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Back-Testing the 10K Classic Options Strategy

This week I would like to share a report I sent to paying subscribers this week.  It is a back test of a portfolio we set up just a month ago to carry out the precise strategy outlined in my book, Making 36%: Duffer’s Guide to Breaking Par in the Market Every Year in Good Years and Bad (the revised 2012 edition is the 5th printing).  I believe it gives a definitive answer to the question “Do calendar spreads really work?”

Back-Testing the 10K Classic Options Strategy

The originally-stated goal of the 10K Classic portfolio was to deliver consistent 3% monthly gains and never have a losing month.  This portfolio uses S&P 500 tracking stock (SPY) as the underlying, and uses true deep in-the-money LEAPS as the long side (a full 19 months out to start) and Weekly short calls at several strikes both above the stock price (usually 2 out of 5 to start the week) and below the stock price (usually 3 out of 5 to start the week).  We generally do not make any adjustment trades until Thursday when some calls might be rolled to the next Weekly series at a different strike to make the portfolio more neutral net delta.

I wanted to see what would happen if we made absolutely no adjustments to the 10K Classic during the week based on the risk profile graph of the $9800 portfolio on June 15, 2012 and the weekly price changes for SPY that had taken place over the past 100 weeks.  Here are the results:

This table groups the weekly price changes in dollars into 19 groups and multiplies the number of occurrences in each group by the loss or gain that would have occurred with that price change according to the risk profile graph displayed with the thinkorswim software.  I reduced the indicated gain or loss by $50 each week to account for commission costs and transaction costs (we typically buy back out-of-the-money expiring calls for $3 or so, or pay a small premium when rolling over in-the-money calls).  Of course, VIX was relatively high on this date (about 22), so the gains might be less if VIX were appreciably lower.

In 76% of the weeks, a gain would have been made and in 24% of the weeks, a loss would have resulted. In the gaining weeks, the average gain was $284 and the in the losing weeks, the average loss was $445.   On an average of once a year (1 week out of each 50), a greater-than-15% loss would have occurred if no adjustments were made.

The bottom line is most encouraging.  It says that the portfolio would earn 100% over two years if those positions were in place and no adjustments were made during the week.  In order to carry out a strategy of making no adjustments, however, we would have to be willing to tolerate a weekly loss of about $1400 once every year.  

Since about two weeks a year, very large weekly losses might occur (averaging about $1000), it seems best to slightly alter our goal of never having a losing month.  When we encounter one of these weeks, the other 3 weeks of the month might not always do well enough to cover that large a loss.  Our new goal will to never have a losing month as long as the stock does not fluctuate more than $7 in one week during the month.  The more important 3%-a-month goal will continue to be in place. 

The first month for the portfolio (up 5.1%) is certainly an encouraging start, especially with the volatility that we experienced during that time period. 

The originally-stated goal of the 10K Classic portfolio was to deliver consistent 3% monthly gains and never have a losing month.  This portfolio uses S&P 500 tracking stock (SPY) as the underlying, and uses true deep in-the-money LEAPS as the long side (a full 19 months out to start) and Weekly short calls at several strikes both above the stock price (usually 2 out of 5 to start the week) and below the stock price (usually 3 out of 5 to start the week).  We generally do not make any adjustment trades until Thursday when some calls might be rolled to the next Weekly series at a different strike to make the portfolio more neutral net delta.

I wanted to see what would happen if we made absolutely no adjustments to the 10K Classic during the week based on the risk profile graph of the $9800 portfolio on June 15, 2012 and the weekly price changes for SPY that had taken place over the past 100 weeks.  Here are the results:

This table groups the weekly price changes in dollars into 19 groups and multiplies the number of occurrences in each group by the loss or gain that would have occurred with that price change according to the risk profile graph displayed with the thinkorswim software.  I reduced the indicated gain or loss by $50 each week to account for commission costs and transaction costs (we typically buy back out-of-the-money expiring calls for $3 or so, or pay a small premium when rolling over in-the-money calls).  Of course, VIX was relatively high on this date (about 22), so the gains might be less if VIX were appreciably lower.

In 76% of the weeks, a gain would have been made and in 24% of the weeks, a loss would have resulted. In the gaining weeks, the average gain was $284 and the in the losing weeks, the average loss was $445.   On an average of once a year (1 week out of each 50), a greater-than-15% loss would have occurred if no adjustments were made.

The bottom line is most encouraging.  It says that the portfolio would earn 100% over two years if those positions were in place and no adjustments were made during the week.  In order to carry out a strategy of making no adjustments, however, we would have to be willing to tolerate a weekly loss of about $1400 once every year.  

Since about two weeks a year, very large weekly losses might occur (averaging about $1000), it seems best to slightly alter our goal of never having a losing month.  When we encounter one of these weeks, the other 3 weeks of the month might not always do well enough to cover that large a loss.  Our new goal will to never have a losing month as long as the stock does not fluctuate more than $7 in one week during the month.  The more important 3%-a-month goal will continue to be in place. 

The first month for the portfolio (up 5.1%) is certainly an encouraging start, especially with the volatility that we experienced during that time period.

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Making 36%

Making 36% — A Duffer's Guide to Breaking Par in the Market Every Year in Good Years and Bad

This book may not improve your golf game, but it might change your financial situation so that you will have more time for the greens and fairways (and sometimes the woods).

Learn why Dr. Allen believes that the 10K Strategy is less risky than owning stocks or mutual funds, and why it is especially appropriate for your IRA.

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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