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Penny Stock Basics

Don’t Short These Penny Stocks

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 5/31/2022 5 min read

Why would anyone short-sell a $0.07 stock?

I still can’t believe that people accuse me of this.

All of my trades are posted for anyone to see RIGHT HERE.

On Friday, promoters accused me of shorting Sysorex Inc. (OTC: SYSX).

Does it matter that I performed the trade LIVE & IN-PERSON at the trading summit in Austin, TX with one my top students, Roland Wolf?

Apparently not because they don’t care if their lies hurt people.

Look, I NEVER want to short a sub-$0.10 stock.

Heck, I’m not real big into short-selling at all right now, and for good reason.

You see, FINRA requires you to put up $2.50 for every share of stock priced under $5.00 at a minimum that is short sold.

The rules are spelled out right here in black and white.

I want to dig a bit deeper into this issue and show you how this applies to some of my setups including the morning panic dip buy.

Margin Basics

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Very quickly, I want to cover some margin basics to give our discussion a foundation.

Whenever you hear the term ‘margin’, think of it as borrowing money from the broker.

Margin has a few purposes…

First, it allows you to day trade, even though stock transactions take three business days to settle.

The margin allows you to continue rather than wait for the transactions to complete.

Second, it allows you to use leverage. This gives you the ability to buy up to 4x the dollar value in stock than what you hold in your account. For example, I can buy $40,000 worth of stock if I have $10,000 in my account.

In order to qualify for a margin account, FINRA requires at least $2,000 in your trading account.

Most of this you’re probably familiar with.

But now come the nuances that not everyone knows…

Maintenance margin sets the minimum capital necessary for an account and is calculated as follows:

  1. 25% of the current market value of all margin securities.
  2. $2.50 per share or 100% of the current market value, whichever amount is greater, of each stock ‘short’ in the account selling at less than $5 per share.
  3. $5 per share or 30% of the current market value, whichever amount is greater, of each stock ‘short’ in the account selling at $5 per share or above.

In laymans terms, you need to put up $2.50 in capital to short-sell any stock that is priced under $5.

So, whether the stock is $4.99 or $0.09, you will still need to put up $2.50 per share for each one you want to sell short.

Effectively, that means for any stock less than $2.50, you put up more capital than the stock is worth if you want to sell it short.

Plus, your leverage for short-selling stocks under $5 is always limited to 2x.

Applying it to Trades

What do you think the odds are that someone is selling a stock short if it’s priced below $1?

Not high.

Now imagine that stock is The Very Good Food Co. Inc (NASDAQ: VGFC), which jumped 100%+ recently?

Why on earth would anyone want to short this stock after it already showed that it could double in a matter of hours?

When stocks like these, or SYSX, break important levels … you aren’t seeing a short-squeeze.

What you’re seeing is breakout traders and other buyers stepping into the name, pushing the price higher.

Typically, that means the stock has a low float. However, as VGFC illustrates, that’s not always necessary.

That’s why I’ll drop morning panic trades quickly if I don’t see volume and price push the stock higher.

You can see how I used this for two morning panic trades in SYSX on Friday…

*Past performance does not indicate future results.

These trades are my bread and butter.

Promoters come out and crash the stock every morning at the open. I step in and scoop up the shares.

In both cases, once volume started to fade, I took my profits.

The Bottom Line

While it’s possible to short penny stocks, I’d rather be on the long side. It comes with less risk and headaches as well as capital requirements.

And the more you practice, the better you get.

For those looking for a challenge, I’ve got something interesting you need to check out.

Click here to find out more.



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Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (888) 878-3621 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”