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40% Possible in 2 Weeks With an Iron Condor?

Today’s idea involves an esoteric Exchange Traded Product (ETP) called SVXY.  It is one of our favorite underlyings at Terry’s Tips.  Chances are, you don’t know very much about it, and I can’t help you much in this short note.  But I will share a trade I made on this ETP this morning, and my thinking behind this trade.

Terry

40% Possible in 2 Weeks With an Iron Condor?

The best way to explain how SVXY works might be to explain that it is the inverse of VXX, the ETP that some people buy when they fear that the market is about to crash.  Many articles have been published extolling the virtues of VXX as the ideal protection against a setback in the market.  When the market falls, volatility (VIX) most always rises, and when VIX rises, VXX almost always does as well.  It is not uncommon for VXX to double in value in a very short time when the market corrects.

The only problem with VXX is that in the long run, it is just about the worst equity that you could imagine buying.  Over the last 5 years, it has fallen from a split-adjusted several thousand dollar price to today’s $18 level.  About every year and a half, a reverse 1-for-4 reverse split must be engineered on VXX to keep the price high enough to bother with buying.  The last time this happened was in August 2016.  It pushed the price up from just over $9 to about $40, and it has lost over half its value since then.

Clearly, you would only buy VXX if you felt strongly that the market was about to implode.  Most of the time, we prefer to own the inverse of VXX.  That is SVXY.  So far, it has gone from $90 to over $140 in 2017, only to fall back to about $123 last week when geopolitical fears arose and depressed the market a bit, and even more significant for volatility-related ETPs like VXX and SVXY, volatility (VIX) rose from the 11 -13 range where it has hung out most of the time for the past few years to about 16 today.

When VIX rose and SVXY fell last week, something interesting happened. Implied volatility (IV) of the SVXY options skyrocketed to nearly double what it was a month ago.  I think that these high option prices will not exist for too long, and would like to sell some at this time.

Rather than selling either or both puts and calls naked (inviting the possibility of unlimited loss), a good way of selling high-IV options is through an iron condor spread.  I believe that SVXY, trading near the $123 where it opened this morning, is unlikely to be higher than $135 or lower than $95 in 11 days when the 28April17 options expire.

This is the spread I executed this morning:

Buy to Open # 28Apr17 140 calls (SVXY170428C140)
Sell to Open # 28Apr17 135 calls (SVXY170428C135)
Buy to Open # 28Apr17 90 puts (SVXY170428P90)
Sell to Open # 28Apr17 95 puts (SVXY170428P95) for a credit of $1.63 (selling an iron condor)

I received $163 for each contract I sold, less $5 in commissions.  My maximum loss is $500 less the $158 net I received, or $342.  If SVXY ends up at any price between $95 and $135 on April 28, all of these options will expire worthless and I will be able to keep my $158.  This works out to a 46% gain for the 11 days of waiting.

As with any investment, you would only commit money that you can truly afford to lose.  I like my chances here, and I committed an amount that would not change my style of living if I lost it.

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