Want Earn Extra Income? Here’s How To Make The Pros Do It For You…

In turbulent times, investors understandably become skittish about depositing hard-earned assets into brokerage and 401(K) retirement accounts. But letting your cash languish in low-yielding instruments won’t do much to help build a comfortable nest egg, either.

If only there were a door number three: a way to stay invested and protected. A way to earn dependable income (beyond dividends), even if the market stalls out or retreats…

Actually, there is. I’m talking about covered call funds.

Covered Call Funds: The Hands-Off Approach To Extra Income

As I explained in this piece, covered call options are a great way for investors to enhance their income. They also lower risk by reducing your cost basis, since every premium you earn lowers your breakeven price.

While it’s relatively easy to learn this strategy, the truth is not everyone is comfortable trading individual options. That’s okay. For those of you who’d rather leave this strategy to the pros, there’s still a way to participate. In fact, I’ve told my premium readers about a group of funds that were specifically created to take this concept and apply it on a much larger scale.

It’s like having a group of pros do the work for you. Let me explain…

Using my example of Pfizer in my last piece, if 100 shares can generate about $200 in yearly premium income, then 1,000 shares can give us $2,000 and 10,000 shares can net $20,000.

So, imagine the income potential for a closed-end fund that holds hundreds of thousands or even millions of shares.

Take the Nuveen Dow 30 Dynamic Overwrite (NYSE: DIAX). The fund invests in the 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and collects dividends on each. But unlike a plain vanilla index fund, it also sells covered call options to generate additional income and enhance risk-adjusted returns.

The fund holds shares of Cisco (NSDQ: CSCO), Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), and Walmart (NYSE: WMT), among others. And it sells options on roughly 50% of the fund’s holdings, sweetening the dividends with premium income that allows for a robust distribution of about 7.3%.

Benefits And Drawbacks

Keep in mind, while the underlying premise is the same, there are different applications of this strategy. Within the options section of the portfolio, there are three factors you’ll want to consider: 1) the average strike/spot price ratio, 2) weighted average number of days to maturity, and 3) average call option overlay as a percentage of total fund assets. This will yield some insight on how much potential appreciation the fund manager is willing to trade away for current income.

It’s common for these covered call funds (also known as “buy-write” funds) to have an options overlay representing between 30% and 60% of assets. That’s enough to enhance income and be an effective risk management tool, while still leaving the rest of the portfolio unencumbered to participate in a rising market.

These funds will usually lag in a runaway bull market. But that’s to be expected. They perform best when those bull markets begin to stall out and cool. To demonstrate, just look back a few years to 2015. The S&P 500 inched up just 1.4% that year. But as advertised, the PowerShares S&P 500 BuyWrite Portfolio (NYSE: PBP) delivered a much stronger return of 4.5%.

Current conditions favor this strategy. For example, compare DIAX with the Dow itself. As the Dow began to stall two years ago, DIAX began to shine. And when the bear market took full effect, DIAX continued to outperform (nearly 3-to-1 in fact).

covered call fund chart

The extreme price swings we’ve been seeing make it even more compelling. Remember options premiums are not set in stone. They can vary wildly from a few pennies to several dollars per share, depending on certain variables, including volatility. The more a stock price fluctuates, the more profitable a call option can be — and the more buyers are willing to pay.

That’s always a good thing when you’re the one on the selling end of the transaction. In other words, market volatility can be an ally.

As one final incentive, consider that covered-call funds can support outsized distributions without the aid of leverage. Most do NOT borrow money, making them less vulnerable to rising rates than other closed-end funds.

The Bottom Line

Of course, not all of these funds are created equal. DIAX and PBP are certainly worthy of consideration, but neither one of these if my favorite. Instead, we hold a well-managed fund in the High-Yield Investing portfolio that holds some of the best value stocks on the market. As I told my subscribers, value stocks are coming back into favor in a big way.

Either way, covered call funds will shine in this environment, acting as a hedge against a directionless market. So if you’re looking for some protection and a little extra income, it would be wise to look into them.

In the meantime, I have a simple question for you… How would you like to get paid every month from your portfolio?

It’s easier than you might think…

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