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July 29, 2008

Where's my freebie?

July 29. Day 29.

The earth just rattled, and I sprinted under a door. I checked the Earthquake Map, and sure enough, a 5.4-er rocked Southern California.

And then, reading Marketwatch, I spotted these comments from readers reacting:

  • They're dumping subprime foreclosures into the Pacific. --Gbaily
  • Blame the short sellers --jhunt
  • Nope. BUSH DID IT. --Gbaily
Love it!

Earlier today I called Scottrade to check in about my free trades. I was supposed to get three, for referring La Sorella, but the broker never credited them. And I needed them -- stat -- because I had some trading to do. The associate sorted it out and credited my account, so I jumped into one stock which is completely risky and (if anyone reading this happens to know anything about finance) will betray my own ignorance -- and impetuousness. MBIA (NYSE: MBI), a bond insurer. Not that I know anything about bonds or their insuring.

But here's my rationale, following the research I dutifully did (see yesterday's post for more context). The stock has lost a lot of value in the past months. Analysts are split as to whether it's a good buy or not, but I was sold on the buyers. Ok, sorry, that was bad.

Also bad is that I don't understand how to read a stock's fundamentals -- the balance sheet, various ratios, and whether or not it's a good value. All I can do is filter through other people's musings.

In any case, I only invested a few hundred bucks, so if it tanks, my loss will be minimal. And if it really does grow in the next two to three years, it will have been a morning well spent.

An hour after buying at $4.73, it's up 19 cents , or 4 percent. I'll take that! Yet there's only one thing I know for sure about the stock market: Don't invest anything you wouldn't be utterly comfortable kissing goodbye.

Gained: $21 (Three free trades, at $7 each. Perhaps this is not a "gain," so much as claiming what was promised). Also, if anyone would like a referral with three free trades, just ask!

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