NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With bonds producing weak returns, stocks riding high after a six-year bull run and the Federal Reserve edging the market toward interest rate hikes, investors looking for safe, income-producing options may feel as if they haven't got many choices.
One choice some investors may be overlooking is a covered call strategy. According to Jesse Clinton, managing director at Snowden Lane Partners, this would be an ideal time to implement such a plan with part of your portfolio.
It's also known as the "buy-write" strategy, because you're writing call options on the stocks you buy, which allows you to earn extra income from the option premiums. It's a more risky investing tactic than buying bonds, but is still a good, relatively safe way to earn income in a choppy, yield-challenged environment. "A lot of our affluent families are looking for income, are looking for a steady type of investment, and this usually delivers that," he said.
Snowden is using large-cap value stocks in the strategy based on the fact that they usually offer better dividends and generally outperform the market during periods when interest rates are rising.
The downside to the strategy is it caps your potential gains. If the stock moves higher than the option price, your buyers will exercise their options and you'll have to sell at the option price. But so far in 2015, the index for the covered call strategy has doubled the performance of the S&P 500.
If you don't want to pay for a firm like Snowden to manage this strategy for you, there are exchange-traded funds and mutual funds that offer the strategy. These include the PowerShares S&P 500 BuyWrite ETF (PBP). But Clinton highly recommends his firm's customized versions. They use a flat fee-based structure, so investors aren't paying for high trade volume.
Further, he says, Snowden Lane has an advantage because they are picking from a larger basket of stocks. "We think that our [covered call strategy] is unique because we're taking from a universe of 2,000 individual equities and narrowing it down, and we're using high-dividend paying equities," said Clinton. "Most wire houses can only use equities that they have buy or neutral on."