Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bought 100 IGI @ 21.04 & Sold 90 NIE @17.41 in IRA/Sold 100 MSFT @25.75/PBIB, CBU, TRMK, NRIM, TOBC/Bought 100 XRB:TO @ 22.09 CAD

The movement in the VIX above 20 is sufficient to re-start the count, so the Unstable VIX Pattern continues with no days in the 3 month count necessary for the establishment of a Stable Vix Pattern. Vix Asset Allocation Model Explained Simply Current Status of The Vix Asset Allocation Model Signal The ^VIX closed yesterday at 20.71, up .49 for the day. If the VIX had been moving below 20 for several weeks, and then had three days between 20 and 21 over a ten day period, I would not restart the count. However, the three closes above 20 have happened since the VIX first closed at below 20 on 10/11. ^VIX Historical Prices

The downdraft in foreign currencies and commodities yesterday, along with other risk assets, was most likely due in my opinion to a story in the WSJ, which appeared to be based on sources with the Federal Reserve sending a signal to the market. The WSJ journalists claimed that the "central bank is likely to unveil a program of U.S. Treasury bond purchases worth a few hundred billion dollars over several months" The market was hoping for much more quantitative easing. Since the slide in the dollar recently was predicated on a much larger QE 2, this apparent market signal from the FED caused a reversal of the weak USD trade.

1. Bought 100 of the CEF IGI at 21.04 on Tuesday & Sold 90 NIE @ 17.41 on Wednesday in the ROTH IRA (See Disclaimer): This purchase by the Old Geezer caused a ruckus here at HQ, with the RB going on strike, complaining about Girlie Men at the helm of the trading desk. The RB is in a depressed state, at least for it, wondering how HK was going to acquire Canada, all of it, with the OG making these kind of buys. The OG got spooked about the negative yield from the 5 year TIP auction earlier in the week, and was heard to say that the bond ghouls and the stock market wizards do not appear to be on the same page. The five year treasury bond is priced to yield about 1.25%, with the 10 year at 2.64%. Bloomberg The national average for a five year certificate of deposit has slide to just 2.15%. The LB recommended that the OG be immediately relieved from Head Trader duties, before his caution infects the legions of minion peon staff members here at HQ. At a minimum, LB recommends that the OG's IV dose of chill pills be doubled, with a quart of Lithium injected into the Old Goat just for good measure.

This is the third buy of IGI. My prior purchases and sales are discussed in the following posts: Added 100 of the CEF IGI at 19.78 Bought 100 CEF IGI at $19.89 Sold 100 IGI at 20.74 and Bought 100 GDO Sold 100 IGI at 21.26

This particular CEF invests mostly in investment grade corporate bonds, and has a 2024 liquidation date. The term date does provide a measure of protection against interest rate risk, assuming the manager of the fund buys mostly bonds that mature on or before the liquidation date. For the most part, the price for IGI has recently been at a small premium to its net asset value. Based on the decline on Tuesday of 50 cents per share, I believed that the CEF had returned to a small discount at the time of my purchase. Net asset value information can be found at the and at CEFA - Closed-End Fund Association.

The most recently filed Form N-Q, the fund's holdings, can be found at The last filed shareholder report can be found at The expense ratio is close to .8%: Morningstar. The current distribution rate is monthly at $.1045. This would translate into a yield of around 5.96% at a total cost of $21.04. This is a link to the sponsor's web page: /IGI.

On Tuesday, IGI did close at a 2.81% discount to its net asset value of $21.68. The fund does not use leverage.

The shares of NIE were sold based on a conservative trading strategy for the IRAs based on the movement of the VIX. I received one quarterly dividend paid by this CEF of $25.2 for the shares bought in mid September at 16.62. This CEF closed Tuesday at a 6.86% discount to its net asset value. Allianz Global Investors | AGIC Equity & Convertible Income Fund

2. Earnings Regional Bank Stocks: PBIB, ONFC, TRMK, CBU, TOBC, NYB & NRIM (all owned Regional Bank Stocks basket strategy):

Porter Bancorp is another disappointment. At least for the 3rd quarter, PBIB reported a profit. This small bank based in Louisville reported net income of 2.4 million or 16 cents per share, down from 46 cents per share in the 3rd quarter of 2009. The expectation was for 9 cents. Net interest margin increased to 3.73% compared to the linked quarter in 2009. NPLs stood at 3.45% of total loans, and the total risk based capital ratio was at 16.35%, both as of 9/30. Porter continues to be a weak hold for me. (sec filed press release on 3rd Q earnings:

Community Bank System, a recent addition from earlier in the week, reported net income of 17.3 million or 51 cents per share, up from 38 cents reported in the 3rd quarter of 2009. The consensus estimate, made by 6 analysts, was for 46 cents, m: CBU Analyst Estimates | Community Bank System As of 9/30, NPAs to total assets was extremely low at .37%, and NPLs to total loans was just .58%. I have not decided what to do with my 151+ shares of Wilber (GIW), GIW- Being Acquired by CBU.

Trustmark (TRMK) reported net income of 25.9 million or 40 cents per share, up just 1 penny from the 3rd quarter of 2009, but two cents better than the consensus forecast. TRMK Analyst Estimates | Trustmark Corporation The Board also declared a 23 cent quarterly dividend. As of 9/30, tangible common equity to tangible assets was 9.34%, the Tier 1 common risk-based capital ratio was at 12.72%; and the net interest margin stood at 4.39%. I own 50 shares as part of the regional bank basket: Bought 50 TRMK at 19.57

Northrim (NRIM) has not moved much, either up or down, since I bought 50 shares at $16.66, though the earnings reports have generally been favorable. This Alaska bank, bought primarily for geographic diversification, reported earnings of $.49 per share, much better than the consensus estimate for 35 cents. The total capital to risk-adjusted assets was 15.72% and the tangible common equity to tangible assets ratio was 10.5%. NPAs to total assets declined from 2.82% at the end of the 2nd quarter to 2.41%. The tangible book value was $16.86, slightly more than the closing share price on Tuesday and Wednesday. NRIM NRIM closed at $16.8, up 31 cents yesterday.

Oneida Financial Corp (ONFC) is one of the smallest banks in the basket, bought primarily for the good dividend yield, currently around 6.5%. This bank reported net income of 11 cents, up from 10 cents in the year ago quarter. The tangible value per share was reported at $9 per share as of 9/30, and the stock closed at $7.78 on Tuesday.

Although I have sold 100 shares of New York Community Bancorp originally bought in an IRA, realizing over a $300 net gain, I still own 100 shares bought in a taxable account that is part of the regional bank strategy, and that position is one of my largest unrealized gains in this basket. Added 50 NYB at $10.57 Bought 50 NYB at $11.3 50 NYB at 10.9 50 NYB at $11 Sold NYB in IRA at 17.51 The share price jumped after my purchases after NYB acquired a midwest bank in an FDIC acquisition. Item # 8 NYB (Dec 2009). This bank then expanded into Arizona with another FDIC assisted acquisition: Item # 8 NYB (April 2010) New York Community Bancorp reported operating earnings of 31 cents and cash earnings of 34 cents for the 3rd quarter. The consensus estimate was for 31 cents. NYB lost 1 cent yesterday, closing at $16.78.

3. Bought 100 XRB.TO at 22.09 CAD (see Disclaimer): The symbol for this ETF is XRB:CA at Fidelity. It is an Ishares Canada product. I noticed yesterday that it had declined 14 cents which was almost enough of a decline to pay for my 19 CAD commission on a 100 shares, so I went ahead and bought 100 at 22.09 CAD.

This ETF is basically the Canadian version of a U.S. ETF for government inflation protected bonds, except some of the larger provinces in Canada also issue these kind of securities. iShares DEX Real Return Bond Index Fund: Overview This is a large fund in Canada with almost 570 million in assets. The management fee is .35%. As you would expect from this kind of fund now, the yield is low, and the distributions are made semi-annually in June and December. XRB.pdf A description of Canadian Real Return bonds as they call them can be found in this publication from the Bank of Canada:

4. Sold 100 MSFT @ 25.75 (see Disclaimer): The purchase of IGI and XRB:TO, noted above, along with the sells of MSFT and NIE, were the result of anxiety attack number 1,394,302 experienced by the Old Geezer, who was promptly relieved of his duties as HT by Headknocker at 10:16 A.M. on Wednesday, after the HK noted the quart of lithium, laced with Xanax, appeared to have no effect on the OG who was starting to have his vision of living under a bridge and eating at a soup kitchen. The shares of MSFT were bought in two small lots: Bought 70 MSFT @ 24.55 (Oct 2010) and Bought 30 MSFT at $24.54 (June 2010)

5. Citigroup Funding Senior Principal Protected Note Guaranteed by Citigroup vs. a Fixed Coupon Citigroup Senior Note: In this section I am posing the following issue. Assume an investor wants to buy a Citigroup senior note with a fixed coupon maturing in 2014. Someone mentions an alternative, a senior "principal protected" note issued by Citigroup Funding and guaranteed by Citigroup that pays the greater of 3% annually or some percentage based on an index. I thought that I would examine this issue by comparing MBC, which I own, to a Citigroup fixed coupon senior note maturing at about the same time as MBC. Bought 100 MDC at 9.84 Bought 100 MBC at 9.78 (a similar one tied to the Russell 2000 is also owned: Bought 100 MOU at $10.12)

MBC matures on 6/19/2014. Final Pricing Supplement I found at Finra a Citigroup fixed coupon bond, maturing on 5/5/2014, with a 5.125% coupon. FINRA It is actively traded and closed yesterday at 107.35. This gives me a current yield of 4.77%. The YTM would be lower given the premium to par value, and there would be a loss on the note if held to maturity. Besides the fixed coupon payments, the buyer's only upside is to sell the note at even a greater premium rather than to realize a guaranteed loss by holding to maturity.

MBC was trading earlier in the week at $10.08 with a $10 par value. So, the premium issue is much better than the bond referenced above. This senior note from Citigroup Funding has a minimum guaranteed payment of 3%. A purchaser of that note at $10.08 would receive no less than a tad under that minimum guarantee as the worst possible payment option, assuming Citigroup survives to pay interest and the principal at maturity. So, the owner of MBC gives up some current yield to the owner of the bond but does not have to pay a 7%+ premium to par value either. Maybe, if that was the end of the comparison, there would be a slight advantage for owing the fixed coupon Citigroup bond.

Unlike the owner of that fixed coupon bond, the owners of MBC has a potential upside to their 3% guaranteed interest rate. An investor in MBC has the potential to receive annually up to 30% interest computed on the $10 par value, based on the percentage increase in the Russell 2000. I explain this provision in a prior post as follows:

"MBC is another Citigroup Funding unsecured senior note that matures on 6/9/2014. This security has a similar structure to the others which I have recently purchased and discussed in this blog.

Par value is $10 which will be paid upon maturity provided the issuer is still solvent. I view the issuer's credit risk to be the main risk of this security.

Citigroup will pay annually a 3% guaranteed interest rate calculated on that $10 par value or $30 per year for 100 shares. As with the other Citigroup principal protected notes previously discussed, it is possible for the investor to receive more than that 3% guarantee. This particular note will pay up to 30% based on the increase in the Russell 2000 index from the starting value for each annual coupon period, with the usual proviso. I call this proviso the reversion clause. If there is one day when the Russell 2000 index closes above that 30% maximum amount, there is a reversion to the 3% guarantee and the closing value of the index is no longer relevant for that coupon period. The index could end up 28% for that period but the investor would still receive that 3% due to a maximum level violation.

For MBC, a reversion has already occurred in the first coupon period which ends on May 21, 2010 (see page PS-2 Final Pricing Supplement which sets out the annual closing dates). Thus, notwithstanding the Russell 2000 indexes climb from the starting value of 481.22 on 5/29/2009, the owner of MBC will receive an interest payment based on the 3% guarantee, since the Russell 2000 had a close during that period above 130% of the starting value. While only one day is sufficient to cause this reversion back to 3%, the Russell 2000 has had multiple violations of the 625.586 maximum level in that index (1.3 x. starting value of 481.22=625.586). So when payment is made for the first annual period, I already know that I will receive the 3% guarantee." Bought 100 MDC at 9.84

MBC is in its second annual coupon period after suffering a reversion to 3% in its first annual period due to the maximum level violation described above. I believe the starting value in the second period for the Russell 2000 is 649.29, ^RUT, the ending value for the first period. The 2nd coupon period ends on 5/20/2011. The maximum level is 844.077. So I do not want a single close in the Russell 2000 above that number. There has not been a maximum level violation so far in the second period. The ^RUT closed yesterday at 704.23. If that was the closing value on 5/20/2011, then the percentage increase in the Russell 2000 from the starting value would be 8.46%, or close to double the annual yield of the bond. If I received one coupon payment of 20%, and the remainder at the guarantee of 3% which was paid in the first paid, then I would still be better off with MBC than the fixed coupon bond, and I could be much better off with two good paydays.

So, assuming I have everything straight, which one would you choose if you wanted to buy a Citigroup note? I certainly would understand the response, "I don't want to own a Citigroup note".

The remaining trades from Wednesday will be discussed in the next post.


  1. FE @ $36= 6% yield, ex next week, good earnings, div safe, fyi.shorts have to get out or pay div.

  2. I added to my 100 share position in FE earlier in the day, and changed my dividend option to reinvestment. Both EXC and FE have fallen since their respective earnings releases, which were okay, based on the near and intermediate term prospects for their merchant power businesses. Both have fallen in tandem due to those concerns in my opinion, whereas my other electric utility holdings without that issue have continued to rise in value. So, I think that it is important to understand what is impacting the stock prices of both EXC and FE now before making a decision on whether to invest and how much.

  3. MET confirmed dividend, helping MET-A bigtime.

  4. I am playing with the house's money on METPRA, with my last buy at $12.5 and my lowest purchase at $7 during the Near Depression period. While there was concern about an elimination of the non-cumulative dividend for financial equity preferred stocks during that Dark Period, there is no current concern about MET Life eliminating either its non-cumulative preferred dividends or the common dividend, which would be a prerequisite to eliminating the preferred stock dividend as your post suggests.

    The up movement in METPRA today is more due to investors searching for yield. The guarantee of 4% applied to a $25 par value looks good to new investors at $23.45, in a world where the long treasury and corporate bonds are in another rally sending yields on the 10 year treasury further below 2.7% with the 30 year hovering just above 4%. So I have a different view on the dynamics of what is impacting the price of METPRA today, or since I made my last purchase, as being totally unrelated to a declaration of the common dividend.

    The search for yield, which is the driving force in the bond bubble, ebbs and flows with various degrees of desperation now. I have a Trust Certificate, sold today, that rose almost 6% early this morning to 70 cents over its $25 par value and is yielding about 5.9% at its current price. That TC contains a lower investment grade senior note maturing in 2029.

  5. HPF selling off on low volume since 19.70 looks good to add- 19.37, can see no reason it, except marketmaker is taking out weak hands before dist. declared on 1st of month perhaps?...7.6% here

  6. Good job scalping those spikes. Just sold 1/2 BKH for same reason.