Why Women Investors Won’t Embrace Stocks
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Why Women Investors Won’t Embrace Stocks

Female investors have a cautious view of equities. That is a problem—for women as well as the rest of the finance world.

By CAROL RYAN
Mon, Feb 15, 2021 4:05amGrey Clock 3 min

“I think we’re a bit outnumbered, but we’re here.” So said one commenter on a Reddit thread about whether women joined in the recent WallStreetBets trading frenzy.

Female investors largely sat out the riskiest punts taken on stocks like GameStop. That may be no bad thing considering the videogame retailer’s stock is down over 80% from its late-January peak. But low female participation in stock-market investing more generally is a problem, for women and the finance industry alike.

Less than one-quarter of deposits into U.S. brokerage accounts were made by women in January, according to consumer-spending data analytics firm Cardify. Globally, the situation may be even worse: Israel-based brokerage eToro said that female investors make up just 14% of its registered users, most of whom are in the U.S. and Europe.

Some trading platforms did a good job of signing up women during the pandemic. Just over a third of Robinhood users were female at the beginning of this year, up from 20.5% a year before, according to Cardify. For the finance industry as a whole, though, attracting more female custom remains a frustratingly slow work in progress.

Women tend to be more conservative investors than men, preferring to put their wealth into real estate, cash or bonds while steering clear of equities. Credit Suisse surveyed a sample of existing clients and found that almost half of its female customers have 90% of their wealth tied up in low-yielding cash and fixed income—well over double the exposure the Swiss bank recommends.

That kind of caution has downsides, particularly when interest rates are as low as they are today. Since the global financial crisis, cash has returned a paltry 0.6% annually, while 10-year Treasury bills have returned 4.8%, based on Portfolio Visualizer calculations. By comparison, the U.S. stock market has averaged 12% a year.

Governments and companies are increasingly shifting the responsibility for a secure retirement onto individuals, raising the stakes for individuals’ investment decisions. Getting women to increase their exposure to equities is all the more important because they outlive men, so need their pension pots to last longer.

The underlying reasons for women’s caution as investors are complex. They are still paid less than men. Earnings and pension contributions can be disrupted when mothers take time out of the workforce to rear children, hampering their ability to put money aside for the future. Many women prioritize keeping what they have safe instead of investing in better-returning assets that could help offset these pay gaps. The wider issue here is that risk tolerance typically rises with wealth, for both sexes.

The finance industry also has a longstanding image problem with women. For some, investment jargon is the turnoff; for others it is the sometimes patronizing financial products targeted at them.

Warren Buffett once quipped that part of his investing success came from “only competing with half the population.” In reality, few people are benefiting from the status quo. Women are missing out on a share of stock-market spoils. Asset managers are losing out on the higher fees that come from higher-yielding assets. Robinhood needs female customers to maintain its blistering user growth as the startup prepares for a mooted initial public offering.

When they do enter the stock market, women’s investment behaviours often lead to good returns. They tend to think long-term, spread their risk by buying diversified funds and rack up lower fees by trading less frequently than men. That kind of steady capital might help to offset some of the excesses seen in the market this year.

Currently, women’s share of financial assets globally is estimated at 30% by Credit Suisse, or 40% including real assets such as property, which tend to be more evenly distributed. Those numbers should grow as women join the workforce in greater numbers and accept higher-paying jobs. That may automatically improve the situation, as they have more money to invest and can afford to take greater risks with it. Catering to women’s financial needs is likely to become a more competitive business in future.

Yet the finance sector also has a role to play. Robinhood makes much of its mission to “democratise” the industry, and has indeed turned more women’s heads in a matter of months than some traditional brokerages managed in years. With women still heavily outnumbered on even the most accessible apps, though, there is much further to go. Democratising finance needs to include a better pitch to the other 50% of the population.



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These stocks are getting hit for a reason. Instead, focus on stocks that show ‘relative strength.’ Here’s how.

By KEN SHREVE
Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4 min

A lot of investors get stock-picking wrong before they even get started: Instead of targeting the top-performing stocks in the market, they focus on the laggards—widely known companies that look as if they are on sale after a period of stock-price weakness.

But these weak performers usually are going down for good reasons, such as for deteriorating sales and earnings, market-share losses or mutual-fund managers who are unwinding positions.

Decades of Investor’s Business Daily research shows these aren’t the stocks that tend to become stock-market leaders. The stocks that reward investors with handsome gains for months or years are more often  already  the strongest price performers, usually because of outstanding earnings and sales growth and increasing fund ownership.

Of course, many investors already chase performance and pour money into winning stocks. So how can a discerning investor find the winning stocks that have more room to run?

Enter “relative strength”—the notion that strength begets more strength. Relative strength measures stocks’ recent performance relative to the overall market. Investing in stocks with high relative strength means going with the winners, rather than picking stocks in hopes of a rebound. Why bet on a last-place team when you can wager on the leader?

One of the easiest ways to identify the strongest price performers is with IBD’s Relative Strength Rating. Ranked on a scale of 1-99, a stock with an RS rating of 99 has outperformed 99% of all stocks based on 12-month price performance.

How to use the metric

To capitalise on relative strength, an investor’s search should be focused on stocks with RS ratings of at least 80.

But beware: While the goal is to buy stocks that are performing better than the overall market, stocks with the highest RS ratings aren’t  always  the best to buy. No doubt, some stocks extend rallies for years. But others will be too far into their price run-up and ready to start a longer-term price decline.

Thus, there is a limit to chasing performance. To avoid this pitfall, investors should focus on stocks that have strong relative strength but have seen a moderate price decline and are just coming out of weeks or months of trading within a limited range. This range will vary by stock, but IBD research shows that most good trading patterns can show declines of up to one-third.

Here, a relative strength line on a chart may be helpful for confirming an RS rating’s buy signal. Offered on some stock-charting tools, including IBD’s, the line is a way to visualise relative strength by comparing a stock’s price performance relative to the movement of the S&P 500 or other benchmark.

When the line is sloping upward, it means the stock is outperforming the benchmark. When it is sloping downward, the stock is lagging behind the benchmark. One reason the RS line is helpful is that the line can rise even when a stock price is falling, meaning its value is falling at a slower pace than the benchmark.

A case study

The value of relative strength could be seen in Google parent Alphabet in January 2020, when its RS rating was 89 before it started a 10-month run when the stock rose 64%. Meta Platforms ’ RS rating was 96 before the Facebook parent hit new highs in March 2023 and ran up 65% in four months. Abercrombie & Fitch , one of 2023’s best-performing stocks, had a 94 rating before it soared 342% in nine months starting in June 2023.

Those stocks weren’t flukes. In a study of the biggest stock-market winners from the early 1950s through 2008, the average RS rating of the best performers before they began their major price runs was 87.

To see relative strength in action, consider Nvidia . The chip stock was an established leader, having shot up 365% from its October 2022 low to its high of $504.48 in late August 2023.

But then it spent the next four months rangebound—giving up some ground, then gaining some back. Through this period, shares held between $392.30 and the August peak, declining no more than 22% from top to bottom.

On Jan. 8, Nvidia broke out of its trading range to new highs. The previous session, Nvidia’s RS rating was 97. And that week, the stock’s relative strength line hit new highs. The catalyst: Investors cheered the company’s update on its latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

Nvidia then rose 16% on Feb. 22 after the company said earnings for the January-ended quarter soared 486% year over year to $5.16 a share. Revenue more than tripled to $22.1 billion. It also significantly raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter that was to end in April. In all, Nvidia climbed 89% from Jan. 5 to its March 7 close.

And the stock has continued to run up, surging past $1,000 a share in late May after the company exceeded that guidance for the April-ended quarter and delivered record revenue of $26 billion and record net profit of $14.88 billion.

Ken Shreve  is a senior markets writer at Investor’s Business Daily. Follow him on X  @IBD_KShreve  for more stock-market analysis and insights, or contact him at  ken.shreve@investors.com .