Best Financial Stocks To Watch Right Now

Well, Big Bad Ben certainly creamed the shorts yesterday with his completely unexpected statement that massive bond buying will not “taper” but will continue full speed ahead.

That gives me an opportunity about discussing another insurance use of options. We all know that puts are useful for insuring against a downside move. Calls are useful for insuring against an unexpected upside blowout like we saw yesterday. Also, calls can allow a stock investor to take profits and still say in the game.

 And, no, I don’t mean using call options as a hedge against a short stock or futures position. That sort of thing is best left to professional traders. What I mean is as follows: Let’s say that you have a varied portfolio of stocks and while you are very happy with the Great Rally of 2013 you are getting a little nervous about this lofty altitude and would not like to be caught when the euphoria ends.

So, you’d like to ring the cash register and lock in some profits, yet are afraid you’ll sell too early (having said that, when Andrew Carnegie was asked how he made a fortune in the stock market he replied “I always sold too soon”) and you would hate yourself if you got out and the market continued to roar higher.

You can liquidate all or most of your stocks and reinvest 10% of your profits in out of the money (OTM) index call options.

For example, let’s say you own a broad based range of stocks and are well up, say 25% or more. You can sell your stocks, and take 10% of that profit and buy a four month out OTM SPY (S&P 500 ETF) call . At this writing with SPY at 173.50, you can buy the January 178 call  for 2.50. 178 is only 2.5% higher than we are now. If you sell your stocks you’ll only miss the next 2.5% move higher before your call kicks in and starts making you money.

And, if you have, in fact, sold at or near the top then your small investment against a continued move higher was money well spent.

Either way, call options are not just a speculative tool to trade an expected move higher (although they can be), they also share the insurance properties of put options.

Another tribute to the great versatility of exchange traded options.

 

The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

Best Financial Stocks To Watch Right Now: Grillit Inc (GRLT)

Grillit Inc, formerly Holdings Energy Inc., incorporated on May 21, 2002, is a public corporation that discovers, invests and or acquires development-stage with solutions, clean technologies and eco-friendly products that serve the global alternative energy sector. The Company was formed to develop and engage in operations and management of digital wireless data communications services of 220 megahertz digital wireless data communications. In April 2013, the Company acquired Healthy & Tasty Ventures LLC Effective December 19, 2013, GRILLiT Inc acquired a 10% interest in Natura Foods LLC.

Effective March 30, 2011, the Company had entered into a formal letter of intent with Remington Energy of Houston, Texas for the purchase of two oil and gas properties. On March 29, 2011, the Company disposed of its previous assets that represented the remaining business segment known as CX2 Technologies, Inc.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Last Friday, small cap stocks Cambridge Heart, Inc (OTCMKTS: CAMH), Abby Inc (OTCMKTS: ABBY) and Grillit Inc (OTCMKTS: GRLT) surged 176.92%, 71.2% and 24.07%, respectively. Of course, that was last week and today is a new trading week. So what should investors and traders alike be prepared for this week with these three small caps? Here is a closer look to help you decide on an investing or trading strategy:

Best Financial Stocks To Watch Right Now: Washington Federal Inc (WAFD)

Washington Federal, Inc., incorporated on November 15, 1994, is a bank holding company, which conducts its operations through a federally-insured savings association subsidiary, Washington Federal (Bank). The Bank is a federal savings association. The business of the Bank consists of attracting deposits from the general public and investing these funds in loans of various types, including first lien mortgages on single-family dwellings, construction loans, land acquisition and development loans, loans on multi-family and other income producing properties, home equity loans and business loans. It also invests in United States government and agency obligations and other investments permitted by applicable laws and regulations. As of September 30, 2013, Washington Federal had 182 full service branches located in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. Through its subsidiaries, the Company is also engaged in real estate investment and insurance brokerage activities. The principal sources of funds for the Company’s activities are retained earnings, loan repayments (including prepayments), net deposit inflows, repayments and sales of investments and borrowings. Washington Federal’s principal sources of revenue are interest on loans and interest and dividends on investments. Its principal expenses are interest paid on deposits, credit costs, general and administrative expenses, interest on borrowings and income taxes. On October 31, 2012, South Valley Bancorp, Inc. merged with and into the Company, followed by the merger of South Valley’s wholly owned subsidiary, South Valley Bank & Trust, into the Bank.

Lending Activities

As of September 30, 2013, the Company’s net portfolio of loans totaled $7.5 billion representing approximately 58% of its total assets. The Company concentrates its lending activities on the origination of 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage loans, which are neither insured nor gu aranteed by agencies of the United States government. Washin! gton Federal’s lending activity is concentrated on the origination of loans secured by real estate, including long-term fixed-rate mortgage loans, adjustable-rate construction loans, adjustable-rate land development loans, fixed-rate multi-family loans and business loans.

The Company’s lending activity is the origination of real estate mortgage loans to purchase or refinance single-family residences. The Company also originates a range of construction and land development loans, along with multi-family residential and commercial loans. As of September 30, 2013, single-family residential loans totaled $5.4 billion, or 67.2% of the Company’s gross loan portfolio; construction- speculative loans totaled$131 million, or 1.6% of the Company’s gross loan portfolio; construction – custom loans totaled $303 million, or 3.8% of the Company’s gross loan portfolio; land acquisition and development loans totaled $82 million, or 1.0% of the Company’s gross loan portfolio; la nd – consumer lot loans totaled $125 million, or 1.6% of the Company’s gross loan portfolio; multi-family loans totaled $836 million, or 10.5% of the Company’s gross loan portfolio; commercial real estate loans totaled $625 million, or 7.8% of the Company’s gross loan portfolio; commercial and industrial loans totaled $326 million, or 4.1% of the Company’s gross loan portfolio; home equity line of credit (HELOC) loans totaled $134 million, or 1.7% of the Company’s gross loan portfolio and consumer loans totaled $55 million, or 0.7% of the Company’s gross loan portfolio.

The Company originates 30 year fixed-rate loans secured by single-family residences. The Company originates construction loans to finance construction of single-family and multi-family residences, as well as commercial properties. Loans made to individuals for construction of their home generally are 30 year fixed rate loans. Multi-family residential (five or more dwelling units) loans are secure d by multi-family rental properties, such as apartment build! ings.

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The Company makes various types of business loans to customers in its market area for working capital, acquiring real estate, equipment or other business purposes, such as acquisitions. The terms of these loans range from less than one year to a maximum of 10 years. Consumer loans are home improvement loans made through third party originators that bear interest at rates of 10% and higher.

Investment Activities

As a federal association, the Bank is obligated to maintain adequate liquidity and does so by holding cash and cash equivalents and by investing in securities. These investments include, among other things, certain certificates of deposit, repurchase agreements, bankers’ acceptances, loans to financial institutions whose deposits are federally-insured, federal funds, United States government and agency obligations and mortgage-backed securities.

Sources of Funds

Deposits are the source of the Company’s funds for use in lending and other general business purposes. In addition to deposits, Washington Federal derives funds from loan repayments, advances from the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) and other borrowings and from investment repayments and sales. The Company’s deposits are obtained from residents of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. The Company obtains advances from the FHLB upon the security of the FHLB capital stock it owns and certain of its loans, provided certain standards related to credit worthiness have been met. The Company also uses reverse repurchase agreements as a form of borrowing. Under reverse repurchase agreements, the Company sells an investment security to a dealer for a period of time and agrees to buy back that security at the end of the period and pay the dealer a stated interest rate for the use of the dealer’s funds. The Company also offers two forms of repurchase agreements to its customers. One form has an interest rate, which floats like that of a money market d! eposit ac! count. The other form has a fixed rate and is offered in a minimum denomination of $100,000. Both forms are fully collateralized by securities. As of September 30, 2013, the Company had $46.1 million of such agreements outstanding.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Eric Volkman]

    Washington Federal (NASDAQ: WAFD  ) is keeping its dividend level even as it effects a corporate transformation by the end of next month. The company has declared a quarterly distribution of $0.09 per share, to be paid on July 19 to shareholders of record as of July 5. That amount matches the firm’s previous distribution, which was paid in April. Prior to that, it handed out a penny less at $0.08 per share.

  • [By Brian Pacampara]

    What: Shares of financial holding company Washington Federal (NASDAQ: WAFD  ) climbed as high as 10% today after its quarterly results topped Wall Street expectations. 

Best Financial Stocks To Watch Right Now: American Campus Communities Inc (ACC)

American Campus Communities, Inc., incorporated on March 9, 2004, is a self-managed and self-administered real estate investment trust (REIT). The Company specializes in the acquisition, design, financing, development, construction management, leasing and management of student housing properties. Through the Company’s interest in American Campus Communities Operating Partnership LP (the Operating Partnership), the Company owns, manages and develops student housing properties in the United States. It operates in four segments: Wholly-Owned Properties, On-Campus Participating Properties, Development Services and Property Management Services. As of December 31, 2011, the Company’s property portfolio contained 116 properties with approximately 71,800 beds in approximately 22,900 apartment units. Of the 116 properties, 11 were under development as of December 31, 2011. In July 2012, the Company acquired University Commons, a 480-bed off-campus community serving students att ending the University of Minnesota. In September 2012, it acquired Campus Acquisitions’ 15 student housing properties with 6,579 beds. On November 30, 2012, the Company acquired student housing properties with 12,049 beds, including 366 beds at an additional phase from affiliates of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, L.P.

In December 2011, the Company acquired a 79.5% interest in a partnership that owns a 258-unit, 901-bed property (The Varsity) located near the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park, and a 367-unit, 1,026-bed wholly owned property (26 West) located near the campus of The University of Texas in Austin. In November 2011, the Company acquired a 370-unit, 684-bed wholly owned property (Studio Green) located near the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee. In September 2011, the Company acquired a 216-unit, 792-bed wholly owned property (Eagles Trail) located near the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hatti esburg. In July 2011, the Company acquired a retail shopping! center located near the campus of the University of Central Florida in Orlando. In April and May 2011, the Company sold four owned off-campus properties (Campus Club – Statesboro, River Club Apartments, River Walk Townhomes and Villas on Apache).

Through the Company’s taxable REIT subsidiaries (TRS), it also provides construction management and development services, primarily for student housing properties owned by colleges and universities, charitable foundations, and others. As of December 31, 2011, the Company provided third-party management and leasing services for 31 properties (nine of which the Company served as the third-party developer and construction manager) that represented approximately 24,200 beds in approximately 9,600 units, and one joint venture property in which the Company owns a noncontrolling interest with approximately 600 beds in approximately 200 units. As of December 31, 2011, the Company’s total owned, joint venture and third-part y managed portfolio included 148 properties with approximately 96,600 beds in approximately 32,700 units.

The Company’s wholly-owned properties segment include American Campus Equity (ACE). Its On-Campus Participating Properties segment includes four on-campus properties owned by one of its TRSs that are operated under long-term ground/facility leases with two university systems. The Company’s third-party services consist of development services and management services and are typically provided to university and college clients. Many of its third-party management services are provided to clients for whom it also provides development services. The Company’s Development Services segment consists of development and construction management services that it provides through one of its TRSs for third-party owners. These services range from short-term consulting projects to long-term development and construction projects.

The Company’s pre-develop ment services typically include feasibility studies for thir! d-party o! wners and design services. Feasibility studies include an initial feasibility analysis, review of conceptual design, and assistance with master planning. Construction management services consist of hiring of project professionals and a general contractor, coordinating and supervising the construction, equipping and furnishing process on behalf of the project owner, including site visits, hiring of a general contractor and project professionals, and coordination and administration of all activities necessary for project completion. The Company’s Property Management Services segment, conducted by its TRSs, includes revenues generated from third-party management contracts in which it is responsible for marketing, leasing administration, facilities maintenance, business administration, accounts payable, accounts receivable, financial reporting, capital projects and residence life student development.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By GURUFOCUS]

    American Campus Communities, Inc. (ACC), an owner, manager, and developer of student housing, decreased 15.2% in the third quarter as the company’s lease rates were weaker than expected. Supply in some of its markets increased, and REITS were hurt in the third quarter from rising yields as the 10-year Treasury yield approached 3% and made dividend yields on many REITs less attractive. However, we continue to believe the company is the best in its industry at developing properties and should improve its yields next year as the market absorbs the excess supply. (David Baron)

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    American Campus Communities (ACC) made the grade after three insiders at the student housing REIT bought $186,800. Leading the charge was CFO Jonathan Graf, who bought 3,700 shares for $67,700. InsiderScore categorized this combined purchase as a “Cluster Buying Unusual Event” and also notes that the purchases came after ACC released weak earnings and lowered its guidance.

Best Financial Stocks To Watch Right Now: Western Alliance Bancorporation (WAL)

Western Alliance Bancorporation (WAL) is a bank holding company. The Company provides full-service banking and lending to locally owned businesses, professional firms, real estate developers and investors, local non-profit organizations, high net worth individuals and other consumers through its three wholly owned subsidiary banks (the Banks): Bank of Nevada (BON), operating in Southern Nevada; Western Alliance Bank (WAB), operating in Arizona and Northern Nevada, and Torrey Pines Bank (TPB), operating in California. In addition, the Company’s non-bank subsidiaries, Shine Investment Advisory Services, Inc. (Shine) and Western Alliance Equipment Finance (WAEF), offer an array of financial products and services to small to mid-sized businesses and their proprietors, including financial planning, custody and investments, and equipment leasing nationwide. It operates in four segments: Bank of Nevada, Western Alliance Bank, Torrey Pines Bank and Other.

The Compan y provides a range of banking services, as well as investment advisory services, through its consolidated subsidiaries. As of December 31, 2011, WAL owned an 80% interest in Shine. As of December 31, 2011, the Company owned a 24.9% interest in Miller/Russell & Associates, Inc. (MRA), an investment advisor. MRA provides investment advisory services to individuals, foundations, retirement plans and corporations.

Lending Activities

Through the Company’s banking segments, the Company provides a variety of financial services to customers, including commercial real estate loans, construction and land development loans, commercial loans, and consumer loans. Loans to businesses consisted 89.2% of the total loan portfolio at December 31, 2011. Loans to finance the purchase or refinancing of commercial real estate (CRE) and loans to finance inventory and working capital that are additionally secured by CRE make up the majority of its loan portfolio. These C RE loans are secured by apartment buildings, professional of! fices, industrial facilities, retail centers and other commercial properties. As of December 31, 2011, 49% of its CRE loans were owner-occupied. Owner-occupied commercial real estate loans are loans secured by owner-occupied nonfarm nonresidential properties for which the primary source of repayment (more than 50%) is the cash flow from the ongoing operations and activities conducted by the borrower who owns the property. Non-owner-occupied commercial real estate loans are commercial real estate loans for which the primary source of repayment is nonaffiliated rental income associated with the collateral property.

Construction and land development loans include multi-family apartment projects, industrial/warehouse properties, office buildings, retail centers and medical facilities. Commercial and industrial loans include working capital lines of credit, inventory and accounts receivable lines, mortgage warehouse lines, equipment loans and leases, and other commer cial loans. Commercial loans are primarily originated to small and medium-sized businesses in a variety of industries. Consumer loans are generally offered at a higher rate and shorter term than residential mortgages. Its consumer loans include home equity loans and lines of credit, home improvement loans, credit card loans, and personal lines of credit. As of December 31, 2011, its loan portfolio totaled $4.68 billion, or approximately 68.4% of its total assets.

Investment Activities

All of the Company’s investment securities are classified as available-for-sale (AFS) or held-to-maturity (HTM). As of December 31, 2011, the Company had an investment securities portfolio of $1.48 billion, representing approximately 21.7% of its total assets. As of December 31, 2011, its investment securities portfolio consisted of the United States Government sponsored agency securities, Municipal obligations, Adjustable-rate preferred stock, Mutual funds, Corporat e bonds, Direct the United States obligation and government-! sponsored! enterprise (GSE) residential mortgage-backed securities, private label residential mortgage-backed securities, Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) investments, Trust preferred securities, Private label commercial mortgage-backed securities, and Collateralized debt obligations.

Sources of Funds

The Company offers a variety of deposit products, including checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts and other types of deposit accounts, including fixed-rate, fixed maturity retail certificates of deposit. As of December 31, 2011, the deposit portfolio consisted of 27.5% non-interest bearing deposits and 72.5% interest-bearing deposits. Non-interest bearing deposits consist of non-interest bearing checking account balances. In addition to its deposit base, it has access to other sources of funding, including Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) and Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) advances, repurchase agreements and unsecured lines of credit with other fin ancial institutions.

Financial Products and Services

In addition to traditional commercial banking activities, the Company offers other financial services to customers, including Internet banking, wire transfers, electronic bill payment, lock box services, courier, and cash management services. Through Shine, a full-service financial advisory firm, the Company offers financial planning and investment management.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Investment Biker]

    Investment Summary: This article is on Western Alliance Bancorporation (WAL), a growth-oriented commercial lender in the Southwest. The banks looks set to improve profitability supported by economic recovery in Last Vegas, industry-leading revenue performance and operating leverage supported by expense control. The credit profile of the bank looks excellent with limited exposure to residential mortgage and well poised to grow its loan portfolio by 20% annually over the next 3 years. It is also well set on a path to credit recovery with improving fundamentals that justifies premium valuation going forward.

Best Financial Stocks To Watch Right Now: PIMCO Income Strategy Fund II(PFN)

PIMCO Income Strategy Fund II is a closed-ended fixed income mutual fund launched and managed by Allianz Global Investors Fund Management LLC. It is co-managed by Pacific Investment Management Company LLC. The fund invests in the fixed income markets of the United States. It invests in securities of companies operating across the diversified sectors. The fund invests in floating-rate debt instruments primarily high-yield senior floating-rate loans. It employs fundamental analysis with top-down approach to create its portfolio. The fund conducts an in-house research to make its investments. It was formerly known as PIMCO Floating Rate Strategy Fund. PIMCO Income Strategy Fund II was formed on June 30, 2004 and is domiciled in the United States.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Gerard Lewis]

    Pimco Income Strategy II Fund (PFN) – 15% Allocation

    Pimco has a mind-boggling number of fixed-income offerings, all, at least by reputation, influenced by the philosophies of legendary "bond king" Bill Gross. PFN is the pick here, though, because it yields about 9.5% while selling at roughly 2% below NAV. And it’s personally managed by Mr. Gross.

Best Financial Stocks To Watch Right Now: BankUnited Inc (BKU)

BankUnited, Inc. (BKU), incorporated on April 28, 2009, is a bank holding company with three wholly owned subsidiaries: BankUnited, National Association (the Bank) Herald National Bank (Herald), and BankUnited Investment Services, Inc. (BUIS), collectively, the Company. As of December 31, 2012, it provides a range of banking services to individual and corporate customers through 98 branches located in 15 Florida counties. Herald is a national banking association with 2 branch locations in the New York metropolitan area. BUIS is a Florida insurance agency providing wealth management and financial planning services. As of December 31, 2012, its distribution network also includes 97 automated teller machines (ATMs), online banking and a telephone banking service. As of December 31, 2011, the Bank had 98 branches in 15 counties. On February 29, 2012, the Company announced the completion of its acquisition of Herald National Bank (Herald).

Lending Activities

The Company’s primary lending focus is to serve consumers, commercial and middle-market businesses and their executives with a range of financial products and services. It offers a range of lending products, including small business loans, residential mortgage loans, commercial real estate loans, equipment loans and leases, term loans, asset-backed loans, municipal leases, letters of credit and commercial lines of credit. As part of the Company’s loan activities, it also purchases performing residential loans on a national basis.

The Company’s commercial loans, which are generally made to small and middle-market businesses, include equipment loans, lines of credit, acquisition finance credit facilities and an array of Small Business Administration product offerings, and typically have maturities of five years or less. It also offers term financing for the acquisition or refinancing of properties, primarily rental apartments, industrial properties, retail shopping centers and free-standing buildings, office! buildings and hotels located primarily in Florida. Other products that it provides include secured lines of credit, acquisition, development and construction loan facilities and construction financing.

The Company provides one- to four-single family residential real estate loans with terms ranging from 10 to 40 years, with either fixed or adjustable interest rates. Loans are offered to customers primarily in Florida through its branches and loan officers. The majority of its loans are owner occupied, full documentation loans. The Company offers consumer loans to its customers primarily in Florida for personal, family and household purposes, including home equity loans, auto, boat and personal installment loans.

Sources of Funds

The Company offers traditional deposit products, including checking accounts, money market deposit accounts, savings accounts and certificates of deposit with a variety of rates. Demand deposits comprised 22% o f total deposits as of December 31, 2012. The Company also utilizes Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) advances to finance its operations.

Wealth Management

Through financial consultants and bankers, BankUnited Investment Services provides a range of wealth management product offering that includes mutual funds, annuities, life insurance and individual securities. It also provides succession planning, estate planning, and financial planning to individuals and business owners. It uses a third-party financial services company to provide its trading platform, administrative and back office support, and provides its customers with around-the-clock access to account balances and summaries, positions and portfolio views, transaction detail, portfolio view, and online statements.

The Company competes with Bank of America, BankAtlantic, BB&T, JPMorgan Chase, Regions Bank, SunTrust Banks, TD Bank and Wells Fargo.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By MONEYMORNING.COM]

    Just last week the investor group, in the last of a series of secondary offerings, said goodbye to BankUnited (NYSE: BKU) and cashed out, having more than doubled their money.

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Breaking news

    Loews (NYSE: L) reported a 59% rise in its third-quarter earnings. Loews posted a quarterly profit of $282 million, or $0.73 per share, versus a year-ago profit of $177 million, or $0.45 per share. To read the full news, click here. BankUnited (NYSE: BKU) announced today the commencement of an underwritten offering of 9,000,000 shares of its common stock by certain of its existing stockholders, subject to market and other conditions. To read the full news, click here. Liberty Global (NASDAQ: LBTYA) announced today an agreement to sell substantially all of its international content division Chellomedia to AMC Networks (NASDAQ: AMCX).To read the full news, click here. Myriad Genetics (NASDAQ: MYGN) today announced that validation data for the Myriad myPlan Lung Cancer test showed that it significantly predicted patients’ risk of death from early-stage lung adenocarcinoma within five years of being diagnosed. To read the full news, click here.

    Posted-In: Bank of America US Stock FuturesNews Eurozone Futures Global Pre-Market Outlook Markets

  • [By Eric Volkman]

    BankUnited (NYSE: BKU  ) is reaching into its vault for another shareholder payout. The company has declared its latest quarterly common stock dividend, which is to be $0.21 per share paid on July 19 to shareholders of record as of July 5. That amount matches both of the firm’s previous distributions, the most recent of which was paid in April. Prior to that, BankUnited dispensed $0.17 per share.