Posted by Martin March 16, 2014


Is there a room for more tapering?

Is there a room for more tapering?

The Federal Reserve gets a lot of credit for what passes as an economic recovery. Whether it deserves that credit, going forward the Fed has very little power to influence events because it is essentially out of ammo to further ease. The economy, meanwhile, is still lackluster, despite the central bank’s unjustified optimism.

The Fed cast a warm and fuzzy glow in January, when it predicted a pickup in economic growth, which it cited as its rationale for tapering its bond buying campaign, called quantitative easing (QE). And if that acceleration doesn’t happen in the near future?

Don’t worry: Wall Street will just shift its predictions for a growth resurgence to the second half of the year, as it’s done every year since about 2005 — if memory serves correctly. At this time of year, the Street always says that things will get better in the second half.

The revision of fourth-quarter 2013 gross domestic product growth of 2.8% is not enough of a reason to reverse the Fed’s QE policy, which seems to have less and less effect on the real economy, according to the central bank’s own research. The Fed says it will gradually taper its monthly bond buying, most likely ending it altogether late in the year. But the Fed’s new chief,Janet Yellen, adds that it reserves the right to change course and increase the purchases if the economy dips.

If the current first quarter does end up with say, 1.5% GDP growth, the bad weather in much of the nation will be a factor. But the weather effect is still amorphous enough not to reverse course. Once winter fades, there will inevitably be a rebound effect, so the bank may have to wait until the third quarter before it feels comfortable saying anything about the true core rate of growth (although it probably will cut its 2014 forecast by the June meeting).

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New Trade – Taser Int. (TASR) and Realty Income (O) put selling

New Trade - Taser Int. (TASR) and Realty Income (O) put selling

As soon as I bought back a few of my put contracts (SWY and TASR) I released my maintenance cash and was allowed to open another trades.

I was searching for new candidates for put selling and these days it became difficult to find some which would provide nice and juicy premiums.

It is an evidence of the market being overbought. There are three tools out there I use to watch Mr. Market mood.

The first tool is a Feed & Greed indicator on CNN Money website. See the chart below:

Fear and Greed

As you can see, the market is in overbought territory and we may expect a correction. And a correction may be violent.

The second tool I usually look at is a CBOE volatility index (VIX) itself. The index reading may be relative and if you want to use it, you have to compare it to its long term average value.


VIX index is considered to have a long term average at 20. From the chart above we can see that the index is below this average, which indicates complacency at the market. You can see two periods of 7 and 6 years when the markets were in this low territory (1990 – 1997; and 2002 – 2008 periods). In 2012 we entered this “low” period again. We may see another 6 years (until 2018) of confidence and growing markets or a correction above 20 average as is seen in 1997 – 2002 period.

A third tool are the options themselves. When investors are confident, complacent about stocks, they tend not to be buying protective puts and their price is going down. And it is our case here. Puts are very cheap and it is difficult to find contracts with nice premiums.

What is in it for you as a dividend investor?

As a dividend investor, you do not have to worry about all this at all if you choose to. It is the beauty of dividend investing as your priorities lay elsewhere – in growing income stream rather than an account balance. Any storms like this won’t be bothering you.

If, however, you are playful, have time to watch your stocks and want to squeeze more money out of your investments, those tools may help you. When the indicators indicate that the whole market is probably oversold, stocks are expensive, it may be a wise move to save cash and do not purchase new shares. Some investors want to wait for their price. During overbought markets you stay aside, save cash, and just cherry pick stocks, which are pressed down by panicking investors.

A great example of such stocks in recent days can be Kinder Morgan Partnership (KMP), Realty Income (O) or Coca-Cola (KO). Investors are selling based on rumors or bearish articles of nationwide media rather than based on fundamentals.

When the whole market collapses you will be able to find even more stocks pushed down by investors rushing to exit. Your saved cash will be a King here.

What is in it for you as an option trader?

It is a lot whole different story if you are an option trader. You want to be watching such indicators or similar. You want to be watching stocks you are trading and you want to be watching the whole market.

Although the whole market is running up and everybody is optimistic, it may be actually quite dangerous to your option trading. With expensive stocks and cheap puts your risk-reward ratio is horribly against you and there is a constant risk of a sudden market drop.

After a market collapses, it is easy to start selling puts as the probability of the market and stocks going up is a lot higher than when the markets and stocks are already way up. Yes, they may continue raising, but they may not. Such reversal may be a hot ground for you.

If the stocks start falling slowly (more like drifting, rather than collapsing) you will be able to manage your portfolio and roll down. If the market collapses and you trade at margin, then Lord be with you.

How you can prevent it? The best prevention would be selling puts against mega-cap dividend paying stocks as they tend to be slow in growth, but also in collapsing. Limit your trades and increase cash reserves (meaning don’t go all in), and select deeper OTM strikes. If you happen to select 10% or even 20% lower strike from underlying price, your chance of getting in the money is lesser. The stock would have to fall 10% or 20% and that is very unlikely with a huge dividend company, unless there is a storm, flash crash or the company goes bankrupt.

A great example of struggling premiums is Realty Income (O). Last August in 2013 I could sell a put contract at 40 strike 6 months ahead and collect 3.21 or $321 premium. Today, the same equivalent contract – September 2014 contract 40 strike will deliver me only 1.55 or $155 premium.

My Trade detail

And this is my case. I try to be all in as long as possible, but these days I have a feeling (yes, I cannot quantify this otherwise) that it is time to increase cash and slow the put selling pace.

I opened new trades and besides rolling I might not open new trades and increase my cash reserves in the near future.

03/04/2014 20:01:34 Sold 1 TASR Apr 19 2014 19.0 Put @ 0.75
03/07/2014 16:34:10 Sold 1 O Jun 21 2014 40.0 Put @ 1.11

I have a few trades “shovel ready” for next term, but will see after March expiration if I go for them or wait.


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Trade exit – Taser Int. (TASR) put option buy-back (14.94% profit)

Trade exit - Taser Int. (TASR) put option buy-back (14.94% profit)

This is a trade I forgot to report, so, I am doing so now. I had another put selling contract against TASR, which reached $5 or 0.05 per contract on March 4, 2014. Therefore it didn’t make sense waiting for expiration to get this option removed from my account as worthless. By buying back this contract for only 5 dollars, I could release my maintenance cash for next trade and lock in a profit.

And this trade was profitable as I reached 14.94%.

Here is a trade detail:
03/04/2014 19:54:15 Bought 1 TASR Mar 22 2014 15.0 Put @ 0.05

Such trade is commission free because the contract is at or below 0.05 per contract. A great opportunity to close it and release maintenance cash for another trade.


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Trade exit – Safeway (SWY) closing trade (9.73% profit), merger with Albertsons and options effect

Trade exit - Safeway (SWY) closing trade (9.73% profit), merger with Albertsons and options effect

Although, it is not a done deal yet, you may have noticed that Safeway (SWY) is undergoing a merger with Albertsons retail owned by a Cerberus Capital Management LLC.

This merger will have a few significant effects on your trading and your positions, let alone the effects on Safeway’s brand and business itself.

Let’s review first, what would happen if you own shares of SWY or options.

If you own shares of SWY?

The merger will have an impact to your portfolio if you own shares of Safeway. First, Cerberus is not a public company, so say goodbye to your position as Safeway will go private. Also what would happen to your dividends? Also say goodbye to them.

How the transfer will work?

If the deal is done and Safeway turns private, Cerberus agreed to pay $32.50 cash for your shares. Plus you will receive shares of Black Hawk network (HAWK) worth another $3.65 a share plus 3.85 of other non-cash settlement. The total settlement should reach $40 per share.

Therefore your profit on this will depend on when and at what price you have purchased the stock.

If you are long calls?

Again, this depends on at what strike price you have your calls as you receive the difference between strike and the cash settlement. For example, if you bought a call with 30 strike, you will receive $2.5 difference to cash settlement per contract. If you own 35 strike call, your position will become worthless and goodbye to your investment.

If you are long puts?

I do not have this information verified, but most likely outcome is, that the puts will become worthless and you lose the premium you paid to buy the put.

If you are short calls?

This option will become worthless and you will keep the premium.

If you are short puts?

This option will become worthless and you will keep the premium.

If you had a chance to check the premiums recently, you could already see that this is already happening. My September 2014 put positions already became worthless this morning and I could buy them back for 0.05 per contract and release my maintenance cash for my next trade.

Also, today morning, per briefing.com, Cerberus announced the deal of a merger has been definitively closed as done deal.

Since my put options became worthless I could buy them back without paying commission, collect my profit prior to expiration day, release my maintenance cash and move on. Here is the trade detail:

BTC 2 SWY Sep 20 2014 30 put @ 0.05 DEBIT 10.00

This brings me 9.73% profit on this trade and closed 6 months earlier than anticipated. I will no longer trade SWY. It has been a great journey with this stock as I anticipated purchasing it for its dividend, but because of price being too high I wanted to be selling puts first to collect enough money for a stock purchase. Over time I was selling puts against SWY I collected total $773.44 in premiums, which would make my cost basis, or breakeven price $7.73 less than any purchase price.

Time to move on to another stock.

Happy trading!

Source TDA trade desk


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New trade – Taser Int. (TASR) – closing old trade (14.94% profit) opening new put selling trade

Today, I decided to close my put selling trade which was about to expire this month. The reason was that the option contract was valued at 0.05 (or $5.00) and closing that trade with my broker was free (if the option is priced at $5 or less TD Ameritrade doesn’t charge a commission), so there was no need waiting for expiration and having my maintenance cash tied to this trade.

So, I bought back my old, already worthless contract (happily didn’t pay any commission on it) and that freed up my maintenance cash, so I could open another trade for the next month.

Trade Detail:

So today i closed the old trade and opened a new one:

3/4/14 11:54:15 BTC 1 TASR Mar 21 2014 15 put
3/4/14 12:01:34 STO 1 TASR Apr 18 2014 19 put @ CREDIT 0.75

I also entered limit orders for some other trades which are close to $5.00 cash value per contract. In case the price drops to that limit, I should buy those contracts back and open new ones in their place.


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February 2014 progress, goal changes, and TD portfolio vs S&P500

Up LadderHello fellow investors. Recently I was working hard on my strategy, goals, and reviews. Why? Because I want to show the picture of my investments so all readers can see how well or poor I am in investing, trading and financial independence building effort.

Not everybody who you ask about their investment will tell you the whole truth. It is not comfortable for people to admit losses, so many will tell you just the bright side of their endeavor. I want to be open and show the entire reality. Although showing losses is not a pleasure rather than showing gains, I want to be open with all my investments.

Why? Recently I had two people who asked me if I could manage their portfolios. At first I wasn’t decided whether it is a good thing to do. It is a great responsibility and you risk turning your friends into enemies.

Well, lately, I decided to try with a friend of mine, who is a realty broker and I started managing his account a month ago. I have another person who might be interested in my help, but he is not decided yet.

Before I started, I opened a paper trading account to trade paper money first, so both my friends could see what to expect. The great thing trading the paper money was that I realized what a great potential I had in trading options. After two months of trading I already collected a little less than 20,000 dollars in premiums and realized 5% of returns. The current account value is $107,946.02, which is 7% in two months.

At first I had a few question about such high profits. When I told them that I am actually expecting almost 60% return this year (if nothing changes dramatically), both friends were quite skeptical and refused to believe me.

So I did a little research. I wanted to know how other options traders do; and confirm whether it is possible or it is an illusion which will potentially fail.

I know a few traders, so, let me list their profits:

Teddi Knight, a famous Canadian trader, who has a very nice blog about her trades. On her blog, in the section “Portfolios” you can find the following results:

2014 – 6.6% (and counting)
2013 – 58.8%
2012 – 41.7%
2011 – 26.8%
2010 – 29.86%
2009 – 113.53%

From the numbers above I don’t think I am that off the reality with my profits.

If you learn and know how to trade options, you can reach 40%, 50% or even 60% gains in your account. People are scared of such profits as they have bad experience with high returns investments. To them, these profits are too good to be true.

This experience was my eye opener and I realized that I should probably focus more on option trading as my source of income. Since I have a family, mortgage, debt, and many other obligations. I cannot contribute as much as some of my fellow bloggers such as Dividend Mantra, whose goal is to contribute 50% of his income.

But I can trade to get that income! I just was able to find out myself.

Goal adjustment

That brings me to my goal adjustment. Basically I am cancelling all my goals for 2014 except the debt reduction goal. My new goal and procedures will be as follows:


  1. Reduce my debt by 50% (as I said, I still will go for this goal).
  2. Save $160 monthly to TD Ameritrade account
  3. Trade options only – put selling – to generate income in TD account. Have all trades closed by the end of December
  4. Take 10% from the options net profit (if larger than $100) and invest it into a dividend paying stock (if equal or larger than $1000), if lesser, buy a commission free ETF as long as $1000 is saved. Then sell the ETF and buy a dividend stock.
  5. Withdraw 10% from the options net profit (if larger than $100) and contribute it to ROTH IRA
  6. Withdraw 10% from the options net profit (if larger than $100) and reward myself for a great trading. Go for vacation with my family.
  7. Withdraw 30% from the options net profit as a tax reserve (deposit temporarily in a savings account. Return back what is left after paying taxes.
  8. Reinvest the rest.


The overall goal would be to aggressively maximize gains so the income can start substituting some of my current expenses, savings to ROTH, and debt reduction payments. It will take time to build a large enough portfolio but I am very confident that I can do it.

My account progress

That brings me to reporting my progress. Currently I have majority of my cash in dividend growth stocks and very little in options. I want to reverse it and use options as a source of income which will be deposited into dividend paying stocks (one day, I won’t be able to actively trade, and dividends will become a main source of income).

January 2014 premiums: $156.10 (1.55%)
February 2014 premiums: $139.26 (1.38%)
January 2014 dividends: $25.87 (0.26%)
February 2014 dividends: $167.02 (1.66%)
Total 2014 income: $488.25 (4.85%)
2014 unrealized premiums: $1,437.00 (14.27%)
Account balance: $11,758.70 (16.74%)

You can check my dividend and option calendar to see when the next paydays will be. I am hoping as more and more money will be available in my account for trading, I will be able to generate more income.

If you want to follow my options trades, you can do so following me on My Trade, where all my trades are posted in real time.

My TD account vs. S&P 500

Recently I worked on benchmarking my results. I can proudly present my TD account tracked against S&P 500. The chart below shows my portfolio adjusted for contributions (contributions excluded) vs. the index. Last year, my goal was to recover my account from reckless trading I did in previous years. This chart proves, that I was successful and now I am beating the index.

I wish you good luck in upcoming months and hopefully your investments are performing well and per you plans.


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Trade adjustment – AT&T (T) put selling roll over

Trade adjustment - AT&T (T) put selling roll over

Today I decided to roll over my existing put selling trade against AT&T (T). I had a trade which was expiring next month:

-1 April 18, 2014 34 strike put

As the stock continued drifting lower and it hit $32 a share this morning, and continued lower, I decided to roll this trade to a lower strike, further away in time, and still collected more in premiums.

Here is a trade detail:

Diagonal: BTC +1 April 18, 2014 34 put @ 2.58 / STO -1 October 18, 2014 33 put @ 3.01 net CREDIT 0.43

I couldn’t lower my strike to $32 without selling two contracts instead of one, for which I didn’t have enough maintenance cash to cover the trade.

So, I lowered it only to $33 a share and as time will go on, there will be two outcomes:

  • The stock recovers before October expiration and the option expires worthless or I will buy it back if it has no value.
  • The stock will continue drifting down or stays below 33 dollars a share and I will roll over again to 32 strike price and further in time.


At this time I bought a plenty of time so I do not have to do anything.


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Posted by Guest February 25, 2014
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Will The Passing of a Net Neutrality Law Affect Stocks?

This is a guest post by Dave Landry. Dave Landry Jr. is a business owner, financial consultant and amateur investor who enjoys writing and infographic design in his spare time. He also enjoys linking with like-minded folk, so feel free to give him a ping on social media!

In short, it already has. Netflix was the first to feel the sting of the court’s January ruling, and it stands to reason that other popular streaming sites like Hulu, YouTube and HBO could be affected in the future. The ISP behemoths stand to increase their profits which could both hurt and hamper their stock value. So what are the factors that matter?

Fundamentals. When a company is making money with no sign of stopping, their price often goes up, conversely if they’re losing money, or are just flat for too long, their stock price tends to go down. Other complexities aside, it’s reasonable to consider that consumers might cancel their subscriptions to sites that have their prices or quality affected by a lack of Internet regulation. This could drive their stock down, whereas the ISPs could both increase profits from inflated prices but also lose customers due to moral objections to their practices. Such a contentious issue could undermine any positive gains as investors seek more stable options.

Sector Changes. Net neutrality, no matter the ultimate outcome, qualifies as a sector change. It’s a dramatic event that affects an entire industry in one swift movement. Any company whose business is made over the Internet is affected by either the increased regulation, which improves stability with certain guarantees, or the potential decrease in revenue brought on by new content specific bundles from ISPs. Massive changes in a particular industry will affect everyone involved, whether directly or indirectly, even if you’re just guilty by association.

Is Netflix doomed?

Is Netflix doomed?
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Market Swings. Whether or not revenue declines or investors jump ship, the entire market may feel the impact of as potent an issue as net neutrality. When the market itself swings in either direction, it tends to take most stocks along with it, especially the bigger companies. If the entire market is driven up by either a new law or the death of one, it will likely have an effect on both sides of the debate. As Ken Turnin mentions in his article for Deposit Accounts, the stock market is an ever-swinging pendulum.

Public Opinion. While technically falling under a sector change, when an issue in the stock market is highly controversial, the way the public feels about it can have a tremendous impact. Just the dissemination of information alone is a delicate enough process to sway an entire industry. If the majority of the process on net neutrality is positive, then any obstacles in the way, such as court rulings, may vilify the opponents in such a way that it directly affects investor opinion and thus the price.

At the end of the day, government regulation is a big factor. Whichever direction the chips fall is likely to have a significant impact on the major stocks involved, though considering that the horrors of unregulated Internet have not yet come to pass and stocks are already shifting, a net neutrality law might serve to restore prices to where they were before. Positively affecting prices with a neutral effect on the net.

Editorial note:
Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.


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New Trade – Coca-Cola (KO) – put selling

New Trade - Coca-Cola (KO) - put selling

As I wrote in my last post, we had an expiration Frioday last week. I had two put selling trades in play which expired that day.

It was a put contract against the following stocks, which would bring me a monthly income:

Demand media (DMD) total gain from this trade: $41.21
Ferrellgas Partners LP (FGP) total gain from this contract: $101.21

February TOTAL: $142.42 (after commissions)

Today, I could open a new options trade. I looked which stocks could bring me the best premium and which of the contracts I could open with my current options buying power. Then I chose Coca-Cola (KO) company.

I sold 1 August contract and collected $115.00 in premiums (before commissions).

Trade detail

Here is the trade order I entered today morning:

02/24/2014 Sold 1 KO Aug 16 2014 36.0 Put @ 1.15

The trade executed and I collected my premium.

If you want to see my trades right when they execute, without waiting for me to report it here in this blog, you can follow my trades at My Trade website. I’ll start publishing my trades in real time. If you use Think or Swim platform, you will be able to copy those trades into your platform and trade them, if you want.

Happy Trading!


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Posted by Martin February 23, 2014


New hosting

New hosting

Last Friday and this weekend has been quite busy for me. After many failures of my previous hosting, for example last Friday my websites were all down the whole day and partially in Saturday, I decided to change my host from Hostmonster to Webhostinghub.

I have been with Hostmonster for 7 years and they were great, but lately their services began faltering. Loading of this blog became slow, often their servers were down for many reasons (once they told me they had a fire in the server room, next it was a router failure, then DDoS attack, for which they shut down the entire server for the whole day.

I am not willing to take such unbreliability anymore and I decided to switch.

Right now, my blog is running on a new server with a new host. Hope you will all be able to see a rapidly improved loading time and less timeouts or errors or shut down blog.

Thank you all for visiting my blog!


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