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Write Puts Blackstone (BX)

My previous put in BX expired out of the money over the weekend.

music selection:  “Crumbling Down” — Go Betty Go

weigh-in:  213.2 (2.0)

Blackstone (BX) is an asset management company.  It is a little different that say T. Rowe Price or similar companies in that most of its clients are “accredited investors”.  They compete more with hedge funds than retail money managers.  They have access to large pools of capital that have long lock up periods so they can invest long term without fear of paying redemptions.  They have several highly profitable real estate funds that return over 18% a year.  Most retail investors can’t invest with them and enjoy these returns.  But you can invest in the parent company.  That’s what I’m doing today.

I sold BX170714P00033500 for 70 cents a share.  The trade will be in force for 40 days and yields 19.07% on an annualized basis while enjoying 2.64% downside protection.  If assigned, the underlying shares will yield 10.39% annually while allowing bonus income in the form of covered calls.  I sold 3 contracts and collected 210 in instant income.

Devour your prey raptors!


Financial Transparency as of 31MAY2017

One more month in the bag.

music selection:  “Runaway” — Ladytron


Wells Fargo (taxable): This gained 60 dollars to reach 31,286.  A trivial 0.19% move for the month.  Year to date this account is up 7.39%.

Interactive Brokers (taxable): I gained 5,602 here to finish at 296,143.  That is a 1.93% gain for the month and 9.98% for the year.

Interactive Brokers (tIRA): I added 940 dollars here to finish at 149,406.  The monthly gain was 0.63% and the annual gain is 6.55%.

Checking: Cash on hand continues to climb.  I gained another 208 dollars to bring the total to 11,746.  Monthly gain was 1.80% and the annual gain is 39.12%

Total investable assets finished at 488,851 up 1.41% from last month.  Year to date, I am up 9.28%.



Home – paid.

Car – paid.

Income tax liability: I added 500 dollars to my prepaid tax liability to bring the total to 9,010.  I expect to make at least three more 500 dollar payments as each quarter wraps up.  Maybe more if trading goes well.



I continue to assume 25,000 in annual withdrawals.  Actual amount varies by a few dollars from month to month based on cash distributions for Wells Fargo brokerage to checking.  Current estimate is 5.11% withdrawal rate.  Another couple of good months could see me pass the half a million mark and hit a sub 5% rate.

Forward twelve month distributions come to 25,786 or just over budget.  I pulled in 1,336 in options premiums in the month as well.  Annualizing year to date options trading results yields 27,006 in annual option premiums.  So my budget is covered twice over.  Strong trading results will result in a slightly higher withdrawal requirement to fund income tax liability.



Core spending was low at 1,393 for the month.  Total spending was 1,893 after applying 500 extra dollars to income tax prepayments.  Spending for the year to date comes to 7,979 which annualizes to only 19,150.  It looks like I am in good shape but my expenses are always back loaded with an extra 4,000 or so coming due at year end for real estate taxes and insurance.  All in all, I’m on track for the year.

Devour your prey raptors!



Why sell options?

Happy Memorial Day!

music selection:  “Runaway” — Ladytron

weigh-in:  215.2 +1.0 – too much BBQ!

I recently covered my love for closed end funds (trading at a discount to NAV!) that are focused on the debt space.  Another major part of my strategy is selling options for income.  A lot of people come to options and first try to BUY options.  They see an opportunity for doubling or tripling their investment and grow blind to the very real possibility of losing their entire investment.  I’ve learned the odds are more in your favor when SELLING options.

All option pricing includes what is known as “time value”.  This time value is a wasting asset.  It declines to zero as expiry approaches.  If you purchased the option, you must overcoming this wasting effect to make money.  Even if you are right about the direction of the stock, you might lose money if the move isn’t large enough or soon enough.  When selling time value, you are guaranteed to collect the full value as an upfront cash payment by holding to expiry.

Selling options also is a great way to lower risk.  If you buy a stock outright and it declines 5%, you have an unrealized loss of 5%.  If you instead sell a put, your loss is reduced by the upfront premium received as well as any amount the put was written out of the money.  This risk reduction is a powerful but often overlooked part of selling options.

Yields get fat when the market is in distress.  This can be a great source of comfort.  When the market is taking a 50% beating, you have lost a little less and are recovering ground by the way of new positions that pay more than average as the premium written includes a volatility bonus.

Finally, the returns are repeatable and often exceed the long term average of being a buy and hold index investor.  The long term return of the S&P with dividends reinvested is between 7-9%.  Even in the current abysmal interest rate environment, I find it easy to get 12% annualized on a written put or covered call.  I often get much more.  If all you do is break even against the index, you still have win because you did it with less risk that holding the underlying equity.

Unless I roll UVXY puts, it is unlikely I will have any trades this week.  Blackstone (BX) looks to expire out of the money over the weekend.  I’ll be looking to roll it on Monday.

Devour your prey raptors!


Doubling Down Rental Car Shorts – CAR & HTZ

I am doubling my exposure to the rental car shorts.

music selection:  “Same Old Song And Dance” — Aerosmith

Originally, I set up my rental car shorts as a paired trade, each half a normal short position at 2,500 each.  Today, I am making each a full position at 5,000 each.

I sold short 125 shares of CAR at 22.40.  Avis currently has 1,017 in accumulated unrealized short term capital gains.  The initial trade is down 34.04%.  I expect more pain in the future for this company.

I also sold short 286 shares of HTZ at 9.66.  Hertz currently has 2,655 in accumulated unrealized short term capital gains.  The initial trade is down 73.75%.  Hertz could be going to near zero and Avis might not be too far behind.

I would also short Enterprise Rent A Car but they are privately held. Because of industry consolidation, there are no more material players left.

Devour your prey raptors!



Roll Friday Expiries: AFSI, SM, SIRI

I had three positions expire and Friday.

music selection:  “Love Removal Machine” — The Cult

weigh-in:  214.2 (1.2)

AFSI was originally assigned on 24APR2017.  I have already written covered calls against the position twice.  Today, I wrote a third covered call.  Shares are down 31% so I had to go pretty far out to find liquidity at the original 17.5 strike.  I sold AFSI170915C00017500 for 25 cents a share.  The trade will be in force for 117 days and yields 4.46% annualized.  I’m using a larger than normal 35% trailing stop loss which would trigger at 9.67.

SM Energy (SM) was assigned over the weekend at the 22.5 strike. Oil is creeping up again so I see a good chance of this one getting called away on the new position.  I sold SM170616C00022500 for 60 cents a share.  The trade will be in force for 26 days and yields 37.44% annualized.

Sirius XM (SIRI) was also assigned over the weekend at the 5 strike.  I sold SIRI170630C00005000 for 12 cents a share.  The trade will be in force for 40 days and  yields 21.90% annualized.  I expect to play SIRI for a long time rolling in and out of puts and calls as appropriate to collect premium.

The three positions have a simple average annualized return of 21.26%.  Even after 25% short term capital gains tax, this return is highly likely to beat the long term results of indexing to the S&P.

Devour your prey raptors!

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Capitulation in General Electric (GE)

I’ve been stopped out of GE.

music selection:   “Irresistible” — Fall Out Boy

I was assigned 300 shares of GE on 13APR2017 at the 30.50 strike.  Shares have performed poorly since.  I was stopped out of my 25% trailing stop loss of 27.68 as of yesterday’s close.  I sold at 27.21 realizing a short term loss of 987 dollars.  Over the duration of the trade I collected 1.06 in options premiums reducing my loss to 669 dollars.

It always hurts to take a loss but I’ve learned you have to cut your losers fast to keep them from turning into disasters like the time I lost over 90% on Vanguard Natural Resources (VNR).  Respecting stop losses is the Raptor way.

Devour your prey raptors!



The Long Portfolio

I’ve had some requests to reveal my full long stock portfolio.

music selection:  “Up All Night” — Hinder

weigh-in:  215.4 +1.8

A large portion of my strategy relies on buy and hold high yield investments.  This is mostly in the form of Closed End Funds (CEF) and Master Limited Partnerships (MLP).  This is how I am able to make most of my budget without needing to trade.  That is an important element because sometimes the market isn’t offering any favorable trades and I need to sit on my hands waiting for a fat pitch.


AFSI        (1,308)        (10,500.00) Y Insurance
AGC          584        (3,213.45) N Convertible bonds CEF
AMLP          1,182        (19,725.00) N Alerian MLP index
AWP          1,898        (10,002.46) N Alpine Global CEF
CNXC        3,098        (3,494.08) N Coal MLP
EFR            98      (4,997.68) N Floating Rate CEF
EOG            400        (9,500.00) Y Low Cost Shale Driller
ERICK            (997)        (1,042.40) N Shares received in lieu of bonds in BR
EXXI            (167)            (489.29) N Shares received in lieu of bonds in BR
GE            (351)        (9,150.00) Y General Electric
GEL            (477)        (7,500.00) Y Oil and Gas MLP
GIM          (448)      (20,001.03) N Intl Short duration bond CEF
GLO        1,957      (9,999.64) N Clough Global CEF
HNW            524        (2,513.95) N Pioneer CEF
IGD        1,885        (17,971.20) N Voya CEF
IIM            33        (1,695.83) N Value municipal CEF
IQI          273        (1,664.17) N Municipal CEF
JPS        8,758        (19,998.45) N Preferred shares CEF
JRO          2,457        (15,000.00) N Senior variable debt CEF
MON          188        (9,970.20) N Monsanto merger arbitrage play
MORL          2,847        (29,280.00) N Double levered mREIT ETN
NEA          205        (1,709.32) N Municipal CEF
NVDA          2,374        (10,800.00) Y Nvidia – growth stock
NVG            163        (1,692.97) N Municipal CEF
NYRT        (1,320)        (10,009.44) N NY REIT – Liquidation play
OXLC          420        (5,658.49) N Oxford Lane Capital BDC
PCI          555        (2,523.30) N PIMCO CEF
PMT          1,250        (10,011.60) Y Penny Mac REIT
QCP            158            (894.00) N REIT received from spinoff
REM          845        (4,088.30) N Unleveraged mREIT ETN
SDLP            263        (4,862.00) Y Seadrill MLP
SXCP            (606)        (10,000.00) N Coal MLP
TCEHY            435        (5,052.84) N Tencent – Facebook of China
TRV          252        (9,997.70) N Traveler’s Insurance
TWO          6,770        (24,594.98) Y Two Harbors REIT
Grand      34,037     (309,603.77) /

Devour your prey raptors!


Update Short Positions (AGAIN)

The shorts have been performing well so I’m topping up again.

music selection:  “What Difference Does It Make?” — The Smiths

Avis Rent A Car (CAR) fell another 3.5% yesterday and it’s time to top up again.  I sold short another 10 shares at 25.28 to bring my exposure back to 2,500.  I’m up 637 dollars so far.

Hertz (HTZ) cratered over 11% yesterday which is what prompted me to go back to the trough this morning.  I sold short another 56 shares at 11.04.  I am up 2,360 in HTZ so far.

I initiated a new short position this morning in Ford Motor Company (F).  I sold short 457 shares at 10.941 for 5,000 worth of exposure.  This play is on the same theme as CAR, HTZ, and GM; the bubble in subprime auto lending has to pop which will deflate used car prices.  GM and Ford will both find themselves with tons of returning leases that are not worth their book value just as new car sales are in cyclical decline.

GM remains 395 dollars in the red. CNQ on the other hand has improved to 8 dollars in the black.  My total return on short positions is 2,608 as of yesterday’s close.  That is on 16,000 worth of exposure since 10OCT2016 or 27.75% annualized.

Some people don’t like to short stocks because they think their upside is limited to 100% as the shares can not fall below zero.  I think it is important to note you can make MORE than 100% on a short if you are diligent about topping up exposure as prices fall.  HTZ is down 70% since I initiated.  But I am up 94.4% on the position thanks to piling on the stock experiences misery.  I think my 27.75% return so far is excellent considering I also get leverage and hedging as a bonus to the positions.

Devour your prey raptors!


Update Short Positions

Topping up the shorts today.

music selection:  “Bullet The Blue Sky” — U2

weigh-in:  213.6 (1.4) – three consecutive weeks of progress!

I have four short positions open and three of them are in the green.  The market is a little frothy so I’ll try to add more short positions as time goes on to increase my hedging.  High on the list for  a new short is Ford (F).

Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ) is a Canadian oil sands producer of bitumen.  They have been having execution issues with developing their mine including multiple cost overruns and downward revisions in the estimate of available barrels.  They also are a high cost producer of a low economic value form of crude that sells at a discount to WTI.  I expect them to struggle mightily over the long term so long as WTI stays priced below 55 a barrel.  I put on a synthetic short on 9NOV2016 of 2 contracts at the 30 dollar strike.  As of Friday’s close, the position is 6 dollars in the green.

Avis Rent A Car (CAR) is another short position.  I have three short positions open on the theme of a bubble in sub prime auto lending.  Fitch reports that auto loans in default are on the rise.  This ultimately leads to depressed used car prices hurting rental companies and automakers.  The CAR short was opened on 10OCT2016 and topped up on 23MAR2017.  The two positions together are 270 dollars in the green.

Hertz (HTZ) is the second of my rental car positions.  Each of these is half a position of 2,500 dollars at risk each.  I opened the position of 10OCT2016 same as CAR.  Also like CAR, I topped up the position on 23MAR2017 after price declines significantly reduced my capital at risk.  I topped up AGAIN this morning selling 31 shares short at 14.54 a share.  This one has been my best performing short and is 1,714 in the green.

Finally, I have a full position short in General Motors (GM).  GM has been the biggest offender when it comes to loaning money to people who can’t pay it back to buy cars.  I may join them soon with Ford.  I originally shorted 155 shares at 32.32 each on 10OCT2016.  The position is currently in the red by 342 including payments I had to make in lieu of dividends to the original share holders.

Overall, my short positions are in the green by a combined 1,648.  They also provide 12,096 in leverage for my portfolio while acting as a hedge in a general downtown in prices.

Devour your prey raptors!


Update Discounted Bonds

There has been a change with Erickson Aviation.

music selection:  “Strange Currencies” — R.E.M.

On 7DEC2015, I bought two 8.250 coupon 1MAY2020 maturity bonds from Erickson Aviation.  Last November, the company entered bankruptcy with Debtor In Possession financing.  I got word from my broker last Wednesday that something was afoot.

On Tuesday, my bonds were removed from my brokerage account and replaced with 2.3254 shares of the newly formed Erickson Aviation (ERICK).  It is too soon to try to cash out.  When a company exits bankruptcy this way, there is forced selling of the shares.  In the same way that many bond funds must sell their bonds when the credit rating changes, many bond funds that were able to hold through bankruptcy are legally prohibited from owning equity shares.

Share prices for ERICK should be greatly depressed from their reasonable market value for several  month.  In the meantime, the company has shed a great deal of debt and now is likely an attractive acquisition target.  My cost basis in the new shares is 521.20 each so it is unlikely I will see full recovery of my investment.  But I am going to get something if I’m patient.

Devour your prey raptors!