First Half Trading Update – Seeking Alpha

This post was originally published on this site

It’s been a month since I last initiated a group of new buys on the swing trade front. Below I’ll outline the two new trades I put on this week, the one trade I exited, and the two trades that failed to achieve my desired outcome. As this isn’t my regular mid-week post, there aren’t any linked articles below. But I have been thrilled with the feedback I’ve received about that new feature.

Long-Term Investments

I want to preface all this by saying that our preference is to make long-term investments, but given current valuations we don’t see many appealing ones at this time. Therefore, we’ve been making small swing trades as a way to generate a little return while keeping our accounts largely liquid. Our swing trades have only generated about $5k so far this year, but those returns are much better than we would have gotten in a money market account. I think foreign equity markets look more appealing than the US market at this time. Although the financial, healthcare, and energy sectors in the US could be worth a look in a couple months if the current underperformance continues.

Our preference continues to be in making longer term investments. Last year we were fortunate to keep our head on straight when Union Pacific’s (NYSE:UNP) stock was collapsing along with oil. It felt good to sell the shares we purchased at $70, a year later for $109. A solid 55% return in little over a year. Union Pacific is a company we like quite a bit, but we decided to sell a little over half of our position to lock in profits. In my opinion, one of the following needs to happen in order for Union Pacific shares to justify a higher valuation:

  1. Oil prices need to climb substantially from here, thereby making oil production in the Bakken shale profitable and restoring the significant profit center that is hauling oil.
  2. A significant uptick in American trade

Neither looked likely to me, so we decided to lock in our profits. Our remaining ownership shares in Union Pacific will continue to work for us, as we like the company’s efficiency and barriers to new competition. At least until commercial teleportation becomes a viable alternative for hauling freight.

UNP 2 Year Chart- Yahoo Finance

Earlier this year we were fortunate enough to spot a great opportunity in shares of Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO). Over the last two months, we have benefited from a 25% return from this purchase. The reasoning for purchasing these shares can be found HERE, but this purchase wasn’t all roses and unicorns. Unfortunately, we were so late to the party that we only got the chance to invest half of the $20k we were hoping to put to work in NVO. No matter, and in no sense being greedy. We are happy for the return and believe the company’s shares still have quite a ways to run. The biggest reason for this confidence is that Europe’s shares have only begun to gain favor with investors again. Over the last several years they have been largely shunned. With this in mind, I believe investors’ cash will give European large capitalization stocks a decent tailwind. We like the company’s market position, and aren’t likely to sell in the near term. Ideally, we would hold this stock for a few years.

NVO 1 Year Chart-Yahoo Finance

Swing Trades

Unfortunately, we are completely dependent on Mr. Market to offer us opportunities. Unlike other aspects of our lives, it is really a bad idea in investing to go out and try and “make something happen.” When speculators feel like they MUST do something, they often end up losing. That is one reason why I think my background as a surfer really helps me invest, it encourages me to be patient and wait for the right opportunity. That being said, the opportunities don’t always last as long or have as much upside as I would prefer. This year we have been very happy with our swing trade approach, especially in the volatile precious metals space. Our swing trades on Franco-Nevada (NYSE:FNV) and Pan American Silver (NASDAQ:PAAS) have returned 21% and 12%, respectively. Combined, we have profited $3,300 this year while never employing more than $15k and we feel pretty darn good about that. We sold out of the rest of our Franco-Nevada position, and hope to get the opportunity to buy it again at lower levels. Our preference would be to have our portfolio completely invested, but… well, we already covered that above.

All of our trades (and investments) did not go our way, however. Sometimes I was just wrong. Other times the company’s operations took a negative turn after we’d invested. We lost $1300 on a remnant position in BHP Billiton (NYSE:BBL) that we purchased a few years ago. It was intended to be a long-term investment, then the company began to struggle. It makes me feel good that we sold our stake 20% above Friday’s closing price, but it doesn’t change the fact that we bought a large position just as the wheels were falling off the Australian mining giant. At least we picked up substantial dividends along the way and successfully timed our exit. We also lost $400 when we sold half of our position in Fortuna Silver Mines (NYSE:FSM), but again it was at higher levels. Silver miners generally look weak at the moment, but I like their longer term fundamentals. We are watching closely for the chance to swing trade Pan American Silver and add to our Fortuna position.

Not all positions turn out as winners or losers, of course. Some just end up being dead money. Such has been the case on my latest swing trade with Iradimed (NASDAQ:IRMD). I have written in the past about making a few hundred dollars here and there swing trading this small capitalization stock, but unfortunately I missed my latest opportunity to exit this position. I should have been paying attention a few weeks ago when the shares spiked to $9 per share one day. (I should have listened to my friend Bjorn who texted and emailed me to get the hell out.) Anyway, I was off having fun with the family and wasn’t anticipating the spike. Flexible independence isn’t about being chained to the computer watching stock prices bounce around. I will likely exit this position soon at a break-even.

VDSI 6 Month Chart-Yahoo Finance

Likewise with our position in Vasco Data Security (NASDAQ:VDSI). We are up slightly on this trade, but it took so long for investors to realize this company’s potential that a fair bit of overhead resistance has developed. We are currently looking to exit our swing trade around $14.95, which is the 200-day moving average; at that point we will re-evaluate.

This week we initiated a swing trade in the Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE:ADM) and added to our existing swing trade in Klondex Mines (NYSEMKT:KLDX). ADM operates in an extremely cyclical industry and sentiment is just too low. While I wouldn’t make it a long-term buy at these levels, it seems like a reasonable risk. I’ve been both trading and investing in ADM for a decade now, and been very happy with the results. Klondex is certainly just a swing trade as I will never make a long-term investment in the precious metal mining industry, but it seems too cheap to ignore. Time will tell if I am right!

Obviously, we are not the “world’s greatest traders” or any such thing. Such titles are reserved for folks like Druckenmiller and Soros; but on the whole, our trading produced very nice returns while putting little capital at risk. Our long-term positions have continued to rise along with the overall bull market, of course, but picking up a few extra percent (on our overall portfolio) by swing trading (and barely risking any capital) is a nice exchange in my mind. Eventually, long-term opportunities will emerge again…. and we stand ready. In the meantime, we’re looking to pick up $500 here and there, while we kill time. I don’t recommend this approach for other investors, but it has helped us meet our objectives. Just remember, you make your money when you enter the trade at the right price…..no matter the asset.

Disclosure: We are long NVO, FSM, KLDX, IRMD, VDSI, UNP, and ADM. This update is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation for anyone to buy, sell, or hold any equities. I am not a financial professional. The information above is provided by Yahoo Finance.