Pawleys Binary Event Trade

Last week, a client asked us to review the choices within her 401(k) plan at work to identify the best investments available.  The line-up included 9 different funds and also company stock.  There is a pending buy-out of the company, so when we initiated the review of the stock we anticipated that the stock would be trading at parity with the buy-out price.  The buy-out offer contains a combination of cash and shares of stock in the acquiring company.  The board of directors and shareholders of both companies have already approved the transaction, which is scheduled to close in the next several months.

Much to our surprise, the company stock of our client is trading at a 35% discount to the buy-out level.  Clearly, the market does not believe the transaction will complete.  The merger is being reviewed by the Department of Justice for anti-trust issues.  Recently, several high-profile mergers have fallen apart amidst government anti-trust concerns, including Office Depot & Staples, Sysco & U.S. Foods, and Halliburton & Baker Hughes.  We classify a pending buy-out which may be blocked as a binary event.  There are only 2 possible outcomes: either the companies will merge, or they will not.  Let’s be clear before we continue the story – the client was not in possession of material non-public information, and the trading window on the company stock for employees was open.

Typically, the best way to participate in a binary event is to place a straddle with option contracts.  This position is constituted by calls and puts with the same strike price and expiration date (which in this case would be just past the scheduled close date of the merger).  If the deal falls through and the stock falls or if the deal closes and the stock rises, the straddle holder profits.  Philosophically, we do not advocate the use of derivatives, so what did Pawleys recommend to the client?

As we reviewed the stock, we like their fundamental financials and the valuation of the stock, and were happy to recommend a long position to the client regardless of the outcome of the pending merger.  But what if the client is not confident and wants to enter with a more conservative strategy?  The client commits an amount of cash to the strategy and we use 50% of the cash to buy the stock.  If the deal closes, our profit is limited since we did not initially invest the full amount of cash.  But if the deal falls through, we take the remaining cash to add to the long position, averaging down the cost basis, and hold the stock.  This is how Pawleys trades a binary event in a more conservative way.  Ultimately, we went all-in as we feel the stock is high-quality and want to own it even if the deal fails.

© 2016 Pawleys Investment Advisors, LLC. All rights reserved.


Loggerhead Turtle Guidance from Pawleys

Sometimes we head a bit off track, but ultimately end up turning back in the right direction.

Momma Loggerhead Turtle Tracks on Litchfield Beach – Pawleys Island

These tracks are left behind by a loggerhead turtle that came out of the ocean to lay her eggs up in the sand dunes.  Happy Camper and I took this picture the morning of 6/07/2012 on South Litchfield Beach near Pawleys Island.  Volunteers from S.C.U.T.E. (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts) help monitor turtle nesting activity and are dedicated to sea turtle conservation in Georgetown and Horry Counties.  The straight track is from her leaving the ocean and heading to the dune, and her tracks returning to the water have the zig-zag.

Help protect the turtles and their nests!  Please keep lights out along the beach at night so turtles do not get disoriented, fill in holes on the beach and do not leave furniture out overnight (they can become trapped or entangled), and do not disturb nesting turtles (they may become frightened and dump their eggs into the ocean which makes them unviable).  Here is a good lesson for investors to avoid potential pitfalls and focus on your objective…and if you get off track, no need to fret, you can easily get back on course!  Learn more about the turtles here:

© 2012 Pawleys Investment Advisors, LLC.  All rights reserved.

What’s the Real Deal with Robo?

Have you heard all the buzz about Robo Advisors?  What in the world is a Robo Advisor?  The real short, simple answer is that they are shiney, repackaged wire-house  managed accounts that have algorithms rebalancing the portfolios as opposed to human beings.   Bear in mind, humans write those algorithms.  The technology enables investors to participate with lower account minimums and very low costs.  As with all investment solutions, they should be evaluated by their after-cost performance relative to the most similar benchmark.  Awesome technology combined with a professional is a great way to work towards financial goals!  I was going to bring this Robo Advisor back with me to the beaches of Pawleys Island, but he was afraid the sand would clog up his hinged joints!  We’ll just have to continue to work together virtually.


© 2016 Pawleys Investment Advisors, LLC. All rights reserved.