What does it mean to be a 'trader'?

For some investors, the term conjures up visions of men hunched over their desks surrounded by countless computer monitors, all of which are showing multiple tiny-print charts that are largely indecipherable to the average person.

For others, it means stressful, split-second decisions and involves absurdly complicated formulas.

Oh, and to many, it also means risk... big risks that typical investors might recoil from.

But is that picture really true? Is that what trading is really about?


I'll explain in a moment. But first, meet Michael J. Carr.

Michael retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force before switching careers to manage $200 million. He's done research and worked on a project that used a few simple trading techniques to help investors see bigger returns in the stock market. This is what he found.

By using the same stocks recommended by Carla Pasternak, Elliott Gue, Amy Calistri and the rest of our StreetAuthority experts (stocks that many of you may already own), Mike generated a 570% return in his decade-long test. And he did it without using complicated tools like derivatives, options or futures. It's a system that anyone can follow.

There was Mike's win on Costco (Nasdaq: COST), where his system scored 34.0%... PVR Partners (NYSE: PVR), which gained 77.9%... and Taseko Mines (NYSE: TGB) and its 241.3% gain in a little over seven months. Mike's system flagged all of these winners -- each gleaned from a StreetAuthority newsletter portfolio -- during his decade-long back-test.

In total, Mike calculated that his system turned $100,000 into $670,613 during the past decade -- 20% of which came from dividends alone. And in just the past year, his system would have earned 50.8% for investors, compared with 16.9% for the S&P 500.

I know that people want to know more, so I've asked Mike to share the details about his research to give InvestingAnswers readers the scoop.

Bob: Can you explain what exactly you discovered?

Michael: I've made a career out of trading. But I know many people think 'trading' is a dirty word. So to prove that a few simple trading techniques can help people make significantly more in the stock market, I decided to apply a system I created to the current holdings in StreetAuthority's newsletter portfolios.

By using the same stocks held by Carla, Amy, Elliott and others, the back-tested results of my system showed an annual return of 21.5% during the past decade, compared with about 7% in the S&P 500. Over the entire decade-long test period, the total return for my system was 570%.

Bob: How did you do it?

Michael: I applied a few simple trading techniques that anyone can follow.

First, I start only with stocks currently held within StreetAuthority's various portfolios. This ensures I'm focusing on the very best, most fundamentally sound investments that our experts have found.

From there, I run every holding through a test of 'relative strength.'

Relative strength simply compares the past six-months' performance of a stock with the entire market. If a stock is rising faster than 70% of the market, then it passes this part of my test.

Why focus on this? If you want to make money the fastest way possible, you want to buy stocks that are already on their way up. It's like the difference between waiting at a bus stop or hopping on a moving train.

If a stock passes this test, then I look at the strength of its cash flow per share.

Cash flow measures the amount of money coming into a business. It's the lifeblood of any company. This is the money a business uses to buy new factories, pours into research and development,or delivers back to its investors via dividends and share buybacks.

I focus on a stock only if it's seeing cash flow per share rising faster than 70% of all available stocks.

Even after accounting for relative strength and cash flow growth, my system will only rank a maximum of 10 stocks as 'buys.' Only 10 stocks from the dozens that our staff of experts recommend -- and the thousands traded on the market. That's the cream of the crop.

Bob: Doesn't 'trading' require a lot of buying and selling, not to mention racking up commissions?

Michael: Absolutely not. I think it's a misnomer anytime you mention 'trading.' Most people envision day-trading, where individuals move in an out of stocks quickly.

My back-test of this strategy registered about two trades per month during the past decade. The average holding period for a stock was 10 months. I'd be willing to bet most 'long-term' investors invest for shorter time periods than that right now.

Bob: How important are high-yield stocks to your strategy?

Michael: While my Maximum Profit system doesn't specifically look for income stocks, nearly a third of the stocks that are potential buys currently have a yield greater than 4%. Overall, more than two-thirds of the stocks that I look at pay a dividend.

What's interesting about this group of companies is that the dividends are sustainable. For the high-dividend stocks, 96% of the companies have cash flow that exceeds the dividend. Meanwhile, only 70% of stocks on the broader market that are currently paying any dividend have enough cash flow to maintain their payouts.

This means that dividends we find with this strategy are safe and companies should have the resources to keep paying them even if the economy stutters.

Want to learn more? StreetAuthority has created a new presentation that outlines everything you need to know. It has the complete details of Michael's research, more on how the system works and more about the specific winning stocks this system has found.

It's taken everyone several weeks to finalize this test and present the findings. This is the first time it's being released to the public. You can click here to see this presentation now.