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Notes from a Newbie: X marks the spot

May 6, 2018

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Welcome back everyone for the next edition of “Notes from a Newbie.” I wanted to start off by saying thanks for all the support you all have shown me as I share my trading experiences with you. My goal is to hopefully prevent some of you from making the same mistakes that I have made. If I manage to help just one of you that my efforts here have been successful. So speaking of mistakes, as promised, let’s take a look at my first trade in my newfound profession. We will call this “X marks the spot.”

So here I am fresh off the 3 day Legacy seminar and ready to get this ball rolling. As explained in the last blog, my portfolio design was going to lean cash flow heavy. All I needed to do at this point was pick the stock that I was going to kick-start this journey with. To be honest, after spending 3 days with Matt and listening to his bullish bias on steel, I knew leaving there that U.S. Steel was going to be the one. So my mindset going in was to start small and test the waters. Just get the pinky toe wet to make sure the temperature was just right. Unfortunately, I tripped on my ego and fell straight in, but we will get to that later.

On January 19th I bought 100 shares of U.S. Steel (X) at $39.03 and immediately sold a covered call at a .40 delta with a credit of $1.86, just as we were taught. I subtracted the credit of $1.86 from the $39.03 to get my break-even or stop-loss price of $37.17. And just like that I was off and running! The stock continues to climb for another week leading up to an earnings announcement on January 31st. This would be my first taste of the volatility of earnings season and my first lesson of trading into earnings at least from an emotional standpoint. See over the course of the next 5 days I would watch US Steel go from $41.66, blow through my “notional” stop loss of $37.17, see a low of $30.87 before settling at $33.97. That is a 20% drop in a 5 day span, and an emotional week that I would eventually do all over again because I didn’t quite learn my lesson the first time. But that is for a later time. So you are probably wondering why I would allow this to happen, right? The rules clearly stated to get out at the breakeven point, so what the hell was I doing? That is a question I asked myself all the way to the bottom. The only rationale I could play was that it had to break the last major level of support. It was still making higher lows and higher highs, so this appeared to be just a hefty pullback, at least in my mind.

So I continued to hold, it confirmed my rationale, pivoted, and ran higher. Whew, that was a close one! And then the fun began. US Steel went on an epic 6 session rally that was capped off by an 18% jump on an announcement the President would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. So in a 2-week span, I have gone from the far left to the far right on the emotional scale. What do I do now? We never talked about this scenario in class! Steel is going to go to a million! I have to do something or I will lose out on $500 on the share price alone! This is where consulting with a coach should have been my number 1 priority. But I am hard-headed and know better, and decide to roll my covered call that, oh, by the way, was expiring the day of the jump. So I rolled it to an April 16th expiration and took a $200 loss on the option but made up the difference on the move in the stock. So in my mind at the time, no harm no foul, but I will let you be the judge.

At this point, the stock bounced around in what appeared to be a high base consolidation for a few weeks until the President decided to exempt every country except a small deserted island in the Atlantic Ocean. And looking back now, this is where the decline started. Over the course of the next 3ish weeks, US Steel would drop from $44.91 to $33.52, essentially putting me right back where I was in February. I rolled the call one more time on 14 March before the stock settled and started heading back up. The call eventually expired on 13 April and I will leave the follow on story for the next time. So what do I want you to take from all of this? Well here was the lessons that I learned:

Lesson #1: Rolling Calls is stupid.

Rolling calls is stupid, and has yet to work in my favor. I profited $202 dollars on the calls in a 2-month span. The original call was sold for $186. If I would have let the call expire got assigned I would have pocketed the maximum ROI. I would have essentially won! I could have let the dust settle from the tariff talk and re-evaluate the situation. I then could have re-bought the stock at a much lower price and sold another covered call and doubled my overall profit. I also ended up taking a $352 loss on the stock price at the time the option expired. So you do the math, $202 – ($352). That’s right, 2 months into my journey with my first stock I was negative $150. Could be worse, but if I got out of my own way, would be a lot better.

Lesson #2: Emotional decisions are almost always bad decisions.

I let greed influence my decision to roll and fear influence my decision to sell. If I followed the rules I would have lost nothing at my breakeven point, and if I would have followed the rules after breaking the rules I would have had a max ROI at expiration. Moral of the story is follow the rules!

Lesson #3: Don’t make decisions without knowing what you are doing.

Doing nothing is sometimes better than doing something stupid. Consult the coaches, they are there to help. I would be willing to bet they would not have given me the advice that I ended up doing.

Lesson #4: Learn from your mistakes so you don’t make them again.

I have no problems admitting that I was wrong. But I will be really embarrassed if I ever have to admit doing this again, I haven’t and I won’t. I have moved on to other mistakes, or other “lessons” as I call them. I am paying for education in an unorthodox manner, I will jump on this grenade for you guys/gals just don’t jump on with me.

You can refer to the chart below to see where and when I made the trades that I made.

My trades on $X.

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One Reply to “Notes from a Newbie: X marks the spot”

  1. JacobAgbor says:

    Nice. Im also in X, although I sold a $35 put as a strategy, and protected and held during this last earnings. It just now recovered to that and I sold for a 70% profit..
    I also can attest to having nerves of steel and previously being beaten down as reason for me staying calm through this recent earnings decline… now I’m licking my chops and awaiting to see if it’d dip down low again so i can sell another put.

    Nice post, Thanks for sharing.

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