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How to Read a Profit & Loss (P&L) Statement

As its name indicates, a profit and loss statement (P&L) shows a company’s profits and losses — i.e. revenue vs. expenses and other costs — over a certain period of time, like a quarter or year.

A profit and loss statement is also called an “income statement,” is one of a business’s most important accounting tools, as it provides important insights into operations, and the company’s ability to generate income and manage losses — with an eye toward profitability.

Investors can also use the P&L to assess certain aspects of company performance and compare it to other companies in the same industry.

What Is a Profit and Loss Statement?

A profit and loss report shows how much revenue a company earned over a specific period, and then subtracts how much money was spent, which results in a net profit (or loss). It’s the final line in the calculation, commonly known as the bottom line.

While a profit and loss statement provides contextual insight into a company’s financials, these figures only tell us what has happened in the past, and not what will happen in the future. Given that, this information alone is not able to determine whether a company is a “good” investment, but it’s one of the many pieces of information needed to value a stock.

Other Key Documents

In addition to filing a P&L report, companies will also file a balance sheet, cash flow statement, and statement of shareholders’ equity. Filings are made quarterly (called 10-Q filings) and annually (10-K filings) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and are publicly available. Investors can find this information by searching for the company within the SEC’s EDGAR database.

Although having a basic overview of how to read a profit and loss statement can be helpful, it’s important to bear in mind that different companies and industries may include breakout different line items in their P&L report.

Generally speaking, it’s useful to think of each of the accounting statements as individual pieces in an overall puzzle. For example, you might compare a company’s P&L to its balance sheet, which is a snapshot of a company’s assets and liabilities for a specific date.

The balance sheet alone won’t indicate whether the company is operating at a profit, and a profit and loss statement may not provide an accurate picture into a company’s indebtedness. But together, both statements provide important context for further analysis.

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What Is a P&L Statement Used For?

Profit and loss statements are a particularly useful tool for looking into the operations of a company and identifying important trends in that business, often providing insights into where (and maybe why) a company is making or losing money. For example:

•   Where is most of the revenue being spent?

•   Are there expenses that could be trimmed?

•   Are gross sales covering the cost of production?

The P&L report is also useful when used to compare two or more time periods, or when comparing companies within the same industry.

An Aid to Analysis

As with almost any accounting report, the P&L can spark important questions. What changed from last year (or last quarter)? What has improved? What has not? In particular, has the company been able to decrease expenses or increase revenue in order to secure more profit?

Most important, the P&L report may provide additional clues as to the financial inner workings of the company. It can help identify problem areas as well as growth opportunities.

For example: Perhaps a company is profitable in one period but not the next, because of an increase in research and development (R&D) costs. This is valuable information, as it may indicate a crucial investment for a new product — which can lead to an evaluation of this investment and a more sophisticated analysis.

Is this a wise use of capital, and will it pay off in terms of a new product’s success? Could the money be better spent elsewhere, or is there a more efficient way to develop the new product line?

How to Read a P&L

When learning how to read a profit and loss statement, investors should know that they generally follow a similar format.

Each begins, at the top of the page, with total revenue. This is how much money a company earned through sales. Next, costs and expenses are subtracted. Finally, at the bottom of the page, is the company’s bottom line: profit or loss.

Although a company’s “top line” revenue is a compelling figure, a company’s bottom line is typically a better indicator of whether it will be an enduring, successful business.

To illustrate the point, consider a simple example of two companies. The first company posted revenue of $10,000,000 last year, but incurred the same amount in expenses (– $10,000,000). They had high revenue, but earned no profit.

The second business earned $1,000,000, but incurred $700,000 in expenses — resulting in a $300,000 profit. The second company brought in less revenue, but was more profitable than the first.

Recommended: How to Buy Stocks: A Step-by-Step Guide

Understanding Each Section of the P&L

To really make sense of a P&L, you need to understand what each line item stands for and its relevance to the company’s overall operations.

Revenue (or sales)

To recap, one would find the total revenue at the top. This number is also called gross sales and it’s usually broken out by source. (A gross figure is one calculated before expenses are taken out.)

Net Revenue

On certain sales, a company may ultimately receive a modified amount. For example, items that are returned or are discounted must be accounted for. Therefore, the next line in the statement may include a figure that represents what a company actually expects to collect on overall sales, i.e. net revenue. (Net refers to a figure after the necessary deductions are made.) This is a more accurate picture of what incoming cash flow looks like.

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Moving down the statement, direct costs or cost of goods sold usually comes next. This is what the company spent directly on the production of goods or services that were sold during that period. For example, if a company produces shoes, it would include money spent on supplies, labor, packaging, and shipping (but not rent, for example, as that’s not a direct cost).

Gross Profit

After COGS is subtracted from revenue, there may be a line titled gross profit or gross margin. This indicates the profit made on the goods sold before operating expenses.

Operating Expenses

Operating expenses include everything the company spent money on to stay in business: from IT to sales and marketing expenses to facilities costs and so on. These categories are often broken out into subcategories for specific expenses within each (for example, employee expenses might include payroll and benefits).

Total operating expenses are deducted from gross profit to get net operating income.

Net Operating Income

Net operating income, also known as EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are taken out), is a crucial part of the income statement. It reveals how much the company has after all the expenses are covered. If the number is positive, the company is able to cover the cost of doing business; if it’s negative, it means the company is operating at a loss. While that’s not uncommon, spending more than you earn is typically a red flag calling for some adjustments.

Interest Income and Expense

Interest income is money earned in interest-bearing bank accounts or other investment vehicles. Interest expense is the cost of borrowing money and paying a rate of interest on that debt. These numbers may or may not be combined into one figure.

Recommended: ETFs vs. Mutual Funds: Learning the Difference

Depreciation and Amortization

Depreciation is defined as the reduction in the value of an asset with the passage of time, due in particular to wear and tear (e.g. the depreciating value of computer systems or vehicles). Businesses are able to treat this depreciation as an expense.

Amortization is the distribution of a business expense over time (e.g. the ongoing cost of a certain software program over a few years).

Tax

Finally, any tax the company paid is also deducted. Typically, this is the last deduction before the final line in the statement: the net profit or the bottom line.

The bottom line represents the net profit or the net loss, and answers the question: During this accounting period, was this company able to turn a profit, or did they operate at a loss?

Note that profit is just one way to evaluate a company and its stock — and it’s not the same as cash on hand. To understand how much actual cash a company has in the bank, you have to read the cash-flow statement.

💡 Quick Tip: It’s smart to invest in a range of assets so that you’re not overly reliant on any one company or market to do well. For example, by investing in different sectors you can add diversification to your portfolio, which may help mitigate some risk factors over time.

Earnings Per Share

A profit and loss statement may also include an earnings per share (EPS) calculation. This is a representation of how much money each shareholder would receive if all net profit was paid out. EPS is calculated by dividing the total net profit by the number of shares a company has outstanding.

The EPS is a hypothetical calculation used by investors to assess the amount of profit created by a company. Do companies actually distribute total earnings? Not generally. Companies will typically keep some or all profits, and may make some payments to shareholders in the form of dividend payments. (The profit and loss statement may also include information on dividend payments.)

A large or a growing EPS is generally preferable but yet again, this metric alone is not sufficient in deciding whether a stock is a good investment. EPS should also be compared to the price of that stock. A company could boast a robust EPS, for example, but if the cost of the stock is relatively expensive, it might not be a good value.

For a deeper look into the correlation between earnings and price, investors can consider the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, which divides the price of a stock by the EPS.

The Takeaway

A profit and loss statement can give an investor a look at a company’s bottom line in terms of earnings — and also allows them to compare statements from companies in the same industry, as well as statements from the same company over different time periods. Learning how to read a profit and loss statement can be an important part of researching a company in which one might want to invest.

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SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
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Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

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Disclaimer: The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results.
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Short Squeezes Explained

After three years of relative inaction, shares of GameStop, the video game retailer, surged in May 2024 after an influential trader posted to social media for the first time in several years. Roaring Kitty, the online moniker of Keith Gill, whose own posts about GameStop helped inspire the meme-stock movement of 2021, posted an image of a man leaning forward, a popular meme among gamers signifying “things are getting serious.”

Since then, the retailer’s stock price has rallied, renewing interest in GameStop as well as a number of other so-called “meme stocks,” including AMC, Koss Corp., and BlackBerry. Gill’s profile initially rose in 2021 in the midst of day traders organizing on Reddit to “squeeze” GameStop short sellers.

A short squeeze is an orchestrated effort to drive up shares of a stock that’s being shorted. In this highly risky maneuver, short sellers are essentially forced to try to exit their bearish position quickly in order to minimize losses amidst the dramatic surge in the share price. Read on to learn everything you need to know about short squeezes.

Key Points

•   A short squeeze may occur when short sellers rapidly close their positions, which can help drive up a stock’s price.

•   This typically follows a sudden increase in a stock’s price, prompting a rush among those shorting the stock to “cover” or close their position.

•   Short sellers buying back shares to close their positions further drives up the stock price.

•   Benefits of investing in REITs include tax advantages, tangibility of assets, and relative liquidity compared to owning physical properties.

•   Short selling poses extreme risks, with the potential for dramatic — and potentially unlimited — osses.

What Is a Short Squeeze?

As mentioned, a short squeeze is an event in the market that involves short sellers having to quickly close out their positions. Because these investors have to actually buy back shares they’ve lent out, this may drive dramatic gains in the share price.

There are many investors, both retail and institutional, who use short selling to bet that a given stock will go down over a fixed period of time. But short selling is incredibly risky as stock prices have historically tended to drift upward. And timing a bearish position can also be picky. Even if an investor has good reason to believe that a company’s shares will fall, it could be some time before they actually do.

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What Causes Short Squeezes?

To understand how short squeezes occur, we first have to understand how shorting a stock works. To sell a stock short, an investor must first borrow the shares. They then consequently sell in the open market. At an agreed-upon time, the investor will buy back the shares in order to return them to the original lender.

If the stock goes down between the time they borrow the stock and when they return it the investor makes money. That’s because they pocket the difference between what they sold the stock for and what they purchased it for when it came time to return it.

And if those short investors borrow a stock that goes up instead of down, they lose money.

Example of Short Selling

Let’s look at a hypothetical case of a short sale. Let’s say an investor borrows a stock that’s trading at $10 with an agreement to pay back the shares in 90 days.

The investor then sells the stock for $10. Then 90 days later, if the stock is trading at $5, they can buy back the number of shares they borrowed and return them to the lender, capturing the $5 per share profit (often minus interest and fees).

Example of Short Squeeze

Now, let’s use this example to look at a short squeeze. Let’s say the investor borrows the stock again that’s trading at $10 with an agreement to pay back the shares in 90 days.

This time however, the share price shoots up to $15. The investor still has to buy the shares they borrowed and return them to the lender. But other investors are also trying to cover their shorts as well, so there’s a shortage of shares in the market to buy back.

The shortage causes the stock’s price to jump even higher to $20, which in turn triggers other short sellers to close their positions. They have to now also purchase back shares, and hence a buying frenzy and short squeeze occurs.

Theoretically, there’s no limit to how much money short sellers can lose. When an investor is long a stock but wrong, the share prices can only go down as low as $0. But when an investor is short and wrong, the share prices can go infinitely higher, making it possible losses can be limitless for the short-selling investor.

Recommended: How Low Can a Stock Go?

Famous Short Squeezes

One famous example of a short squeeze was that of GameStop, which first occurred in 2021, when electronics retailer GameStop saw its shares jump more than 1,000% in a few weeks as a wide range of investors looked to take advantage of the high number of short sellers in the stock. This was perhaps one of the most well-known “meme stock phenomena” that overtook the market that year, but it wasn’t the only one. Shares of AMC, Bed Bath & Beyond, Koss Corp., and other company’s stocks spiked upward during the meme-stock frenzy that year.

Another example occurred in 2008, when automaker Volkswagen briefly became the world’s most valuable stock by market cap when it became known that Porsche was increasing its stake in its fellow German carmaker.

What’s a Long Squeeze?

By contrast, a long squeeze is when short sellers drive down the price of a stock or asset until the bullish investors begin to sell their positions in response, driving the price lower still. It can be helpful to review short positions vs long positions to get a deeper understanding of a long squeeze.

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What Was the MOASS?

The “MOASS” is an acronym for the “Mother of all short squeezes.” And it’s more or less exactly what it sounds like: A monstrous short squeeze event in the market.

The short squeeze involving GameStop shares in 2021 is perhaps the best and most recent example of a MOASS, though companies such as AMC and Koss Corp., mentioned above, experienced similar phenomena at the time. Many institutional investors had shorted GameStop stock, anticipating that its value would fall, but groups of day traders worked together to drive up demand of the stock, and its value. This “squeezed” the short sellers, and caused many big firms to lose significant amounts of money on their positions.

How to Trade a Short Squeeze

Given the chance for dramatic returns, many investors have taken an interest in getting in on the winning side of a short squeeze.

To invest in a short squeeze, traders start by surveying the markets for stocks that have garnered substantial interest from short sellers. This factor is often called “short interest,” and as a metric, it represents the number of a company’s shares that have been sold short, but not yet returned to the lender. Traders know that the short sellers of all those shares will have to buy back shares — at any price — to return them to the lender.

There are two ways to understand short interest. One is short interest percentage, which shows how many of a company’s overall shares are currently shorted. A higher number means that more short sellers will be bidding up the stock to buy it back. The second metric is short interest ratio, which shows how much short sellers are responsible for a stock’s daily trading volume. A higher ratio means it’s likely that short sellers will help drive up the stock’s price once it starts to rise.

Another key metric has to do with when the short sellers will have to deliver those shares to the lender. It’s known as “days to cover,” and it’s the ratio comparing the total short-selling interest in a stock with the average daily shares that trade. As a metric, it gives traders a sense of how long until short sellers buy back the stocks they borrowed for their short positions.

Stocks with a high short-interest number and a high days-to-cover number are vulnerable to a short squeeze. Once these traders find stocks that seem like short-squeeze candidates, they buy the stocks outright, and watch those key metrics, along with the news, to decide when to sell. Short squeezes can make a stock shoot up, but those returns often evaporate quickly.

Short Squeezes vs Naked Shorts

As discussed, shorting typically involves borrowing shares to create tenable positions. Naked shorts, often involving naked options, are a type of short selling, but it involves not borrowing, or otherwise securing possession of, shares before making a trade or taking a short position. This leaves the trader “naked” in the event that a trade goes south.

Risks of a Short Squeeze

While short squeeze investments can produce eye-popping returns in the short term, they come with real risks for individual investors, and institutions.

Risks for Investors

For investors, perhaps the biggest risk of a short squeeze is that they’ll get caught on the wrong side of one, and lose some money. Obviously, that’s a risk for institutions as well, but individual investors likely don’t have as many resources on hand to try and recover.

Similarly, investors may misread the room — that is, not quite understand what’s happening in the market, and misjudge their position. They’ll also need to be vigilant in watching their positions to make sure they change those positions at the right time.

Risks for Institutions

Most of the risks involved with short squeezes for individual investors hold true for institutions, too.

For instance, the risks involved with stocks themselves include the fact that stocks with a high short-interest number may be undervalued or misunderstood, or they may simply be failing businesses. And if there is no good news, or market interest, they may continue to sink.

At the same time, the price increases caused by short squeezes are short-lived. Once the short-sellers have paid back their lenders, the market runs out of buyers who will pay any price for that stock. And the share prices often fall as quickly as they rose. The danger to traders in a short squeeze is that they’ll get in too late and stay in too long and lose money.

Long-term investors may try their hands at winning a short-squeeze trade here and there. But it requires deep research, constant monitoring and the ability to move in and out of a stock quickly — something that institutions may have access to more so than individuals.

Investing With SoFi

A short squeeze is a market event in which investors inadvertently bid up the price of a heavily shorted stock, while trying to get out of their bearish positions. In order to buy the stocks that investors borrow to sell short, those investors must buy the stock at ever-increasing values.

Short squeezes involving short positions and financial derivatives are relatively high-level concepts and may involve a skilled hand in navigating. For that reason, it may be worth discussing them, and their risks, with a financial professional.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).


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FAQ

Are short squeezes legal?

Short squeezes are a natural occurrence in the stock market, but market manipulation is illegal. As the SEC says, “abusive short sale practices are illegal,” and that may play into short squeezes. As such, it’s a gray area.

What is the biggest short squeeze of all time?

While the Volkswagen short squeeze in 2008 was one of the largest of all time, the 2021 short squeezes of GameStop, along with AMC, Koss, and others, were, perhaps, some of the most dramatic and notable short squeezes in history.

How high can a short squeeze go?

Theoretically, there is no limit on how high a stock can go, and accordingly, how high a short squeeze can go.


SoFi Invest®
INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Disclaimer: The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results.
Options involve risks, including substantial risk of loss and the possibility an investor may lose the entire amount invested in a short period of time. Before an investor begins trading options they should familiarize themselves with the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options . Tax considerations with options transactions are unique, investors should consult with their tax advisor to understand the impact to their taxes.
Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.

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What Are I Bonds? 9 Things to Know Before Investing

What Are I Bonds? 9 Things to Know Before Investing

Investors with a long-term savings outlook who are looking for a safe investment may want to consider investing in Series I Savings Bonds, commonly known as I Bonds. I Bonds are similar to most bonds in that they are essentially a loan to an entity (in this case the U.S. government), with the promise to return your money, typically with interest. I Bonds are different in that they may offer some tax breaks as well. Here are nine important things to know before you invest in I Bonds.

9 Important Things to Know Before You Invest in I Bonds

1. I Bonds May Offer a Higher Rate, But Not a Fixed Rate

For those looking for low-risk investment returns, I Bonds may be a good option, but they are not traditional fixed-income securities. I Bonds are a type of savings bond offered by the U.S. Treasury and backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. They are unique in that they offer two types of interest payments: a fixed rate and a variable rate, which together provide the bond’s composite rate (or yield).

The fixed-rate portion is determined when the bond is purchased, and remains the same for the life of the bond. The variable rate gets adjusted twice a year, based on inflation rates. Investors may hold I Bonds for up to 30 years.

To illustrate how the rate can change, in May 2022, when inflation was high, I Bonds paid a composite rate of 9.62%. But when inflation cooled, the variable rate dropped and the composite rate dropped as well. For instance, in November 2022, the composite rate fell to 6.89%. Currently, the composite rate on Series I Savings Bonds issued as of May 1, 2024 is 4.28%.

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2. Your I Bond Principal Is Guaranteed

Because I Bonds are backed by the U.S. government they have a low risk of default and offer tax-advantaged interest income. Furthermore, the principal is guaranteed. This means (unlike traditional, non-government bonds) that the redemption value will never decrease. This is one of the advantages of savings bonds as a whole. As a result, I Bonds are considered low-risk investments.

3. I Bonds Offer Some Tax Breaks

Tax-efficient investors may want to consider certain I Bond features. Because I Bonds are exempt from municipal or state taxes, this can be a boon for some investors. That said, while federal taxes usually apply, they could be deferred until the bond is ultimately sold or matures; whichever happens first.

Additionally, I Bond investors may use the interest payments for qualified higher education expenses, and receive a 100% deduction (this is called the education exclusion). Some restrictions apply, including:

•   You must cash out your I Bonds the year that you want to claim the education exclusion.

•   You must use the interest paid to cover qualified higher education expenses for you, your spouse, or your dependent children the same year.

•   You cannot be married, filing separately.

4. I Bonds Are Similar to E Bonds & EE Bonds

Investors who are familiar with the Series E Bond may also find I Bonds appealing. While Series E Bonds are no longer available from the Treasury, they can still be purchased from other investors who currently hold them. Historically, Series E bonds were also known as defense or war bonds.

Series E bonds were replaced by Series EE bonds (aka “Patriot Bonds”) in 1980. Today, like Series I Bonds, investors can buy EE Savings Bonds from TreasuryDirect .

An interesting feature of Series EE Savings Bonds is that, over a 20-year period, these bonds are guaranteed to double in value. And should the interest not be enough to double the value, the U.S. Treasury will top it up, giving the bond an effective interest rate of 3.5% per year during that period.

While I Bonds don’t offer the same guarantee, your principal is guaranteed and the bonds are designed to keep pace with inflation.

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5. I Bonds Are Easy to Purchase

Investors can purchase electronic I Bonds online through TreasuryDirect in denominations over $25. The maximum amount of electronic I Bonds someone can purchase is $10,000 per calendar year.

In paper format, investors may use their tax refund to purchase up to $5,000 a year.

6. I Bonds Are a Long-Term Investment

In general, the primary risks in buying bonds revolve around redemption. What if you need your money before maturity?

I Bonds are generally a long-term investment. To start with, investors must understand that they have their money locked up for one year. After that, investors who redeem their I Bonds before they’ve held the bond for five years will forfeit the last three months of interest. (You can redeem an I Bond after five years with no penalty.)

As a result, those looking for a shorter-term investment may want to consider investing in Treasury bills.

7. Other Investments Might Offer Better Returns

One possible advantage of investing in stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs is that investors could potentially make a profit if the stock or fund does well. For instance, historically, stocks have been shown to be one of the best ways to build wealth over time. However, there is also risk involved, and you could lose money if the investment performs poorly.

TIPS, or Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, are also a type of government bond designed to protect investors from inflation. The principal amount of a TIPS bond will increase with inflation, while the interest payments remain fixed. I Bonds are similar to TIPS but offer additional protection against deflation.

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8. It’s Hard to Predict an I Bond’s Return Over Time

To maximize your return on investment when purchasing I Bonds, it is essential to understand the differences between the two interest rate components of the bond, and how they can play out over time.

I Bonds offer a fixed interest rate, which remains the same for the life of the bond, and the inflation-protection component, which adjusts with changes in inflation rates twice per year.

So if you buy an I Bond, the composite rate would be the same for the first six months after the issue date. After that, your rate would adjust with the current inflation rate. If inflation goes up, so would the rate of return. If inflation goes down, the bond’s inflation rate would likewise decrease.

And if you hold onto your I Bond for 10, 20, or 30 years, you would likely see some years with higher inflation rates and some years with lower inflation rates.

9. You Must Meet Certain Criteria to Buy an I Bond

To be eligible to buy I Bonds you must be:

•   A United States citizen, no matter where you live,

•   A United States resident, or

•   A civilian employee of the United States, no matter where you live.

Also, investors can only purchase I Bonds with U.S. funds. You cannot buy them with foreign currency.

The Takeaway

If you’re looking for a generally safe and reliable investment option, I Bonds may be worth considering. They offer tax breaks and other benefits that can make them a low- risk choice for your long-term savings goals. That said, because I Bonds come with a composite rate of return, it’s hard to predict how much your money will actually earn over time.

With I Bonds, your principal is guaranteed. If you buy a $1,000 I Bond, no matter what happens, you will get your $1,000 back.

If you’re interested in savings vehicles, there are alternatives to government bonds, including savings accounts with a higher APY (annual percentage yield). By exploring your options, you can choose the best option — or options — for you.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


Photo credit: iStock/Bilgehan Tuzcu

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Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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4.60% APY
SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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Understanding Pivot Points

Pivot Point: What It Is and How to Use It in Trading

Pivot points are technical indicators that average the intraday high, low, and closing price from the previous trading period. Based on the price movements the following day, traders can use the pivot point to identify support and resistance levels.

If the price moves above the primary pivot point, it may signal a bullish trend; if it moves below the pivot point, it may indicate a bearish trend. Thus, pivot points can help inform a decision to buy or sell stocks.

When used alongside other common technical indicators, identifying pivot points can be part of an effective trading strategy. Pivot points are regarded as being important indicators for day traders.

What Is a Pivot Point?

Pivot points got their start during the time when traders gathered on the floor of stock exchanges. Calculating a pivot point using yesterday’s data gave these traders a price level to watch for throughout the day.

While other technical indicators, such as oscillators or moving averages, fluctuate constantly throughout the day, the pivot point remains static.

Analysts consider the main or primary pivot point to be the most important. This point indicates the price at which bullish and bearish forces tend to break one way or the other — that is, the price where sentiment tends to pivot from.

Pivot point calculations are considered leading indicators, and are often used in tandem with other common technical indicators. Today, traders around the world use pivot points, particularly in the forex and equity markets.

Two Ways to Use Pivot Points

But there are different ways to use pivot points. One way is to use the pivot point to help identify the trend. Again, when prices move above the pivot point, this could be considered bullish; prices falling below the pivot point could be considered bearish.

Traders can also use pivot points to set entry and exit points for trades. All things being equal, a trader might want to set a stop loss order around the support level, the price at which a downtrend generally turns around, or a limit order to buy shares if the price goes above a resistance level, generally the upper limit of the price range.

💡 Quick Tip: Before opening an investment account, know your investment objectives, time horizon, and risk tolerance. These fundamentals will help keep your strategy on track and with the aim of meeting your goals.

Get up to $1,000 in stock when you fund a new Active Invest account.*

Access stock trading, options, auto investing, IRAs, and more. Get started in just a few minutes.


*Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $25 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%. See full terms and conditions.

How to Calculate Pivot Points

The PP is vital for the pivot point formula as a whole. It’s essential for traders to exercise caution when calculating the pivot-point level; because if this calculation is done incorrectly, the other levels will not be accurate.

The formula for calculating the PP is:

Pivot Point (PP) = (Daily High + Daily Low + Close) Divided by 3

To make the calculations for pivot points, it’s necessary to have a chart from the previous trading day. This is where you can get the values for the daily low, daily high, and closing prices. The resulting calculations are only relevant for the current day.

Recommended: How to Know When to Buy Stocks

What Are Resistance and Support Levels in Pivot Points?

Traders track price patterns in order to decide when to enter and exit trades. This may require using more than one support or resistance level in order to ascertain a trend. Support refers to the lower end of the price, where the price generally stops falling and turns around. Resistance is the upper end, where the price generally stops rising and begins to dip.

The numerals R1, R2, R3 and S1, S2, S3 refer to the resistance (R) and support (S) levels used to calculate pivot points. These six numbers combined with the primary pivot-point (PP) level form the seven metrics needed to determine pivot points.

•   Resistance 1 (R1): First pivot level above the PP

•   Resistance 2 (R2): First pivot level above R1, or second pivot level above PP

•   Resistance 3 (R3): First pivot level above R2, or third pivot level above the PP

•   Support 1 (S1): First pivot level below the PP

•   Support 2 (S2): First pivot level below the S1, or the second below the PP

•   Support 3 (S3): First pivot level below the S2, or the third below the PP

Pivot Point Formulas

All the formulas for R1-R3 and S1-S3 include the basic PP level value. Once the PP has been calculated, you can move on to calculating R1, R2, S1, and S2:

R1 = (PP x 2) – Daily Low
R2 = PP + (Daily High – Daily Low)
S1 = (PP x 2) – Daily High
S2 = PP – (Daily High – Daily Low)

At this point, there are only two more levels to calculate: R3 and S3:

R3 = Daily High + 2 x (PP – Daily Low)
S3 = Daily Low – 2 x (Daily High – PP)

How Are Weekly Pivot Points Calculated?

Pivot points are most commonly used for intraday charting. But you can chart the same data for a week, if you needed to. You just use the values from the prior week, instead of day, as the basis for calculations that would apply to the current week.

Types of Pivot Points

There are at least four types of pivot points, including the standard ones. Their variations make some changes or additions to the basic pivot-point calculations to bring additional insight to the price action.

Standard Pivot Points

These are the most basic pivot points. Standard pivot points begin with the primary pivot point, which is the average of the high, low, and closing prices from a previous trading period. The support and resistance levels can be calculated from there, as noted above.

Fibonacci Pivot Points

Fibonacci projections — named after a well-known mathematical sequence — help identify support and resistance levels. The percentage levels that follow represent potential areas of a trend change. Most commonly, these percentage levels are 23.6%, 38.2%, 50.0%, 61.8%, and 78.6%.

Technical analysts believe that when an asset falls to one of these levels, the price might stall or reverse. Fibonacci projections work well in conjunction with pivot points because both aim to identify levels of support and resistance in an asset’s price.

Woodie’s Pivot Point

The Woodie’s pivot point places a greater emphasis on the closing price of a security. The calculation varies only slightly from the standard formula for pivot points.

Demark Pivot Points

Demark pivot points create a different relationship between the open and close price points, using the numeral X to calculate support and resistance, and to emphasize recent price action.

💡 Quick Tip: When you’re actively investing in stocks, it’s important to ask what types of fees you might have to pay. For example, brokers may charge a flat fee for trading stocks, or require some commission for every trade. Taking the time to manage investment costs can be beneficial over the long term.

How Might Traders Interpret Pivot Points?

A trader might read a pivot point as they would any other level of support or resistance. Traders generally believe that when prices break out beyond a support or resistance level, there’s a good chance that the trend will continue for some time.

•   When prices fall beneath support, this could indicate bearish sentiment, and the decline could continue.

•   When prices rise above resistance, this could indicate bullish sentiment, and the rise could continue.

•   Pivot points can also be used to draw trend lines in attempts to recognize bigger technical patterns.

The Takeaway

The pivot-point indicator is a key tool in technical stock analysis. This pricing technique is best used along with other indicators on short, intraday trading time frames. This indicator is thought to render a good estimate as to where prices could “pivot” in one direction or another.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.

FAQ

How are weekly pivot points calculated?

Pivot points can be applied to any time frame, simply by adjusting the period. To calculate a weekly pivot point you can use the values from the prior week, instead of day, as the basis for calculations that would apply to the current week.

How accurate are pivot points?

While no technical analysis tool is guaranteed, pivot points are generally considered among the more accurate in terms of helping traders gauge support and resistance levels, and market trends overall.

Do professional traders use pivot points?

Professional traders do use pivot points, but usually in combination with other types of technical analysis — depending on the trade they want to make.


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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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