Monday, November 25, 2013

Update for Regional Bank and Lottery Ticket Basket Strategies/Sold 50 TRST at $7.29/Sold 100 GST at $4.1-Bought: 30 ESIO at $9.88, 100 MRGE at $2.48, 40 LF at $7.49, 50 ELON at $2.23/BHB, UBCP, UBSI, FNB/STKL, CIDM, AMOT, VLY

The Lottery Ticket and Regional Bank Basket strategies are updated on the last Monday of each month. The following two tables will have closing prices from the previous Friday. 

Friday 11/25/13 Closing Prices:
S & P 500: New Record 1,804.76 +8.91 (+0.50%)
DJIA: 16,064.77 +54.78 (+0.34%)
Russell 2000:  
1,124.92 +5.30 (+0.47%)

1. Update of Lottery Ticket Basket Strategy

The Lottery Ticket Basket Strategy uses a deep contrarian value strategy, appropriately characterized as catching a "falling knife". A common criteria for the stocks contained in this basket is a smashed stock price at the time of purchase and an ugly looking chart. Any technical analyst would most likely have a sell rating on the stock.

See 2004 Study by the Brandes Institute: "Falling Knives Around the World" 

Selections are made primarily on statistical criteria including price to book, price to sales, forward P/E, cash per share and/or free cash flow. I spend anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour researching a potential purchase prior to purchase.

For many selections, I may be pessimistic about the firm's future, but not as pessimistic as the market. I will also occasionally see a ray of light at the end of a dark tunnel. Since I expect failures, which are inevitable and unavoidable in this kind of approach, I limit my exposure to $300 per stock plus any prior trading profits. 

After experiencing some success with this strategy, I now have a requirement that my total investment in all LT holdings can not exceed my total realized gains for this basket strategy. My total exposure is currently slightly under $6,000.

The name of the strategy aptly describes the risk. It is somewhat analogous in many cases to playing a hand of blackjack for the purchase amount knowing that the card count favors the house. It is a form of entertainment and an alternative to a casino visit. Based on the results to date, this strategy is far more likely to produce positive results even with the LB's skill at the tables. The primary purpose of the LT strategy is to entertain Right Brain, let it swing for the fences with up to $300, and to keep the Nit Wit from interfering with Left Brain's management of Headknocker's portfolio.

Snapshots of realized gains can be found at the end of the Gateway Post on this topic: Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Lottery Ticket Strategy: New Gateway Post

Net Realized Gains: $13,373.04 

As previously noted, Google owns Blogger and its software is turning my snapshots dark, making it more difficult to read. The snapshot has a white background until it is uploaded to Blogger. This is a relatively recent flaw in Google's software.

Click to Enlarge:
Lottery Ticket Basket as of 11/22/13
(note: I neglected to include ESIO in this table, a new addition discussed below)

As of 11/22/13, the largest unrealized gains, greater than 30%, are:

AMOT +74.51%
AMOT jumped into the lead for the reasons discussed below. 

FCE/A +64.63% 
STKL +51.77%
FCF +48.41%
SUSQ +35.96%
CIDM +35.32%
CIDM is a new entry into this list and is discussed below.

NPBC +34.53%
I neglected to include ING in the foregoing list which is up over 40%. 

A. Gastar (GST): Gastar Exploration sold 2M shares of its 10.75% series B preferred stock at $25. This offering caused a decline in the 8.625% Series B preferred stock on heavy volume for that security: GST-PA: $22.4 -1.19 (-5.04%) Even with that decline, the current yield on the GSTPRA would still be significantly lower that the 10.75% coupon on the series B priced at the $25 par value

Prospectus GSTPRA: Definitive Prospectus Supplement

Prospectus GSTPRB: FWP

GSTPRB was sold on 11/7. On 11/8/13, the company sold $125M of 8 5/8% senior secured notes maturing in 2018. 8-K Series B Preferred Closing Senior Secured Notes Pricing

Closing Prices 11/22/13
GST.PB $25.39 10.58% Yield
GST.PA $23.35 9.23% Yield

B. Sold 100 GST at $4.1 (see Disclaimer): 

Snapshot of Trade:

Snapshot of Profit: 

2013 GST 100 Shares +$126.09
Bought 100 GST at $2.68 (7/29/13 Post)

I did not find it comforting that institutional investors required this company to pay a 10.75% coupon on a equity preferred stock.

I sold too soon:

Closing Price 11/22/13:  GST: $5.59 +0.89 (+18.94%)

The only public news was this news release after the close on 11/21: Gastar Exploration Provides Update on Mid-Con 6H Well in Hunton Limestone Oil Play

C. Bought 50 ELON at $2.23 (see Disclaimer): The purchase of Echelon stock was significantly questionable even for a Lotto purchase. I do not see light at the end of a long tunnel yet.

Snapshot of Trade:

Needless to day, I am not expressing much confidence with a 50 share purchases at $2.23.

After my purchase, a cautionary article about ELON was published by Seeking Alpha.

Echelon develops, markets and supports products and services involving energy control and savings applications for "smart grid, smart cities, and smart buildings that help customers save on energy usage, reduce outage duration or prevent them from happening entirely, reduce carbon footprint and more". I have no ability to assess the desirability and competitiveness of Elon's products. There are good reasons for these kind of products to exist..

At the $2.23 price, the price to sales ratio is less than 1 at .95 and the price to book ratio is 1.34 based on data through the 2013 second quarter. ELON Key Statistics

The company has been losing money and the consensus E.P.S. forecast made by 3 analysts predicts (.42) in 2013 and (.34) in 2014.

Echelon does have a cash cushion, with cash, cash equivalents and short term investments reported at $59.731M as of 6/30/13, down from $61.855M as of 12/31/12. ELON-2013.06.30-10Q As noted in that report, revenues fell 39.2% in the 2013 third quarter compared to the 2012 third quarter, a far from reassuring development. The company explained that the large decrease was "primarily" due to an overall decrease in large scale deployments in the U.S. and Finland.

I looked at the historical results since 2008 that are summarized at page 28 of the 2012 Annual Report. The company has consistently reported losses and revenues have been lumpy. Echelon reported $134+M in 2008 revenues; $103.+M in 2009; $156+M in 2011; and $134+M in 2012. There is a lot of money, as a percentage of revenues, being spent on product development which will hopefully produce a profit in 2015.

After I purchased this stock, Echelon reported a third quarter GAAP loss per share of $.08 on revenues of $18M. The adjusted E.P.S. number was ($.06). The company estimates a non-GAAP loss of $.07 to $.12 for the 4th quarter on revenues between $16.5M to $18.5M. Total cash and short term investments was reported at $56.658M. That is a $5.197M decline from 12/31/12. I can not view any of these numbers positively.

Echelon will require a lot of patience with at best a highly uncertain prospect for any profit. On the positive side, I can only lose $115 with a total wipe out.

I expect no meaningful share price appreciation, without an acquisition offer, over the near term (up to 1 year).

Closing Price 11/22/13: ELON: $2.31 0.00 (0.00%)

D. Bought 100 MRGE at $2.48 (see Disclaimer): Merge Healthcare (MRGE) is in better shape than Echelon in terms of profitability, but MRGE is still easily characterized as a Lotto ticket.

The current consensus E.P.S. estimate is $.06 in 2013 and $.2 in 2014. MRGE Analyst Estimates The forward P/E based on the 2014 estimate and a $2.48 price is about 12.4. Price to sales is .95. So Merge has some of the statistical characteristics of a typical LT selection-at the moment.

Merge's services and products, involving medical imaging, are discussed in this August 2013 investor presentation: Merge Investor_Presentation_August-2013.pdf

Company Website: Merge Healthcare--Leading Provider of Enterprise Imaging Solutions

Snapshot of Trade:

2013 Bought 100 MRGE as LT at $2.48
The chart speaks volumes. MRGE Interactive Chart The stock rose from $.75 (11/2000) to $28.72 (11/2005). That works for me, but I would be very satisfied with just a move back to $5.

The price has continued to decline after my purchase, one of the unfortunate attributes related to any attempt to catch a falling knife.

Then, and this one of the many unfortunate events impacting any long term shareholder, the stock plummeted to $.41 by April 2008; and then worked its way back up to over $6 before succumbing again to two abrupt declines. The last swan dive occurred on 8/9/13 when the stock went from $4.5 to $2.43 after a disappointing earnings report and a CEO resignation. SEC Filed Press Release  All of the foregoing is consistent with LT selections. Smashed stock prices are the sine qua non of Lotto selections. There are usually a number of good and sufficient reasons for this classification.

For the 2013 third quarter, Merge reported a net loss per share of $.04 and an adjusted net income per share of $.02. The expectation was for an adjusted E.P.S. of $.04. Total revenues declined 5.2% to $57.2M. Adjusted EBITDA was $7.2M. Cash generated by operations increased to $15.3M. Cash declined to $20.281M from $35.875M as of 12/31/12. Long term debt declined from $250.046M to $243.374M as the company voluntarily repaid $6M of debt principal. Subscription backlog grew 73% since the 2012 third quarter 10-Q for Q/E 9/30/13

Q3 2013 Results - Earnings Call Transcript - Seeking Alpha

As noted in that conference call, part of the problem may be transitory. Hospitals have cut back on spending as they focus on the health care mandate known as ICD-10 - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Hospital spending on Meaningful use and ICD-10 implementation is draining funds from other product purchases. Once those expenditures pass, sometime in 2014, more funds can be devoted to Merge's products and services. A few more quarters, hopefully no more than three, will be uninspiring. There is at least a light flickering at the end of this dark tunnel.

Closing Price 11/22/13: MRGE: $2.23 +0.02 (+0.90%)

E. Bought 40 LF at $7.49 (see Disclaimer):

Snapshot of Trade:

2013 Bought 40 LF at $7.49
I am demoting LeapFrog (LF) from my $500 to $1,000 Flyers Basket Strategy to the Lottery Ticket basket based on a deceleration of earnings growth, the recent lowering of guidance and the increasing competition in electronic tablets catering to children.

I last bought and sold LF as part of the Flyers Basket: Item # 7 Sold 100 LF at $10.01 (6/15/13 POST)(snapshot of profit=$199.1)-Item # 2 Bought 100 LF at $7.86 (12/19/12 Post)

The stock became attractive again, only as a LOTTO, after management guided down estimates for the current quarter.  The stock subsequently did a swan dive making it worthy of consideration under the LT "Falling Knife" approach. LF Interactive Chart As shown in that 1 year chart, the stock hit a closing high of $11.8 on 8/1/13 after quickly moving from a $7.91 close on 4/18.

For the 2013 third quarter, LF reported GAAP E.P.S. of $.37 per share, five cents better than the consensus estimate. The company issued downside guidance for 2013 that was well below the then existing consensus of $.62 per share. The new 2013 range is between $.36 to $.46 per share. After this warning, the consensus estimates for both 2013 and 2014 were lowered as analysts revised their forecasts down. As of 11/6/13, the new consensus forecast for 2013 was $.57 and $.65 for 2014 (down from $.73 in 2014 as of 11/4/13).

I will just link a few the earnings press release, the transcript of the earnings call and a couple of articles discussing recent developments.

SEC Filed Press Release: 3rd quarter earnings
Q3 2013 Results - Earnings Call Transcript - Seeking Alpha
Motley Fool

A good discussion of LF's current situation can be found in this Reuters article.

I would just highlight a few points.

The LF tablets are still at the top of Amazon's best seller list: Amazon Best Sellers for Kids' Electronic Learning & Education Systems

Amazon and other competitors in this space can not easily duplicate the learning programs now available for use with the LeapPads. It would make more sense for Amazon to acquire LF than to develop those software apps for use in a Kindle product. LeapPad Games, Apps, eBooks, Videos, Music | LeapFrog App Center

LF's management may be unduly pessimistic about Christmas sales.

As of 9/30/13, LF had $78+M in cash on the balance sheet and no debt. The cash balance will likely increase significantly during the current quarter as LF is paid for products shipped in anticipation of the Christmas shopping season. The cash balance as of 12/31/12 was $120M with $180+M in receivables. 10-Q for Q/E 9/30/13

While I do not have a target price, I will certainly consider selling at over $9.5 and will most likely jettison again at over $10.

Closing Price 11/22/13: LF: $8.13 -0.17 (-2.05%)

F. Sunopta: SunOpta reported disappointing earnings for the 2013 third quarter and the stock was hammered by investors:

Closing Price 11/5/13: STKL: $8.88 -1.82 (-16.99%)

Excluding certain expenses and charges, the company reported adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $.07. GAAP E.P.S. was 4 cents per share. STKL is showing once again its ability to grow revenues while nothing much falls to the bottom line. Third quarter revenues increased 8.4% to $302.7M.

During the conference call, I would agree with the "Unknown Analyst" who expressed frustration with STKL's management in failing to execute. (near the end of the Earnings Call Transcript - Seeking Alpha)

In the last analyst, STKL is having the same problem now that it has had for a very long time. It is always a work in progress, moving toward consistent earnings and free cash flow growth, but never making it to the promised land. Consequently, this stock remains a lottery ticket until it can show consistent growth in earnings. Growing revenues is fine provided profits fall to the bottom line.

Closing Price 11/22/13: STKL: $9.12 -0.07 (-0.76%)

G. Bought 30 ESIO at $9.88 (see Disclaimer):

Snapshot of Trade: 

2013 Bought 30 ESIO at $9.88
Electro Scientific Industries qualified itself as a Lotto ticket after jumping off a cliff and during the mandatory swan dive. ESIO Interactive Chart On 10/25, the stock closed at $12.19 and then collapsed to $9.5 after making a disappointing forecast. SEC Filed Press Release

Earnings Call Transcript - Seeking Alpha

ESIO is a "supplier of laser-based manufacturing solutions for the microtechnology industry". Electro Scientific Industries Profile at; and see pages 4-7, ESI 10-K 3/30/2013.

Electro Scientific Industries Key Developments Page at Reuters

ESI 10-K 3.30.2013 (profits happened in F/Y 2011 and 2012, with losses in F/Y 2009, 2010 and 2013 including special items, see page 21; risk factors summarized starting at page 10)

The company is currently paying a $.08 per share quarterly dividend. At a total cost of $9.88, and assuming a continuation of that rate, the dividend yield would be about 3.24%. The stock went ex dividend shortly after my purchase.

ESIO was one of those hot Nasdaq stocks during the bubble years, as the stock moved from $7.95 (9/2008) to $63+ (4/2000), split adjusted, and then did the obligatory decline toward sanity, hitting $12.5 by March 2003. Over the past 6 years, the stock has mostly been moving up and down between $10 to $20.

I do not pretend to understand ESIO's products, but I do not have to understand for a Lotto purchase.

About 1/2 of the current market capitalization is in cash and marketable securities. The company had no long term debt as of 9/28/13. Cash and marketable investments totaled $121.872M. ESI 10-Q 9.28.2013 Another $10.388 is invested in the preferred stock of a company called OmniGuide (page 11). I had never heard of Omniguide: OmniGuide Surgical Completes $15 million Equity Financing

The ESIO market capitalization at a $10 price is almost $300M. An article published by TheStreet noted that ESIO owned a 251,000 square foot four building complex on 15 acres in Portland Oregon and another 53,000 square foot structure on 31 acres in Kiamuth Falls Oregon. I took a look at its HQ, located just outside of Portland, using Google Maps: 13900 N.W. Science Park Drive - Google Maps

Closing Price 11/22/13: ESIO: $9.96 -0.09 (-0.90%)

H. Allied Motion Technology: AMOT has been on a tear since it announced the acquisition of Globe Motors on 8/22/13. Allied Motion Technologies Inc. to Acquire Globe Motors The purchase price was $90M which was a really big deal for this really small company. The acquisition was completed on 10/21/13. Allied Motion Technologies Inc. Completes Globe Motors, Inc. Acquisition

On 8/21/13, the stock closed at $7.26 and at a $8.75 on 8/23. AMOT Historical Prices I mentioned this surge in a prior post. Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Updated Tables for Regional Bank Basket and Regional Bank Basket Strategies (8/26/13 Post)

On 11/13, the company reported adjusted E.P.S. of $.14 for the third quarter and $.30 per share for the nine months. Allied Motion Reports Results for the Third Quarter Ended September 30, 2013 On a pro forma basis, which assumed that Globe would have been included in results for the first nine months, the E.P.S. number surged to $.73. EBITDA went from $7.226M without Globe and $22.654M with it.

Earnings Call Transcript - Seeking Alpha

The market reacted favorably to this report.

11/13/13 Closing Price: AMOT: $10.74 +$1.23 (+12.93%)

Bought 40 AMOT at $5.95-LT (February 2012)

After this report, this stock has turned volatile with typically large bid/ask spreads. On 11/18 for example, the high was $11.94, the low at $10.5 and a close at $10.86. AMOT Historical Prices The spread between the high and the low prices was 13.71%. That would be a good yearly return for stocks on a yearly basis.

AMOT Interactive Chart

Closing Price 11/22/13: AMOT: $10.73 +0.24 (+2.29%)

I. Cinedigm (CIDM): Cinedigm exploded up after announcing its fiscal second quarter results. The company reported a loss for the quarter of $5.256M or 10 cents per share. The results did not include the GVE acquisition. For the next two quarters, which will exclude 3 weeks of GVE's results, CIDM projected revenues of $84 to $86M and adjusted EBITDA of $41 to $42M. The adjusted EBITDA for the Q/E 9/30/13 was $10.636M on $20.367M in revenues.

Closing Price 11/14/13: CIDM: $2.16 +$0.41 (+23.43%)

Closing Price 11/22/13: CIDM: $2.09 +0.03 (+1.46%)

Bought 100 CIDM at $1.55Added 100 CIDM at $1.38

2. Update for Regional Bank Basket Strategy:

This strategy is explained in my Gateway Post on this topic:

I am not tracking reinvested dividends in the following table. The dividend yield showed in this table is calculated by Yahoo Finance based on last Friday's close. My dividend yield for each position will be different based on my total cost numbers. In most cases, with FNFG and VLY being notable exceptions, my dividend yield will be higher.

The unrealized gains per holding do not include reinvested dividends.

Over the life of this basket strategy, I anticipate that the dividends will provide 40% to 50% of the total return. I am generally keeping my total exposure between $40,000 to $50,000.

Regional banks fell in response to the FED's decision to continue asset purchases at $85B per month.

As noted in prior posts, it was my opinion that the recent rally in this stock sector was based on an anticipated expansion of net interest margin as the FED gradually reduced and then eliminated its asset buying. With intermediate and longer term rates gradually returning to normalized levels, banks could lend at higher rates and consequently earn more due to the net interest margin increase, particularly when ZIRP continues after intermediate and long term rates reset at higher levels. It was anticipated that there would be a couple of years when banks would continue paying their depositors almost nothing while being able to charge more for many types of loans.

As a result of profit taking over the past several months, I am currently below my minimum $40,000 out-of-pocket investment threshold for this basket. I am not comfortable with valuations in this sector.

Since my last update, I have had only two transactions. I sold 50 shares of BANC. Sold: 50 BANC at $13.5 (11/12/13). I pared again my position in TRST by selling 50 shares discussed below.

Realized Gains to Date: $15,168.14
Dividends 2010-2012 (updated yearly only): $4,690.79

Click to Enlarge:
Regional Bank Basket as of 11/22/13
FMER continues to represent the largest unrealized gain:

FMER at $1,222.76
WASH continues to be the largest unrealized percentage gain:

WASH +127.18%

A. FNB: F.N.B. announced on 10/28/13 a "comprehensive capital action plan to proactively position F.N.B. for Basel III implementation, including the redemption of certain trust preferred securities, and to support future growth opportunities".

As part of that plan, FNB sold 4.1M shares at $12.25 and has granted the underwriters the option to buy up to another 612,244.

Another part of the plan will be to issue fixed to floating rate equity preferred stock. F.N.B. priced 4M shares of its series E fixed to floating preferred stock at the initial fixed coupon rate of 7.25% until 2/15/24 and then the security would pay 3 month Libor plus 460 basis points. The over allotment option would allow the underwriters to purchase up to another 600,000 shares. Moody's assigned a Ba3 rating to this equity preferred stock.

Pricing Term Sheet

As with other fixed to floating rate securities recently issued by financial institutions, I would expect the issuer to redeem the security, rather than to pay the floating rate, when it is in its interest to do so. These securities generally permit the issuer to redeem when the fixed coupon period ends which is the case with this one from FNB. I will keep my eye on this one.

I currently own 100 shares: Added 50 FNB at $7.8 (July 2010)Bought 50 FNB at $11.25 (June 2013)

I have sold 100 shares: Bought 50 FNB at $8.42 (May 2010) Bought 50 FNB at $9.36 (April 2010)-Pared FNB: Sold 50 at $10 and 50 at $10.18 (December 2010)

Closing Price 11/22/13: FNB: $12.71 +0.16 (+1.27%)

B. United Bankshares (UBSI): United Bankshares reported net income for the third quarter of $22.2M or $.44 per share, up from $.38 in the 2012 third quarter.

2013 Third Quarter / 2012 Third Quarter
Net Interest Margin: 3.65% / 3.87%
Efficiency Ratio: 53.31% / 56.44%
NPA Ratio: 1.48% / 1.77%
NPL Ratio: 1.26% / 1.53%
ROA: 1.04% / .92%
ROE: 8.64% / 7.76%
Dividend Payout Ratio: 70.47% / 80.63%

Bought 50 of UBSI at $16.56 (November 2009)

Closing Price 11/22/13: UBSI: $31.43 +0.29 (+0.93%)

C. Bar Harbor (BHB): Bar Harbor Bankshares reported third quarter net income of $3.5M or $.89 per share, up from $.86 in the 2012 third quarter. The estimate, made by one analyst, was for $.83.

2013 Third Quarter/ 2012 Third Quarter
Net Interest Margin: 3.12% / 3.2%
Efficiency Ratio: 55.4% / 50.7%
NPL Ratio: .92% / 1.33%
NPA Ratio: .7% / 1.08%
Coverage Ratio: 107.8% / 74.9%
Charge Offs: .1% / .25%
ROA: 1.02% / 1.05%
ROE: 11.73% / 10.49%
Total Risk Based Capital Ratio: 16.44% / 15.67%

Bought 50 BHB at $30 (February 2012)

Closing Price 11/22/13: BHB: $37.53 +0.09 (+0.24%)

D. United Bancorp (UBCP): United Bancorp increased its quarterly dividend to 8 cents from 7 cents "based in part on the Company's recent earnings achievements as well as United Bancorp Inc.'s strong capital position".

The stock reacted positively to the news:

Closing Price 11/19/13: UBCP: $7.56 +0.25 (+3.42%)

I would just note that the bank cut its dividend from $.14 to $.07 a share back in 2012. United Bancorp, Inc.

UBCP is a micro cap holding company operating through 20 branch offices in Ohio. It has been negatively impacted by net interest margin compression and costs  increases due to new banking regulations.

I own only 100 shares and have been reinvesting the dividend. Bought 50 UBCP @ 8.13Bought 50 UBCP at $7.99

I did manage to sell 50 shares before the dividend cut last year. Bought 50 UBCP at $8.49-Sold 50 UBCP at $10.05 (profit=$50.39-snapshot in Gateway Post under "2012")

SEC Filed Press Release Earnings Q/E 9/30/13
Net Interest Margin: 3.59%
NPL Ratio: .94%
NPA Ratio: 1.27%
Coverage Ratio: 105.34%
Book Value Per share: $7.65
ROA: .63%
ROE: 7.23%

10-Q Capital Ratios at Page 41:
Total Risk Based Capital Ratio: 15.38%
Tier 1 Risk Based Capital Ratio: 14.38%
Tier 1 Capital to Average Assets: 10.06%

Closing Price 11/22/13: UBCP: $7.51 -0.24 (-3.10%)

E. Valley National (VLY): As shown in the table above, VLY has been a less than optimal selection. I have an unrealized loss in the position that has been offset some by the generous dividend. I have noted in prior posts that the earnings at VLY have stagnated, and the dividend payout ratio was near 100%, two good reasons for a dividend cut. For the Q/E 9/30/13, the bank reported earnings of $.14 per share, lower than the dividend per share paid during that quarter.

Valley National Bancorp slashed its quarterly dividend from $.1625 to $.11 per share, a 32.3% decline. While the bank noted that it did not cut the dividend during the Near Depression, that is true for most of the banks owned in my regional bank basket since I started that basket strategy in 2009. I view the dividend cut as prudent given VLY's recent earning's history and reasonably forecasted earnings for the next year or two.

At a $9.75 price, the dividend yield at a $.44 per share annual rate would be about 4.5%.

I am keeping my position based on several favorable attributes including the bank's okay capital position (page 86 Form 10-Q), a return on tangible equity of greater than 10%, a low NPL ratio at 1.02% and charge off ratio of .33% annualized (both as of 9/30/2013) and geographic location and number of branches in its geographic service area (205).

A more upbeat article about VLY can be found in this Seeking Alpha article.

Even after that dividend cut, the payout ratio is still high at around 76%.

Another potential candidate for a dividend cut is New York Community Bancorp (NYCB),, which I also own:

150 NYCB Unrealized Gain as of 11/22/13=$692.11
Closing Price 11/22/13: VLY: 10.18 +0.21 (+2.11%)

F. Sold Highest Cost TRST Shares at $7.29 (see Disclaimer): Admittedly, I play small ball as an investor.

Snapshot of Trade: 

2013 Sold 50 TRST at $7.29

Snapshot of Profit:

2013 TRST 50 Shares +$32.67
Bought 50 TRST at $6.3 (December 2009)

2013 TRST Profit: $271.05 (snapshot of earlier profit at Sold 308 TRST at $6.64)

Position Before Trade:

TRST Average Cost Per Share=$5.34

Position After Trade:

315+ TRST Shares Average Cost Per Share=$5.16
Bought 50 TRST at $4.01 (August 2011)ADDED 50 TRST at $5.1 (June 2012); Added 150 TRST at $5.17 (January 2013)(plus reinvested dividends)

There was one more purchase of 50 shares at $5.65 back in May 2011. If and when the share price crosses $7.75, I may dispose of those shares which will reduce my average cost further.

I am no longer reinvesting the dividends based on the current share price being viewed as high relative to earnings.

Rationale: TRST is becoming expensive based on the TTM P/E, TRST Key Statistics, as well as on the 2014 consensus estimate for 2014 which is $.45 per share. At $7.29, the forward P/E is 16.2. I start to become uncomfortable when these small and slow growing regional banks are trading at a 15 or higher forward multiple. I have now managed the position down to  my lowest cost shares purchased in the open market ($4.01, $5.1, and $5.17), which is part of my "small ball" trading strategy.

Based on the current dividend, and at a total cost of $5.16, my current dividend yield is 5.09%.

Closing Price 11/22/13: TRST: 7.33 +0.05 (+0.69%) 

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