Active Equity/Commodity Portfolio: Annual Report

Happy New Year! I have no resolutions since every day is like a new year for me.

In 2017, I focused more on active equity/commodity portfolio than the other portfolios as I finally was able to trade free of commissions, found more opportunities there and had money saved up from off-book jobs.

WHAT A BORING YEAR…for the stock market. Sometimes, boring is good. S&P 500 was up 21.64%.

Figure 1: S&P 500 Annual Return (Includes Dividends).
Source: Aswath Damodaran, NYU Stern

The geometric average return since the financial crisis is 8.42% (2008-2017). Geometric average better reflects the returns over time since there’s always volatility in the market and volatility lower investment returns.

Since inception (November 2016), active equity/commodity portfolio is up 15.74%. For 2017, the portfolio returned 11.86%, way way below the market. No wonder active managers are not anyone’s favorites at this time.

Figure 2: Active Equity/Commodity Portfolio (Robinhood) P/L since inception (Nov. 2016).
The white line represents the start of the year.

I will address the significant drawdown you see in figure 2 at the bottom of this post.

The biggest gain of the year, both in a percentage and nominal terms, came from the first trade in 2017. The trade was long NUGT (3x leveraged gold ETF). I believed gold was unfairly beaten down and would recover around the new year as portfolios would be rebalanced and uncertainty with Trump’s economic plans at the time would force investors to hedge their portfolio. And that’s what happened in January 2016. I closed the position at 28% gain.

While trading 3x leveraged ETFs, Be cautious as they always go down even though the underlying security goes up. The structure of leveraged and inverse ETFs are different than most retail investors think. They are not a good idea to be held for a longer time and as a significant portion of a portfolio.

The biggest loss of the year, both in a percentage and nominal terms, came from the 5th trade in 2017. The trade was long TVIX (2x leveraged volatility ETN, not ETF). I believed volatility would pick up from February to March (and it did a little bit). However, after TVIX underwent 1:10 reverse split in mid-March, I did not want to risk having the ETN go to single digits once again. So I closed the position at 17% loss.

To briefly sum up, the biggest gain was 28% and the biggest loss was 17%. In positive nominal terms, the profit was three times larger than the loss (positive number).

At the time, both NUGT and TVIX were a significant portion of the portfolio (Robinhood). Over time, I deposited more money into the account as I saved up from off-book jobs and summer internship. The account is now 6 times larger than it was at the beginning of 2017. Larger account allowed me to have more flexibility and lower my exposure to a single trade.

Top 3 Trades and Bottom 3 Trades
Current Positions:

I can only go long securities on Robinhood. Current positions are VRX (The biggest gainer at the moment, 112%. 14% of the portfolio), ORCL, XIV, ILMN, OMER, PSQ, SH, COL, TEVA, MTSI, and AXON (The biggest loser at the moment, -77%. 0.5% of the portfolio).

When talking about % gains on trades, traders should also look at those trades as a % of the portfolio. If I’m going to speculate on a one-time event, such as FDA ruling on a drug, I’m going to have a small exposure to that company (such as AXON). If I am profoundly convinced on the fundamentals of the company and/or technicals of the stock, I will have a higher exposure to that company (such as VRX).

It’s important to point once again these gains/losses are unrealized. The returns are subject to change…until the position closes.

Both PSQ and SH are inverse ETFs of the market. I have bought them as a small hedge for my portfolio as I’m long individual U.S. stocks.

Why am I long the stocks mentioned above? I will not go in-depth here.

  • $VRX: Extension of debt. Time flexibility to restructure the company.
  • $ORCL: Unfair share-price beat down after positive earnings report and market, in general, is trending higher.
  • $XIV: Because why not?
  • $ILMN: Someone is loading up big amounts of calls. Speculation it will be acquired at a huge premium.
  • $OMER: Friend’s advice (first time I took friend’s advice with actual money at risk).
  • $PSQ and $SH: Small hedge, as I mentioned above.
  • $COL: Speculated it might be acquired at 15-25% premium. United Tech (UTX) later acquires them at 18% premium.
  • $TEVA: TEVA calls were active after Allergan (AGN) was halted. Speculated upcoming positive news for TEVA. The week after, new CEO news. Sticking to TEVA as the new CEO has a great reputation and I’m confident his tenure will reward the shareholders.
  • $MTSI: Calls active and social media sentiment.
  • $AXON: Speculation on Alzheimer drug data. Chances were low, but I believed even a small positive side of the drug would help the stock price. I was wrong. Was initially 2% of the portfolio. Now 0.5%. Still open as I have nothing to lose.
Get Out?
Over 12% loss of value in less than 2 months (Fall 2017).
The face is from the movie “Get Out

As you saw in figure 2 (and figure 3 below), there was a large drawdown in the portfolio. Over 12% of the portfolio lost value in less 2 months. Why was that? It was largely due to VRX and TEVA tumbling. Both were little longer-term strategy and high conviction both companies would turn itself around. After 2 months, both stocks rebounded and hit 52-week highs afterward. Other stocks in the port during the 2 months were performing fine.

If it is one thing I learned as a trader, it is that high conviction leads to an ego which then leads to losses most of the time. So did I have an ego in this case? I don’t believe so. I was sticking to the initial trade strategy on VRX and TEVA, and there was no material news. It was the market noise. If the company fundamentals changed, then I might have changed my strategy on the trade (either close, cut down, or buy more shares).


Upcoming ‘Portfolio Performance’ articles will be on other portfolios.

Q1 2017 Performance: Forex

As you may know, I published my forex performance for 2016 and since inception. From now on, I will also share my quarterly performance. March 31st marked the end of first quarter, here are my performance results for FX trading.

Forex Trading Performance – Q1 2017

For currency trading, I was up 2.15%. I know, it’s low (in % terms at least). But, allow me to explain.

Before this year, my currency trades used to be in 1,000 units (or 0.01 lots), lowest I can trade. Since I usually had about 10 positions, each of 1,000 units, the nominal amount was large enough. After depositing more money and getting a clear picture of my Forex performance, I decided to increase my trades to 2,000/3,000 units (or 0.02/0.03 lots) for each position.

Getting a clear picture of my performance – average gain/loss, drawdown, trade duration, the percentage of profitable trades, etc – helped me improve my performance significantly.

This quarter [Q1], I further minimized my drawdowns. By minimizing drawdown, I minimized my returns. And that works for me. Stable uptrending P/L with a low risk.

It is true Forex is way riskier than other assets classes due to its leverage, mostly 1:50. But, that does not mean your portfolio has to include a lot of risks.

While 2.15% return this quarter from Forex trading is low, it’s still big in nominal terms for me and I’m getting a much better understanding of my weakness/strengths as I look through the metrics.

I don’t have the key metrics (besides the returns) and charts to share with you for this quarter for one reason: FXCM was Banned from the U.S. (I’m not even surprised after what happened on January 15, 2015).

FXCM is a retail FX broker and my former broker. They were banned by CFTC for defrauding retail foreign exchange customers and engaging in false and misleading solicitations.

As a result, FXCM customers were automatically changed to a different broker, by Gain Capital Holdings, on February 24th. Unlike FXCM, this broker did not offer an analysis of trades. In addition to that, a third-party software did not offer an analysis of trades for Gain Capital’s customers since the broker did not allow the software to be connected with it.

Good news is that I’m currently in process of changing the platform to MetaTrader, which will make it easier for me to track performance metrics. The other platform, ForexTrader made it harder for tracking key metrics.

For the next quarter’s results, you can expect to see more performance metrics for FX trading.

Live On Twitter

As you may know, I tweet out trades/investments I’m making. That’s one of many reasons you should follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already. One of many ways I measure success is through twitter followers, believe it or not.

Here are some of the tweets:

My target for annual FX return is 15%, with minimal violability (less than 4% drawdown).

Interested in investing in me? Feel free to privately message me for more details. The minimum investment is $1,000.


Note: Equity/Commodity portfolio performance will be posted later.

Update: “Q1 2017 Performance: Equity Investments” article is posted.

Update: “Q1 2017 Performance: Equity/Commodity Trading” article is posted.