It's Time to Take Profits in Starbucks Corporation

At Tier 1 Investments,a Motley Fool Real-Money Portfolio, I seek out and invest in elite businesses. These include companies with the strongest competitive advantages, largest growth opportunities, and best management. It's an investment philosophy that has significantly outperformed the market, with Tier 1 earning a time-weighted return of 96.83% since inception on Sept. 1, 2011, compared to the S&P 500's 83.78% return during that time.

Back in July 2012, I added Starbucks to the Tier 1 Portfolio and three months later I increased my position. At the time, I felt that Starbucks' beloved brand, massive scale, and excellent leadership team led by founder and CEO Howard Schultz would allow the coffee giant to profit from the enormous global growth opportunities that lay ahead for the company. That all remains true today.

More recently, in June 2014, I increased Tier 1's ability to profit alongside Starbucks by initiating a written put position. With Starbucks' share price rising about 6% since that time, we can capture more than 95% of the potential profit on this position by closing our option trade today.

You may be asking why I would close the position now, with Starbucks' shares trading above $82 and the strike price for the written puts at only $77.50 per share. If we simply hold the position to its Jan. 17, 2015, expiration date, it's likely that the written puts will expire worthless and Tier 1 would earn the full 100% of option premium. While that's true, there is the possibility, however unlikely, that Starbucks' shares could plunge between now and Jan. 17. And so the prudent decision is to close the trade and take profits now.

In addition, the risk/reward scenario at this point is much less favorable than when I initiated the Starbucks written put position. The actual dollar amount of the premium left to be earned is only about $19, compared to $435 when I placed this option trade. On a look through basis, total capital at risk is $7,750. The $19 therefore represents a less than 0.3% potential return.

We can do better.

So I will be closing Tier 1's written put position in Starbucks (though not until at least 24 hours after this article is published -- standard operating procedure for The Motley Fool's Real-Money Stock Picks program that's designed to give Fools the opportunity to buy ahead of us should they so choose).

Yet, I still see value in Starbucks' shares. The question now is how best to capture that value. Should I write new puts? Maybe buy calls? Or maybe the best option is simply to buy shares to add to the stock Tier 1 already owns (and that I intend to hold for the foreseeable future). I'll be making my decision soon, but I'd love to hear what you think, so please share your thoughts in the comments section below. And if you'd like to be one of the first to know what Tier 1's next Starbucks investment will be, and receive all of my new buy and sell alerts, you can connect with me on Twitter @Tier1Investor.

The article It's Time to Take Profits in Starbucks Corporation originally appeared on

Joe Tenebruso has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright 1995 - 2014 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.