Penny stocks are a cognitive illusion. Not the penny stocks themselves mind you, they are real. However, your chances to make money from thinly traded, low-priced stocks with little liquid assets, working capital and a lot of dreams are the cognitive illusion. In other words, although there is a chance to get rich from trading stocks on the pink sheets, stocks under a dollar OTC or NASDAQ stocks trading for nothing, in most cases, it is a mirage and I would not bet the farm on it. This would be a boring post if that was all there is to it. However, there is a lesson that can be learned from penny stock investing.

penny stock investing

For pennies you can have fun

At one level the investing theory is sound, and people who have interest in penny stocks at some level understand the idea of financial leverage. It is the idea of trying to amplify your returns with little capital applied.

Financial leverage is a way which many great investors got rich, like Warren Buffet. However, they did not do it with trading penny stocks. They did it with more sophisticated methods. Buffets did it with Insurance., you can read my article, how insurance companies make money.

Penny stock traders have the idea that, low price equities, under a dollar, have potential for large percentage gains with even a small movement in absolute price. For example, if a fifty cent stock goes to three dollars a share that is a 600% return on your money. Even if it goes to one dollar yo double your money. In theory this is correct.

The problem is statistically the rate of return on average does not match the normal equity market. Windfall profits are the exception rather than the rule. Even if you have some play money, expect to throw away more than you will get back. However, if you have 100,000 dollars in a portfolio and you want to risk a few thousand, go ahead, but I would active leverage with options, rather than penny stocks as I think this is closer to a zero sum game.

Why penny stocks do not yield a good return on average

  • Penny stocks that are scraps in the junk heap – Stocks beaten down this far can come back but more likely they are only attractive to junk men searching through rubbish. I do not know too many rich junk men in the real world.
  • Penny stocks that are the next artificial blood – When I was in Finance in Boston I would soften hear about these wizards working on the next big thing in technology or biotechnology. They had MIT or Harvard connections. Great ideas, even noble ideas, like artificial blood, that maybe someday will be a reality, but in a 12 month time horizon or even 36 month time frame, I personally never saw any of those great opportunities perform.
  • Penny stocks that are selling air – These companies that really do not have much going on but the dreams of the eccentric behind them. I think you would better off selling air. Sure, get some fresh mountain air from the Rocky mountains and compress it and sell it to people in LA or NYC. You would make more money then 99% of the stocks I have seen trading at pennies a share. I had a tried selling stock for some home gym he designed. I never saw it come to fruition. Even I personally and working on a few products. When I have mine out the door and selling I will let you know, but I prefer not to tot my horn, until this time.

Why Penny stocks move up

  • Pump and dump – the market builds excitement, often manipulated by some individuals then they are dumped. Micro cap fraud
  • Stocks sold illegally under schedule S internationally – Chop stocks

I understand why investing in penny stocks is tempting, because earning money though working for a living is harder and harder. If you could just profit from two ten baggers, that is buy two stocks in a row, that go from one to ten dollars; with ten thousand dollars you would have a million dollars. It could be done in a year.

However, everyone wants to do that. But have such a good run with a cheap stock, is like making a hole in one on the golf course. You can not base your life on it. Better is to prefect your game in a more rounded fashion and if you do get a stock that rises to ten times for what you guy it for, be thankful. I have, but it was when I was younger and I made a fortune, only to lose most of it. It was a painful lesson.

If you want to play with a little of your risk capital I think Leaps or long-term equity options are better vehicles for leverage. The are also low.

Have I ever owned a penny stock? Sure in my 30 plus years of investing in the stock market I have owned a number, mostly at the start of my investing career. I did not buy them mind you, they were low price stocks that hit the pink sheets and went bankrupt, belly up. I was young and brash and thought buying low-priced stocks under 10 dollars would amplify my returns. I was always looking for something exotic and cutting edge.

What is the lesson we can learn from Penny stocks? – Leverage

Although most penny stock junkies will most likely never get rich they do teach a lesson. Leverage a key investing idea to amplify your returns. You can turn a small amount of investment capital into large returns. All you really need is a system of investing that does average, or even below average but consistently. Read my posts on quantitative investing and how to invest with logic.

  • It is better to have a system that is consistent and below average, but leveraged than a system than going for a home run in the market with a hot stock.