Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Buy IWM (sell puts)

Buy IWM via selling Jan 70 puts
Placed an order before the open and got filled on the morning dip. By the end of the day, nicely in the green. I also entered a day order to sell TBT Jan 53 puts, but it expired without a fill. IWM is my first January position. With my busy schedule, I only have a few small December positions.

Net long IWM

Friday, November 16, 2012

2-0 for Nov grade B-, also buy EWZ (sell puts)

Two winners, zero losers for the November option cycle. I was on the sidelines for most of the month. The grade B- is on a curve because of difficult market conditions. The two winners were IWM Russell 2000 stock ETF and LGF Lions Gate Entertainment. I saw a lot of red ink on orders placed before the open on some of the big dipper down days. 

I also buy EWZ Brazil stock ETF via selling Dec 45 puts. More a gut trade than anything else. I finally get some green ink by the end of the day on one of these pre-market orders.

Net long IWM

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Buy LGF (sell puts)

Buy LGF Lions Gate via selling Dec 14 puts
Another whoops order entered before the open. Red ink follows as the market crumbles.

Net long IWM

Friday, November 09, 2012

Buy TBT (sell puts)

Buy TBT via selling Dec 53 puts. Another ouch entry with TBT taking a big hit today. TBT is the double inverse Treasury ETF. My order filled close to the open and moved deep in the red. Other positions also took on water, though LGF Lions Gate had a positive earnings surprise after the close.

The time change has mostly brought grief with my recent trades. These things happen. Hot streaks and cold streaks are part of life for almost all traders.

Net long IWM

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Rebalance IWM (sell puts) "brilliant"

I had the “brilliant” idea to rebalance my IWM position back to delta positive by selling puts. I placed an order to sell IWM Dec 72 puts before the open and got filled shortly after the market open. Ouch. 

The bad news is some red ink on my positions, the good news is my huge cash position. LGF also has been going down, so those positions are taking on water as well.

I'd like to say that the stock market reaction is over done, but the other side of the argument is that the market is always right, don't argue with it.

Net long IWM

Monday, November 05, 2012

Buy LGF and BRKB (sell puts)

Buy LGF Lions Gate Entertainment via selling Nov 15 puts
Buy BRKB Berkshire Hathaway via selling Dec 77.5 puts
With the time change, I find some time to place some orders before the open. With virtually zero exposure in my trading account, I take some small positions. LGF hit an air pocket ahead of its earnings, but at below 15 I am a buyer. The story on Berkshire is the same as it has been for a while, a stock buyback at 10% above book value provides major support.

Net long IWM

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Dollar Cost Averaging vs. a Lump Sum

A Vanguard study (link1) is cited on Marketwatch (link2), saying that investing all at once gives better results over dollar cost averaging. The premise is a person inheriting a large sum of cash, or some other kind of windfall, such as selling a business, or winning a lottery. The edge for lump summing (investing all a once) tends to be measurable, though small.

It is worth thinking about. However, there are several caveats. The vast majority of stock market investors are not in that fortunate group making a decision about a large inheritance. Much more common are people making every day decisions with their every day savings. For example a person that has been in CDs for ten years and decides to plunge into the stock market, or bond market or gold market.

Those making "all in" or "all out" decisions tend to do poorly. While a few will do okay, many more will buy and sell at near the worst moments. This is how markets work, that at market tops there are a relative maximum number of buyers, at market bottoms a maximum number of sellers. A lot of those wrong-way buyers and sellers are small investors that feel the greed at the top and the fear at the bottom and act on it. NOTHING CAN CHANGE THAT. Markets make tops when a lot of people are buying, and bottom when a lot of people are selling. Those that think they can beat that, tend to be fooling themselves, or in an elite group with some special talent. Almost everyone making "all in" or "all out" decisions believes they are making a smart decision, but 80% to 90% are making terrible decisions.

So while the Vanguard study is interesting, it mostly applies to a person receiving a large sum out of the clear blue sky, not someone who is moving "all in" or "all out" because of news, or "just because." Another point is that dollar cost averaging can be a disastrous strategy during a prolonged bear market. Of course, no one thinks they are entering that territory when they start investing. Only in hindsight can we really say, that there was a 10 or 20 or 30 year long bear market in a certain asset class.

Another passive way to invest is to set an asset allocation and then rebalance as the various assets move up and down in value. This forces an investor to buy when prices are lower. The catch is that a person has to stick to their asset allocation. The permanent portfolio popularized by Harry Browne is one such approach (25% each to cash, bonds, stocks, gold). I am a fan of this approach. However, as always, there are no guarantees, but this kind of approach has done well for the past 30 years, with no need for bold decisions or market timing. Some will say that is because of the huge bull markets for gold and bonds and that is unlikely to be repeated. 

Another more common approach is a 50/50 stock and bond allocation, with a cash reserve of six months or a year that stays in cash. The big danger with this kind of approach are black swan events such as a change of government due to revolution or the loss of a major war, making all those paper assets virtually worthless. While the odds are low for any particular country in the short term, over the long term, these historic events do happen. Again, think back to 1900 and how many of the major powers (France, Germany, Russia, China, Japan and more) saw their governments fall and their bonds essentially go to zero before 1950. Equity investors did not do much better. Americans tend to ignore these kind of big risks because we have been blessed, but just like investment results, that is not guaranteed for the future.

My schedule continues to be too busy for much trading activity, and probably will be that way for the next two months. So I'll chime in when I can, but it won't be often.