I’m sure a number of you have seen the email ad for Karim Rahemtulla’s Strategic Income newsletter … here’s what he promises in exchange for your subscription fee of $1,250:
“‘Gibraltar Strategy’ Cranks Out 10-Times More Cash From Stocks Than Dividends”
Sounds good, no? It gets better!
“On October 16, a handful of income-seekers had the opportunity to pocket $5,500.
“They placed one simple transaction and BAM!
“The cash appeared in their accounts in less than 4 minutes.
“It wasn’t complicated. They’ve done it dozens of times over the past year alone.
“They simply make a transaction on U.S. corporations that reduces their overall portfolio risk, and sends money directly into their brokerage accounts each month they choose – even in the most volatile markets.”
So what is it? Well, sometimes it’s hard for a letter to make sense when they’re trying this hard to obscure the truth behind what they’re selling — “make a transaction on U.S. corporations?” Really?
Well, sort of — but you needn’t shell out $1,250 to figure out what on Earth he’s talking about … the Gumshoe is on the case for you, gratis.
Karim them goes on to explain that many investors have never heard of this story, and tell us that it can make money and reduce risk in your portfolio, and supply much greater income than most dividend-paying stocks can provide … he calls this income “Gibraltar Payments.”
I’ll explain more in just a moment, but first, what do you picture when you think of a Gibraltar strategy? Gibraltar, for anyone who doesn’t know, is the rocky outcrop near the Southern end of the Iberian peninsula — it was ceded by Spain to the UK about 300 years ago, and has remained a British territory ever since, and, for much of that time, a naval base. It has been a strategic outpost and a miltarily significant piece of land for as long as people have sailed the seas, since it represents an extremely defensible outpost that oversees the Strait of Gibraltar, the only natural outlet for the Mediterranean Sea
And of course, the Rock of Gibraltar, the actual mountainous bit that is the geologically famous part of Gibraltar, has been seen in the popular consciousness as an unyielding monument to stability and strength. That’s why the Rock is the logo for Prudential Financial, which, unfortunately, has not prevented the shares of that firm from falling by 70% or so in the last couple months.
So what on earth would a “Gibraltar Strategy” be? Some kind of strong and stable rock? Or, if you look at more modern history, one of the final, defensible outposts of a once-global colonial power?
Well, in the case of Karim Rahemtulla’s “Gibraltar Strategy” for his Strategic Income newsletter, it’s simply … another tease for the idea of selling covered call options.
Yes, this is nothing new — and in fact, an extremely similar letter was sent out a month or two ago by Rahemtulla for this service, though back then he called this investment a “Surety Income Certificate.” Which means that I need to make more room on the Gumshoe list of invented names for covered call options selling strategies.
Yoiu can see the list of all the invented terms for options trading strategies that I’ve covered here as of August — most of them are similar to Rahemtulla’s ad here, in that they are for fairly conservative call-selling strategies.
Probably the best thing to do, if you’re interested in this concept or trading strategy, is look a the article I wrote about Surety Income Certificates — click here for that.
If you don’t want to visit that page, suffice to say that covered call selling involves buying round lots of stock (a lot is 100 shares) and selling covered calls on those holdings (one call option would be attached to each 100 shares). You can consider the premium you get from selling those calls to be income, but it comes with an obligation — you have to sell your shares at the price agreed if the buyer of the call wants to exercise the call option before the expiration date. And of course, since the shares of actual stock are the way you meet that obligation, you have to buy back the call option if you want to sell your shares before the option expires. If the stock goes down, your losses are softened by the fact that you get to keep the money from selling the call option. If the stock goes up, your gains are limited because you’ve sold upside to the purchaser of the call option. If the stock stays where it is, you keep the premium money and are probably pretty happy.
This strategy has been teased for years, and it is, if executed with care and discipline, a reasonable way to generate a steady, if limited, stream of income if you don’t mind being a fairly active manager of your options positions and portfolio. The only thing that has changed significantly in the last several months is that option premiums for most stocks have gone up dramatically — which means that investors are assuming a much higher level of volatility, bigger swings up or down in the price of stock. In effect, that means that everything is amplified — bigger and faster moves in stocks mean larger premiums for options, which means you could lock in some pretty nice payments for selling options, and that you need to have a strategy for what to do with a stock that you hold and have sold options against if those shares fall hard and fast.
I’ll leave it there, since this topic has been broached so many times here by me and others, but suffice to say that the “Gibraltrar Strategy” is just Karim Rahemtulla trying to sell you a fairly capital-intensive (you have to buy a lot of shares if you want significant income from selling covered calls) but usually conservative and historically successful strategy — buying stock and selling call options against that stock. And yes, I did just use “fairly,” “usually,” and “historically,” all words which provide slim succor for investors these days, but which might represent opportunity if you believe this is something other than the end of days.
If you’ve got something to say about this strategy, or about your own options trading ideas, feel free to share — or if you want to review all those other options trading terms, click here for some of my other articles.