Tom Armistead

About the Author Tom Armistead

I'm a well-informed retail investor and post on SA in order to expose my thought process to critical examination and comment from readers. It makes me a better investor. I'm particularly proud of bullish macro articles posted in 2009 and later, in which I presented ideas that encouraged me to invest very profitably in a rising market. I also did articles on individual stocks, many of which contained insights not available elsewhere. Finally, I wrote a number of thoughtful articles critical of financialism and the lack of ethics on Wall Street. I do not post for compensation, as I am concerned that editorial policy encourages and pays a premium for articles that invite the reader to speculate on the short term movements of microcaps, penny stocks, and controversial issues. The best way for me to monetize my insights is to invest accordingly. As a retail investor, I don't give investment advice. I write about what I'm investing in, and the thought process involved in decision making and stock selection. Hopefully some of what I write is of benefit to others, by sharing my experience as I interpret it and helping them improve their investment thinking and process.

Dealing With Sudden Outperformance: CVEO, CRC, CRR, IBM

It’s a luxury problem. As a number of speculative energy investments have done well, together with action in tech stocks, my discretionary portfolio is up 14.65% on the year. I don’t want to give it back, but I want to stay in the game.

Two of the energy names were resolved by swapping shares for vertical call spreads. Yesterday as Civeo Corp (NYSE:CVEO) went up over $4.50, I sold the shares and bought vertical call spreads, long at 3 and short at 7. Most of my original investment is back in my pocket, while what’s on the table is mostly house money.

For California Resources Corp (NYSE:CRC), I sold the shares a while ago, and did the same maneuver with a vertical call spread, from 5 to 9. As shares went up over $9, I rolled the 5 calls up to 7, taking more of my winnings off the table.

CARBO Ceramics Inc (NYSE:CRR) is an exercise in applying theory to a practical situation. It’s possible, as a stock fluctuates, to roll options up and down in such a way as to make a profit on a round-trip, or even on a stock that never makes it back to the starting point.

I started Carbo with a vertical call spread, Mar 45/50, with the shares above $50. As the price declined, every time it got close to the strike on the lower leg, I rolled down. Then when it would recover sufficiently, I would roll back up, receiving more premium than I previously paid to roll down.

From time to time I bought back and resold the calls at 45.

Yesterday as I rolled CRR Jun 30 up to 35, I reached a point where my breakeven is $34, and I am now playing with house money.

So, starting with the stock in the $50 area, and rolling with the punches, I now have a fine profit, with shares trading in the area of $41.50. Oil is up as I type this, and CRR will likely rally.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), after much bouncing around in the $150 to $160 range, is now in the $174 area, greatly reducing my pain on this outsize position. I’m long by means of deep in the money LEAPS, and rolled Jan 2016 130 calls up to 140, receiving a credit of $9.75, substantially more than the $7.05 I paid to roll down as the stock got down into the low $150’s. I’ve worked my breakeven down from $187 to $177.

I spent some money the other day, to buy and read a book entitled “Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes.” Among its fundamental precepts is the fact that money is fungible. The distinction between my money and house money, as mentioned above, is meaningless. A dollar is a dollar, so on and so forth.

Reading CNBC, I learn that the Saudi Oil Minister says only Allah knows about the price of oil. The information’s not available to the mortal man.

I continue to believe that the price of oil will tend toward the marginal cost of developing new sources of production, somewhere in the $80 area. Speculation and manipulation could well drive it back above $100, in due course.

As far as house money and my money, I like the ratchet effect achieved by the options trade. That house money is now my money. Let’s keep it that way.

Then there’s the distinction between and among gambling money, investment money and spending money. It makes sense to me. I take investment money, or speculation money, and convert it to spending money. Then I spend it.

For all you DGI investors out there, there is really no distinction between dividend income and capital gains, other than the tax consequences. A dollar is a dollar. But seeing as how I’m so pig-headed, to claim there’s a difference between house money and my money, etc., I will let you go ahead with your delusional line of thinking

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