForm are expected to be favored in the coming years.

P/E ratio as of August 2020: 227.44

8. Netflix

Netflix is a service provider and production company with their main product being a subscription-based streaming service.

Streaming TV and movies have largely replaced traditional television. With no commercials and instant access to thousands of products, Netflix is suspected to continue to grow.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 120.23

9. iRobot

iRobot is an advanced technology company that specializes in military and domestic robots. They designed the Roomba, which is an autonomous vacuum cleaner.

The U.S. military has purchased and uses thousands of robots from iRobot and are contracted to make more.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 22.24

10. Amazon

Amazon is a multinational company that specializes in e-commerce and cloud computing. It’s considered one of the big four technology companies along with Apple, Google (Alphabet, Inc.), and Facebook.

Amazon is well known for distributing goods through technological innovation and on a massive scale. Some estimate that Amazon commands 50% of all goods sold online.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 73.65

11. Apple Inc.

Apple is a multinational tech company that develops and sells computer software, electronics, and online services. They designed some of the world’s greatest tech products including the iPhone and Apple Watch.

Being a leader in tech devices, many analysts believe Apple is one of the most promising stocks to invest in.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 16.61

12. Alphabet Inc.

Alphabet Inc. is a multinational conglomerate founded in 2015. It’s the parent company of Google, which is the dominating search engine on the internet.

Google performs 90% of all searches on the internet. Alphabet has additional subsidiaries such as Calico, Capital G, and Deep Mind.

These subsidiaries have their hands in industries such as autonomous cars, biotechnology, video game software, and internet tech.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 23.87

13. Facebook Inc.

Facebook is the popular American social media site founded by Mark Zuckerberg. In 2018, Facebook had a net income of $22.11 billion and its total assets were $97.33 billion.

Facebook has subsidiaries such as Instagram and WhatsApp, which are also very popular social media outlets.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 31.00

14. MarketAxess Holdings Inc.

MarketAxess is an international company that specializes in financial technology, also known as fintech.

They operate an electronic trading platform for various credit markets such as corporate bonds and income products.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 70.82

15. AT&T Inc.

AT&T is a multinational conglomerate holding company and is the world’s largest company in telecommunications.

AT&T is the parent company of Warren Media, which makes it the largest entertainment company in the world in terms of revenue.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 14.17

16. Verizon Communications Inc.

Verizon is a multinational telecommunications conglomerate. They are well known for their subsidiary Verizon Wireless, which is its mobile network.

Together with AT&T, these two companies dominate the mobile and landline market. Since our needs for communications will develop, these two stocks are poised to grow.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 14.49

17. Axon Enterprise Inc.

Axon Enterprise Inc. is a U.S.-based company that develops weapon products and technology for civilians and law enforcement. This company developed the Taser, a line of electric shock weapons.

Since then, Axon developed other technologies including body cameras and a cloud-based management system that empowers police departments to manage and review evidence.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 129.55

18. Intuitive Surgical Inc.

Intuitive Surgical Inc. develops and manufactures surgical equipment to make surgeries less invasive. As of 2017, they had 4,271 bases worldwide.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 48.51

19. Ford Motor Company

Despite the localized recession in Detroit, the automotive giant is doing very well.

The market continues to demand their SUVs and commercial vehicles, not to mention their luxury vehicles, which are usually created under their Lincoln brand.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 16.90

20. General Motors Company

General Motors is a multinational manufacturer of vehicles and own automotive brands like Buick, GMC, Cadillac, and Chevrolet. They have nearly 400 facilities on six different continents.

P/E ratio as of August 2019: 6.19

Conclusion

Let’s point out two trends from this list:

  • Tech and software companies are dominating
  • Utility-related companies are tried and true

About half of the world still doesn’t have internet access. And a large portion still doesn’t have access to common devices like cell phones and laptops. That means these industries are set up to grow significantly for years to come.

Of course, that doesn’t mean other industries will simply disappear. As you’ve seen in the list, there are still key industries that our society relies on, such as energy and infrastructure companies.

Some of the most promising stocks are in tech and software, such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

Nevertheless, the wisest investment is still a stock index fund, which bets on the collective market rather than individual companies.

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