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Writing Covered Calls on Market Down-Days

One strategy to deal with the current market turmoil is called down-day covered writing.  This is based on looking for stocks that are down on a day that the market is down.  This strategy assumes the rubber band reaction of the stock bouncing back up when the market move up. This gives the writer the advantage of buying the stock at a cheaper price than on a market up-day.

On a day with a big pullback, you are trading a lower premium for the potential capital gain of the bounce back price.  For example, a stock is trading at $45 and the current month 45 call is priced at $2.10 indicating a cost basis of $42.90 and a assigned return of 4.9%.  However, on the market down-day, the stock drops to $43 and the 45 call price drops to $0.90.  If you enter this trade by buying the stock at $43 and selling the 45 call for $0.90, your cost basis is now $42.10 and your assigned return is now 6.9%.  If the stock falls short of $45 at expiration, you keep the $0.90 in premium and write a new 45 call at the next expiration date.

Example of covered call on market down-day

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The key to this strategy is making sure the stock is trading with the market.  Here we will define the market as the S&P 500.  Use a chart service such as bigcharts to create a chart with your stock.  Then click the compare buttom to add the SPX (S&P 500).  See chart below of ESRX compared to SPX.  You should notice that the stock and SPX have a very similar pattern.  If yes, the two are moving in lockstep together and this is a good candidate for this strategy.

This strategy is not about the technical movement of the charts but about the potential snap back movement of the stock.  This serves as an example of why covered call traders sell out-of-the-money (OTM) calls to increase return on investments.

Stock Chart comparing SPX price movement to ESRX.

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Using a Protective Put to Prevent Investment Losses

At Get Rich Investments, we create investing strategies to capture monthly income. This may take the form of covered call trades, cash-secured put trades, CEFs for monthly dividends and other strategies. However, as the market volatility increases such as we have experienced lately, investors get worried about protecting their capital. We do have an answer which is an effective strategy. It is called a protective put trade to protect against losses during a price decline. We like to also combine the protective put with our covered call strategy to have our income and protect our capital at the same time.

Please don’t take my word for it , here is how our friends at Fidelity Investments describe using a protective put.

There are two types of options: calls and puts. The buyer of a call has the right to buy a stock at a set price until the option contract expires. The buyer of a put has the right to sell a stock at a set price until the contract expires.

If you own an underlying stock or other security, a protective put position involves purchasing put options, on a share-for-share basis, on the same stock. This is in contrast to a covered call which involves selling a call on a stock you own. Options traders who are more comfortable with call options can think of purchasing a put to protect a long stock position much like a synthetic long call.

The primary benefit of a protective put strategy is it helps protect against losses during a price decline in the underlying asset, while still allowing for capital appreciation if the stock increases in value. Of course, there is a cost to any protection: in the case of a protective put, it is the price of the option. Essentially, if the stock goes up, you have unlimited profit potential (less the cost of the put options), and if the stock goes down, the put goes up in value to offset losses on the stock.

Let’s highlight how the protective put works. Assume you purchased 100 shares of XYZ Company at $50 per share six months ago. The cost of this trade was $5,000 ($50 share price multiplied by 100 shares).

The stock is now trading at $65 per share, and you think it might go to $70. However, you are concerned about the global economy and how any broad market weakness might impact the stock.

A protective put allows you to maintain ownership of the stock so that it can potentially reach your $70 price target, while protecting you in case the market weakens and the stock price decreases as a result.

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When the stock is trading at $65, suppose you decide to purchase the 62 XYZ Company October put option contract (i.e. the underlying asset is XYZ Company stock, the exercise price is $62, and the expiration month is October) at $3 per contract (this is the option price, also known as the premium) for a total cost of $300 ($3 per contract multiplied by 100 shares that the option contract controls).

If XYZ continues to go up in value, your underlying stock position increases commensurately and the put option is out of the money (meaning it is declining in value as the stock rises). For instance, if at the expiration of the put contract the stock reaches your $70 price target, you might then choose to sell the stock for a pretax profit of $1,700 ($2,000 profit on the underlying stock less the $300 cost of the option) and the option would expire worthless.

Alternatively, if your fears about the economy were realized and the stock was adversely impacted as a result, your capital gains would be protected against a decline by the put. Here’s how.

Assume the stock declined from $65 to $55 just prior to expiration of the option. Without the protective put, if you sold the stock at $55, your pretax profit would be just $500 ($5,500 less $5,000). If you purchased the 62 XYZ October put, and then sold the stock by exercising the option, your pretax profit would be $900. You would sell the stock at the exercise price of $62. Thus, the profit with the purchased put is $900, which is equal to the $500 profit on the underlying stock, plus the $700 in-the-money put profit, less the $300 cost of the option. That compares with a profit of $500 without it.

As you can see in this example, although the profits are reduced when the stock goes up in value, the protective put limits the risk to the unrealized gains during a decline.

We continue to identify winning option trades to generate income and to exit early as the stock bullish patterns moves prices higher.

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4 Special Dividend Stocks – One Stock with a 18.7% Special Dividend Yield

Aware, Inc. (AWRE), a leading supplier of biometrics software and DSL service assurance products, today announced that its Board of Directors has declared a special cash dividend of $1.15 per share, or approximately $24 million in total. The special dividend will be paid on May 25, 2012 to shareholders of record as of May 11, 2012.

AWRE closed at $6.15 for a one-time special dividend yield of 18.7%.

Anixter International Inc. (AXE), a leading global distributor of communication and security products, electrical and electronic wire & cable, fasteners and other small parts, today announced that its Board of Directors declared the payment of a special dividend to shareholders of $4.50 per common share, or a total cash outlay of approximately $150 million. The special dividend is payable on May 31, 2012 to shareholders of record on May 16, 2012.

AXE closed at $69.43 for a special one-time special dividend yield of 6.5%.

LPL Financial (LPLA) just widened the gulf between itself and other competitors after announcing a $2 special dividend payout to shareholders slated for May, and plans to initiate smaller quarterly payments thereafter, industry observers said.  After May, investors holding LPL Financial’s common stock can expect regular quarterly dividend payments, initially of up to $0.12 per share, according to the company.  The dividend is payable on May 25, 2012 to all common stockholders of record as of the close of business as of May 15, 2012.

LPLA closed at $36.98 for a total one-time special dividend yield of 5.47%.

Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. (DO) announced today that the Company has declared a special quarterly cash dividend of $0.75 per share of common stock and a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.125 per share of common stock.  Both dividends are payable on June 1, 2012 to shareholders of record on May 1, 2012.

DO closed at $68.00 for a total one-time special dividend (special plus regular dividend) yield of 1.29%.


Monthly Dividend Stocks Beating the S&P 500

Comparison of monthly dividend stocks and ETFs to the S&P 500

Click to enlarge

While dividend income is the hot item these days as the yield on fixed income investments is lower than income investors are seeking.  However, you do not want to give up some total return just to lock in a dividend.  The yield on the S&P 500 is only 2% and the price return has been 1% over the last year.  This creates a total return of 3% on the S&P 500. You should use this as the baseline for your income investments.  You can easily find monthly dividend stocks and ETFs that can beat the S&P 500 to make you even more money than just the monthly dividend.

Here are three monthly dividend stocks that have beaten the S&P 500 over the past year: (1) CRT, (2) MAIN and (3) UTG. The chart above shows the stock price returns compared to the S&P 500 over the past year.

Cross Timber Royalty Trust (CRT) is currently trading at $46.50. It has a 1-year price return of 24.05% compared to 1% for the S&P 500. CRT has a current dividend yield of 6.43% paid as a monthly dividend. CRT has a total return (1-year price return and dividend yield) of 30.48%. This is 8 times more profitable than the S&P 500. This is clear evidence that monthly dividend stocks can provide significant income investment returns beating the S&P 500.

CRT Company Profile: Cross Timbers Royalty Trust (Trust) is an express trust. The Trust is a widely held fixed investment trust (WHFIT). The Company entered into Cross Timbers Royalty Trust Indenture between predecessors of XTO Energy Inc. (XTO Energy), as grantors, and NCNB Texas National Bank, as trustee. As of December 31, 2010, Bank of America, N.A. is the trustee of the trust. Approximately 20 of the underlying royalty interests in the San Juan Basin burden working interests in properties operated by XTO Energy. XTO Energy also operates the Penwell Unit, which is the properties underlying the Texas 75% net profits interests and ExxonMobil operates the Hewitt Unit, which is the properties underlying the Oklahoma 75% net profits interests. Other than these properties, XTO Energy and ExxonMobil do not operate or control any of the underlying properties or related working interests.

Main Street Capital (MAIN) is currently trading at $17.50. MAIN has a 1-year price return of 13.77% compared to 1% for the S&P 500. MAIN has a current dividend yield of 8.64% paid as a monthly dividend. MAIN has a total return (1-year price return and dividend yield) of 22.41%. This is 7.5 times more profitable than the S&P 500. Again, this is another monthly dividend stock significantly beating the S&P 500.

MAIN Company Profile: Main Street Capital Corporation (MSCC) is a principal investment firm focused on providing customized financing solutions to lower middle-market companies with annual revenues between $10 million and $100 million. The Company was formed for the purpose of acquiring 100% of the equity interests of Main Street Mezzanine Fund, LP (MSMF) and its general partner, Main Street Mezzanine Management, LLC (MSMF GP); acquiring 100% of the equity interests of Main Street Capital Partners, LLC (the Investment Manager); raising capital in an initial public offering (IPO), which was completed in October 2007, and thereafter operating as an internally managed business development company (BDC). MSMF is licensed as a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Investment Manager acts as MSMF’s manager and investment adviser. The Company invests primarily in secured debt instruments, equity investments, warrants and other securities.

Reaves Utility Income Fund (UTG) is currently trading at $25.08. UTG has a 1-year price return of 14.09% compared to 1% for the S&P 500. UTG has a current dividend yield of 6.0% paid as a monthly dividend. UTG has a total return (1-year price return and dividend yield) of 20.09%. This is 6.7 times more profitable than the S&P 500. Again, this is another monthly dividend stock significantly beating the S&P 500.

UTG Company Profile: Reaves Utility Income Fund (the Fund) is a non-diversified closed-end investment Company. The Find’s investment objective is to provide a high level of after-tax income and total return consisting primarily of tax-advantaged dividend income and capital appreciation. The Fund may invest a portion of its assets in foreign securities. In the event that the Fund executes a foreign security transaction, the Fund will enter into a forward foreign currency contract to settle the foreign security transaction. It focuses to invest at least 80% of its total assets in dividend-paying common and preferred stocks and debt instruments of companies within the utility industry. The remaining 20% of its assets may be invested in other securities, including stocks, money market instruments and debt instruments, as well as certain derivative instruments in the utility industry or other industries.

Monthly Income From Taxable Closed-End Income Funds

There are many ways to create monthly income from investments.  One method is to invest in closed-end funds ysing a taxable income strategy.  these funds tend to invest in fixed income securities like high yield bonds, mortgage bonds and other income sources.  Below is a list of 5 high yielding taxable income funds that pay monthly dividends.  The yields range from 9.6% to nearly 11.1% in these CEFs.  Three of the five funds are trading at a discount to their net asset values.

Check out more monthly income recommendations from the Monthly Income Plan.


Symbol Name Strategy Closing Price NAV Yield Prem/ Discount Market Cap
StocksPLUS & Inc
$19.77 $12.25 11.13% 61.39% $201M
HSM Helios Strategic
Mortgage Inc
Income-Mortgage Bond
$6.21 $6.47 10.14% -4.02% $63M
FMY First Trust/FIDAC Mortgage Inc Taxable
Income-Mortgage Bond
$19.15 $18.61 10.03% 2.90% $78M
FSD First Trust High Inc
Income-High Yield
$16.37 $17.59 9.79% -6.94% $590M
JMT Nuveen Mort Opp Term
Fund 2
Income-Mortgage Bond
$21.53 $22.87 9.61% -5.86% $103M
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