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Archive for the ‘AAPL’ Category

An Update on Our Last Trade and a New One on AAPL

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

About a month ago, I suggested an options spread on Aetna (AET) that made a profit of 23% after commissions in two weeks. It worked out as we had hoped. Then, two weeks ago, I suggested another play on AET which would make 40% in two weeks (ending last Friday) if AET ended up at any price between $113 and $131. The stock ended up at $122.50 on Friday, and those of us who made this trade are celebrating out 40% victory. (See the last blog post for the details on this trade.)

Today, I am suggesting a similar trade on Apple (AAPL). It offers a lower potential gain, but the stock can fall in price by about $9 and the gain will still come your way.


An Update on Our Last Trade and a New One on AAPL

This trade on APPL will only yield about 30% after commissions, and you have to wait six months to get it, but the stock can fall over $8 during that time, and you would still make your 30%. Annualized, 30% every six months works out to 60% for the year. Where else are you going to find that kind of return on your investment dollars even if the stock goes down?

This is an actual trade we made today in one of our Terry’s Tips’ portfolios last Friday. It replaced an earlier trade we made on AAPL which gained over 20% in less than a month. We closed it out early because we had made nearly 90% of the possible maximum gain, and clearing up the maintenance requirement allowed us to make the following trade with AAPL trading about $129:

Buy To Open 3 AAPL 21Jul17 115 put (AAPL170721P115)
Sell To Open 3 AAPL 21Jul17 120 put (AAPL170721P120) for a credit of $1.17 (selling a vertical)

This is called a vertical put credit spread. $117 per spread less $2.50 commissions, or $114.50 x 3 = $343.50 was put into our account. The broker charges a maintenance requirement of $500 per spread, or $1500. Subtracting out the $343.50 we received from $1500 makes our net investment $1156.50..

If AAPL is trading at any price above $120 on July 21, 2017, both of the puts will expire worthless, and we will be able to keep the $343.50 we were paid on Friday. In this case, no commissions will be charged on the closing end of the trade. You don’t have to do anything except wait for the big day to come.

If AAPL is trading at any price below $120 on July 21, you will have to buy back the 120 put for $100 for every dollar it ends up below $120. If this happens in our Terry’s Tips portfolio, we will probably roll the spread out to a further-out month, hopefully at a credit.
This trade is most appropriate for people who believe in AAPL, and feel confident that if it does fall a little, it will end up being less than $9 lower in 6 months. We like our chances here.

As with all investments, this trade should only be made with money that you can afford to lose.

Happy trading.


A $350 Investment on Apple Could Double in 2 Months

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

On January 27, 2016, at 4:30 EST, Apple (AAPL) will announce earnings for 2015. This has always been an exciting time for investors, and this year should not be any different from years past.

Today, I made a $350 bet on AAPL’s earnings. I feel confident that I will double my money in 2 months on this wager, even if the stock does not do much between now and then. I would like to share my thinking with you, and maybe you will like to do something similar yourself.


A $350 Investment on Apple Could Double in 2 Months

AAPL is trading today about $116, only $5 higher than it was a year ago at this time.
Over that year, earnings have grown about 30% and sales have increased 20%, and the stock has gone up less than 5%. The world’s most valuable company sells at only 11 times earnings while it is growing nearly double that percentage, and even the 11 number should be adjusted to a lower figure because of the large stash of cash they are sitting on.

By any fundamental valuation standards, AAPL is a screaming bargain. Yet it has been in this same position for years, often held down because of tepid guidance it invariably puts out while announcing sales and earnings which are considerably above the guidance they gave last time around. The company seems to enjoy setting a low expectation bar and then crushing it with stellar earnings.

While Black Friday was a disappointment for most retailers, AAPL apparently had its best day ever. One analyst reported “the iPhone and Apple Watch were the most popular, with the Watch likely the number seller online. IPads are emerging as the first computing device for kids, with the iPad Air 2 the hottest gift item for kids eight and older, the Mini for those younger.” It sounds like it might be a good Christmas selling season for the company.

Two things almost always occur in the week or weeks leading up to AAPL’s January earnings announcement. First, the stock usually moves up $5 or so in anticipation of a positive announcement. Second, option prices skyrocket because there is often a big move in the stock after the announcement, either up or down.

With these thoughts in mind, I bought calendar spreads on AAPL today with the stock about $116. I chose the 120 strike price because I think at some point in the next few weeks, the stock will edge up to that price. I bought Feb-16 120 calls and sold Dec-16 120 calls as a calendar spread, paying $347 plus $2.50 commission per spread (the commission rate paid by Terry’s Tips subscribers at thinkorswim).
Just before the Dec-16 calls expire, I will buy them back and sell a further-out weekly option at a strike price which will hopefully net me at least $100. I expect to repeat this once or twice in the subsequent weeks, hopefully reducing my initial $350 cost to about $150 when I can sell the calls I am most looking forward to.

Those calls will be the Jan5-16 calls which will expire on January 29, just after the earnings announcement. They are not yet available for sale, but will be offered in a couple of weeks. These are the calls which will be juiced up by the uncertainty of the coming announcement. Looking back to January 2015 when there were two weeks to the post-announcement, these are thebif prices for those calls:

At-the-money – $4.00
$1 away-from-the-money – $3.50
$1 away-from-the-money – $3.05
$1 away-from-the-money – $2.66
$1 away-from-the-money – $2.28

If I am successful in getting my cost down to $150 by that time, I should be able to sell Jan5-16 calls for more than my net investment, therefore guaranteeing me a profit no matter what the stock price does after the announcement. Of course, the closer to $120 it is, the more profitable it will be for me when I close out the Feb-16 – Jan5-16 spread on Friday, January 29, 2016.

As with most option investments, this obviously will take a little work to carry out. But I sort of like that kind of work when it might result in my doubling my money in a two-month time period. It seems like a low-risk, high potential gain to me, and I look forward to having a little fun with it.

Of course, you should only make option investments with money you can truly afford to lose. Profits are not guaranteed, no matter how promising they might appear when you first set up your positions.

How to Make Extraordinary Returns with Semi-Long Option Plays

Friday, November 27th, 2015

One of my favorite stock option plays is to make a bet that sometime in the future, a particular stock will be no lower than it is today. If you are right, you can make 50% – 100% without doing anything other than making a single option trade and waiting out the time period. Ten weeks ago, I made two specific recommendations (see my September 8, 2015 blog) for making this kind of bet, one which would make 62% in 4 months and the other 100% in that same time period. Today I would like to update those suggestions and discuss a little about how you set up the option trade if you know of a company you feel good about.

If you missed them, be sure to check out the short videos which explains why I like calendar spreads, and How to Make Adjustments to Calendar and Diagonal Spreads.


How to Make Extraordinary Returns with Semi-Long Option Plays

What is a long-term bet in the options world? A month? A week? I spend most of my time selling options that have only a week of remaining life. Sometimes they only have a day of life before they expire (hopefully worthless). So I don’t deal with long-term options, at least most of the time.

Most options plays are short-term plays. People who trade options tend to have short-term time horizons. Maybe they have ADHD and can’t handle long waits to learn whether they made a gain or not. But there are all sorts of different ways you can structure options plays. While most of my activity involves extremely short-term bets, I also have quite a bit of money devoted to longer-term bets which take 4 months to a year before the pay-day comes along.

One of my favorite semi-long (if there is such a word) option plays involves picking a stock which I particularly like for the long run, or one which has been beaten down for some reason which doesn’t seem quite right. When I find such a stock, I place a bet that sometime in the future, it will be at least as high as it is now. If I am right, I can usually make 50% – 100% on the bet, and I know in advance exactly what the maximum possible gain or loss will be, right to the penny.

Ten weeks ago, I liked where the price of SVXY was. This ETP is inversely correlated with option volatility. When volatility moves higher, SVXY falls, and vice versa. At the time, fears of a world-wide slowdown were emerging. Markets fell and volatility soared. VIX, the so-called “fear index” rose from the 12 – 14 range it had maintained for a couple of years to over 20. SVXY tanked to $45, and had edged up to $47 when I recommended placing a bet that in 4 months (on January 15, 2016), SVXY would be $40 or higher.

This trade would make the maximum gain even if SVXY fell by $7 and remained above $40 on that date:

Buy to Open 1 SVXY Jan-16 35 put (SVXY160115P35)
Sell to Open 1 SVXY Jan-16 40 put (SVXY160115P40) for a credit of $1.95 (selling a vertical)

Quoting from my September 8th blog, “When this trade was executed, $192.50 (after a $2.50 commission) went into my account. If on January 15, 2016, SVXY is at any price higher than $40, both of these puts will expire worthless, and for every vertical spread I sold, I won’t have to make a closing trade, and I will make a profit of exactly $192.50.

So how much do I have to put up to place this trade? The broker looks at these positions and calculates that the maximum loss that could occur on them would be $500 ($100 for every dollar of stock price below $40). For that to happen, SVXY would have to close below $35 on January 15th. Since I am quite certain that it is headed higher, not lower, a drop of this magnitude seems highly unlikely to me.

The broker will place a $500 maintenance requirement on my account. This is not a loan where interest is charged, but merely cash I can’t use to buy shares of stock. However, since I have collected $192.50, I can’t lose the entire $500. My maximum loss is the difference between the maintenance requirement and what I collected, or $307.50.

If SVXY closes at any price above $40 on January 15, both puts will expire worthless and the maintenance requirement disappears. I don’t have to do anything except think of how I will spend my profit of $192.50. I will have made 62% on my investment. Where else can you make this kind of return for as little risk as this trade entails?

Of course, as with all investments, you should only risk what you can afford to lose. But I believe the likelihood of losing on this investment is extremely low. The stock is destined to move higher, not lower, as soon as the current turbulent market settles down.

If you wanted to take a little more risk, you might buy the 45 put and sell a 50 put in the Jan-15 series. You would be betting that the stock manages to move a little higher over the next 4 months. You could collect about $260 per spread and your risk would be $240. If SVXY closed any higher than $50 (which history says that it should), your profit would be greater than 100%. I have also placed this spread trade in my personal account (and my charitable trust account as well).”

It is now 10 weeks later. SVXY is trading at $58 ½. I could buy back the first spread for $.45 ($47.50 after commissions). That would give me a $145 profit on my maximum risk of $307.50. That works out to a 47% gain for 10 weeks. That was easy money for me.

The other spread I suggested, raising the strikes of both the long and short sides by $10, could have been sold for $260. You could buy back the spread for $102.50 including commissions, giving you a profit of $157.50 on a maximum risk of $240, or 65%. Or you could just wait it out and enjoy the full 108% gain if SVXY closes no lower than $50 on the third Friday in January. I am hanging on to both my original bets and not selling now unless something better comes along.

In some Terry’s Tips, we make similar investments like this each January, betting that one year later, stocks we like will be at least where they were at the time. The portfolio we set up this year made those kinds of bets on GOOG, AAPL, and SPY. It will make 92% on the maximum amount at risk in 6 weeks if these three stocks are where they are today or any higher when the January 2016 puts expire. In fact, GOOG could fall by $155 and we would still make over 100% on that spread we had sold in January 2015. We could close out all three spreads today and make a gain of 68% on our maximum risk.

These are just some examples of how you can make longer-term bets on your favorite stocks with options, and making extraordinary gains even if the stock doesn’t do much of anything.


How to Fine-Tune Market Risk With Weekly Options

Monday, August 17th, 2015

This week I would like to share an article word-for-word which I sent to Insiders this week.  It is a mega-view commentary on the basic options strategy we conduct at Terry’s Tips.  The report includes two tactics that we have been using quite successfully to adjust our risk level each week using weekly options.

If you are already trading options, these tactic ideas might make a huge difference to your results.  If you are not currently trading options, the ideas will probably not make much sense, but you might enjoy seeing the results we are having with the actual portfolios we are carrying out for our subscribers.


How to Fine-Tune Market Risk With Weekly Options

“Bernie Madoff attracted hundreds of millions of dollars by promising investors 12% a year (consistently, year after year). Most of our portfolios achieve triple that number and hardly anyone knows about us.  Even more significant, our returns are actual – Madoff never delivered gains of any sort. There seems to be something wrong here.

Our Capstone Cascade portfolio is designed to spin off (in cash) 36% a year, and it has done so for 10 consecutive months and is looking more and more likely that we will be able to do that for the long run (as long as we care to carry it out).  Actually, at today’s buy-in value (about $8300), the $3600 we withdraw each year works out to be 43%.  Theta in this portfolio has consistently added up to double what we need to make the monthly withdrawal, and we gain even more from delta when SVXY moves higher.

Other portfolios are doing even better.  Rising Tide has gained 140% in just over two years while the underlying Costco has moved up 23.8% (about what Madoff promised).   Black Gold appears to be doing even better than that (having gained an average of 3% a week since it was started).

A key part of our current strategy, and a big change from how we operated in the past, is having short options in each of several weekly series, with some rolling over (usually about a month out) each week.  This enables us to tweak the risk profile every Friday without making big adjustments that involve selling some of the long positions.  If the stock falls during a week, we will find ourselves with previously-sold short options that  are at higher strikes than the stock price, and we will collect the  maximum time premium in a month-out series by selling an at-the-money (usually call) option.

If the stock rises during the week, we may find that we have more in-the-money calls than we would normally carry, so we will sell new month-out calls which are out of the money.  Usually, we can buy back in-the-money calls and replace them with out-of-the-money calls and do it at a credit, again avoiding adjustment trades which might cause losses when the underlying displays whip-saw price action.

For the past several weeks, we have not suffered through a huge drop in our underlyings, but earlier this year, we incurred one in SVXY.  We now have a way of contending with that kind of price action when it comes along.  If a big drop occurs, we can buy a vertical call spread in our long calls and sell a one-month-out at-the-money call for enough cash to cover the cost of rolling the long side down to a lower strike.  As long as we don’t have to come up with extra cash to make the adjustment, we can keep the same number of long calls in place and continue to sell at-the-money calls each week when we replace expiring short call positions.  This tactic avoids the inevitable losses involved in closing out an out-of-the-money call calendar spread and replacing it with an at-the-money calendar spread which always costs more than the spread we sold.

Another change we have added is to make some long-term credit put spreads as a small part of an overall 10K Strategy portfolio, betting that the underlying will at least be flat in a year or so from when we placed the spread.  These bets can return exceptional returns while in many respects being less risky than our basic calendar and diagonal spread strategies.  The longer time period allows for a big drop in stock price to take place as long as it is offset by a price gain in another part of the long-term time frame.  Our Better Odds Than Vegas II portfolio trades these types of spreads exclusively, and is on target to gain 91% this year, while the Retirement Trip Fund II portfolio is on target to gain 52% this year (and the stock can fall a full 50% and that gain will still come about).

The trick to having portfolios with these kinds of extraordinary gains is to select underlying stocks or ETPs which you feel strongly will move higher.  We have managed to do this with our selections of COST, NKE, SVXY, SBUX, and more recently, FB, while we have  failed to do it (and faced huge losses) in our single failing portfolio, BABA Black Sheep where Alibaba has plummeted to an all-time low since we started the portfolio when it was near its all-time high.  Our one Asian diversification effort has served to remind us that it is far more important to find an underlying that you can count on moving higher, or at least staying flat (when we usually do even better than when it moves higher).

Bottom line, I think we are on to something big in the way we are managing our investments these days.  Once you have discovered something that is working, it is important to stick with it rather than trying to improve your strategy even more.  Of course, if the market lets us know that the strategy is no longer working, changes would be in order.  So far, that has not been the case.  The recent past has included a great many weeks when we enjoyed 10 of our 11 portfolios gaining in value, while only BABA lost money as the stock continued to tumble. We will soon find another underlying to replace BABA (or conduct a different strategy in that single losing portfolio).”

How to Make 80% a Year With Long-Term Option Bets

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

One of my favorite options plays is a long-term bet that a particular stock will be equal to or higher than it is today at some future date.  Right now might be a perfect time to make that kind of a bet with one of my favorite stocks, Apple (AAPL).Each January, I pick several stocks I feel really positive about and buy a spread that will make an extraordinary gain if the stock is flat or any higher when the options expire one year out.  Today I would like to tell you about one of these spreads we placed in one of the Terry’s Tips portfolios we carry out, and how you can place a similar spread right now.  If AAPL is only slightly higher than it is today a year from now, you would make 100% on your investment.


How to Make 80% a Year With Long-Term Option Bets

I totally understand that it may seem preposterous to think that over the long run, 80% a year is a possible expectation to have for a stock market investment.  But if the AAPL fluctuates in the future as it has in the past, it will absolutely come about. It can be done with a simple option spread that can be placed right now, and you don’t have to do anything else but wait out a year. If the stock is any higher at the end of the year, the options expire worthless and you don’t even have to close out the spread.  You just get to keep the money you got at the beginning.

Let’s check out the 10-year chart for Apple:

10 Year Apple Chart May 2015

10 Year Apple Chart May 2015

In 9 of the last 10 years, AAPL has been higher at the end of the calendar year than it was at the beginning.  Only in the market-meltdown of 2008-2009 was the stock at a lower price at the end of the year than it was at the beginning.

In January of this year, in one of our Terry’s Tips portfolios, we placed the following trade when AAPL was trading at $112.  We felt confident that the stock would be at least a little higher a year from then.  The precise date would be January 15, 2016, the third Friday of the month when monthly options expire.  This is the trade we made:

Buy To Open 7 AAPL Jan-16 105 puts (AAPL160115P105)
Sell To Open 7 AAPL Jan-16 115 puts (AAPL160115P115) for a credit of $5.25 (selling a vertical)

For each spread, we collected $525 less $2.50 in commissions, or $522.50.  For 7 spreads, we collected $3657.50 after commissions.  The amount at risk per spread was $1000 – $522.50, or $477.50.  For all 7, that worked out to $3342.50.

The proceeds from selling the spread, $3657.50, was placed in our account when the sale was made.  The broker placed a maintenance requirement on us for $7000 (the maximum we could lose if the stock ended up below $105 at expiration.  Our actual risk if this happened would be $7000 less the $3657.50 we received, or $3342.50.  If AAPL ends up at any price above $115 on January 15, 2016, both options will expire worthless and we will make a gain of 109% on our investment.

Since we placed that spread, AAPL has moved up nicely, and it is now at $132.  If you did not want to wait another six months to collect the 109%, you could buy back the spread today for $2.67 ($269.50 per spread after commissions).  Buying back all 7 spreads would cost $1886.50, resulting in a profit of $1771.  This works out to be a 53% gain for the 4 months.  We are waiting it out rather than taking a gain right now, knowing that 109% will come our way even if the stock falls about $17 from here.

AAPL might not be headed to $240 as Carl Ichan (net worth, $23 billion) believes it is, but it seems likely that it might be higher a year from now than it is today.  Options for June, 2016 have just become available for trading.  As I write this today, AAPL is trading at $132.  If you were willing to bet that over the next 12 months, the stock might edge up by $3 or more, you could sell the following spread (in my personal account, I made this exact trade today):

Buy To Open (pick a number) AAPL Jun-16 125 puts (AAPL160617P125)
Sell To Open ((pick a number) AAPL Jun-16 135 puts (AAPL160617P135) for a credit of $5.10  (selling a vertical)

Each contract will cost you about $500 to place, after commissions. This spread will make a 100% profit after commissions if AAPL ends up at any price above $135 on June 17, 2016.

You might wonder why the title of this blog mentioned 80% as a long-term annual gain possibility.  If AAPL behaves in the next 10 years as it has in the last 10 years, and makes a gain in 9 of those years, over the course of a decade, you would gain 100% in 9 years and lose 100% (although the actual loss might be less) in one year, for an average gain of 80% a year.

For sure, you would not want to place all, or even a large part, of your investment portfolio in long-term spreads like this.  But it seems to me that a small amount, something that you can afford to lose, is something that you might consider, if only for the fun of doubling your money in a single year.

How to Make 60% to 100% in 2014 if a Single Analyst (Out of 13) is Right

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Today we are going to look at what the analysts are forecasting for 2014 and suggest some option strategies that will make 60% or more if any one of the analysts interviewed by the Wall Street Journal are correct. They don’t all have to be correct, just one of the 13 they talked to.

Please continue reading down so you can see how you can come on board as a Terry’s Tips subscriber for no cost at all while enjoying all the benefits that thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade offers to anyone who opens an account with them.

How to Make 60% to 100% in 2014 if a Single Analyst (Out of 13) is Right 

Now is the time for analysts everywhere to make their predictions of what will happen to the market in 2014.  Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled Wall Street bulls eye more stock gains in 2014.  Their forecasts – ”The average year-end price target of 13 stock strategists polled by Bloomberg is 1890, a 5.7% gain … (for the S&P 500).  The most bullish call comes from John Stoltzfus, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer (a prediction of +13%).”
The Journal continues to say “The bad news: Two stock strategists are predicting that the S&P 500 will finish next year below its current level. Barry Bannister, chief equity strategist at Stifel Nicolaus, for example, predicts the index will fall to 1750, which represents a drop of 2% from Tuesday’s close.”
I would like to suggest a strategy that will make 60% to 100% (depending on which underlying you choose to use) if any one of those analysts is right. In other words, if the market goes up by any amount or falls by 2%, you would make those returns with a single options trade that will expire at the end of 2014.
The S&P tracking stock (SPY) is trading around $180.  If it were to fall by 2% in 2014, it would be trading about $176.40.  Let’s use $176 as our downside target to give the pessimistic analyst a little wiggle room.  If we were to sell a Dec-14 176 put and buy a Dec-14 171 put, we could collect $1.87 ($187) per contract.  A maintenance requirement of $500 would be made.  Subtracting the $187 you received, you will have tied up $313 which represents the greatest loss that could come your way (if SPY were to close below $171, a drop of 5% from its present level). 
Once you place these trades (called selling a vertical put spread), you sit back and do nothing for an entire year (until these options expire on December 20, 2014). If SPY closes at any price above $176, both puts would expire worthless and you would get to keep $187 per contract, or 60% on your maximum risk. 
You could make 100% on your investment with a similar play using Apple as the underlying.  You would have to make the assumption that Apple will fluctuate in 2014 about as much as the S&P.  For most of the past few years, Apple has done much better than the general market, so it is not so much of a stretch to bet that it will keep up with the S&P in 2014.
Apple is currently trading about $520.  You could sell at vertical put spread for the January 2015 series, selling the 510 put and buying the 480 put and collect a credit of $15.  If Apple closes at any price above $510 on January 17, 2015, both puts would expire worthless and you would make 100% on your investment.  You would receive $1500 for each of these spreads you placed and there would be a $1500 maintenance requirement (the maximum loss if Apple closes below $480).
Apple is trading at about 10 times earnings on a cash-adjusted basis, is paying a 2.3% dividend, and is continuing an aggressive stock buy-back campaign, three indications that make a big stock price drop less likely to come about in 2014.
A similar spread could be made with Google puts, but the market is betting that Google is less likely to fall than Apple, and your return on investment would be about 75% if Google fell 2% or went up by any amount.  You could sell Jan-15 1020 puts and buy Jan-15 990 puts and collect about $1300 and incur a net maintenance requirement of $1700 (your maximum loss amount).
If you wanted to get a little more aggressive, you could make the assumption that the average estimate of the 13 analysts was on the money, (i.e., the market rises 5.7% in 2014).  That would put SPY at $190 at the end of the year. You could sell a SPY Dec-14 190 put and buy a Dec-14 185 put and collect $2.85 ($285), risking $2.15 ($215) per contract.  If the analysts are right and SPY ends up above $190, you would earn 132% on your investment for the year.
By the way, you can do any of the above spreads in an IRA if you choose the right broker.  I would advise against it, however, because your gains will eventually be taxed at ordinary income rates (at a time when your tax rate is likely to be higher) rather than capital gains rates.
Note: I prefer using puts rather than calls for these spreads because if you are right, nothing needs to be done at expiration, both options expire worthless, and no commissions are incurred to exit the positions.  Buying a vertical call spread is mathematically identical to selling a vertical put spread at these same strike prices, but it will involve selling the spread at expiration and paying commissions.
What are the chances that every single analyst was wrong?  Someone should do a study on earlier projections and give us an answer to that question.  We all know that a market tumble could come our way if the Fed begins to taper, but does that mean the market as a whole would drop for the entire year?  Another unanswerable question, at least at this time.
On a historical basis, for the 40 years of the S&P 500’s existence (counting 2013 which will surely be a gaining year), the index has fallen by more than 2% in 7 years.  That means if historical patterns continue for 2014, there is a 17.5% chance that you will lose your entire bet and an 83.5% chance that you will make 60% (using the first SPY spread outlined above).  If you had made that same bet every year for the past 40 years, you would have made 60% in 33 years and lost 100% in 7 years.  For the entire time span, you would have enjoyed an average gain of 32% per year.  Not a bad average gain.

Follow-Up on AAPL Earnings-Announcement Strategy

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Last week I told you about a spread I had placed on Apple (AAPL) just prior to their earnings announcement. I closed out that spread this week, and there was a learning experience that I would like to share with you.

Please continue reading down so you can see how you can come on board as a Terry’s Tips subscriber for no cost at all while enjoying all the benefits that thinkorswim incentive offers to anyone who opens an account with them.


Follow-Up on AAPL Earnings-Announcement Strategy: Last Monday, prior to AAPL’s earnings announcement, I bought a diagonal spread, buying Jan-14 470 calls and selling the weekly Nov1-13 525 while the stock was selling just about $525. I made this trade because I felt good about the company and believed the stock might move higher after the announcement. As it worked out, I was wrong.

I paid $62.67 for the Jan-14 470 call and sold the Nov1-13 525 call for $17.28, shelling out a net $45.39 ($4539) for each spread. (Commissions on this trade at thinkorswim were $2.50). The intrinsic value of this spread was $55 (the difference between 525 and 470) which means if the stock moved higher, no matter how high it went, it would always be worth a minimum of $55, or almost $10 above what I paid for it. Since the Jan-14 calls had almost three more months of remaining life than the Nov1-13 calls I sold, they would be worth more (probably at least $5 more) than the intrinsic value when I planned to sell them on Friday.

So I knew that no matter how much the stock were to move higher, I was guaranteed a gain on Friday. If the stock managed to stay right at $525 and the Nov-1 525 call expired worthless (or I had to buy it back for a minimal amount), I stood to gain the entire $17.28 I had collected less a little that the Jan-14 call might decay in four days.

In the after-hours trading after the announcement, the stock shot up to the $535 area and I was feeling pretty good because I knew I was assured of a profit if the stock moved higher. However, the next morning, it reversed direction and traded as low as $515. I wasn’t feeling so great then, although I still expected to make a profit (albeit a smaller one).

On Thursday, the stock rose to about $525, just where it was when I bought the spread on Monday. There was still $2.50 of time premium remaining in the Nov1-13 call which I had sold, so I was tempted to wait until it was due to expire the next day so I might pick up another $250 per spread when I sold it. However, I decided to sell it at that time.

I sold the spread for $56.25, gaining $10.86, or $1076 per spread which had cost me $4539 on Monday. That worked out to a 21% gain for the four days.  I was happy with that result.

On Friday, AAPL fell back to about $517 at the close. The spread that I had sold for $56.25 was trading at about $53. I still would have made a profit, but it would have been much lower than the one I took on Thursday.

The lesson here is that when the stock is trading very near the strike price of your short call when you have a spread like this (either a diagonal or a calendar spread), it is a good idea to sell it rather than waiting until expiration day of the short option. While you give up some of the potential gain if the stock were to remain absolutely flat, you risk doing worse if the stock were to move more than moderately in either direction.

It is better to sell your diagonal spread whenever the strike price of your short option is very close to the strike price rather than waiting until the last minute to try to squeeze out every penny of decay that might be there. In this case, I was wrong about the stock moving higher – it fell about $10 and I still made over 20% on my investment for a single week.

An AAPL Earnings-Announcement Strategy

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Today I would like to share with you an options investment I made yesterday, just prior to the Apple (AAPL) earnings announcement. While it is too late to make this same investment yourself, you might consider it three months from now when announcement time comes around again, or with another company that you feel good about.

Please continue reading down so you can see how you can come on board as a Terry’s Tips subscriber for no cost at all while enjoying all the benefits that thinkorswim incentive offers to anyone who opens an account with them.



An AAPL Earnings-Announcement Strategy: Approximately every 90 days, most public companies announce their latest quarterly earnings. Just before the announcement day, things get interesting with option prices. Since stocks often make big moves in either direction once earnings (and other numbers such as gross sales, margins, and future guidance) are announced, option prices get quite expensive, both for puts and for calls.

For people who like to collect high option premiums (i.e., selling expensive options to someone else), this pre-announcement period seems like a great opportunity provided I have a feeling one way or the other about the company. I had a good feeling about AAPL this month. I wasn’t sure what earnings might be (beware of anyone who says he is sure), but I thought the company was fairly priced, and I think the huge stash of cash they are sitting on provides some protection against a large drop in the stock price.

When a situation like this occurs (where I like a company and earnings are about to be announced), one of my favorite strategies is to buy a deep in-the-money call on the company, a call that has a few months of remaining life, and sell an at-the-money call in the shortest-term option series that expires after the announcement day.

On Monday morning, AAPL was trading about $525. I bought a diagonal spread, buying Jan-14 470 calls and selling Nov1-13 525 calls (AAPL has weekly options available, and the Nov1-13 calls would expire on Friday, November 1st , four days after the announcement after the close on Monday.

I paid $62.67 for the Jan-14 470 call and sold the Nov1-13 525 call for $17.28, shelling out a net $45.39 ($4539) for each spread. (Commissions on this trade at thinkorswim were $2.50). The intrinsic value of this spread was $55 (the difference between 525 and 470) which means if the stock moved higher, no matter how high it went, it would always be worth a minimum of $55, or almost $10 above what I paid for it. Since the Jan-14 calls had almost three more months of remaining life than the Nov1-13 calls I sold, they would be worth more (probably at least $5 more) than the intrinsic value when I planned to sell them on Friday.

So I knew that no matter how much the stock were to move higher, I was guaranteed a gain on Friday. If the stock managed to stay right at $525 and the Nov-1 525 call expired worthless (or I had to buy it back for a minimal amount), I stood to gain the entire $17.28 I had collected less a little that the Jan-14 call might decay in four days. A flat market would net me about a 36% gain on my investment, and any higher price for AAPL would result in at least a 25% gain.

After a company makes its announcement, all option prices tend to fall, especially in the shortest-term series that expires just after the announcement. However, deep in-the-money options like the one I bought derive most of their value from being so deep in the money, and they generally do not fall nearly as much as shorter-term, nearer-the-money options.

On the downside, the stock could fall at least $20 before I would incur a loss. Since the delta of the Jan-14 470 call was 80, if the stock fell $20, my long call might fall about $16 ($20 x .80). That would still be less than the $17.28 I collected from the 525 which would expire worthless so I would still make a gain.

Actually, as the stock falls in value, delta for an in-the-money call gets lower, and the Jan-14 call would fall by less than $16. The stock could probably go down at least $25 before I lost money with my original spread.

In the event that AAPL fell over $25 so I lost some money on the spread, since I like the company and it is now trading for only $500, I might want to hang onto my 470 call rather than selling it on Friday. I might sell another 525 (or other strike) call with a few weeks of remaining life, reducing my initial investment by that amount.

I like to make an investment that could make 25% or more in a single week if a company I like stays flat or goes higher by any amount after an announcement, and the stock can fall about 10% and I still make a gain. A more conservative investment would be to sell an in-the-money call rather than an at-the-money call. While the potential maximum gain would be less, you could handle a much greater drop in the stock value before you entered loss territory on the downside.

Two Earnings Play for This Week – Deere and Sina

Monday, May 13th, 2013

 The Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) spread I recommended last week resulted in a 20% gain.  Not bad considering we were blindsided by their announcing a new 5-year deal with Starbucks that shot the stock 25% higher while we were betting on a lower post-announcement price.  Our gain was not as great as last week’s 50% gain on Apple, but we will take 20% anytime (I’m sorry, but I executed the Apple spreads in a Terry’s Tips portfolio and did not share it with the free newsletter subscribers).




This week I have two earnings-related plays which need to be made before the close on Wednesday if you want to participate.




If you read down further, there is information on how you can become a Terry’s Tips Insider absolutely free!








Two Earnings Play for This Week – Deere and Sina




Sina Corporation (SINA) is pretty much the same as Yahoo but operates in China.  I have written a Seeking Alpha article about the company – How To Play The Sina Corporation Earnings Ann… in which I explain why I believe that the stock will probably dip a bit after Wednesday’s announcement (largely because expectations are high, the current valuation is pricey, and hedge funds are selling shares).




I recommended these trades to play the SINA announcement with the stock at about $59:




BTO 10 SINA Jun-13 55 puts (SINA130622P55)


STO 10 SINA May-13 55 puts (SINA130518P55) for a debit of $1.01  (buying a calendar)




BTO 10 SINA Jun-13 57.5 puts (SINA130622P57.5)


STO 10 SINA May-13 57.5 puts (SINA130518P57.5) for a debit of $1.11  (buying a calendar)




BTO 10 SINA Jun-13 60 calls (SINA130622C60)


STO 10 SINA May-13 60 calls (SINA130518C60) for a debit of $1.18  (buying a calendar)




These trades should make a gain if the stock goes up by less than 5% or down by less than 10% by Friday at the close.




The other earnings play involves Deere & Co. (DE) which has the unenviable record of falling four straight quarters after announcing, even when they bested expectations.  I have also written a Seeking Alpha article on this play – How To Play the Deere & Company Earnings Announcement.




Expectations are high here, too, and I expect a lower price than the current $93 after earnings.  Here are the spreads I am making in Deere:




Buy To Open 10 DE Jun-13 95 puts (DE130622P95)


Sell To Open 10 DE May-13 92.5 puts (DE130518P92.5) for a debit of $2.35  (buying a diagonal)




Buy to Open 5 DE Jun-13 90 puts (DE130622P90)


Sell to Open 5 DE May-13 90 puts (DE130518P90) for a debit of $.90  (buying a calendar)




These spreads will do well if the stock falls but start to lose money if the stock moves more than $2 higher.




Please check both Seeking Alpha articles for my complete reasoning for these spreads as well as a risk profile graph for each.


Apple’s Fundamental Great Value May Soon Get a Gigantic PR Boost

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Apple’s Fundamental Great Value May Soon Get a Gigantic PR Boost

Apple (AAPL) has become one of the least expensive stocks in the entire market based on a fundamental value.  Subtracting out its $128 per-share cash value ($121.3 billion/939 million shares outstanding), its trailing P/E is a ridiculously-low 7.9.  Even if you do not adjust for cash, the trailing P/E is 10.88 and forward P/E is 9.43 according to Yahoo Finance.

The company pays a 2.2% forward dividend rate and the pay-out ratio is only 12% so there is an excellent chance that this will increase in the future or some other cash-distribution method such as the preferred stock proposal advanced by hedge fund manager David Einhorn is instituted.

The only way that such a low valuation could be justified would be if the growth rate slowed dramatically.  Surely, it will fall significantly from the nearly 50% growth numbers  that it has sported for the last five years, but the culture of this company is to continually come up with new products which will appeal to its growing base of satisfied customers, and it has barely scratched the potential in China (where Tim Cook said would be their largest market).  This year Apple will probably seal a deal with China Telecom (CHA), the largest mobile carrier by far in the world.

Here are the YOY growth rates over the past five years:

aapl graph YOY quarterly growth

aapl graph YOY quarterly growth


 Admittedly, the current growth rate is the absolute lowest that it has been for the past five years, but look what happened in November 2009 when it was at a similarly low level. The growth rate really took place from that point. Will history repeat itself? According to Zacks Investment Research, analysts expect the Apple’s growth rate in 2014 tooo be 15.30%.

When a company’s future growth rate is less than its cash-adjusted P/E, it should be considered to be a fundamental bargain. That is precisely where AAPL is right now.

There is also a potential technical indicator justification for buying the stock at this time: 

AAPL 50 Day Moving Average

AAPL 50 Day Moving Average 

One of the smartest investing decisions you could have made over the past year was to buy AAPL when it rose above the 50-day moving average and sell it when it fell below that moving average.  This strategy would have picked up the big upward move from late June to October and also picked up the huge drop since that time. 

If you check out the slope of the most recent stock price move as well as the 50-day average, you can see that they are on a collision course to cross over one another in the next two weeks.  This might be the perfect time to get in ahead of this important technical indicator before it actually kicks in.  Even if you don’t believe in technical analysis, there are so many people out there who do believe in it that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy once it is triggered. 

In addition to both fundamental and possible technical reasons the AAPL is undervalued at its current price, there is the possibility that a public relations coup of epic proportions might be on its way on this very day. 

On December 6, 2012, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook announced that his company would shift manufacturing of one computer line from Asia to the United States. “Next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac,” Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek. “We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013. We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial.” 

The announcement was generally discounted as a symbolic effort to improve its public image which has been tarnished in recent years by reports of labor issues at Foxconn, its major contract supplier in China. 

At the time of his announcement, AAPL was trading at $534, or about 10% lower than it closed today Monday, February 11th ($480). Over this same time period, the S&P 500 has gained almost 7%.   Clearly, a more positive public image doesn’t necessarily result in a higher stock price, at least all by itself. 

Analysts expected the amount of production that would be shifted to the United States to be negligible.  Cook stated that they would invest $100 million to ramp up to make Mac computers, a pittance compared to the $121 billion in cash they are sitting on (and which has been the source of multiple suggestions lately on how they can best use this stash). 

But symbolically, if a huge company like Apple shifts some manufacturing jobs to the U.S., joining recent moves by Caterpillar (CAT) and General Electric (GE), and other large companies (according to a Boston Consulting Group survey ), maybe more others might join the party and collectively reduce our unemployment rate that unhappily hovers around 8% these days. 

There seems to be a nationwide movement to “buy local.”  While this usually refers to locally-grown fruits, vegetables and meat products, “buy American” has been a long-standing slogan in our country.  Maybe Apple will figure out that the extra cost of hiring U.S. workers for some manufacturing jobs adds to the bottom line because certain segments of the population will reward them by buying their products rather than Samsung’s. 

It seemed unusual to me that an oft-repeated tag line scrolling across the TV screen on CNN today was that Apple’s Tim Cook would be at President Obama’s State of the Union Address.  There undoubtedly will be dozens of other more important “real” celebrities in attendance, but why did Tim Cook get all the publicity? 

Could it be possible that Mr. Obama will publicly recognize Tim Cook’s promise to return manufacturing jobs to the United States, and give some specifics of how many people might be employed or where the new factories might be located?  Maybe Mr. Cook will be appointed to head up a commission of other large domestic company CEOs to encourage other companies to join the movement to bring back jobs to America. 

Maybe the President will announce that Apple will be making the iWatch using Corning Glass in New York rather than Zhengzhou, or some other positive news which might reflect well on Apple as well as our nation. 

Will such publicity goose up the stock?  It didn’t when the initial announcement was made in December.  But maybe this time it will be different.  An interview on Bloomberg Businessweek is a fairly commonplace event, but a company being recognized in a State of the Union Address is something serious and potentially beneficial to a company whose luster has faded as the stock has plummeted from a high over $700 a few months ago to $480 today.


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