Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 2013 Monthly Results

As I did in May, I will start the monthly results post with a quick look at a market benchmark for comparison purposes.  I have decided the S&P 500 index is the one I should use, since typically my stock positions will come from there.  CNN Money has the index at 18.61% year-to-date as of the Friday, 26 July close.

A quick calculation of my return on the account comes out at 10.68%, also as of the Friday close.  That compares to 7.80% when I last calculated things in May, and it compares favorably to my goal for the Rescue My IRA account of 12% annual.  I’m on track so far in 2013, and maybe a little bit ahead.

Just as in May, July has been another month where we saw the market hit some new highs – in fact, we’re on a five-week tear of weekly gains.  I had a lot of turnover in the account, finally weeding out some old shares that have under-performed against my goals, or that were downgraded and no longer meet my criteria of S$P four- and five-star shares.

As far as an overview goes, this was a great month for stock gains, just on the face of it.  However, I was using the unwinding approach that I have discussed before to increase my gains just a little – once the delta of a covered call reaches 1.00 in the contract month, you can generally buy to close the call and sell the stock outright for a little more gain.  The gains are offset by the premium used to close the call – roughly I had $5,700 in shares gains offset by $3,700 in call premiums.   

That nets to approximately $2,000 in gains, plus the dividends were about $400 combine for a pretty good month.  On a monthly basis that adds up to a 1.79% return, above my goal of an average of 1% per month. 

As far as a look ahead goes, I think the market is going to hold steady at about these levels.  We may see another percentage gain or two for the balance of the year, but nothing like we had the first half.  I am going to keep a watchful eye out, but stay in the market at the 90-95% invested level.  Later this year I will upgrade the account at Scottrade so I can sell cash secured puts, putting less capital up against what I expect to be something of a consolidating market.

So, finally, here is a summary of the Rescue My IRA statistics for July 2013, as of the 7/26/2013 market close:

Account Status:
·         Total Account Value, 7/26/2013 Market Close:  $147,023.95 (vs. June close of $142,516.26)
·         Total Cash Reserve, 7/26/2013 Market Close:  $27,074.95 (due to the SPY weekly assignment on 7/26/2013)
·         Core Stock Positions (as of 7/26/2013):   AFL (200 shares), BA (100 shares), CAT (100 shares), CMI (100 shares), COP (200 shares), DVN (200 shares), IP (200 shares), KO (300 shares), PFE (400 shares), PSA (100 shares), WIN (500 shares) – note, my SPY 168 weekly was assigned on 7/26/2013.

Performance Metrics:
Option Premiums Collected (net, month of July):  -$3,736.00
Capital Gains Collected (net, month of July): $5,697.67
Dividends Collected (recognized on the ex-date): $422.16
Interest on Cash Reserve (estimated): $0.08
Total, Absolute Return:  $2,383.91
Absolute Return, Percentage Basis:  1.79%
Annualized Return, Percentage Basis:  21.83%

Next Month To-dos:

August is a lighter month for dividends, with about $337.00 forecast from five positions:  AFL, BA, CMI, IP, and PFE.  BA and IP have August contracts against them, and both are in the money, so there may be early calls on them.  I will have a gain on BA but lose $2.11 on the IP position if they are called.  Two dollars!

There are currently four August contracts:  IP and BA as mentioned, and COP and WIN.  All four are in the money as we begin the month, with a total forecast gain of $334.  So between the dividends and the contract gains, I may have already accounted for about .50% of earnings this month – I’m halfway towards my monthly goal of 1.00%!

We saw the Fed announce that it is going to slow down on its tightening approach.  I think we have a couple of months more to run in this market, but it will be slow and steady.  So I’m staying 95% in until October…and I am always looking for good bargains.

Ciao until next month!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

New Position KO and Adjusting PFE

For five weeks now we’ve had a run in the market.  My worries that we’d begin to see a little fall back at the worst or some consolidating at the best had gotten the best of me, and I had a lot more cash on the sidelines than I normally would.  I decided to have a look at some alternatives in the form of “dogs of the dow” – those high quality stocks that haven’t improved as well as the market overall has – and settled on a new position in KO.

As far as my worries go - it's true we're not lucky to have a barn-burner second half like in the first...but the signs are there for continued gains in the economy and market for the balance of the year.  So I've decided to stay with my plan of keeping 90-95% of my capital invested.  I am still working on a strategy for how to deal with a consolidating market, or even the ultimate bear market situation, but I believe there is still time for that...six months at least.

I have also been fussing over my PFE position, which has been in the money for most of the month and has an ex-dividend date of 7/31/2013.  There were times during the day on Wednesday and Thursday that I could have unwound the position by buying back the calls and selling the shares and upping my total return on the stock, but as a retail trader this is very challenging and time consuming, so I wasn’t quite able to execute.  Instead, I rolled out and up the position from a $28 Aug to a $29 Sep.

Here’s the analysis of the two positions, new position first.



Bought 300 shares at average share price $40.53 (total $12,160.00)
Sold 3 KO Sep 2013 $41.00 for a net of $181.23

Net Profit:

1) Options Income:  = $181.23
2) Dividend Income: Ex-date is before the Sep expiration, dividends $84.00
3) Capital Appreciation if assigned at $41.00:  $122.89

Total Net Profit if Assigned and dividend collected:  $388.12
Absolute Return on Investment: ($388.12/$12,160.00) = 3.19%
Annualized Return if Assigned (60 days):  3.19%*(365/60) = 19.42%


The DOW position consists of 400 shares, with a price basis of $27.58 per share.  I have been selling the $28 strikes, but rolled up and out on this transaction to a $29 strike.

Total option premiums:  -$40.03
Total dividend payments (including the forecast 31 Jul ex-dividend):  $96.00
Total stock gain at $29:  $551.89
Total, absolute gain on the position:  $607.86
Total, absolute return percentage ($607.86/$11,031.00):  5.51%

Annualized total return percentage (held approx 90 days):  22.35%

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Position: PSA

Compared to most of the time, I have an unusually large amount of cash sitting on the sidelines as several positions have been called away this month.  And that is a trend that may continue through the week – my SPY weekly at $168 is in the money, and my PFE Aug $29 is in the money and goes ex-dividend next week.

Since I like to have only 5% of the Rescue My Account value uninvested, why the delay?  The market has risen so dramatically over the last month, getting back to May levels and then passing those highs, that I find myself taking a little more time making decisions about my positions. 

My criteria remain:  S&P 4- or 5-star rated shares, annual dividend yield of 3-5%, and companies that are part of the S&P 500 Index. This combination ensures that there is liquidity for the options, that there is room for the shares to rise, and some level of due diligence has been done on them by others, so I don’t have to do as much myself.

These standards should reduce some of the risk of new investments at these levels – I’m counting on the portfolio to take care of me in this respect.  Still finding it a little hard to pull the trigger on new trades just now.

I chose PSA for a new position recently – it meets these criteria, and then some. 

Here’s the analysis: 



7/22/2013 Bought 100 shares at $163.52 net (total $16,352.00)
5/20/2013 Sold 1 PSA Sep 2013 $165.00 for a net of $351.74

Net Profit:

1) Options Income:  = $351.74
2) Dividend Income: Ex-date is 9/10/2013, dividend is $1.25 ($125.00)
3) Capital Appreciation if assigned at $165.00:  $130.89

Total Net Profit if Assigned and dividend collected:  $607.63
Absolute Return on Investment: ($607.63/$16,352.00) = 3.72%
Annualized Return if Assigned (60 days):  3.72%*(365/60) = 22.61%

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rolling AFL Up and Out

My August AFL position, with a $55 strike price, was deep in the money, and there were a couple of opportunities this morning to go ahead and unwind it, as I have been doing in some of these cases recently.  The opportunities to do it without any out of pocket were fleeting, and I needed to move on to something else, so I decided to consider a roll-out. 

AFL is a five-star S&P stock, which suggests that more appreciation can be expected.  I decided to postpone the moderate gains due at $55 in August, and make a play for two dividend payments (ex-dates of August and November), along with a roll-out and roll-up to $60 Nov 2013 calls, which would increase my stock gains - at the cost of the option premium income this position had earned. 

Doing so pushed my holding period out to 300 days, but the position is still due to make an absolute return of over 15%, which exceeds my goals for Rescue My IRA, and an annualized return of 19%.  These returns are increased from the previous plan for this position, where the calculated yields were 10.46% and 18.19%, respectively.   

Here’s the analysis of the roll-up and out.


This is a 200 share position that I established with two 100 share purchases.  The share basis is $51.62, and as of this trade, the current contract is a $60 November 2013. 

Total option premiums:  -$288.45 (due to the cost of buying to close the Aug $55)
Total dividend payments (counting ex-dates through the contract term):  $245.00
Total stock gain at $60:  $1,658.59
Total, absolute gain on the position:  $1,615.44
Total, absolute return percentage ($1,615.44/$10,324.00):  15.65%

Annualized total return percentage (held 300 days):  19.04%

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Called Away on TXT

I opened the TXT position last month, after unwinding my GE position.  The positioning opening post is here:  http://rescuemyira.blogspot.com/2013/06/new-positions-txt-and-win.html

It’s unusual for the Rescue My IRA account to have a position that works out with so little management effort.  I don’t take any credit for my good fortune on this one, it’s just that the market is taking care of us right now.  How long it holds we just can’t say.

Here’s the analysis.



6/13/2013 Bought 300 shares at average share price $27.08 (total $8,131.00)
6/13/2013 Sold then rolled out 3 TXT June 2013 $27.00 for a net of $318.62

Net Profit:

1) Options Income:  = $318.62
2) Dividend Income: Ex-date was June 12, dividend is $0.02 ($6.00)
3) Capital Appreciation if assigned at $27.00:  -$48.11

Total Net Profit if Assigned and dividend collected:  $276.51
Absolute Return on Investment: ($276.51/$8,131.00) = 3.40%
Annualized Return if Assigned (50 days):  3.40%*(365/50) = 24.83%

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July Deltas, and Unwinding Mr. Softie

I’m going to combine a quick look at my expiration forecast for July – it happens that this Friday is expiration for two of my positions – with the analysis for my closed MSFT position, which I unwound recently when the opportunity presented itself.

As for the two positions, the first is TXT.  I have 300 shares with a July $27 covered call written against them.  As I am writing this post on Wednesday night before the Friday expiration, the delta on this option has moved up to .82 – it has climbed steadily and was at a tepid .62 yesterday.  I’ll take a small loss on the share price if this is assigned, but I collected call premiums and dividends that add up to a net annualized return of 25%...I can live with it.

The second position up for expiration this week is the weekly call I wrote against my SPY shares.  This position was in-the-money for most of the day – the strike price is $168 – but as markets closed today the price slipped below there, and the delta is around .50.  I may get to take another bite of the apple with this one, and I will enjoy that if it happens.

Finally, I need to post about unwinding the MSFT position.  I held these 400 shares for about 15 months, and the stock was downgraded by S&P during that time.  Instead of a stop loss close, as I have done in the past, I rode this one out, eventually turning a profit, albeit one that is less than my target. 

With the MSFT sale, my portfolio consists only of S&P four- or five-star rated shares, and the SPY ETF.  But I only have ten positions, less than optimal, so that will have to be addressed soon.

Here’s the analysis of the MSFT position.  

Position basis:  400 Shares, bought in two lots, basis $12,506.42, or $31.27 per share; Jul 34 unwound. 
Option Premiums:  -$1,049.67 (when unwinding, part of the trade means buying back in-the-money options, so there is a steep premium)
Dividends Collected:  $341.00
Stock Gain:  $1,658.33 (unwinding also means you recognize the current market price on the shares, which offsets the close-out option premium and should result in a slight increase in the calculated stock gain from plan)
Total:  $949.66
Absolute return 8.12%

Annualized return (410 days) 6.76%

New Position: SPY

It has been a busy month for the Rescue My IRA account.  With the market rolling along at new highs, several of the July positions reached the point where it was lucrative to unwind them, so I did; as of this morning I am only holding the TXT position with a July contract.  That means I have much more cash in the account than usual, but I am loathe to reinvest at the moment until we have a few down days in a row – some consolidation that will give a read on where the market is headed next.

It’s been on my do-list to find a replacement ETF after I dumped TLT recently.  I chose SPY for this purpose.  I understand the index behind it better and it is based on S&P 500 stocks, which is what the current portfolio is predominantly comprised of.  

To further expand my learning opportunities, in addition to taking a position with an ETF, I wrote a weekly against it, choosing a July Week 4 2013 contract with a little upside in the strike price (although transaction costs will mean a net loss of about $20 on this trade).

I am very satisfied with the .62% potential return for this investment over five days (that works out to an annualized rate of 59%), but there are risks in this approach that are different from my typical buy-write approach, and that’s what I’m looking forward to learning more about here.  We’ll see how it goes, and I will post a periodic update on SPY, though not necessarily weekly if I end up with a lot of roll-outs (which I would like very much, by the way!).

Here’s the analysis on the new SPY position: 



7/16/2013 Bought 100 shares at $16,802.90
7/16/2013 Sold 1 SPY Week 4 July 2013 $168.00 for a net of $124.74

Net Profit:

1) Options Income:  $124.74
2) Dividend Income: Next forecast ex-date is September
3) Capital Appreciation if assigned at $168:  -$20.01

Total Net Profit if Assigned:  $104.73
Absolute Return on Investment: ($104.73/$16,802.90) = 0.62%
Annualized Return if Assigned (5 days):  0.62%*(365/5) = 56.87%

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Unwinding JPM

The market has been on a four-day winning streak this week, so most of my positions are hitting the at-the-money or in-the-money marks.  In the case of the July contracts, several positions went deep in-the-money, which has become “unwind” territory for me. 

My JPM position was the latest of these, so I bought to close the final options on Monday morning and then sold the shares.  The result of this kind of trade is a slight improvement on the absolute return, plus there is the opportunity to get the cash reinvested immediately instead of waiting until expiration.

Right now, I have the money sitting on the sideline.  In fact, about 25% of the Rescue My IRA is sitting in cash at the moment.  I do plan to spend some time on stock picks within the next couple of days – soon as the hot streak is over!

Meanwhile, here is the analysis of the JPM position:   


Position basis:  300 Shares, basis $14,722.00, or $49.07 per share; Jul $52.50 was the final contract.
Option Premiums:  -$956.06
Dividends Collected:  $204.00
Stock Gain:  $1,663.60
Total:  $911.54
Absolute return 6.19%

Annualized return (115 days) 19.65%

Monday, July 8, 2013

New Positions: BA and PFE

With the proceeds of three sales resting in the account, I went to work immediately looking to reinvest.  I’ve noted in the past that my goal is to have around only 5% in cash in the Rescue My IRA account – the rest needs to be working in an investment.

The new positions meet my basic criteria – they are S&P 500 stocks, they are rated four or five stars by S&P, and they have dividend yields of between 3 and 6 percent annually.  I usually look for ex-dividend dates coming up during the current quarter as well, so this time I chose BA and PFE – there is still enough cash in the account for one more position, so I’ll add a post later this week. 

Here’s the analysis: 


7/2/2013 Bought 100 shares at $103.17 (total $10,317.00)
7/2/2013 Sold 1 BA Aug 2013 $105.00 for a net of $226.74

Net Profit:
1) Options Income:  = $226.74
2) Dividend Income: Ex-date is 8/7/2013, dividend is $0.485 ($48.50)
3) Capital Appreciation if assigned at $105.00:  $165.89

Total Net Profit if assigned and dividend collected:  $441.13
Absolute Return on Investment: ($441.13/$10,317.00) = 4.28%
Annualized Return if Assigned (60 days):  4.28%*(365/60) = 26.01%


7/2/2013 Bought 400 shares at $27.58 (total $11,031.00)
7/2/2013 Sold 4 PFE Aug 2013 $28.00 for a net of $183.99

Net Profit:
1) Options Income:  = $226.74
2) Dividend Income: Ex-date is 7/31/2013, dividend is $0.24 ($96.00)
3) Capital Appreciation if assigned at $28.00:  $151.89

Total Net Profit if assigned and dividend collected:  $431.88
Absolute Return on Investment: ($31.88/$11,031.00) = 3.92%
Annualized Return if Assigned (60 days):  3.92%*(365/60) = 23.82%

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Unwinding CSCO and SPLS – and Dumping TLT

Last month I learned about unwinding positions as a close out transaction if there’s been a run that exceeds the contract’s strike price.  I saw that opportunity for my CSCO shares this week, where I was waiting to have the shares called away later this month, and on SPLS, where I had a September contract.  There was a healthy gain overall on CSCO, but even with the share gain on SPLS I ended up in a more or less breakeven spot.

I took advantage of these two trades to bury my losses on TLT, which was my first attempt at including ETFs in the portfolio.  TLT is a bond fund, and the recent action in the markets have punished bond prices…and I don’t see that being corrected through the end of the year.  I decided to pull the trigger since I could cover the loss with the other gains.

Here’s the analysis of the three positions:

Position basis:  500 Shares, basis $9.532.18, or $19.06 per share; the stock went ex-dividend on July 1, and I will collect that dividend. The position doubled my performance goals of 12% annualized.

Option Premiums:  -$1,412.18 (I had rolled up CSCO a few times in the past)
Dividends Collected:  $252.00
Stock Gain:  $2,825.60
Total:  $1,665.42
Absolute return 21.93%
Annualized return (300 days) 26.68%


I still remember the day I bought my SPLS shares in Fort Worth last year.  I thought that a five-star rated retail stock would be good diversification in my portfolio.  Basically I ended up with dead money for 17 months!

Position basis:  700 Shares, basis $10,288.42, or $14.70 per share.
Option Premiums:  -$1,156.05
Dividends Collected:  $420.00
Stock Gain:  $975.36
Total:  $101.31
Absolute return 1.27%
Annualized return (510 days) 0.91%


When I bought TLT, my first attempt to use ETFs for covered calls, I thought I was making a good decision to diversify with some bond holdings in addition to basic stocks.  I did not anticipate what would happen to the prices of the underlying assets if and when interest rates started going back up.  Essentially, the resulting losses were my motivation for unloading the shares as soon as I could, which I did after taking advantage of the CSCO trade above.

Position basis:  100 Shares, basis $12,329.00, or $123.29 per share.
Option Premiums:  $144.22
Dividends Collected:  $78.57 (includes the July ex-dividend date)
Stock Gain:  -$1,357.10
Total:  $1,134.31
Absolute return:  Negative, not calculated!

Annualized return (150 days): Also not calculated

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rolling out CAT

Wow – we only had two and half trading days so far in July, but I’ve made the best of it in the Rescue My IRA account.  Besides rolling out my CAT position, I unwound a couple of winners and used them to offset a loser, and then established new positions with the proceeds.  As a result, I have three posts going up here on the blog over the course of the next few days.

Looking at my trading history with this CAT position, I see I first sold a Nov 2012 call with a $90 strike price.  Assuming the shares are called with this new contract – also a $90 strike, for November 2013, I will have had the shares for just more than a year – let’s call it 15 months.  As the analysis shows, it is performing right on target, with an annualized return of just over 12 percent. 

Here’s the analysis of the CAT positions.


This is a 100 share position with a basis of $87.17, established in the fall of 2012. I have sold $90, $92.50, and $95 strikes, rolling them more or less monthly.  This transaction rolled out August options to November, stretching a bit to get the net premium up over $100 and to cover a last ex-dividend date. 

Total option premiums:  $796.67
Total dividend payments (including the forecast October 2013 ex-dividend):  $276.00
Total stock gain at $90:  $265.83
Total, absolute gain on the position:  $1,338.50
Total, absolute return percentage ($1,338.50/$8,717.00):  15.36%

Annualized total return percentage (held approx 450 days):  12.45%