This has been an incredibly busy summer, and it has been tough to keep up with 3 blogs so Cash Flow Mantra has been getting the short end of the stick. For the last few weeks, I have been playing softball 3 nights since the playoffs for one of the leagues has been Monday and Thursday with another league on Sunday evenings. So that has really taken a lot of writing time away. Also, I really haven’t felt like I had anything worthwhile to share, so it has been easier to just take some time off as a sort of mental break while trying to recover physically from softball.
But I would like to share why I wish I had a better emergency fund cushion. The main reason is that when it rains, it usually pours (and hails, too). Over the past month, the following has happened:
- The dishwasher developed a leak that poured out into the kitchen. Of course, it happened while my wife and I were out enjoying a rare evening together. The kids were in bed, but at least had some sense to put down a few towels. These ended up soaked, so my wife replaced them while I was at worked and they soaked again. Sounds like the leak was active! We got the water shut off, but the wood in the kitchen and the ceiling in the basement needs lots of repair/replacement. At least homeowner’s insurance will be covering 90% of the cost, but I still have a deductible to deal with.
- One of the vehicles starting making noise. Turns out the front wheel needed a new brake rotor and some other stuff. $600 evaporates fairly quickly.
- Another vehicle started making noise and smelling of gasoline. Turns out the rear spring was broken and there was a leak in the gas tank. Needed to get a new gas tank. Thankfully, we had an extended warranty so the $800 in repairs only cost $200. So we ended up taking care of some other maintenance issues pushing the bill to $600 for that car as well.
- HAIL!!! The adjuster for the roof was here on Monday. I don’t know the results of the inspection. Plus we have 2 cars with lots of hail dings. At least the windshield didn’t break as happened to some friends of ours.
Like I said, the financial storms seem to occur in packs and waves. Whenever it seems like we are making headway, something comes along to push in the wrong direction.
Of course, all these things had to happen when I have two heading off to college (one for the first time) so money is being spent on books and a laptop. But the girls are doing a reasonable job of keeping those down, but it still hurts when trying to climb out of debt.
Needless to say, the cash flow around the house hasn’t been all that great. Maybe next month will be better. But I am thankful that the health of everyone in the household (save for my pulled muscles from softball) has been good. Things could always be worse, and the current troubles are only temporary.
Seagate Technology (STX) is one of the stocks that I am holding in my retirement account. I purchased it as part of my focus on dividends since it had a 4% yield at the time. The stock increased in price and I ended up selling it in late June for a 23% annualized profit. But I immediately repurchased it again and instituted my hedging strategy since I still fell like the stock had some decent potential for further gains.
Well this week, STX reported earnings. It seemed at first like investors were going to be disappointed as the stock had opened down over 5% from above $30 per share to the mid-$28 range. But gradually, the stock began to improve and closed right at $30 per share even though the broader market was down for the day.
Why the Strength?
Well in addition to reporting earnings and giving a somewhat disappointing outlook, Seagate announced that they were increasing their dividend from $0.25 per share to $0.32 per share! Assuming that the dividend remains at that level for the next year, the yield on the stock at $30 per share is just over 4.2%. I think that investors may have figured that out and realized that maybe it is worth the investment to get a decent return with the potential for some capital gains.
Now if you are like me, then you can have your dividends and hedge the stock also. Right now, I am sitting on protective puts at $25 and $27 per share with outstanding calls at $28 and $30. My basis for all the shares I own are $27.16. If STX remains above $30 per share for the next eleven trading days, then they will all be called away at an average of $29 giving me a $1.84 profit. Plus I will get the dividend since the ex-dividend day is August 10th.
It is possible that my $28 strike calls could get exercised before then if someone wants to try and capture the dividend. However, they would have to make sure that it is worth it when compared with the price paid for the option and the amount of capital required to exercise. Even so, I would still have a profit at that price.
I was encouraged to see that the dividend seemed to help stabilize the stock and provide a floor for the shares. Of course, it isn’t that surprising since a significant portion of historical stock market return can be attributed to dividends. It only makes sense that stocks of companies that return money to shareholders would be in demand and perform well over time.