The Timid Trader (2nd ed.)

In this edition, I’m going to dig into USIO, SLVO, and GLDI a bit.

I found USOI, GLDI, and SLVO by using FinViz’s scanner and then ranking ETFs by div yld from high to low. The yields were fat; the charts, not very worrisome. So I bought. For sure, the proper thing would have been to have gone to the issuer’s website and pull the prospectuses and quarterly report to find out what I was actually betting on. But I didn’t. My bad. Were big money to be bet, that’s becomes a necessity. But this is a small money trade. So, let’s approach buying USOI, GDLI, or SLVO (or not) from a purely technical viewpoint.

The easiest charting site to use is Setting up a free account will allow you to create 5 watchlists and 5 chart templates. So, go there now, set up an account, and create your first watchlist, calling it something like ‘Trades’. Enter the tickers. Click ‘Save’. You’ll now see the tickers displayed in what BarChart (henceforth, BC) calls ‘Main View’. To the right of that box, you’ll see words in blue. Click on ‘Flipcharts’. The chart you’ll see is ugly and uninformative. So close out the flipcharts and just click on any of the tickers. You’ll see a mini chart. Click on ‘Full chart’. BC will default to an ugly, uninformative chart that can now be modified by changing the bar type, the lookback period, and by adding technical indicators (that BC calls ‘Studies’).

Here is where ‘Chef’s Choice’ comes into play. What you want your charts to look like is entirely up to you, and it doesn’t make much difference in terms of being able to see where/when prices were low and prices were high, because all techical indicator are derivatives of the same facts about ‘price’ and/or ‘volume’ and have zero predictive power. (Indicators are just picture of numbers.) But they do describe very accurately is what buyers and sellers have done and are doing right now. What those buyers/seller might do next is just a guess. But human nature never changes, and what gets over-bought/over-sold tends to ‘mean revert’. (Hence, “Buy the dip; sell the rally.”)

I run a bunch of templates. But let me detail one that might be useful to you in this context. But first, some more theory. “Market time is fractal”, as Mandelbrot demonstated and is detailed in the book he co-authored, The (Mis)behavior of Markets. Therefore, you need to decide which price pattern, in which time frame, you’re trying to trade. But I’ll simplify things. Since we’re trying USOI, GLDI, and SLVO for their divs, not for cap gains, getting in crisply at a local, short-term bottom, such as some chart templates would highlight, isn’t as important as not over-paying in terms of its longer-term price range. Therefore, select ‘Weeky’ as the bar frequency and ‘Heikin-Ashi’ as the bar type. (Slap on some MAs --moving averages-- if you wish. But they aren’t necessary.) If you charted SLVO, you’ll see that it’s trading in a price channel that has ranged since last Sep between 5.00 and 5.50. Meanwhile, it’s been kicking out a monthly div that has ranged from 0.062 cents most recently to as much as 0.188 cents last April. (Yahoo Finance is an easy place to find div data). If you add up and average the past 12 months of divs, which works out to be roughly $0.08/month, you can see that Yahoo’s summary report that SVLO has a div yld of 31% can’t be trusted, but an ETF that’s priced around 5.35 and has paid an an average monthly div of 8 cents --$0.96/yr, or around an 18% ann. div yld-- might be worth betting on.

Therefore, I wouldn’t try to get fancy with order types. Just size an opening position appropriate to your account size and risk metrics, and put your order in the queue to execute at Monday’s opening. Ditto the other two tickers. Figure out where prices have ranged, what an average monthly div been, and whether you want to make a bet or not based on a hoped for yield.

Lastly, a comment on ‘scaling’. Some people like to go “all in” with the stocks they buy, Others scale in by thirds, or whatever scheme makes sense to them. There’s an old-timie pit trader who argues for 3x, 2x, 1x and then looks to get out. Stan Weinstein advocates half and half. There are no right or wrong answers, and all scaling schemes depend on trading ‘price risk’ against ‘information risk’, which is a topic well covered in Jamis Mamis’ book, The Nature of Risk or in Perry Kaufmam’s book on building trading systems.

I’d suggest, though, since I’m trying to reach people with small accounts and small investing experience, that limiting the initial bet size to $25 bucks would be a good way to get started. That’s enough money that gains could be meaningful --in a $200 dollar account-- and losses wouldn’t be devastating. Later, as it makes sense to increase funding in the account, I’d still say to stick with $25 bets, but carry more positions, so that experience could be gained investing in currencies, commodities, country funds, preferreds, MLPs, REITs, common stocks, bond funds, etc., all of which have their time and place, but all in due time. For now, keep things simple.

To summarize. USOI, GLDI, and SLVO are highly speculative plays on which not much money should be bet. I have no idea why they are able to pay the fat divs they do, nor any idea whether the divs are sustainable. But of all the other current opportunities in this over-bought/over-priced market, these three aren’t the worst things one could be betting on, even though their strategy of using covered calls could become a bit riskier as the underlying increases in price.

That latter comment is really just a guess, since I’m not an options guy. But my understanding is this. A covered call strategy works best when you don’t get called. Then you just collect prem. The prices of oil and PMs might be volatile enough that the ETF managers can stay ahead of getting called often enough to turn a profit, which is why reading the prospectuses and quarterly reports for those funds needs to done. (LOL)

Arindam, editor and sole proprietor of The Timid Trader tip sheet, whose intention is financial instruction, not financial advice. DO YOUR OWN DUE DILIGENCE!


Seeking Alpha has a good article on USOI.…

RYLD might be another to add to your list…12%+ yld

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Thanks. I own RYLD, plus a dozen similar, which are easy to find, just by asking FinViz to rank ETFs by yield descending and then checking to make sure the divs aren’t a one-time thing.

If you’re looking for yield, take a look at PSA/PRO and PSA/PRN. The CY’s are modest, but the YTC’s are fat, due to their trading at a steep discount from par. SimplyWallStreet estimates the common is trading and at a 31% discount from FV and doesn’t like some of its financial metrics, such as debt/equity, but concedes that interest payments are well covered by cash flow. PSA a dozen pfds. I’ll list them in the next post.

A question, if I could. How did you stumble onto this forum, which is all but dead, given how much TMF hates TA?


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<b>Caution: The table likely contains errors. The asking prices are today's, but obviously not current. 
Do your due diligence. This is the tool I use to identify the sweet spot(s).
I don't care about CY. It's YTC that I'm after with pfds. 

Issuer	Symbol	Own	SP	MDY	CallPrice Callable	Period	CPN	Cur Yld	YTC	Price x 4 Ask	If Floating Rate, then 	
PSA	PSA/PRF		BBB+	A3	$25.00 	06/02/22	0.18	5.15	5.19%	9.65%	$99.20	$24.80 		
PSA	PSA/PRG		BBB+	A3	$25.00 	08/09/22	0.37	5.05	5.14%	9.97%	$98.24	$24.56 		
PSA	PSA/PRI	1s	BBB+	A3	$25.00 	09/12/24	2.46	4.88	5.05%	6.42%	$96.52	$24.13 		
PSA	PSA/PRJ		BBB+	A3	$25.00 	11/15/24	2.64	4.75	5.22%	8.64%	$90.92	$22.73 		
PSA	PSA/PRK		BBB+	A3	$25.00 	12/20/24	2.73	4.75	4.93%	6.21%	$96.36	$24.09 		
PSA	PSA/PRL		BBB+	A3	$25.00 	06/17/25	3.22	4.63	5.04%	7.52%	$91.80	$22.95 		
PSA	PSA/PRN		BBB+	A3	$25.00 	10/06/25	3.53	3.88	4.89%	11.08%	$79.20	$19.80 		
PSA	PSA/PRO	8s	BBB+	A3	$25.00 	11/17/25	3.64	3.90	4.97%	11.21%	$78.40	$19.60 		
PSA	PSA/PRP	8s	BBB+	A3	$25.00 	06/26/26	4.25	4.00	4.98%	9.69%	$80.40	$20.10 		
PSA	PSA/PRQ	8f	BBB+	A3	$25.00 	08/17/26	4.39	3.95	4.92%	9.47%	$80.36	$20.09 		
PSA	PSA/PRR		BBB+	A3	$25.00 	11/19/26	4.65	4.00	4.98%	9.27%	$80.28	$20.07 		
PSA	PSA/PRS		BBB+	A3	$25.00 	01/13/27	4.80	4.10	5.01%	8.79%	$81.80	$20.45 		


Agreed it has been all but dead. Not exactly sure when I stumbled onto the Sanctuary, but then again as a SENIOR that’s understandable. Although I subscribe to about 10 or so MF boards I can go weeks at a time before catching up on them. From what I surmise from your TTT stradegy it’s simply buy low sell advancing with no mention as timing to capture monthly div’s. MACD and CCI lows seem to be reasonable indicators as well for bottoms.


If I had to categorize how I invest/trade, it would be classic, Ben Graham-style value investing, just as he describes it his book, The Intelligent Investor.

This TTT project is less an attempt to promote a style of investing/trading than for me to have a chance to think about things in ways that might might benefit small-money, small-experience investors who are typically pushed into things they shouldn’t mess with --like options-- and steered away from things where the risks are manageable and the returns can be decent to fabulous, like pfds or country funds or commodity funds, which almost everyone ignores. But go back and chart things like sugar. Its moves can be worth trying to catch, and the bragging rights are fun.

Yeah, MACD and CCC can be good tools. It all depends on what you want your charts to look like. The problem most beginning chartists have is they load up on indicators and then don’t know what they’re really looking at. Anything works some of the time. Nothing works all of the time. So what using charts really comes down to is ‘judgment’, not ‘math’, just as is the case with financial statement analysis. “What’s the story being told by the picture or the numbers? Is there an opportunity? Am I too late?”


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Arindam, To get your YOC you have to reinvest those dividends into the same or equivalent preferred. ie; YOC is a compounding over time value. I use to buy individual preferred’s shortly after they IPO’d using CDx3 and Quantumonline, Now (got lazy) and I simply allocate that 10% of my portfolio to PFFA ETF (8.12% currently). Sometimes buying more with the monthly dividends other times something else. PFFA shares I bought in the March 2020 downturn ($10-15 range) have been steller even with this recent Ukraine downturn.

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You’re fun to play with, because you ask shrewd questions.

Yes, using the standard formula for calculating YTM/YTC/YTW is a flawed process, because I’m not reinvesting divs at the coupon rate, as the formula assumes. And the situation is even worse, because I’m not discounting estimated gains by taxes and inflation (though I do have a spreadsheet that does this and use it when vetting hundreds of bonds).

My thinking is this. Some issuers, such as WFC, have a common stock that pays a div, preferred stocks that pay divs, as well as issue bonds. What’s needed is a means to select among those securities so as to buy what seems to be the best return for the least risk. This is where Quill and I go 'round and 'round. He runs a very complicated divvie program that he asserts is the best way to build wealth through compounding. I claim he’s trading elephants for rabbits and don’t want any part of it.

So, what’s going on? Bonds mature. Stocks don’t, as don’t bond funds (be they open-end, closed-end, or exchange-traded). In that respect, preferreds are bond-like enough that they can be treated as bonds, even they are junior in the credit line. (There are some exception to the bond/stock maturity thingie, such as perpetual bonds and perpetual preferreds. Futher complicating the matter is that the divs offered by some preferreds are non-cumulative.)

So, let’s work some examples. MS/PRE has a 4% coupon and offers an attractive 5.32% current-yield. But if bought at its present price of $26.84 and called at its call date of 10/15/23, a negative (-0.72%) return would result. Whoops. A person would have been better sticking with cash. Same-same with PFFA or any divvie-paying common stock. There is no price support. Two years ago, it was trading at $26-$27. Now it’s around $23-$24, or $2 bucks down (roughly -13%). Yahoo Finance estimates the present current yield for PFFA is a fat 7.17%. That means the net-gain --if PFFA were bought 2 years ago-- is an underwhelming 50 bps/year, or only one-third of what my checking account at Rivermark CU is paying me. (1.5% on the first $15k.) Clearly, a small-money, small-experience investor --who is my chief concern-- would have been better off sticking with cash, especially since he/she needs an emergency fund more than they need money at risk in the financial casinos chasing yields that don’t materialize.

So, what might be a good compromise? If one has some discretionary capital, but is hugely risk-adverse and suspects this present economy and market are beyond salvaging by the idiots running the Fed/Treasury cartel and are likely to crash hard after the leftists have lost the midterms, then making some $25 bets on deeply discounted pfds whose divs are cumulative and whose issuer’s fundamentals are decent might be a good way to “dip a toe”. The worst-case losses are tolerable. The best-cases aren’t insignificant on either an absolute or risk-adjusted basis. But what’s a middle-case case? The person has begun the process of learning how to chart, how to make sense of financial statements, how to write orders and deal with bid/ask spreads, how to get money into and out of brokerage accounts, how to deal with taxes on gains received, etc. None of these back-office skills are taught in the schools, nor are they well covered in the introductory books on investing.

There’s a line in a poem by Antonio Machio that I love. “Caminate, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar.” [Roughly, “There are no roads but by walking.”] If one is to move from being a small-money investor to being a larger-money investor, he/she needs to learn to take risks, but not so much/many that they get thrown out of the game --either financially or emotionally-- before they’ve had a chance to learn the game. Hence, the title of my “tip sheet”, The Timid Trader. I HATE risk. But what got me into bonds was the huge discrepancy that occurred in the era between the fairy tale promises of stocks and the solid fundamentals of bonds where real assets backed up coupons to be paid, and some fat cap-gains were possible. (E.g., buy XRX’s 8’s of '27 at 34 in '03 or so and ask what your return is when called at par in ‘17.) In those days --and still-- the “average” investor runs away from "junk bonds’ but blithely buys junk stocks on the basis of their “narrative”, but never their chart or fundamentals. When the company fails to deliver and the stock crashes, then they whine, “On advice of TMF , I bought such such and such. Now I’m losing money. What should I do?” Quill’s answer is simple. “You failed to get in a timely manner, and you failed to get out in a timely manner.” To which I’d add, “To your loss on that stock, you need to add whatever fee you paid TMF for their bad advice.” (In fact, I’ve built a spreadsheet that shows a small money investor will always go broke following the G Boyz advice, because they’re trying to play a game with a negative expectancy relative to their account size.)

Russ, think about your friends and family. If they are typical, they have zero interest in investing, much less learning to do it well, and I don’t blame them a bit. Not only are they discouraged by Wall Street and financial “advisers” from learning the game --because that would means a loss of revenue to those predators-- them “in control” don’t want uppity citizens who will call bullsh*t on their scams. So, yeah, there’s a political agenda in my tip sheet as well. But for now, I’d rather avoid “politics” and just focus on getting a beginning investor started on the journey with a $200 account. In short, I’m a “belt-and-suspenders” investor, and that caution has served me well. If some smart market commentators are to be believed --e.g., Doug Casey, Paul Roberts, Jim Rogers-- the years ahead are a financial war zone that the lazy/unprepared/inexperienced won’t survive. Smart, savvy investing doesn’t take big money. It takes the discipline that comes from doing trades, one at time, on whatever schedule one’s other life can accommodate. (Hence, the reason I like Ed Sekota and Stan Weinstein and Ben Graham and Justin Mamis.)


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