Author: Selena Maranjian

QQQ – Investing in This ETF Right Now Could Make You a Millionaire Retiree

Picture it: You want to save for retirement, and you’d like to be invested in lots of huge and growing companies like Apple, Amazon.com, Microsoft, Google parent Alphabet, and Facebook. But you don’t have that much money right now, and you don’t want to have to follow the companies that closely, as you should really do when investing in individual companies.

Here’s a solution: Park a bunch of your retirement dollars in the Invesco QQQ Trust ETF (NASDAQ:QQQ).

A sikh family is shown -- middle-aged parents and a young adult daughter.

Image source: Getty Images.

Meet the QQQ

The Invesco QQQ Trust is an exchange-traded fund (ETF) — a mutual fund-like security that trades throughout the day like a stock, and in which you can buy as little as one share. Many mutual funds require initial investments of $3,000 or more, and many companies in which you may want to invest trade at steep prices per share: Amazon, for example, was recently trading above $3,200 per share, while Alphabet’s price topped $1,600. In contrast, one share of the Invesco QQQ Trust recently traded at about $285 per share.

What, exactly, is the QQQ? It’s an index fund based on the Nasdaq-100 index, which, as Invesco explains, “includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market based on market capitalization.” (It adds that “the Fund and the Index are rebalanced quarterly and reconstituted annually.”) The table below shows the top 10 companies in the index (and, therefore, in the ETF). As you can see, it’s weighted by market capitalization, so the biggest companies make up the lion’s share of its value.

Company

Recent Weighting in ETF

Apple

13.2%

Microsoft

10.8%

Amazon

10.7%

Alphabet

6.9%

Facebook

4.2%

Tesla

3.4%

NVIDIA

2.8%

Adobe

2%

PayPal

2%

Netflix

2%

Source: Slickcharts.com, as of Oct. 20, 2020. 

Indeed, just Apple and Microsoft together make up 24% of the fund’s value — almost a quarter of it. Add in the next four companies, and you’re at almost 50% of the fund. There’s good and bad to this: If you are excited by the prospects of the “FAANG” stocks — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google (now organized as Alphabet) — this is a quick and easy way to own all five of them, plus 95 other companies.

A downside, though, is that if one of those major holdings falters, it will have an outsized effect on the fund’s performance. And if you have high hopes for the 37th and 85th companies in the index, they are held in such small proportion that they won’t be moving the needle easily.

So the focus of the ETF is really those top few companies, and they do hold a lot of long-term promise. Consider, for example, that Alphabet not only owns Google, but also YouTube, Nest, and Waze. Facebook, meanwhile, owns Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, while Microsoft owns LinkedIn, Skype, and many other businesses. Amazon, of course, is a huge online retailer, but it’s also a major cloud-computing entity with its Amazon Web Services, which recently generated about half of the company’s operating profits. Oh, and Amazon also owns Whole Foods, Audible, IMDb, GoodReads, and Zappos, among other things.

Why the QQQ?

So can the QQQ really get you to millionaire-hood? Well, there are no guarantees in the stock investing world, but the index does have a strong track record. It came to life 21 years ago, in March of 1999, and since then it has averaged an annual growth rate of 9.1% — better than the overall Nasdaq average of 7.4% and the Russell 3000’s 6.9%. (The Russell 3000 is an index that tracks just about all of the U.S. stock market.) Over the past 10 years, the QQQ has averaged annual gains of 20.4%, versus 16.8% for the Nasdaq and 13.5% for the Russell 3000.

We can’t know how the index will perform in the coming few years or the coming 20 years, but the table below shows some possibilities if you invest $10,000 in the QQQ annually over various periods:

Growing for

Growing at 5%

Growing at 10%

Growing at 15%

10 years

$132,068

$175,312

$233,493

15 years

$226,575

$349,497

$547,175

20 years

$347,193

$630,025

$1.2 million

25 years

$501,135

$1.1 million

$2.4 million

30 years

$697,608

$1.8 million

$5 million

Source: Calculations  by author.

You may not be able to sock away $10,000 every year, and you may not average 15% or even 10% annual growth, but you’ll still likely build up considerable assets over time.

Other options — the ONEQ and the QQQJ

Of course, the QQQ is not the only index fund worth considering. You might want to go broader — or narrower — or spread your money across several indexes. You can invest in the entire Nasdaq composite index of more than 2,600 companies via any of the index mutual funds and ETFs that track it, such as the Fidelity Nasdaq Composite Index Fund (NASDAQMUTFUND:FNCMX).

Then there’s the much newer Nasdaq Next Gen 100 ETF (NASDAQ:QQQJ), focusing on the “next generation” of exciting growth stocks that exist in areas such as software-as-a-service and digital transformation. Here’s how Invesco describes the index fund: “The Invesco NASDAQ Next Gen 100 Fund … is based on the NASDAQ Next Generation 100 Index … The Index is comprised of securities of the next generation of Nasdaq-listed non-financial companies; that is, the largest 100 Nasdaq-listed companies outside of the NASDAQ-100 Index.”

Keep in mind

Be sure to not put all your eggs in any one investing bucket, unless it’s a very broad bucket, such as one that tracks the S&P 500 or the entire U.S. stock market. Sticking with index funds is a reasonable strategy, and you might include some that focus on dividend-paying stocks and international stocks, perhaps along with some bond-focused funds.

As long as you have a decade or more before you retire, you may be able to amass a lot more money than you thought — just approach it rationally, with reasonable expectations.

AAPL – 7 Things You Didn't Know About Apple

There’s a lot that most of us know about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). For example, it’s a very successful company, offering smartphones and watches, laptops and desktop computers. There’s a lot more worth knowing about Apple, though — in part because you may want to get to know the company better as a possible investment.

Here are seven interesting facts about Apple. See how many of them surprise you.

A young man is gawking at his smartphone, with his mouth ajar.

Image source: Getty Images.

No. 1: The company was recently valued at $2 trillion

Let’s start with its market capitalization, or market value. In August of 2018, Apple became the first company to be worth $1 trillion. Two years later, in August of 2020, Apple became the first company to cross the $2 trillion line, ending the month valued near $2.2 trillion. At the time of this writing, its market cap was roughly $2 trillion. To put that in perspective, the next biggest companies at that time are Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), both at $1.6 trillion, and Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), at $1 trillion.

No. 2: Apple’s stock has split five times

In late August, Apple split its stock 4-for-1, meaning that shareholders suddenly were in possession of four times as many shares, each valued at about a quarter of the pre-split price. (In other words, the total value of their shares didn’t change.) That was actually the company’s fifth split. Here’s the Apple stock-split history, showing how many shares someone who starts with 100 shares would end up with:

Split

Date

100 Shares Bought Pre-Splits Become:

2-for-1 split

June 16, 1987

200 shares

2-for-1 split

June 21, 2000

400 shares

2-for-1 split

Feb. 28, 2005

800 shares

7-for-1 split

June 9, 2014

5,600 shares

4-for-1 split

August 31, 2020

22,400 shares

Source: Yahoo! Finance, author calculations. 

No. 3: Apple sells many thousands of phones per hour

In 2018, Apple announced that it would no longer report how many phones it sold in each quarter, which would prevent analysts from figuring out average sale prices for the phones.

Prior to that, though, numbers were available, and they were eye-popping. For example, the folks at ZDNet.com looked at the company’s quarterly report for the period ending in December of 2017, when the company reported 77.3 million phones sold, and noted: “That means that for the 91 days that spanned the quarter Apple sold 849,450 iPhones a day, or 35,393 every hour, or 590 every minute. That works out at almost ten iPhones sold a second, for every second during that 91-day period. And remember that each of those iPhones sold for an average of $796.”

No. 4: Employees get generous discounts

As you might imagine, those who work for Apple get employee discounts on company offerings. That doesn’t mean that they can buy lots of discounted iPhones and Apple Watches each year to sell or give away. Here’s how the company describes its employee discount at Glassdoor.com:

Each year, employees can get a 25% discount on an iPod, iPad, or computer. Most Apple software can be purchased at a 50% discount, and AppleCare comes with a 25% discount. After 90 days on the job, employees can choose either $500 off the price of a Mac (excluding the Mini) or $250 off an iPad [this offer can be repeated every 3 years].

No. 5: Apple ships by air more than by sea

You might imagine, if a company is producing many millions of products each year outside the U.S., and most of those items need to get to the U.S. and other parts of the world, that they would be shipped by…ship.

That hasn’t been the case with growth stock Apple. It has relied significantly on air freight services, at times booking most available flights. Air transport may cost more, but it’s far faster, and that can keep products moving more directly from maker to buyer, without spending much time in transit or storage. It’s less risky, too, as spending weeks on a ship leaves products vulnerable to storms, ships sinking, and even possibly hijacking.

No. 6: Apple has hired big-time Hollywood directors

Remember Apple’s famous 1984 commercial, which debuted at the Superbowl and introduced the Macintosh personal computer? It was directed by Ridley Scott, who may be most famous for “Alien,” and who was nominated for Academy Awards for “Thelma & Louise,” “Gladiator,” “Black Hawk Down,” and “The Martian.”

No. 7: Apple takes leaks seriously

If you follow Apple, you’ll know that before major new releases, there are often some leaks disclosing details about them. As you might imagine, leaking is frowned upon by Apple — perhaps more than you think. Here’s a snippet of a memo reportedly sent to employees in 2018:

Leakers do not simply lose their jobs at Apple. In some cases, they face jail time and massive fines for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets both classified as federal crimes. In 2017, Apple caught 29 leakers. 12 of those were arrested. Among those were Apple employees, contractors and some partners in Apple’s supply chain. These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere. “The potential criminal consequences of leaking are real,” says Tom Moyer of Global Security, “and that can become part of your personal and professional identity forever.”

There’s more to know about Apple, much of it fascinating and some of it surprising.