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Contra Guys: The role of ‘stink bids’ in the chase for higher returns

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One goal of the stock investment game is that old mantra, "buy low and sell high." Even better, all other things being equal, is to buy lower and sell higher. Naturally that increases returns. "Stink bids" can help make that happen.

A stink bid is simply entering an offer so far below the current price that under most circumstances it probably will not be filled. But sometimes that order dangling in cyberspace gets taken when the stock price dips or dives.

One way to achieve a higher percentage of stink bids is to inspect the sizing. This is the various bid and ask prices and the number of shares desired or offered at each price point. Sometimes there can be a disparity where bids can be lined up pennies apart and then there is a wide gap to the next price point. If the quantities desired are not large, it becomes more reasonable that an order placed a penny higher than one a distance down the ladder, so to speak, might be achieved.

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Let's take a look at Brick Brewing , a stock that we wrote about in July, 2015. Benj acquired his position in 2008 at an average price of 25 cents, when there was talk of bankruptcy. He sold 25 per cent of it at $1.46 in 2012. Currently, it trades around $3.25.

If he was looking to acquire it now, which isn't the case by any means, there would be a careful study of the sizing. As this is being written there is a bid for 1,100 shares at $3.15 and another 4,500 hundred shares at various prices through to $3.06. The next bid is for 5,000 shares at $3.05. In this instance, a bid of $3.06 seems to be called for, although often it is better to get even "stinkier," so to speak, that is, bidding even lower. (This bid information you can access fairly easily, but depending on your broker you might have to pay for it.)

One problem with a stink bid is that, as mentioned, often they do not get filled. So, if a person is super keen on owning a position, the unhappy end result might be nada. But if one is less anxious to own a stock, or simply willing to float the lowball offer and then perhaps adjust it in a timely way, it can ultimately work out well.

In the game that Benj plays, where most stocks are purchased at the end of the year during tax loss season, he will sometimes place bottom-feeder bids early and, if unsuccessful, fine-tune the price point upward as appears necessary. However, he will not "chase" a stock and has a predetermined limit on what he is willing to pay.

While saving a dime on a $20 stock has less meaning, buying one with a stink bid of $3.06 on a stock trading at $3.25 means a saving of 6.2 per cent. That is quite a bit from this vantage point. Call it exceedingly worthwhile. And when the stock approaches Benj's sell price, it can also be beneficial to be patient and offer it at a high strike price to gain a further edge. Again, a few percentage points can be gained.

What is the strategy with Brick now? Well, hot, humid summers (like the one this year) encourage people to drink beer and the other quench-thirsting products that Brick produces. It would not surprise to see the next quarterly results feature record revenues and income. That might get more investors to hop on the Brick bandwagon and boost the stock price further.

While our modus operandi is to focus on potential gains of 100 per cent-plus when buying stocks, achieving that is partially dependent on adding smaller percentages to the mix. Stink bids can help accomplish that score.

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Benj Gallander and Ben Stadelmann are co-editors of Contra the Heard Investment Letter.

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