Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Is "Do-It-Yourself" Covered Calls Better Than a Similar ETF?

 Yesterday CCI posted results for a covered call strategy in SPY.   As a follow-on to that information,  CCI added the  performance of the Powershares S&P500 Buy Write ETF (PBP) to the analysis. 

A full description of this fund can be found here but its summary states "The Fund generally will invest at least 90% of its total assets in securities that comprise the Index, including at least 80% of its total assets in common stocks of the 500 companies included in the S&P 500® Index and will write (sell) call options thereon."

When looking at the same period of Feb 24, 2012 through Dec, 31 2012 PBP appears to have lost 3.4% in value while generating distributions of 4.2% for a .8% gain.  The table below compares results to the S&P500 and CCI covered call trading of SPY Covered Calls.

Description                                SPY      SPY- CC         PBP                    

TOTAL RETURN                     6.4%        7.7%         0.8%                      
Monthly Std. Dev.                     2.9%         2.0%            1.9%                     
I'm not entirely sure what explains these significantly different results, and care should be taken not to interpolate ten months results into the future. However, it could be worth a little time to think about what could cause these differences in performance.  Perhaps this is just CCI's brilliance (LOL).  More seriously, this different result in what on the surface sounds like similar conceptual approaches could illustrate the
  •  importance of call strike selection  and timing
  • importance of  active/passive management of  a covered call position,
  •  the impact of fees on an investment,
  •  difference in timings of distributions
  • etc
No matter the reason, this certainly seems like an example of a the benefits that can be gained by an investor taking the time to "do it themselves".

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