New Merrill Lynch Covered Call CEF - the Enhanced Equity Yield & Premium Fund (ECV, MCN)

Includes: ECV, MCN
by: Roger Nusbaum

Merrill Lynch recently priced a new call writing closed-end fund (NYSEMKT:CEF) called the Enhanced Equity Yield & Premium Fund (ECV), writes Roger Nusbaum. The fund will buy mostly dividend paying stocks and sell index options with the primary goal being income. I can't imagine this will be different than the myriad of these funds that already exist.

Now Merrill has thrown its hat in the ring, unless this is a second fund from Merrill? There are so many of these now I just don't remember.

I will say I have been very pleased with the CEF from that category that I own for clients and personally, MCN. The original thesis, which I have had to defend several times in the comments of this site, was that these funds will move less that equities in both directions and be less interest sensitive than bond funds. That is exactly how it has worked out since I bought it. It is up about a $1 and I have taken in three, I believe, dividends since I bought last fall.

MCN chart

A lot of the negative comments about these funds have been along the lines that they will lag in an up market and get killed in a down market.

I can't see where this does worse than the market in a nasty correction. Obviously on a given day anything can happen. 8% annually seems like a legitimate cushion against a decline.

As for lagging an up market? Yes I know, I write this everytime I mention it.

As a look to build a portfolio I want to own some things that will move more than the market and some that move less than the market, these types of funds move less than the market and that is exactly what I want from this one, out of many, holding.

The balance between expected out performers and expected laggards would speak to my expectations for the market.

By the way this is not a call for anyone to buy MCN. It now has close to a 7% premium to NAV. As I said earlier this week, a CEF I own growing to have a big (ish) premium is not an automatic sell.

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