Herald JournalHerald Journal, Oct. 11, 2004

NG native writes ‘fun’ books about low-risk investment techniques

By Jenni Sebora

Fun and the stock market don’t usually go hand in hand, but for book author Ronald Groenke, the two subjects are his specialty.

Groenke is the son of late Anna and Robert Groenke, who lived on a farm outside of New Germany.

The little farm boy went from working as a computer software specialist with NASA to authoring books and becoming an authority on low-risk investment techniques.

Groenke grew up in New Germany and attended elementary school at St. Mark’s, where he met his future bride of 41 years, Vergeane Stender. He then attended Central High School in Norwood.

It was at Central High School that his ninth grade algebra teacher told him, “Learn all you can about computers, it’s the wave of the future.”

That advice set him on a path, obtaining a degree in mathematics with distinction from the University of Minnesota, and specializing in data communications and software engineering.

That background enabled Groenke to work at General Mills as a computer programmer, and then at Sperry Univac, where he worked on communications software for NASA for the tracking of Apollo spacecraft.

But on a business trip in 1986, a colleague introduced Groenke to options trading.

“A colleague and I were on a plane going to a meeting, and I noticed how busy he was with the Wall Street Journal and his calculator. I asked what he was up to, and then it was revealed to me. He was looking at the premiums he could get by selling calls on his NCR stock. The next day, I investigated what was required to sell these calls, and found out how easy it was.”

“A covered call is an option you sell which allows someone to buy your stock at a predetermined price until some future time. You get a premium up-front when you sell the call and have the cash immediately available,” Groenke said.

Groenke took a risk and joined a start-up data communications company, Comten, in St. Paul, where he worked for 25 years, eventually becoming vice president of development and engineering.

In 1981, Comten was purchased by NCR, and in 1991, by AT&T. AT&T wanted to change the direction of communication, and basically dismantled Comten. In 1999, as part of the front end executive team, Groenke was offered a retirement and severance package at the age of 49. He took it and became an option trader, with less stress than that of corporate life, and hasn’t looked back since.

Options trading allowed Groenke to retire to Marco Island in southwest Florida, where he and his wife moved six years ago.

After moving to Marco Island, Groenke joined a rotary club, where he gave a speech on his background, and then was asked to be their next monthly speaker on the topic of options trading. After this presentation, Wade Keller from Keller Publishing, approached Groenke about writing a book on the material he had covered.

Keller and Groenke worked together and co-authored “The Money Tree: Risk Free Options Trading,” which was published in 2002 and was very successful.

Groenke was asked to write a follow-up book, which led him to his newest publication in June 2004, “Covered Calls and Naked Puts.”

The book is done in a novel format with one character, a retired professor named Greene, who through weekly assignments, taught another character how to write covered calls, naked puts, and perform good stock option selections. The story takes place on Marco Island.

“Stock market reading is dry material, and I wanted people to have some fun reading, but also to learn about performing stock and option selections in a more easily understood manner,” Groenke said. Groenke has received e-mails and comments from numerous readers saying they have enjoyed reading the book, and have learned a lot from it.

Groenke wrote the book because he thought it would be fun, and he wanted to allow average investors to take advantage of something that could improve their investment returns and well being, he said.

Groenke continues to give optional talks to other organizations in Florida and Minnesota and has made many people aware of what is possible with options.

He has also developed some software programs dealing with stock and option selections that are available at www.kellerpublishing.com

Groenke encourages people to go to the web site and download the demo software.

In his spare time, Groenke and his wife enjoy traveling to visit their three children and four grandchildren.

Groenke has shared his financial knowledge and experience on the radio, television, and in the newspaper. He has been on NBC and CBS TV, as well as hosting a Fort Meyers/Naples local news segment on investing.

His voice has been heard on the Naples Gulf Radio 98.9 FM morning one-hour investment show several times, and on the national radio show “Money Matters.”

The Naples Daily News, Marco Island Sun Times, Marco Island Eagle, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Waconia Patriot, and Norwood Times have written articles about him and his financial experience and knowledge.

He has been the recipient of the NCR Laureate Award in recognition of major product development contributions and excellence in engineering.

Groenke would like to be known as a person who helps average investors earn income on their portfolios.

Through his book and other media coverage, he’s trying to educate people on how to do something with their stock that will generate a very nice financial return.

“I try to teach people to go for the singles and doubles in investing, instead of the homeruns,” Groenke said. “It’s the singles and doubles that win ball games. My gratification is knowing that I have helped someone out there into having a better life.”

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