(1) Are you really making money in the Stock Market Trading???: Finance Trading Times

(1) Are you really making money in the Stock Market Trading???

One of my colleagues in the office trades heavily using an online trading portal. He claims to have made a pretty good profit over the past few years consistently.

As a common young Indian, he also hails from a middle class family, has done his engineering from a XYZ college of Engineering, and learnt programming languages to a sufficient level which enabled him to take up a job at the offshore center of a US based MNC. He started working in 2001. Came across the knowledge and fantasies of the stock market business and started trading in 2002.

Today, he’s a happy man with more than 40 stocks in his portfolio – which he keeps switching every now and then, claims a staggering “self-calculated” profit of 50% and feels proud that he did not keep the money in the bank or tax-saving schemes, else he would have ended up with a mere 5-6% returns. His career path has gone well since he started working. He switched 3 jobs in last 5 years, getting a decent salary hike each time, and enough money for him to play around in the stock market.

His daily routine today includes the following schedule: Reach office in time (basically, when the market opens), place the orders; carry on the usual tasks of office while continuously refreshing the webpages of his online trading portal so as to “track” the market. Occasionally he walks through the office, so as to discuss with other like-headed “trader” colleagues - on what to buy, what to sell and what to hold on.

Situations like these are quite common in the IT industry. All “Smart-Alecs” are today having sufficient money to trade/invest in the stock market.

Let us begin the analysis of this gentleman for his trading activities over the duration of his investments. He started trading in early 2002. Today he is sitting on a smooth 50% profit for all his investments. If we assume that he has invested 1 Lakh rupees in the market over the period 2002 to 2007, then with a profit of 50%, he is having an equivalent of 1.5 Lakh Rs.

However, what has happened in the market over the same period? In early 2002, the stock market was down. The Sensex was at 3200 level. Today, it is smoothly sailing at 14,000 levels. The % increase in the market has been

(Final Value-Initial Value)

(14000 – 3200)

Profit =




3.375 times or 337.5%

Initial Value


Compare this to the profit margin made by the individual – its only 50% v/s 337.5%

In terms of percentages difference between Sensex and Individual Investment:

(337.5 – 50)

Profit =



5.75 times or 575 %


What it means? This person is actually LAGGING behind the market by a whopping 575% or 5.75 times – and still he seems to be very happy with his decision of investing in the stock market.

Now, let’s consider some more investments:

Suppose that instead of investing the money in stocks, he had invested it in Tax-Saving Infrastructure bonds (usually issued by banks like ICICI/IDBI/others). Lowest amount of interest these bonds paid during the period 2002-2007 was 6%. These bonds come with a lock in period of 3 years.

So, if my colleague would have invested in these tax-saving bonds, that too at the LOWEST interest rate of 6% – he would have made a year on year profit of 6%, which amounts to 18% for 3 years (roughly 18% - though some time-value calculations will give a slightly different value – only a few decimal places different). Along with the interest, he would have also saved on his taxes – 30%. Hence, the total saving would have been 30 + 18 = 48%, that too in just 3 years as compared to his stock returns of 50% in 5 years. This amounts to a yearly average return of 48/3 = 16% per year from bonds, while a 50/5 = 10% return from the stock market.

So, what is the problem here??

Well, the problem here is in terms of understanding and measuring the risk and returns.

The above example clearly shows the difference in our valuation and understanding. The Bonds are RISK FREE, they don’t carry any major risk – but the Stocks carry a major risk that we do not realize. The market is going up by almost 3.5 times, and the person trading in the market feels happy for a mere 0.5 times. He feels happy with 10% average annual HIGH RISK return from Stocks, but he does not realize the benefit of 16% RISK FREE Return from bonds.

After explaining this mathematics to my colleague, I also asked him if he has considered the demat account charges and the brokerage he paid on the trades he made. His response was NO. If you take these charges into consideration, the profit for stock trading would come down further.

It is quite possible that some of you may have made a 100% returns, but that would still be much less than the market return of 375%.

The above REAL LIFE example demonstrates a simple and clear practical situation that every individual can find him in. The ignorance that we have in terms of calculating the profits/losses and in terms of understanding the method to see exactly what is going on with our money clearly indicates a dangerous situation.

The evaluation period for our case study was 2002-2007, when the market had gone up 3.5 times. Imagine what could have happened if the market had gone down, as it happened in 2000-2001 period. In the good period, no body can pick up shares to match the market performance, but in the bad period, everyone still looses more than what the market lost. This gentleman would have lost money on his trading and investments, and also paid heavily on the brokerage and demat account charges.

So to begin with, please make sure you know how to calculate the profit/loss on your trading and investment activities. Most of the brokers and online trading sites do NOT have the facility of “Portfolio Tracker”, where you can see your NET profit and loss. They probably want you to live under the false myth that you are making good money on your investments, so keep trading and keep paying them the brokerage. Some online portals have the portfolio tracker functionality, but individuals don’t know how to use it and how to extract useful information from it.

Here is a simple way to calculate your profit/loss

  1. Generate a list of all the trades that you made during your investment period
  2. For every pair of Buy and Sell for a particular stock, calculate the profit/loss after deducting the brokerage charges on both the Buy and Sell legs of the trades
  3. Take the sum of all the profits/loss so as to arrive at a NET value. From this net value, deduct the demat charges that you paid during the investment period. Let’s call it (a)
  4. Take the total amount of money that you invested (b). Calculate the profit % as (a)/(b)*100 – Let’s call it (c).
  5. Take the level of Sensex (or Nifty) on your 1st day of Investment period and last date of investment period.
  6. Take the % return for Sensex as shown in table above (d).
  7. Compare (c) & (d) – where do you stand???
  8. Also compare your returns (c) with the tax-saving risk free bond investments. – Did you perform better??

In next few articles, I’ll be talking about making efficient investments, so as to maximize profit and minimize risk/losses.

If you have any questions, do let me know. I’ll be happy to offer you advice and help. Please post your comments on this webpage with you Name and Email-id, so that I can respond to your query.

Have Comments or Questions? Please post them as comments using "Post our Comments" link below. Your queries will be responded for free in 24 hrs!

30 Comments: Post your Comments

Unknown said...(on 28 May 2007 at 08:10 )  

Wow. pretty cool stuffs u shared here. And well written too.

Just this month I started trading in stocks.(of course with High hopes of getting large returns :)

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Am I the first person to comment here?


Diwakar Mahanthi said...(on 28 May 2007 at 15:18 )  

Thanks for putting your views. Nice Article. I think the best way to invest in stocks are:
1. Through IPO's (though it takes long time to build your portfolio, but surely make the difference when market is down)
2. Or wait untill market is down and ready to invest.

Dr. Meha Seth said...(on 28 May 2007 at 22:43 )  

Hi Shobhit,
This is an excellent article!
I have been investing in the market since last 4 years.....living under the false impression that I am making decent profits.
I calculated my profits and it seems that I have made a mere 8.5% annual return :-((

Please keep posting such articles so that ppl like us can benefit.

Thanks once again,

Unknown said...(on 28 May 2007 at 22:56 )  

Hi Shobhit,
This is an excellent article!
I have been investing in the market since last 2 months.....living under the false impression that I am making decent profits.But one thing is sure that we can get good exposure to Stock market. And why dont u cover about ELSS mutual funds ulips etc.
I am working in FranklinTempletonInvestments as software engineer. I wish to do MBA . PLEASE LET ME KNOW DETAILS OF The Rotterdam School of Management, Netherlands.


Shobhit said...(on 29 May 2007 at 02:53 )  


Thanks for your comments.
GOing for MBA depends upon what you want to do after MBA. Do you want to settle abroad and work there or want to comeback and work in India?
What career are you looking for after MBA?
Dont think that a MBA degree will help you to get any kind of job - that includes financial sector.
MBA abroad is a big investment - to recover the money you;ll have to get a fat pay package post MBA. Working abroad is not easy - work permit is always an issue.
From the employers perspective, there are 2 problems - 1) You are a foreigner, so they have to arrange for ur work permit, which is not very easy now-a-days and (2) You have work-ex from a different stream pre-MBA and now changing the stream.
As mentioned in my articles, every Tom, Dick and Hary trades now-a-days. So just that any software engineer is working in the financial IT sector or has been trading in the stock market does not make anyone suitable for a job in investment banks.
First decide why do you want to do MBA, and what do you want to achieve. If you are clear about it, then and only then you go for MBA. Otherwise, the MBA will be a waste of time as well as money.

Anonymous said...(on 29 May 2007 at 07:54 )  


I have invested in several Mutual funds of different companies. some of the MFs have yielded moer than 80% returns even though these are still not sold. Should I have to keep these MFs or sell it and book profits. Ofcourse these are all invested more than 2 years ago so there will not be any income tax capital gains problem.
your advice pl, MP

Unknown said...(on 30 May 2007 at 01:41 )  

My preferred option of investment is to select 5 - 6 companies from Bluest of Bluechip cos from different sectors like steel, Pharma, Banking,auto (1 from each sector) and go on investing in the same very cos. as long as they are performing well. For long term one always knows when he will be needing money and therefore liquidate the shares when market is
overheated and everyone seems to be buying. This strategy works for creating wealth.
The motive of your article seems to be GRRRREAT.

Unknown said...(on 30 May 2007 at 01:44 )  

You may mail me on eyedoctor.shashi@gmail.com

Anonymous said...(on 30 May 2007 at 02:30 )  

Hi Shashi,

You should read the second article written by Shobhit - titled "Do equities (stocks) guarantee good returns even in the longer run?"
Here, he clearly tells about what has happened historically and why it is dangerous to invest in the market. Do read that article please.
Shobhit takes exmples of Retirment Planning (Investment duration 30 years), or securing your kid education (18-20 years), and still investors fail to make wealth in the market.
He rightly justifies his point by historical data and is correct when he says - You never know when you'll need money & whether the market will be up or down at that time.


Unknown said...(on 30 May 2007 at 06:04 )  

Have a good look at all the top ten companies falling in the sensex categories of BSE Index. Who wouldnt gain are speculators and not investors. Also. dont take 30% rebate for adding to 18% as we all already take advantage of tax reliefs by way of PPF(700000) and rest more than 30000 by way of PF compulsorily deducted from salary.
Investment in Blue chips along with dividends, bonuses,rights and cleverly sticking to diversity/marketleaders of their category certainly yield much more than debt funds. Apart from that the cushion of PPF also helps.
Stick to the principles of investing including regularity and one should gain an average of annual 15-20 % gains.
Good Luck to all.

Shobhit said...(on 30 May 2007 at 06:43 )  

Dear Shasi,
Thanks for your comments.

It's true that all individuals make money when the market goes up. It's easy to look at the SUCCESS period and SURVIVORS alone. What we should be concerned with is the slack periods (like 2000-2001). That is the primary purpose of my articles -making people aware of the dangers that they dont usually perceive.

You've yourself mentioned that you make 15-20% returns each year in stock market. But where does it stand with respect the overall market gains of 375% in 5 years, which amounts to 375/5 = 75% year on year returns. You are way behind the market. Imagine what would happen if the market goes down - you will still be way behind the market, in terms of higher losses.
Secondly, your 15-20% returns are already available with the RISK FREE BOND Investments. I calculated the interest rates of bonds at the lowest levels of 6%, over the periods, it was as high as 9%.
You rightly claim that there is a limit on the amount of money you can invest in tax-free instrumetns and get tax benefit. But then, you definitely cannot utilise the full 1Lakh limit.
There is no point in trying to chase your investments in stocks, for a 15-20% returns, which can be easily made in RISK FREE bonds. Bonds today are offering as much as 12% returns.
Once again, I want to expose the dangers of equity investments, at the times when markets go down. One would definitely make money (15-20%) when the market goes up by 75%.

Unknown said...(on 30 May 2007 at 18:20 )  

I am not trying to dampen the spirits of the author. The question raised is of strong relevance to many people like me who after having the experience of working in a company for 30 years still feel there is so much to learn in the art of investing. The articles are thought provoking- all three of them and I am sure the author will continue the good work.
However Mr. Sobhit please see the benefits of compounded 20% compared to even 10% over a long period of time and also the liquidity factor of bonds , where you get back principle plus interests for reinvestment when you would have preferred to remain invested.
Also, when index goes on appreciating the benefits also follow suit and the 20% annual gets compounded.
Please keep up the good work

Anonymous said...(on 31 May 2007 at 01:46 )  

Miss Shashi,
Please understand that you can get the compounded benefit from re-investment in Bonds also. The benefit is that you dont have to worry about the fluctuations in the Stock Prices. YOu have a fixed interest payment every year and fixed return of principal at the end of maturity on a fixed date. You can always re-invest the same to get the benefit of compounding.
Personally, I dont think Mr. Shobhit is trying to advice you to go away from shares and only invest in bonds. I think he wants to talk about the risks and loss making situations. He is also attempting to prove that you can make similar returns from zero risk bonds instead of risky shares.
What do you say Mr. Shobhit?
Personally, I thank you for the excellent articles -please carry on posting them.

Unknown said...(on 31 May 2007 at 04:20 )  

Nice Article,

I am just a kid in this arena, just decided to invest in the stock market.For last 10-12 days I have been reading articals here and there so that I can gain some knowledge. Once I get some confidence going I will start investing( for the time being I am investing on paper only ) in the market.

Thanks for writing such a nice article

Veda said...(on 31 May 2007 at 07:31 )  

Hey!!! That was great. You have shared a valuable information. I don't know whether I am a smart investor or not but I made 50 % of my investments in equities and 50% in tax-saving funds. You were right and I happened to calculate my profits in equities and it is very low when compared to that I saved in funds.

raul said...(on 31 May 2007 at 08:12 )  

good article!
simple yet effective.

Mahen said...(on 1 June 2007 at 02:10 )  

I am a fresher in the IT field (ya one of the many thousands) and i too have been for the past few months just reading articles and opinions related to investing, stock market, insurance, mutual funds etc.
Your article was very good. I would like to receive your articles in my mail. the id is mahendra04@gmail.com

Anonymous said...(on 14 June 2007 at 03:20 )  

I am a fresher in the IT field (ya one of the many thousands) and i too have been for the past few months just reading articles and opinions related to investing, stock market, insurance, mutual funds etc.
Your article was very good. I would like to receive your articles in my mail. the id is rohit_kumar1976@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...(on 14 June 2007 at 03:22 )  

I am new to this world, and will really appreciate if i recieve your articles :))


- Amit Borkar

navi said...(on 14 June 2007 at 22:01 )  

Hi Shobhit,

I have found your articles very much interesting and infomative and thanks a lot for this very useful piece of information.

I have a few doubts/questions and it would be really great if you please make it clear for me.

You get tax benefit out of bonds upto a max limit of 1 lakh rupees, which includes your PF/principle of housing loan/other various items under section 80. You may or may not get 30% benefit on your investment in these bonds, depending upon if it falls within 1lakh limit or spills over.

Also, can you please inform if these bonds are under EET category or are they taxed upon maturity?
If they are taxed upn maturity then what you'll actually get is 48-48/3 = 32 % over a period of 5 yrs.

I think what people would be looking forward is how to use the equity instruments to make profits on investments. I agree fully with you that equity market is full or risks and hazards and there are a lot of people who are after your money. But I am not completely in agreement with your aversity to mutual funds. Agreed that mutual fund managers make a lot of money. (I am sure they would be investing the same in equity/debt/property etc and not just keeping it somewhere. ) but they make 16 crores (as you put it) in a year. Which buisness or job can ensure you a money like that? Their job is also secure as long as they make money for the fund.

Anonymous said...(on 15 June 2007 at 14:21 )  


Anonymous said...(on 22 June 2007 at 03:14 )  

If somebody has made 50% profit in 7 years (from 2002 to 2007) he does not have anything to boast off ! It's only 7% return annualised. It should have been 50% annualised return which is why the person is happy !

If you invest in these so called "Good Companies" of Index, it can be kicked out of Index by the stock exchange at their whims, but what will you do with your investment then ?

Comparing historical Sensex is non-sense as the non-performing companies are removed out of the Sensex to fool the innocent investors.

Pankaj Gupta said...(on 13 July 2007 at 23:07 )  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pankaj Gupta said...(on 14 July 2007 at 11:09 )  

Wow gr8 stuffs.........
But I have some points:
1) If any start with 1lakh rs he cannot make more than 75% return even market goes 300% because if u start with 1 lakh u can invest at most 3-5 different stock n even though market goes 300% up its not necessary that every stock listed in index goes 300% up.

2) Now if u invests in 4 different stocks because u has only one lakh rs so it is not necessary that ur investment get double or more..... I think it’s good if ur earn even 50% as starting.

3) Most imp. Point is it’s a game of high risk high gain... Nobody can say which way market goes.

4) So if anybody wants to start investing in share market he should start it some good IPO...for long term (1-2 yrs) like DLF etc.

5) Very Imp: If anybody wants earn great profit, then before investing in any stock.. u have a target in both the term means in value n in the time.

6) One should know the correct enter n exit point in market. If ur tgt achieve in time or before time then review ur stock n book some part of profit if there is a chance of more upside.

7) Every one has to review there portfolio time to time. In every month if possible and most importantly at time when market goes up or down n check which stock is performing well n which not.

What’s ur view on this pts Mr. Shobhit.
Waiting for ur comment.................

Anonymous said...(on 19 July 2007 at 03:41 )  

I am an enginner(ya one of the many thousands) and i too have been for the past few months just reading articles and opinions related to investing, stock market, insurance, mutual funds etc.
Your article was very good. I would like to receive your articles in my mail. the id is rarse@rediffmail.com

Senthil said...(on 28 July 2007 at 03:05 )  


Siva Prasad Manda said...(on 31 July 2007 at 01:11 )  

Hi Shobit,

Could you please write about Technical Analysis, if you are aware of?


Anonymous said...(on 3 August 2007 at 08:08 )  

As suggested by Shobhit, Portfolio Tracker should be used and this facility is available on website moneycontrol.com. This is the website of CNBC. I am using it myself and found it quite user friendly and useful.

Also as suggested by Shbhit dont fall into the trap of so-called brokers and know-all people of stock market. I am just quoting below an interesting post which I read on MONEYCONTROL message board.


My Dear Analyst,
I have been a great follower of yours. Each day I used to rise with what you were speaking from Tokyo and went to bed with what you were preaching from New York. I bought when you told me to and sold when you scared me to. During the NASDAQ run I made a few multibaggers but then lost all of it. You would remember how you scolded me for not having applied stop losses. That was after the stocks went below those levels. But I continued to believe in you and your community. I made money in banking, sugar and construction, lost a few here and there. On the whole I did not do better than what I could have managed myself but still I enjoyed each moment of it . In June I lost quite a fortune on your Sterlite and Hindustan Zinc call. That was because the LME prices fell and I was taken off guard. As usual you rebuked me for not having put in stop losses.
During the current carnage when the index fell to 8800 one particular member from your community stormed the TV channels from Hong Kong and preached gloom, boom and doom . The local ones told me to stay away till the dust gets settled. Again I obliged and cut all my long positions converting them for cash. I booked profits in all the counters that I had got in early . This was because you advised me to take the profits home. For the losers you advised that there is no point selling at these levels and as it always happens I listened.
Investors wishing to save themselves from the bloom gloom and doom were advised me to go on a long holiday. I could not go on that holiday since it would have cost money. Another member from your community asked me to keep 30% in cash, a few told me to wait for the US interest rate cues while the others were preparing for a US led global recession and urged gulliable investors like me to buy gold and silver. Theysaid that these would be the saviors.
At an index level of 8800 the largest fund house from the land of the rising sun talked about an index level of 7000 above which they would not invest. Does any one know what they did after making that statement?
When ever I asked you something you were uncomfortable in responding .You called it momentum and I thought that these stocks were for the greedy. But after having suffered because of my shortcomings (in not being able to understand you correctly) I have a few questions:
1) Doctors, engineers, accountants do pass some examinations before being called experts. They undergo rigorous training and then only they are allowed to advise. Do you along with members of your community undergo the same test before advising millions of fools like me on Tv?
2) Do you ever look back and see how many of your recommendations went right and how many went wrong. If so how so if not why not?
3) Do you ever feel guilty either morally or ethically when investors lose money on your recommendations?
4) You have a habit of using vague words like:
n Buy on declines
n Should give you 20% return . Whether the stock is at Rs 700 or Rs 850 you talk of the same 20% returns.
n Cautious optimism.
n Apply strict stop losses - Please name me one person who has made money by applying strict stop losses except the person who sells subscription for such advice.
n Momentum investing - If buying on a break out and selling on stop losses is not momentum investing then what is? Yet you prefer to talk of stocks that you do not understand as momentum investing.
5) Most of the time your analysis is historic. You say this stock has made a 52 week high at so and so and then retraced itself to so and so and now is trading at so and so. You know the introduction that takes 70% of you analysis does not help me. I can see it in the pink papers and that costs Rs 2.00 only.
6) I am tired of hearing words like supports, resistances, 200 day moving averages, Fibonacci, retracements, RSI's etc .
7) Each day you looked at the NASDAQ and the Nikkei and told us where we would go . Over the last 5 years the NASDAQ has gone no where but we have gone up by more then 4 times. Do you remember the critical days when you went wrong?
8) When stocks fell you blamed sentiment when they went up you said liquidity . Why can't you tell us before hand as to what will happen? Otherwise there is no difference between you and me.
Yours Truly
"The small investor"
A bruised battered and mauled Bull

Anonymous said...(on 7 August 2007 at 02:41 )  

Dear "The small investor",
wow man, amazing comment, your comments are need to be considered after reading that article. For sure, people from sw/other industries are lured by the glory and growth of the stock market, and blindly jumped(still jumping/about to jump)into the stock market. Just looking at the stock markets and giving some blind suggestions basing on the historic value is not going to work anymore. Because, the markets are dynamic and you can't expect the behaviour of a stock after it reaches its 52 weeks high. There are hell lot of things other than the technical analysis, market capitalization and profit the company makes. The so called small investor who don't even know the business of the company is trying to buy the stock basing on the words of some analysts on the message boards or the brokers.

In the article, the comparison b/w the growth of the sensex and the profits a small investor made, is really ridiculous. The assumption that most of these freaks won't use the 1L tax assumption looks really stupid. If somebody is planning to invest all their money in stocks without utilising the tax benefits, then to realize a 50% profit, they should attain 85% return on their investment.

Diversity of investments is always advisable, rather than, piling up all your money in one instrument and if something really bad happens, all your money will be wiped-off. There should be limitation of the diversity among your investment instruments and the investments. That only will make you rich.

If you really want to compare your performance, compare yourselves with the best managed mutual funds. That gives you better understanding. Putting the money in the mutual funds is proper for the people who don't have any time to monitor their portfolio regularly.

One more important thing is, the interest free loans that the banks offer to the customers for 3 months, luring them to cash more money out of that loan amount by investing in stock market. Never ever try to invest money that you have borrowed (for small investors). Becz its going to screw up the things in a major way, becz u have to cover the interest rate also in the avg returns.

One should actually do proper research and then only enter the stock market, and should have the guts and capability to accept the stupidity of their investment decisions (happens sometimes to everybody).

The only onething you need to bother is what you learnt out of it and what r u r expectations out of u r portfolio. Thats wat gonna matter EOD.

happy investing ;)

NS Srikanth said...(on 7 August 2007 at 07:50 )  

Hi Shobit,

I also thought that for a harried investor like me, mutual funds are the way to go and started investing from March 2005 onwards. I had a bit in FI Bluechip from 1998 onwards but it was not a regular investment, it was in fits and starts. The IT Limit of 1 lakh and lifting of limits on ELSS schemes also spurred me on. I also invested in other schemes as well. Now after 2 1/2 years, when the market is peaking, my returns are at a piddly 47.3 %. WHen I started investing in March 2005, I know that Sensex was at 6300. Now it is at 15,650. When I started in MF schemes , I told myself that I will pronounce judgement after 3-5 year time frame. But in 2 1/2 years itself I am disillusioned with these MF Wallahs. I am thinking of discontinuing other schemes and holding only ELSS Schemes. But in my portfolio, if only ELSS schemes alone are taken, the returns will be much lower, so let me not think about them.

NS Srikanth
nssrikanth@hotmail dot com

Wish you all happy and fruitful trading and investing activities with safety! = = = Post a Comment

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