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I suspect that most preferred income investors are conservative by nature. I am. I don't believe I have any special talent or gift for trading, a crystal ball, or any access to insider information. Consequently, I have little expectation of prospering by consistently buying low and selling high. In fact, prior to becoming a fixed income investor, my trading history boasted the opposite, buying high and selling low. Tis sad but true, over those years, I've given more to the market than I've taken from it. However, that's yesterday's news, and of no real interest. Of importance is that I'm patient, analytical, organized, pretty good at math, and always looking for that angle, strategy, or edge to help guarantee my market success. The Art & Science of Preferred Dividend Investing details my history, education and growth as a preferred investor and the lessons I learned along the way. I want to share that knowledge by introducing you to this effective, profitable, and safe way to invest in preferred equities.
If you’re on my profile page, you probably want to know a little more about me before signing up for the Mortgage REIT Forum. That seems reasonable.
Why is my name hidden?
I see things that are problems in the world and I work to correct them. I shine a light on places where companies don't want anyone looking. A few CEOs have reached out to me because they appreciated the thorough analysis; others have taken great offense because I go against the grain by calling out poor investments. Most analysts simply apply hold ratings or move on to find a different company to discuss. Executives of companies that are performing poorly on a fundamental level don’t want extra attention, so ignoring them is the safer course. Since I choose to highlight those problems, I keep my name off the site. Hiding my name makes it a little more difficult for those companies to try to silence me with nuisance suits.
Why did I pick mortgage REITs?
As I learned the sector, I began building more and more complicated models to estimate the fluctuations in value and performance across different mortgage REITs. I became even more interested as I found certain economic theories, such as efficient market prices, clearly did not apply. The lack of high quality public analysis meant investors were often poorly informed which set the stage for price failures. Economics would suggest that the rewards from this analysis must be the fair compensation for the talent that goes into finding them, but efficient markets still requires that the adjustment be immediate. It is not. Do you want an example? Look at the price movement in Resource Capital Corporation leading up to and following the earnings release (03/14/2017). There was a gap, even the morning of the earnings release, because the other professionals covering them needed time to update their expectations.
How did I build my system?
I was good at math and decent (certainly not great) at excel. I spent a great deal of time theorizing about how things worked and building models to represent that view. Then I would pull historical data from a company and see if my model was correct. If it was, great, I could expand the sample size. If it was wrong, I would look for the reason. I try to nail down as many variables as possible. The result of working long hours and constantly reassessing my beliefs as I tested them against the historical data was a deeper understanding of how the parts actually worked. This is why you may see me criticize analysts that put in a weak effort or try to cut large corners.
What is my view on risk?
There is a world of difference between the ways an investor can generate their returns. The traditional view is to see earning excess returns as compensation for taking on high levels of risk. I believe it is far better to focus on earning returns from catching market failures. These failures happen due to poor liquidity and investors (including analysts) working with incomplete information. I believe that by knowing the individual companies well, the investor can step in when the “risk” is heavily skewed in favor of “returns”. They should hunt for opportunities where there should be sufficient room for positive returns and very low probabilities of any major decline.
That theory guides my investment decision making. I do not try to generate higher returns, I try to generate more consistent returns by reducing the downwards risk. Occasionally that results in exceptionally high returns when something corrects, but it also means I am willing to pass on several decent opportunities because I want the risk/return profile skewed heavily in my favor.
It is also a reason you’ll see me emphasize preferred shares as an investment strategy. Some of these have very stable valuations and strong yields. At the same time, I will also look to sell the shares if I believe they are overvalued. This can be challenging for many buy and hold investors, but it is another way to take advantage of liquidity. I pay less attention to setting up those limit-sell orders on the preferred shares if I have a large cash position already, but if I see several things at attractive prices then I don’t want to stay in a share if I could reallocate the capital to something that is materially more attractive.
The subscription platform allows me to do a few things very well. It allows me to share the research I’m doing for my own investment decision making. It allows me to communicate rapidly with investors that are willing to pay for my best work. The editorial process takes time, but subscription articles can be posted as quickly as I can write them and upload the file. This is critical for updating investors to a liquidity event.
It also allows me to diversify income streams. With the growth in ad-blocking technologies and widespread use of mobile devices, I want more sources of revenue for my work. This is the only method I’ve found that works. Don’t take my word for it though, consider reviews from my subscribers. I’m still maintaining a perfect 5 star average rating.
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Look at the tickers for RSO, ORC, and WMC. I was able to call a buy rating and two sell ratings. I would consider RSO and ORC homeruns (price movement over 15% within a month) and WMC a solid double (falling 7% to 8% to land within my suggested range for closing shorts). Disclosure: Long RSO.
David White is a software/firmware/marketing professional and a long time investor. He has worked in the networking field, the semiconductor equipment field, the mainframe computer field, and the pharmaceutical/scientific instrumentation field. He has bachelor's degrees in bioresource sciences and biochemistry from U.C. Berkeley. He is a former Ph.D. student in biochemistry. He has done significant graduate work in EECS and business at Stanford (through SITN) and UC Santa Cruz. He was awarded a Certificate in Advanced Software Systems (about 1/3 of an MS in EECS) by the Stanford Computer Science Department. He also took most of Stanford's undergraduate Computer Science curriculum. He has been nominated for at least three separate Nobel Prizes (Economics and Peace). He came extremely close to winning the 2014 Nobel Prize in Economics. There are about 3000 nominations for each prize; but since the same people are often nominated multiple times the 3000 nominations lead to only about 250 to 350 nominees worldwide in a given year. With about 7.5B people in the world, the odds of getting three separate nominations are about 1 in 10**22. I also was a Research Fellow for Dr. Stanley Prusiner on the Scrapie project that won the Nobel Prize in Medicine. I probably had little to do with it; but I still get bragging rights.
An investor with circa 30 years of professional, managerial and financial experience, gathered through both private-individual activities as well as asset management type of roles.
I'm involved in running a leveraged fixed-income, absolute return, hedge fund that aims at providing its investors with double-digit returns, per annum. The fund runs a fast, frequent and furious trading strategy and it focuses on the very short term. Definitely not a Buy & Hold!
I'm also advising and consulting to private individuals, mostly HNWI that I had been serving through many years of working within the private banking, wealth management and asset management arenas. This activity focuses on the long run and it's mostly based on a Buy & Hold strategy.
Risk management is at the very core of our essence and while we normally take LONG-naked positions, we constantly hedge our positions, in order to protect the downside, that usually occurs at times when you least expect that to take place...
I cover all asset-classes though mostly focusing on cash cows and high dividend paying "machines" that may generate high (total) returns: Interest-sensitive, income-generating, instruments, e.g. Bonds, REITs, BDCs, Preferred Shares, MLPs, etc. combined with a variety of high-risk, growth and value stocks.
I believe and invest for the long run but I'm very minded of the short run too. While it's possible to make a massive-quick "kill", here and there, good things usually come in small packages; so do returns. Therefore, I (hope but) don't expect my investments to double in value over a short period of time. I do, however, aim at an annual double-digit returns on average, preferably on an absolute basis, i.e. regardless of markets' returns and directions.
Timing is Everything! While investors can't time the market, I believe that this applies only to the long term. In the short-term (a couple of months) one can and should pick the right moment and the right entry point, based on his subjective-personal preferences, risk aversion and goals. Long-term, strategy/macro, investment decisions can't be timed while short-term, implementation/micro, investment decision, can!
When it comes to investments and trading I believe that the most important virtues are healthy common sense, general wisdom, sufficient research, vast experience, strive for excellence, ongoing willingness to learn, minimum ego, maximum patience, ability to withstand (enormous) pressure/s, strict discipline and a lot of luck!...
Rubicon Associates is headed by a Chartered Financial Analyst charter holder with over 20 years of experience in the investment management industry focused on the analysis, investment and management of fixed income and preferred stock portfolios. Over the years, he has analyzed and invested in both public and private companies around the world as well as advised institutional clients on fixed income strategies and manager selection. The principal has been responsible for managing nearly seven billion dollars in credit investments across the capital structure and overseeing the research and trading of credit market activities. Rubicon Associates has written for Seeking Alpha, Learn Bonds, a newsletter and TheStreet.com in addition to advising institutional and private investors.
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Founder and Director of Gerring Capital Partners.
Publisher of The Universal marketplace service on Seeking Alpha.
Instructor at Ursinus College in the Department of Business and Economics.
Faculty Advisor to the Ursinus College Finance Scholars.