Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Is It Really China?

Everybody is sure that current sell-off is triggered by China. I have my doubts.
Yesterday everything was down. Global panic. What usually happens during global panic? Yes, everybody buys dollars, which is going up. What happened yesterday? Dollar down. Why?
There is one possible explanation. I am not sure it's true, but it fits know data, including the fall of the dollar. This sell-off is driven by sovereign wealth funds of oil producing nations. It's a well known fact that Saudi Arabia has deficit budget this year. They are not borrowing money, because they have more than 700 billion reserves. And most of these reserves are kept in sovereign wealth funds, mostly in US. Other oil producing nations have similar investments. It's not easy to follow them, the don't report daily. If they are selling, they are selling dollars as well, converting to local currencies.
If this idea is right, this sell-off should end soon, most probably this week. One thing can make things worse: window dressing. Hedge funds are probably selling like crazy, to show their customers in the end of month report that they were in cash (mostly).
In any case, I am going to make a purchase or two by the end of the week. Wrong or right, time will tell. But discipline tells me to buy when there is blood on the streets.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Trading Around

This is trader's market. If you are buy and hold (or buy and pray) investor, bad luck.
I did several trades around my positions in last several months

Facebook (FB): was selling put and call out of money options. Unfortunately, last call option ($86 on Jul 31) was exercised, so effectively I sold part of position for $88. Less profit than expected.

Polaris (PII): Added to position at 143 some time ago, sold at 150 before earnings, bought back several days ago at 133.

Raytheon (RTN): Added to position in June at 100, sold lately at 110.

I'm going to continue such trades, that's the only way to make money in current market. Yes, Google (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) made money for me, but with everything else down or flat, that's not enough.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rearranging Fixed Income Portfolio

Did some thinking last week, today started acting. I don't like First Trust Strategic High Income Fund (FHY) anymore. Fund reduced distribution and started including return of capital into distribution. ROC doesn't do anything for you, just complicates your tax return. I decided to replace it with Credit Suisse High Yield Bond Fund (DHY). Distribution yield is higher, and it doesn't include ROC most of the time. Done my first trades today.

A little bit of trading history for this year. Didn't mention it before, I did some Facebook (FB) optioin selling (naked puts and covered calls). Profitable so far, even though first time covered call got exercised, second time - put. You can see those trades on my twitter account.

Full disclosure: author is long FHY, DHY, FB and short FB June puts and calls.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Annual Portfolio Review

It's this time of the year again. Need to explain myself what am I doing. Lot's of worries around the world: Ukraine (it's a real war in Europe, make no mistake), Greece, ISIS. Ebola just subsided (don't know why that one scared investors). And yes, collapse of oil prices (only really rich people think it's bad). But let's not forget, worries are good for investors. They allow us to get good entry points. And bull markets climb a wall of worry. It's scary when everybody's happy (remember March 2000?)

Portfolio goal. Growth. This is high beta, unapologetic growth portfolio with some safeguards and some boring investments. The goal remains unchanged.
Basic Principles. Most of the stocks in this portfolio were chosen for long term investment, which, for me, is about 18 months. Every stock is under review all the time, with a major review of the portfolio twice a year. I can trade around any position if I feel like it. The portfolio is not diversified by sectors. Diversification reduces risk, but it also reduces potential gain. No change in basic principles either.
Strategy. Most money is invested in US. But I increased my European exposure lately. Europe is coming back. Domestically, with GOP controlling Congress, we might get into some ugly fights, with possible veto and government (or parts of government) shutdowns. I think every such fight is a buying opportunity.
Paradigm Changers. These are stocks of companies that are changing business in sectors or even in the whole world.
Ultimate disruptor. Google is changing the advertising world. The company is also aggressively moving to mobile internet advertising.
Risk: All great empires were destroyed by internal problems. There is also a risk of search ad market saturation.
No changes since last review.
Plan: Hold, trade around.
Pure brain company. Company designs ARM CPUs for a wide range of mobile devices and licenses them to different companies. Most smartphones and all tablet computers I know run on ARM CPUs. Additional plus in current environment: it's a European company, based in UK.
Added to position since last review
Risk: Tech world is changing quickly, somebody can invent a revolutionary new design and beat ARMH.
Plan: hold, trade around.
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)
Not the only social network company worth investing anymore. But the most profitable so far.
Sold some calls and puts since last review.
Risk: Wall Street hates the company.
Plan: hold, trade around.
Yes, retailer can be a paradigm changer. This is a great company and I like shopping there.
No changes since last review.
Risk: Any retailer is a high risk company. Anything can go wrong.
Plan: hold.
Twitter (NYSE:TWTR)
Many people think that company is only good as a possible takeover target. Wrong! They are just at the beginning of monetizing their popularity.
No changes since last reivew.
Plan: hold.
Banks / Financials
Banco Santander (NYSE:SAN)
Probably the best Spanish, and maybe European bank out there. High yield, big investments around the world. Bought it because I believe in resolution of Euro troubles.
Added to position and reinvested dividends since last review.
Risk: Currency fluctuations, more problems in Eurozone.
Plan: Hold.
As far as I know, the biggest bank in the world. European, more to the point, British. And UK loves her banks.
Reinvested dividends since last review.
Risk:currency fluctuation, another financial crisis.
Plan: hold.
Steady growers / high yield. Companies with steady growth, high dividend or both. I am increasing weight of this group, such companies are best investments in depression times.
Airbus Group (OTCPK:EADSY)
One of two big aircraft manufacturers. As Cramer would say, we love duopolies. Company has at least 8 years of backlog.
No changes since last review.
Risk: currency fluctuation.
Plan: hold, add on weakness.
Polaris Industries Inc (NYSE:PII)
One of the best recreation equipment manufacturers out there. Local (for me) company as well.
Added to position since last review.
Risks: another recession, people don't like buying discretionary items in recessions.
Plan: Hold, reinvest dividends.
3M Company (NYSE:MMM)
Most innovative company in Dow Jones index. Another company headquartered in Minnesota.
No changes since last review.
Risk: another recession, management mistakes.
Plan: Hold, reinvest dividends.
Raytheon (NYSE:RTN)
Bought this company because of instability in the world. Company makes missiles, including popular air-to-air AMRAAM and SIdewinder, radars, software, i.e. most sophisticated military equipment.
Reinvested dividends since last review.

Sold since last review: l'Oreal (OTCPK:LRLCY), Diana Containerships (NASDAQ:DCIX). I hate all shipping now. As for l'Oreal, I sold it just to take profit, can return at a lower level

Fixed Income
I have a group of closed-end funds, which are bought when at discount to net asset value or at low premium and sold at high premium. There are two groups of funds: corporate bond funds and muni funds. There are too many of them and they are rotating too fast to present them in the portfolio review. Watch my trades on Twitter, @afilonov
Disclosure: The author is long ARMH, DSW, EADSY, FB, GOOG, GOOGL, HSBC, MMM, PII, RTN, SAN, TWTR.
Additional disclosure: I have no position in DCIX or LRLCY. Positions can change any time.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014: So-so year

Honestly, I sucked. My main investment accounts grew 3.2%. Shame on me. Retirement accounts did a little better, in line with S&P 500. And fixed income account had a stellar year: almost 20%.
Lessons learned. First lesson: don't chase performance. Ever. I had pretty good 2013, and thought what worked then would work in 2014. Wrong!  I bought a lot of stuff in the beginning of the year, which didn't perform. Second lesson: think twice or more, before buying any transports. I bought Diana Containerships (DCIX) in 2013, it was one of my worst investments. Third lesson: take at least some profit when you have it. True, I traded around Polaris (PII), but possibilities were endless and I didn't use most of them.
Last but not least. My European investment didn't work. I think they still deserve a chance.

Full disclosure: I have a long position in PII, no positions in DCIX and long positions in several European stocks.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sometimes Politician Knows Better

March 18, 2014. Russia just annexed Crimea. All G-7 countries condemned the move and promised more sanctions. First sanctions were small and weak. That same day, Jay Carney, Obama's chief spokesman, literally said: "I wouldn't, if I were you, invest in Russian equities right now. Unless you're going short."
I remember big noise on CNBC. Several pundits, including Jim Cramer, said that it's not for a politician to predict any market, including stock market. Several financial companies predicted serious (15-20%) growth for the year for Russian stocks. Well, let's see. I'm using Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX) as a proxy for Russian stock market.
March 18. RSX closed at $23.51
Today, December 29. RSX closed at $14.61. 38% Drop.
QED. Sometimes politicians know better. Russian market was a toast even before sanctions. GDP growth for the year was expected at 0.5%. After the sanctions, there is no growth. For the year 2015, Russian officials predict GDP drop in range of 3-5%.
Why politicians know better? At least in this case? Because they saw that Putin declared the war on Western World. Western World in extended sense, including Australia and Japan. In other words, country with GDP 2% of the total world GDP declared the war on countries with about 55%. Sanctions moved this war from war of words to the war of economics. Can't you predict the result?

Full disclosure: I don't have any positions, long or short, in RSX or any other Russians stocks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Can't Make Money in Shipping

Well, I can't. Maybe you are better at it. Before going on vacation I closed my Diana Containerships (DCIX) position. Huge loss, more than 60%.
When I bought it in March 2013, it looked like a reasonable investment. Economy of the whole world is recovering, trade, especially trade in finished goods, is blooming. Most finished goods are shipped in containers. Should be good for container shipping companies, right? Here comes DCIX. Unlike others it's very transparent. You can go to the company's website and see current and near future ship employment, with rates and commissions. Company usually buys ships which are already employed, choosing moment right, or so it seems.
What I didn't think about is competition. There are a lot of ships entering service right now. more than enough to carry increasing trade. And, despite increasing trade, rates are going down. Right now they are at the point of zero margin. And this isn't the end of it. I decided to sell DCIX when I saw this article. The problem isn't that Maersk is building the biggest container ship in the world. The problem is that Maersk is building 9 of them right now. Which means that shipping capacity of post-panamax ships (those which can't travel through Panama Canal) is increasing a lot. That's the segment in which DCIX was trying to make money lately.
Lesson learned. When analysing any business, main attention should be paid to supply and demand in the industry, everything else comes after that. Demand might be increasing, but if supply is increasing faster, there is no money to be made.

Disclaimer: I don't have any positions in companies mentioned in this article.