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Back To The Blog, Altering A Portfolio

|Includes: F, Mastercard, Inc. (MA), SBUX, V

One thing that I've really, truly missed over the years is blogging. I'll admit, I was never full-blown into it with multiple entries per day. But it was something I enjoyed doing a few times throughout the week.

Perhaps this writing will even go unseen here at Seeking Alpha. But I don't really care. Over the years writing for SA, TheStreet, Motley Fool and several others, I've lost the time to blog about finance and stocks. I just want to do it to help sort my thoughts and to help any others who may find it interesting.

I figured, now is as good of time as any to start again. I recently sold my long call position in Mastercard MA. I still can't decide if that was the correct decision or not.

I still own a long stock position, but several stocks I own, I also own via deep-in-the-money call options. This strategy can be a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, you get a lot more 'juice' to work with. I have a lot of experience with options and am therefore comfortable using them. They are complex, so it's not for every investor.

I also own deep-in-the-money calls in Ford F and Starbucks SBUX.

This strategy usually works well for companies with reasonable valuations, low dividends and dependable growth. MA and SBUX fit the bill perfectly here.

For Ford, I own it because on the selloff to $13.50, I didn't want to buy more stock, so I stuck with the options to benefit from a nice rebound.

This strategy, if it moves against you, will hurt, because options deal in such larger amounts of leverage. For instance, I can own the $60 SBUX calls for $15.00. This was when SBUX was trading for about $71 in February of 2014. They expire in Jan 2016.

In other words, it was a 'bet' that SBUX will close above $75 in 23 months, ($60 +$15.00 = $75).

I am confident in this position and expect SBUX to continue higher into January 2015. My reasoning can be read here: Thinking Of Selling Starbucks? Read This First.

Back to Mastercard. I'm not sure why I felt it was time. I was looking at the company's growth expectations for this year. They were good, with high single digit revs and 13% EPS growth. But this is below what we've seen in the past and expect to see next year.

Lower gas prices are hurting the credit card companies, because of the lower transaction amounts. Visa V said as much on its conference call. Visa and MA also said lower gas prices aren't translating to as high of consumer discretionary spending as we first thought.

Lower growth, negative impacts from gas prices and currency headwinds all forced me to decide whether I wanted MA to now be the largest position in my portfolio. The answer was, I did not.

Although, it looks like shares could put together a move back toward previous highs near $90. So I may add some of those DITM call gains to that position as a result.

Thanks for any and all of those who read my first blog post in quite some time!

Disclosure: The author is long MA, F, SBUX, V.