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Archive for October, 2011

Choose an Option Strategy Based on Actual vs. Implied Volatility

Monday, October 31st, 2011

It is important to differentiate between the implied volatility of option prices and the actual volatility of the underlying stock or ETF.  It is not an easy task to recognize when the two measures deviate from one another, but if you can identify a difference, huge gains can be made with the proper option strategy.

Today we will discuss how you can capitalize on any differences that you might be able to find.

Choose an Option Strategy Based on Actual vs. Implied Volatility: 

 
Last week the European debt crisis was apparently averted, at least in the eyes of option investors.  VIX, the so-called “fear index”, the average implied volatility of option prices on the S&P 500 tracking stock (SPY) fell dramatically to just below 25 (still above its mean average of about 20 but well below the 40+ it has sometimes been at during the previous month).

When option prices are high (i.e., implied volatility, VIX) is high, there are huge gains possible by writing call options (not our favorite ploy) or buying calendar spreads (our favorite most of the time).  However, when actual market volatility is greater than the expected volatility (i.e., implied volatility of the option prices), writing calls or buying calendar spreads is generally unprofitable.

Over the last three months, we have had great difficulty making gains with our calendar spreads because actual market volatility was too great.  On the other hand, we have had some luck with buying straddles (or strangles), a strategy of buying both a put and a call on the same underlying and hoping that there is a big fluctuation in either direction.

Last Wednesday, after following VXX (a “stock” that is based on the futures of VIX), we noticed that actual volatility was huge – it had fluctuated $2 or more almost every single day for several weeks.  On Wednesday in one of our portfolios we made a small ($1400) buy of 5 VXX 43 puts and calls which would expire two days later.  We paid $279 per straddle.  When the market for VXX opened up sharply lower on Thursday, we sold the straddle for $596, netting 117% after commissions.

In another portfolio where we owned calendar spreads on VXX, we lost money.  Our results in these two portfolios clearly demonstrated that when high actual volatility occurs, you do best by buying short-term options, either puts or calls depending on which way you believe the market is headed, or both puts and calls if you admit you really don’t know which way it will go (as we usually do).  On the other hand, when actual volatility is low, calendar spreads deliver higher returns.
Now that much of the uncertainty facing the market has subsided a bit, we believe it is time for the calendar spreads to prosper once again as they have for most of the past few years (since late 2008 extending up to August of this year).

A Useful Way to Think About Delta

Monday, October 24th, 2011

This week we will talk a little about one of the “Greeks” – the variables designed to predict how option prices will change when underlying stock prices change or time elapses. It is important to have a basic understanding of some of these measures before embarking on trading options.

I hope you enjoy this short discussion.

A Useful Way to Think About Delta 


The first “Greek” that most people learn about when they get involved in options is Delta.  This important measure tells us how much the price of the option will change if the underlying stock or ETF changes by $1.00. 

If you own a call option that carries a delta of 50, that means that if the stock goes up by $1.00, your option will increase in value by $.50 (if the stock falls by $1.00, your option will fall by a little less than $.50).
The useful way to think about delta is to consider it the probability of that option finishing up (on expiration day) in the money.  If you own a call option at a strike price of 60 and the underlying stock is selling at $60, you have an at-the-money option, and the delta will likely be about 50.  In other words, the market is saying that your option has a 50-50 chance of expiring in the money (i.e., the stock is above $60 so your option would have some intrinsic value).

If your option were at the 55 strike, it would have a much higher delta value because the likelihood of its finishing up in the money (i.e., higher than $55) would be much higher.  The stock could fall by $4.90 or go up by any amount and it would end up being in the money, so the delta value would be quite high, maybe 70 or 75.  The market would be saying that there is a 70% or 75% chance of the stock ending up above $55 at expiration.

On the other hand, if your call option were at the 65 strike while the stock was selling at $60, it would carry a much lower delta because there would be a much lower likelihood of the stock going up $5 so that your option would expire in the money.

Of course, the amount of remaining life also has an effect on the delta value of an option.  We will talk about that phenomenon next week.

If the market knocks you down, try laughing instead of crying –

Monday, October 17th, 2011

A final note on the SPY calendar spread I placed two weeks ago.  With the stock running up to over $122, it got quite far from the 115 strike I had selected.  As you may recall, I sold over half my positions and recovered all of my original investment and was waiting to see how much extra I would earn from selling the balance last Friday.  I picked up only $.40 ($200 on my original investment of $1800, so it wasn’t entirely a bad day).

This week I would like to share some humorous market definitions.

If the market knocks you down, try laughing instead of crying -

New Market Definitions: 
CEO
–Chief Embezzlement Officer.

CFO– Corporate Fraud Officer.

BULL MARKET — A random market movement causing an investor to mistake himself for a financial genius.

BEAR MARKET — A 6 to 18 month period when the kids get no allowance, the wife gets no jewellery, and the husband gets no sex.

VALUE INVESTING — The art of buying low and selling lower.

P/E RATIO — The percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market keeps crashing.

STANDARD & POOR — Your life in a nutshell.

STOCK ANALYST — Idiot who just downgraded your stock.

STOCK SPLIT — When your ex-wife and her lawyer split your assets equally between themselves.

FINANCIAL PLANNER — A guy whose phone has been disconnected.

MARKET CORRECTION — The day after you buy stocks.

OUT OF THE MONEY –   When your checking account’s overdraft hits bottom.

CASH FLOW– The movement your money makes as it disappears down the toilet.

YAHOO — What you yell after selling it to some poor sucker for $240 per share.

WINDOWS — What you jump out of when you’re the sucker who bought Yahoo @ $240 per share.

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR — Past year investor who’s now locked up in a nuthouse.

PROFIT — An archaic word no longer in use.

Follow-Up on Low Cost SPY Calendar Spread

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Last week I told you about a simple calendar spread that might double your money in a week or two.  Today I would like to follow up on that idea, and tell you exactly how it worked out in my account.

Even though the iPhone 5 was not introduced as we had expected last Tuesday, we are holding the special Terry’s Tips discount offer open until October 11 – see details below.

Follow-Up on Low Cost SPY Calendar Spread    

On Monday, October 3, just after I sent out the Idea of the Week to you, I bought the exact spread that I spelled out in that report:

BTO (buy to open) 1 SPY Oct-11 115 call (SPY111022C115)
STO (sell to open) 1 SPY Oct1-11 115 call (SPY111007C115) for $1.80 (buying a calendar spread)

I bought 11 of these spreads, paying only $163 per spread ($165.50 including commissions at thinkorswim).  My total investment was $1820.50.  As I said in last week’s report, I expected that the spread would cost less on Monday than it did on Friday, and that was the case.

I chose the 115 strike because that was about half-way between the $112 and $120 that SPY had been fluctuating between for the past several weeks.  It started out the week on the downside, falling below $108 at one point on Tuesday.  I was a little concerned because when you buy a calendar spread, the maximum gain comes when the stock closes at exactly the strike price you select on the day that the short options are due to expire.

On Friday morning, October 7th, the day that the Oct1-11 116 calls were due to expire, SPY had shot up to over $116.  I made two trades in the morning.  I sold 6 of the original calendar spreads, collecting $2.19 ($219 less commissions of $2.50, or $216.50 per spread, or $1299.00 total).

If I had sold all 11 spreads at this price, I would have collected $2318.50 for a net profit after commissions of $561.00, or 31% on my investment for one week.

In the second trade, I rolled over the Oct-1 11 116 calls to the next week, buying back the calls expiring that day and selling the Oct2-11 116 calls.  I collected $1.30 per spread ($130 less commissions of $2.50, or $127.50 x 5 spreads, or $637.50 total).

I had collected a total of $1936.55 after paying all commissions.  This was greater than my total investment of $1820.50 by $116, and I am guaranteed a much greater profit a week from now when I close out the remaining 5 calendar spreads I now own.  I could collect as much as $200 per spread if the stock manages to close very close to $115 on Friday.

While I am delighted with these results so far, I could have done much better if I had waited until near the end of the day on Friday.  At that time, I could have rolled over the Oct1-11 calls to Oct2-11 calls and collected my entire $1.63 investment back rather than the $1.30 I collected early in the day.  (I was afraid that SPY was going up fast and I would gain less if it moved further away from $115 – instead, it fell back closer to the 115 strike at the end of the day.)

Several subscribers have written in to say they tried this spread in their own accounts, many of them picking different strike prices.  Happily, some of them who made money on the trades have decided to use $59.95 of their winnings to subscribe to Terry’s Tips where they might learn how to make some really big returns in future months and years.

Here is the special Terry’s Tips offer:

iPhone 5 Introduction Offer: Apple was expected to introduce IPhone 5 on October 4.  For the first time, Sprint will be able to sell an IPhone.  It could be a big deal for Apple, and all of us who are betting on their stock.
On April 29, 2010, Terry’s Tips set up an actual portfolio to show how an options portfolio could outperform a stock portfolio using the same stock.  We chose Apple (AAPL) as a stock that we thought would go up.  On the day we set up the portfolio, AAPL was trading at $277.

In the next nine months, AAPL rose 25% and our $5000 starting portfolio value had soared to $10,087 (after all commissions, of course), a gain of over 100%.  

Our options portfolio had outperformed the purchase of stock by a huge margin – gaining 4 times as much as the stock gained.  Of course, the stock has now gone even higher, and our $5000 portfolio recently surpassed the $12,000 level.
 
We have written up a special report which shows exactly how we gained over 100% with an options portfolio while the stock rose only 25%.  You could easily use this same strategy on any stock of your own choosing, and presumably do as well (assuming that you picked a stock that went higher).
 
This report is worth many times the price of the entire subscription by itself. Together with my White Paper, this report is a short and complete explanation of how you can use an options strategy to double your money if the stock goes up only 25%

If you sign up by October 11, one week after the iPhone 5 was supposed to hit the shelves, we will discount our introductory package all the way down to $59.95, a full $20 lower than thousands of subscribers have paid. 

This is what you get:
 
1)   My 70+ page White Paper which explains my favorite option strategies in detail, including my 10 Trading Rules, and 20 companies to use with the ‘Lazy Way” Strategy, (which guarantees a 100% gain in 2 years if the  stock stays flat or goes up).
 
2)   2 FREE months of the Options Tutorial Program (a $49.90 value), which includes:
 
 - A 14-lesson tutorial on trading stock options which will give you a thorough understanding of trading stock options.
 - A weekly update of 8 actual portfolios so that you can follow their progress over time.
 - Specific trades for each portfolio emailed to you so you may mirror them in your own account.
 - Access to historical analytic reports and portfolio updates posted in the Insiders section of Terry’s Tips.
  - If you choose to continue after the 2 free months, do nothing, and you’ll be billed at a discounted rate of $19.95 per month.  
 
3)    A FREE special report – “How We Made 100% with Apple in 2010-11 While the Stock Rose only 25%.”

 
With this one-time offer, you will receive everything for only $59.95, less than the value of the White Paper alone. But you must order by October 11, 2011.   Click here – http://www.terrystips.com/order.php and enter Special Code iPhone5.  
 
Why wait?  Do it today!  You will learn a strategy that could pay you back many times over, and do it every year for the rest of your investing life.  

Terry

P.S. Receive the special free report entitled “How We Made 100% on Apple in 2010-11 While AAPL Rose Only 25%”  in addition to all the other benefits of a Terry’s Tips subscription for the discounted special price of only $59.95,  go to http://www.terrystips.com/order.php, and use Special Code iPhone5

Low Cost ($180) SPY Calendar Spread Which Might Double in One Week

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Option prices are higher than they have been in several years.  Today I would like to suggest a way to capitalize on these high prices be selling some short-term premium.  You might double your money in a week.  

Maybe you would be unlucky and it would take two weeks to double your money (of course, there are no guarantees in the investment world, but this one looks pretty good to us). 

What I am hoping is that you try this little investment, and if you are successful, you use some of your gain to join Terry’s Tips where you can get a complete education on how to generate consistent gains which could far exceed conventional investments.

Timing is everything – you act soon, you can become a Terry’s Tips Insider for a special low price (see below).

Low Cost ($180) SPY Calendar Spread Which Might Double in One Week

For the past several weeks, SPY has fluctuated in a range between $112 and $120.  Right now it is resting very close to the lower end of that range.  To place the spread that I am suggesting, you first need to make your best bet as to where the stock will be trading at the close of business on Friday.

Your chances of picking the right strike price are about as good as picking the right horse in a horse race, but the good thing about the calendar spread is that if your horse comes close to winning (i.e., the stock closes not too far away from your strike price choice), you can also be a winner.

When you buy a calendar spread, the maximum gain comes when the stock ends up at precisely the same price as the strike price of your spread.  At that price, the short position expires worthless (or very near to it) and the long side will have more time premium than any other option in that expiration series.

Once you have made your best bet as to where the price of SPY will be next Friday, you would put this spread on placing this trade:

BTO (buy to open) 1 SPY Oct-11 115 call (SPY111022C115)
STO (sell to open) 1 SPY Oct1-11 115 call (SPY111007C115) for $1.80 (buying a calendar spread)

This sample is for the 115 strike (you might select a higher or lower strike).  If you select a strike of 112 or higher, we would recommend using calls, or if lower than 112, using puts, although mathematically it makes no difference.  At thinkorswim, Terry’s Tips subscribers would pay a $2.50 commission to place this spread.

The $1.80 price is what you would have had to pay last Friday.  It will probably be less than this if you place the trade today or tomorrow.

You will have two opportunities to get your investment back (and hopefully, more).  The first will come on Friday (October 7).  You will buy back the call you sold short and sell the next-week call at the same strike.  This is the trade you would make then:

BTC (buy to close) 1 SPY Oct1-11 115 call (SPY111007C115)
STO (sell to open) 1 SPY Oct2-11 115 call (SPY111014C115) for $  (selling a calendar spread)

At last Friday’s closing option prices, if the stock is trading between $113 and $116, you would be able to sell this spread for a minimum of $180.  You would have all your money back, and when you made this same trade a week later (on October 21), anything you received from the sale would be pure profit.

An alternative move would be to close out the original calendar spread on October 7 rather than rolling over for another week.  If the strike you selected was within $3 or $4 of the stock price on that day, you should be able to sell the spread at a profit.

This little option spread might be a way to get your feet wet in the options world, and you would learn a little about how calendar spreads work without having to wait very long to see the results.  The closer your selected strike price is to the stock price when the short options expire, the greater your return. 

We hope you will re-invest some of the gain you might make by taking advantage of our discounted price for new subscribers who come on board by October 11, 2011.  Here is that special offer:

iPhone 5 Introduction Offer: Apple will introduce iPhone 5 on October 4.  For the first time, Sprint will be able to sell an iPhone.  It could be a big deal for Apple, and all of us who are betting on their stock.

On April 29, 2010, Terry’s Tips set up an actual portfolio to show how an options portfolio could outperform a stock portfolio using the same stock.  We chose Apple (AAPL) as a stock that we thought would go up.  On the day we set up the portfolio, AAPL was trading at $277.

In the next nine months, AAPL rose 25% and our $5000 starting portfolio value had soared to $10,087 (after all commissions, of course), a gain of over 100%.  

Our options portfolio had outperformed the purchase of stock by a huge margin – gaining 4 times as much as the stock gained.  Of course, the stock has now gone even higher, and our $5000 portfolio recently surpassed the $12,000 level.
 
We have written up a special report which shows exactly how we gained over 100% with an options portfolio while the stock rose only 25%.  You could easily use this same strategy on any stock of your own choosing, and presumably do as well (assuming that you picked a stock that went higher).
 
This report is worth many times the price of the entire subscription by itself. Together with my White Paper, this report is a short and complete explanation of how you can use an options strategy to double your money if the stock goes up only 25%

If you sign up by October 11, one week after the iPhone 5 hits the shelves, we will discount our introductory package all the way down to $59.95, a full $20 lower than thousands of subscribers have paid. 

This is what you get:
 
1)   My 70+ page White Paper which explains my favorite option strategies in detail, including my 10 Trading Rules, and 20 companies to use with the ‘Lazy Way” Strategy, (which guarantees a 100% gain in 2 years if the  stock stays flat or goes up).
 
2)   2 FREE months of the Options Tutorial Program (a $49.90 value), which includes:
 
 - A 14-lesson tutorial on trading stock options which will give you a thorough understanding of trading stock options.
 - A weekly update of 8 actual portfolios so that you can follow their progress over time.
 - Specific trades for each portfolio emailed to you so you may mirror them in your own account.
 - Access to historical analytic reports and portfolio updates posted in the Insiders section of Terry’s Tips.
  - If you choose to continue after the 2 free months, do nothing, and you’ll be billed at a discounted rate of $19.95 per month.  
 
3)    A FREE special report – “How We Made 100% with Apple in 2010-11 While the Stock Rose only 25%.”

 
With this one-time offer, you will receive everything for only $59.95, less than the value of the White Paper alone. But you must order by October 11, 2011.   Click here – http://www.terrystips.com/order.php and enter Special Code iPhone5.  
 
Why wait?  Do it today!  You will learn a strategy that could pay you back many times over, and do it every year for the rest of your investing life.  

Terry

P.S. Receive the special free report entitled “How We Made 100% on Apple in 2010-11 While AAPL Rose Only 25%”  in addition to all the other benefits of a Terry’s Tips subscription for the discounted special price of only $59.95,  go to http://www.terrystips.com/order.php, and use Special Code iPhone5.

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Success Stories

I have been trading the equity markets with many different strategies for over 40 years. Terry Allen's strategies have been the most consistent money makers for me. I used them during the 2008 melt-down, to earn over 50% annualized return, while all my neighbors were crying about their losses.

~ John Collins