Terms Beginning With 'l'

Leverage

Leverage is defined as the use of fixed costs in a company’s cost structure, and it is typically directly proportional to the fixed cost and inversely proportional to the variable cost.

Financial analysts typically measure the fixed cost of a company to calculate its leverage as it often acts as a fulcrum for the company’s earnings.

The use of leverage typically magnifies the earnings of a company in both the positive side and the negative side; thus, in turn, increases the average risk of a company.

Leverage as a financial tool is typically used by both investors and companies to magnify the return profile of an investment.

Why is Understanding Leverage Important?

Leverage is a financial tool studied in capital budgeting analysis as the extent of leverage is a major deciding factor in determining the risk and return profile.

Furthermore, financial analysts typically discern information to reach a recommendation of buy/sell/hold by analysing management’s discussion on its operating and financial leverage.

Additionally, the valuation process requires the forecast of future cash flows while assessing the risk concerning the same and understanding the leverage for doing the same is a vital process.

Leverage

The use of leverage ideally increases the volatility of future cash flows; thus, it is a decisive factor in determining the risk as well. The leverage of a company ideally depends on the amount of fixed cost (or debt).

For example, suppose there are two companies A and B with the following cost structure:

While the business profile of both the companies in terms of accounting numbers look alike, the Company A uses a higher operating and financial leverage as compared to Company B with Company A having a high fixed operating and financial cost as compared to Company B.

Thus, the net income and future cash flow for Company A would vary considerably as compared to Company B with the change in the number of units produced.

For example, If Company A produces only 50,000 units, its operating income would fall in turn into a loss of $200,000 as compared to Company B, whose earning would just come to $0 with the same number of unit produced, i.e., 50,000 from 100,000.

The higher variability in the net income of Company A with respect to the number of units produced/sold is relatively very high as its fixed costs, i.e., fixed operating cost and fixed financing cost are relatively high as compared to Company B.

Business Risks and Degree of Operating Leverage

Busines risk of a company is ideally defined as the risk associated with operating earnings and is usually subdivided into two major categories, i.e., sales risk and operating risk.

Sales risk is the risk that a company would face concerning the price and quantity of the goods and services.

Going back to the above example, Company A and B both faced the sales risk scenario with the decline in the number of units sold when the net income for Company A turned into a loss of $200,000, and the net income for Company B reached $0.

Operating risk is ideally identified as the risk concerning the operating cost of a company, in particular, the fixed cost.

Operating risk is directly proportional to the fixed operating cost and is inversely proportional to the variable operating cost.

Understand Operating Leverage here:

In simple terms, companies having a high fixed operating cost cannot adjust to the change in the number of units/service sold; thus, are more susceptible to volatility in operating earnings.

The volatility in operating income with regards to the change in the number of units sold and fixed operating cost could be measured by the Degree of Operating Leverage (or DOL).

DOL could be defined as the ratio of the percentage change in operating income with the percentage change in unit sold.

Financial Risk and Degree of Financial Leverage

Just like operating risk, the financial risk is the reflection on the fixed financing cost and more the fixed (debt) obligations a company has to pay, the more would be its financial risk.

Financial risk can also be quantified in the same way as the operating risk in terms of the Degree of Financial Leverage (or DFL).

DFL is defined as the ratio of the percentage change in net income to the percentage change in operating income.

As financial leverage is more dependent upon the discretion of a company as compared to the operating leverage, that usually remains same for companies in an industry group, companies with higher tangible assets to total assets might be able to use higher Degree of Financial Leverage.

In simple terms, having more tangible assets provide creditors with higher confidence of recovery in case of a default, allowing them to extend large amounts to such companies.

Total Leverage

Total leverage of a company is the function of its operating leverage and financial leverage. The quantified factor which captures the same is the Degree of Total Leverage (or DTL).

DTL could be defined as the ratio of the percentage change in net income to the percentage change in the numbers of unit sold.

In the recent past, the absolute return approach of Investing has turned out to be one of the fastest-growing investment strategies worldwide. A lot of financial advisors talk about such investments providing absolute returns. So, what exactly are the “Absolute Returns” and are they are promising? What is meant by Absolute return? Absolute return computes the increase or decrease, in an asset over a period of time, as a proportion of the original investment amount. The focus here is only on that specific asset or portfolio and not related market events. Absolute returns only consider the price movement for any specified time period. Absolute return, reckons an investment’s performance without considering the expanse of time for which investment was committed. Absolute returns can be computed for a quarter, semi- annual, annual period, 3-year duration or more. Absolute Returns are independent of Market movements and thus do not draw relative comparisons. It is one of the most commonly used investment performance metric in Hedge Funds and Mutual Funds. How to compute Absolute return? Suppose an investor Mr. Rich, invested AUD 50,000 5 years back, and the current value of his investment is AUD 75,000. The Absolute return on Mr. Rich’s investment would be 50 %, calculated using- Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media Pty Ltd Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media Pty Ltd So, Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media Pty Ltd Absolute returns are just returns from point of time to other. The notion of an 'absolute return' seems very attractive to get investors’ attention as it ignores the relative market movement and promises an appreciation with zero correlation to markets. Anyhow, Absolute Return technique of computing investment yields is an apt way of calculating return on investment, predominantly in the early stages. There are numerous other types of return metrics an investor can look for later on. Major 4 types mattering most to investors being –  Absolute Return, Relative Return, Total Return & CAGR. What is the difference between Absolute Return, Relative Return, Total Return & CAGR? Absolute return refers to the gain/ loss in a single investment asset/ portfolio but to comprehend how their investments are acting relative to various market yardsticks, relative return is taken into consideration.   Relative return is the excess or deficit an asset achieves over a timeframe matched to a market index. Benchmark Return – Absolute return, gives the Relative return also called sometimes as alpha. Example, if S&P index gives a 10% return during a given period and one’s investment portfolio gives an absolute return of 12% then relative return on investment is positive/ excess 2%. Total returns take into account the effect of intermittent incomes as well as dividends. For example, in an equity investment of AUD 200 having current value AUD 240, the company also declares a dividend of AUD 10 during the year. Total returns will take into account this $10 dividend too. Thus, Total returns on the investment of AUD 200 now will be 25.00% = {(240+10-200)/200} x 100 Absolute and Total returns are easy to calculate as performance metrics, but the real challenge is when comparisons are drawn based on time period of return. Here comes in CAGR, it takes into account the term of the investment too, thus giving a more correct and comparable picture. It is computed as: CAGR (%) = Absolute Return / Investment period (equated in years) Consider for example, two investment options: One where investor earns absolute returns of 10% in 24 months and another where investor earns 5% absolute returns in 9-month duration. So, CAGR would be- For option one: CAGR = 5.00% i.e.  10%/2 (24 months/12 months is equals to 2 years) For option two: CAGR = 6.66% i.e. 5%/0.75 (9 months/12 months is equals to 0.75 years) What’s wrong with just measuring investment performance using Absolute Returns? Absolute returns will only tell an investor how much his/her investments grew by; they do not tell anything about the speed at which investments grew. When people talk about their real estate investments and say, “I bought that house for X in the year 2004. It’s worth 4X today! It has quadrupled in 17 years.” This is an application of absolute return. The drawback here is that it takes into account only the capital appreciation and doesn’t draw comparison with options having different time horizons. Investors can rely on this measure of investment performance only if they are looking for higher returns, without bothering how fast they were generated. Absolute return also doesn’t convey much about an investment compared to relative markets. Then, why do Hedge Fund/ Mutual Fund Managers choose an Investment strategy based on Absolute returns? Absolute returns should be used at times when investors are willing to shoulder some risk in exchange for a prospective to earn excess returns. This is irrespective of the timeframe and Fund administrators who measure portfolio performance in relation of an absolute return typically aim to develop a portfolio that is spread across asset categories, topography, and economic phases. They are looking for below mentioned points in their portfolios- Positive returns- An absolute returns approach of investment targets at producing positive returns at all costs, irrespective of the upside & downside market movements. Independent of yardsticks- The returns are in absolute terms and not in comparison to a benchmark yield or a market index. Diversification of portfolio- With the intention of distribution of risk, among different investment options producing positive returns in diverse ways a mixed bag of absolute return assets give a diversified investment portfolio. Less volatility- The total risk of investment is spread across the different asset held in such a portfolio. Ensuring less overall volatility in collective returns. Actively adjustable to market movements– Usually, investments look for positive returns with zero market correlation. Market shares a negative correlation with absolute return investments and vice versa. In any investment atmosphere, there are varied investment strategies and goals. Absolute return investment strategies are looking to avoid systemic risks using unconventional assets and derivatives, short selling, arbitrage and leverage. It is appropriate for investors who are prepared to bear risk for short and long-term gains.

What is Data Analytics?  Data Analytics involves a set of quantitative and qualitative approaches and processes that can be used to determine useful information for business decision-making. The process involves various patterns and techniques, including: extracting a raw database, and categorising it to identify and analyse the behaviour, relation and connection of the results.  The ultimate goal is to acquire valuable information in order to make decisions for businesses’ benefit and productivity.  In today's competitive times, most companies chalk out their business plan with the help of data analytics. With organisations becoming customer-service oriented, data analytics has become a critical tool to reach the target audience in an effective manner while understanding their requirements. Once data is collected, it is analysed and stored according to organisations’ requirements.  The data analysis process has multiple layers involved, and its diverse modules are not just used in businesses but also in science and social science fields. Rather than making decisions based on just available information, one can utilise data analytics in examining the data in standard ways and churning out the results from it.  It has been observed that companies generally make decisions based on past references and future outcomes. Data analytics appears advantageous in providing useful information towards this end.  Why do Businesses Need to Use Data Analytics?  Many data analytics’ tools and softwares are readily available these days. These systems use resources, such as machine learning algorithms and automation.   Data scientists and analysts are counted amongst the leading career options as well. These professionals use data analytics techniques while researching and presenting useful information for businesses to increase productivity and gain. The process helps companies understand their target audience and determine effective ways to cater to their needs. Data analytics can further be used to design strategies in marketing campaigns and promotions and also evaluate its results.  Data analytics is primarily used in business-to-consumer (B2C) processes to boost business performance and improve the bottom line. There are data collection firms which gather consumer information and provide it to the businesses so that the companies can effectively influence the market. The collected data is not only used to understand and impact consumer behaviour but also determine market economics and its practical implementation.  The data used in the process can be either be data collected in the past or newly updated data. There are various methods to manage consumer and market information. It may come directly from the customers or potential customers or can be purchased from the data collection vendors. The data primarily includes audience demographics, behavioural patterns and expense threshold.  How Can Data Analytics be Effectively Used in Business Processes? Data analytics is an ever-evolving technique. Earlier, the data was collected manually, but with the rise of internet and technology, data is now collected online with the help of search engines and social media platforms. Subsequently, the information is analysed through available software.  Here is a list of some key steps businesses can follow to leverage the benefits of data analytics: Set up crucial metrics: This step reduces the guesswork and provide data-based insights to the businesses. Before embarking on the data analytics process, it is vital to determine the goal for your business. Analysing customer data helps in understanding conversion rate, consumer spending ability, demographics etc. The results of the analysis can support the businesses while making decisions in launching an advertising or marketing campaign. Similarly, the unwanted data can be erased from the database so that the brands can focus on their right target audience. The relevant metrics will change the course of the company and push it in the right direction. Moreover, once your key metrics are set, even when the market conditions change in the future, you can adjust the metrics according to the requirement and achieve the results. Set a clear module: It is important to examine the data correctly by avoiding common mistakes. An ambiguous path can produce confusing insights while wasting time and energy of businesses.  Therefore, it is recommended to draw a clear goal in order to achieve actionable insights. The data, when collected from different sources, need to be merged accurately in the analytics model. Businesses can modulate their data analytics systems either manually or through automation. There are various data modelling practices available in the market. The best use of these techniques can simplify the process of modelling complex data.  Data visualisation: Once the relevant data is collected, and the modules are set to analysis, visualisation of that data will assist in understanding the information correctly. When the businesses have an acute knowledge of what their target audience wants, they can then focus on strategising advertisement and content, which matches the consumers' interest.  It is the critical step in the data analytics process to distinguish insights from information.  Not everyone is comfortable dealing with numbers. Hence, ensuring that key stakeholders understand essential points and information can be displayed in a visually appealing format seem crucial to capitalise on data effectively. Right tools to implement insights:Having access to data and insights can get overwhelming. However, the information is worthless if the businesses are unable to implement it successfully. While it is important to collect the data and set critical metrics and modules to analyse it, it is also imperative to translate the data into practical actions. The eventual goal is to improve sales or grow profits. It is ultimately in the marketers' hands to transform the gained insights into a successful implementation. The consumers' insights should be incorporated while establishing a marketing plan and at all decision-making steps. 

What is Day Trading? Day trading is popular among a section of market participants. It is a type of speculation wherein trades are squared-off before the market close in the same day. An individual or a group is engaged in buying and selling of securities for a short period for profits, the trades could be active for seconds, minutes or hours.  One can engage in day trading of many securities in the market. Anyone who has sufficient capital to fund the purchase can engage in day trading. For a class of people, day trading is a full-time job.  Day traders are agnostic to the long-term implications of the security and motive is to benefit from the price changes on either side and make profit out of the asset price fluctuations within a day. They bet on price movements of the security and are not averse to take short positions to benefit from the fall in price.  Day trading is not only popular among individuals or retail traders but institutional traders as well, therefore the price movements are large sometimes depending on the magnitude of information flow and accessibility.  Everyone wants to make money faster, and many are inclined to speculate in markets, but it comes with considerable risk and potential loss of capital. People engaged in day trading also incur losses, and oftentimes outcomes are disheartening.  Day trading is a risky activity, similar to sports betting and gambling, and it could become addictive just like gambling and sports betting. Since the motive is to earn profits, the profits realised from day trading also tempt people to continue speculating.  People spend considerable time and efforts to make the most out of day trading. They have to continuously absorb and incorporate information flow, which has become increasingly accessible driven by new-age communications systems like Twitter, Facebook, forums etc. But not only information flows have been favourable, day traders are now equipped with best in class infrastructure to execute trades even on compact devices like mobile phones. The accessibility to markets is at a paramount level and gone are days of phone call trading and lack of information flows.  What are the essentials for Day Trading? Basic knowledge of markets With lack of basic knowledge of markets, day trading may yield unacceptable outcomes. It becomes imperative for people to know what’s on the stake. Prospective day traders should know about capital markets, and the securities traded in capital markets like bonds, equity and derivatives.  Buying shares and expecting a return from the price movements are on the to-do list for many. However, it is important to know about and risks and potential returns from speculating in capital markets.  After getting some basic knowledge about markets and securities, aspiring day traders should know how to analyse market prices of securities through fundamental analysis and technical analysis. Although day traders don’t practice fundamental analysis extensively, they spend considerable time to apply technical analysis, to formulate a entry and exit strategy.   Device and internet connection Trading is now possible on mobile applications as well as computer applications or websites. An aspiring day trader will likely begin with mobile phone given the accessibility, and laptops/computers are useful as scale grows larger and complex.  Internet connection is prerequisite to practising day trading, and it is favourable to have a fast internet connection to avoid glitches and potential problems. These perquisites are now available with large sections of societies.  Broker and trading platform A broker will facilitate a market for potential trades. The security brokerage industry has also seen a profound shift as technology has driven cost lower while competition is ramping up across jurisdictions. Large retail brokerages have moved towards zero commission trading in the U.S., and the same is seen being the trend across other geographies as well.  The entry of discount and online brokerages has perhaps given wings to the retail market participants as well as the retail market for security brokers. Robinhood has grown immensely popular in the United States, but there are many firms like Robinhood in other jurisdictions. Each country has some firms with business model on same lines as Robinhood.  Brokers now offer high-quality mobile applications and web services to clients, and trading security has never been so accessible. They also provide access to the global market along with a range of securities, including commodity derivatives, currency derivatives, CFDs, options, futures, bond futures etc.  Real-time market information flow   On public sources, market price information is at times not live due technical shortcomings, which will not work appropriately, especially for day traders. Brokers not only provide platform and market but several other services, including margin lending, real-time data, research.  Day traders closely track prices of securities and overall information flow to incorporate developments in bidding, and real-time data provides accurate prices throughout market hours.  Information flow largely relates to the news around the company, industry or economy. Day traders now have far better sources of information than the conventional sources, and sometimes these sources could be exclusive to a group.  What are the risks of day trading? Most of the aspiring day traders end up losing money, given the lack of experience and knowledge. They should rather only bet on capital that they are comfortable to loose, in short, they should avoid risk of ruin. Day trading is sort of pure-play speculation and application of knowledge, information flow, laced with good trading system is paramount. The only concern of day traders is movement in price, which contradicts from investments. Day traders try to time and ride the momentum in the price and exit the trade before momentum turns otherwise, which can happen frequently.  It consumes considerable time and induces stress on the individuals given the nature of security prices, which can move north and south abruptly throughout the day, hours, minutes and seconds. Day traders should have enough capital to trade in cash instead of margin.  Day trading on margin or borrowed money is extremely risky and has the potential to make a person insolvent, especially in cases of extreme risk-taking. The leverage associated with borrowed money magnifies profits as well as losses.  Aspiring day traders should equip themselves with adequate knowledge, competency and sound risk management process. Although fast money is dear to most, it is better to know what is at stake before jumping into markets with excitement.   

What is earnest money? Earnest money refers to a sum of money that is paid by the buyer to the seller as a form of reassurance of future payments during the sale of a house. Paying earnest money is also beneficial to the buyer because it gives him leverage to arrange the remaining funds. Earnest money can be deposited via a direct home deposit, an escrow account or in the form of good faith money. How does earnest money work? Earnest money is paid before closing on a house sale. When the seller and buyer come to an agreement on the house sale, the seller must take the house off the market. Earnest money serves the purpose of assuring the seller that the deal would not fall through. The amount paid as earnest money is usually 1-3% of the total sale value of the house. Most sellers prefer to hold earnest money in an escrow account. In case the deal does not materialize, the money can be given back to the buyer directly from the escrow account. This removes the concerns any buyer may have about whether the money would be returned by the seller or not. In case the buyer and seller go ahead with the sale, the earnest money becomes a part of the down payment. Thus, the buyer would only pay the remaining amount of the down payment. However, in case the agreement does not materialize between the buyer and the seller, the earnest money is returned to the buyer after deducting the escrow fees from it. With money locked in on one house, buyers are less likely to close a deal with any other house seller. How is the amount of earnest money decided upon? The percentage of the total amount that can be taken as earnest money varies from state to state as policies are different. Additionally, the market scenario is also a major factor affecting the amount of earnest money to be paid. Under normal conditions, 1-2% of the total sale value can be taken as earnest money. However, if the market does not have a high demand for houses, then the percentage charged as earnest money could be lower around 1%. In markets with high demand, this percentage could be as high as 3%, or even 5%. To outbid other buyers, one can pay a larger sum of money as earnest money. This would increase the buyer’s chances of securing the property. Why is earnest money important? Earnest money may not always be mandated by the seller, but in a highly competitive market earnest money may be necessarily required. Paying the earnest money makes the agreement official. Without earnest money, the deal may not be considered official in many regions. It is one of the four stages of payment while making a deal on a house. However, in certain instances, even after the payment of the earnest money, the deal may not materialize. Typically, a buying agent should be able to assist the buyer in such a case. What conditions must be met for earnest money to be refundable? Earnest money has certain contingencies attached to it for the protection of both the seller and the buyer. Even after the seller has accepted the earnest money deposit, there are certain contingencies that must be met before the deal can be finalized. These include the following: Home inspection contingency: This contingency is placed so that buyers can back out of the agreement in case the there are some faults in the property, and it is in need of repair. However, it is not necessary for the buyer to call off the deal in such a case. He can simply work with the seller to reach a mutual decision rather than scraping away the deal completely. Financing Contingency: It might be the case that a buyer had not been approved for a mortgage before making the earnest deposit. Here the financing contingency would protect the buyer. If the mortgage does not get approved even though the earnest money had been paid, then the financing contingency allows the buyer to walk away from the deal along with the refunded earnest money. Appraisal Contingency: This protects the buyer in case the property has been overvalued. Here the lender can hire a third-party investigator who can examine whether the property has been priced at a fair value or not. If the value of the house comes out to be higher than the fair value, then the buyer can walk away with a refund. Additionally, this contingency can be used to bring down the price of the sale too. Contingency for Selling the Existing home: It is quite possible that contracts are made based on whether the buyer can sell an existing home or not. If the buyer is unable to sell the existing home, then he can walk away with a refund. These contingencies can be waived by the buyer in case he is sure that the deal would close and there would be no backing off. However, it is important to note that contingencies can provide an extra cushion against adverse circumstances and they might come in handy in certain cases. What is the difference between earnest money and good faith deposit? Both terms can be used interchangeably. However, all good faith deposits are not the same as earnest money. A good faith deposit can be made directly to the mortgage lender, while earnest money is usually held in an escrow account. Both serve the purpose if providing a sense of security about the buyer sticking to the same deal and not going elsewhere. The good faith deposit eventually forms a part of the lending process. However, in case the deal does not materialize, it is possible that the borrower would not get his good faith deposit back.

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