How to Buy Stocks on the Cheap

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What if I could show you a cheaper way to buy stocks? No, not through options.

As an investment-adviser representative for Kingsview Asset Management LLC, which is state registered, I am always on the lookout for alternative products that can help my clients achieve their investment objectives. One product that can be beneficial is single stock futures. By using this innovative, but largely unknown, product, investors can "refinance" their equity positions at a lower rate.

Single stock futures, or SSFs, are an alternative vehicle to invest and trade equity products. SSFs are futures contracts on individual equities, narrow-based indices or exchange traded funds, or ETFs. A single stock futures contract held through expiration results into either stock ownership for a long position or stock delivery for a short position. An advantage over a traditional options contract is that a SSF contract can't potentially become worthless -- unless the stock goes to zero.

These products are traded on OneChicago and regulated by the CFTC and SEC. Singe stock futures may be traded in either a securities or futures account. SSF contracts executed at OneChicago are cleared and settled by the OCC, formerly known as the Options Clearing Corp. As of this writing, OneChicago lists 2,969 products, including 479 ETFs.

So how does it work?

1 SSF contract = 100 shares of stock.

The futures price is determined by taking the stock price plus interest minus dividends.

Multiple expirations with the two front months as well as the next two quarterlies.

Expirations are the third Friday of the month and, if not a business day, on the preceding business day.

There is a 20% margin requirement. Users have the ability to post Treasuries, cash or equities as collateral for funding positions.

Think about that for a minute. Regulation T in a securities account requires a 50% margin deposit. With single stock futures, you only need to put up 20% -- that leaves a lot of capital that can be invested elsewhere. In addition, when you factor in the current broker's call rate for owning stocks on margin, this cheaper alternative lowers financing costs.

Want to short a hard-to-borrow stock? With single stock futures, there's no hassle. The futures contract may be sold just like a traditional futures contract, thus initiating a short position.

Here are some additional benefits of this product. It:

Acts as a synthetic stock loan or stock borrowing through exchange of futures for physical ("EFP") transactions.

Potentially reduces funding costs for long positions and potentially increases rebates on short positions.

Serves as an alternative to swap and equity option products.

Reduces working capital, thus increasing operating cash flow.

Improves balance sheet ratios (liquidity, debt and capital ratios).

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