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Archive for the ‘Earnings Announcement Options Strategy’ Category

Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy Update #3

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

This is our third suggestion on how to carry out the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy on companies which are about to announce earnings. The first two suggestions (RHT and KMX) resulted in 40% gains in a single week when the stock fluctuated only moderately after the announcement.  One of these times, the stock is likely to fluctuate more than we would like, and we will be able to put the second part of the strategy to work.  This will involve selling out-of-the-money weekly puts and calls over the next few weeks until the initial trade turns into a net gain.

This week’s choice is TDAmeritrade (AMTD) which announces before the market opens on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.  Implied volatility (IV) of the 27Apr18 options has not escalated at this point – it is 32.5, barely higher than a six-week-out 25May18 series (31).  We expect IV for the 27Apr18 series to move much higher over the next 10 days, and we hope to take advantage of higher option prices as well as a possibly higher stock price before the announcement date.

Here are the trades we made this week.  Note that the diagonals were set up at a small debit rather than the credit that we seek with this strategy, but when we roll over the 20Apr17 puts and calls to the next weekly series, we expect to create solid credits, especially if IV for those options moves higher as we expect.

BTO 1 AMTD 25May18 57 put (AMTD180525P57)
STO 1 AMTD 20Apr18 60 put (AMTD180420P60) for a debit of $.11  (buying a diagonal)

BTO 1 AMTD 25May18 64 call (AMTD180525C64)
STO 1 AMTD 20Apr18 61 call (AMTD18042061) for a debit of $.28  (buying a diagonal)

Once we roll over these options to the 27Apr17, we expect our net investment will be about $250 per set of spreads ($300 maintenance requirement less $50 net credit).  Here is the risk profile graph for those spreads after the roll has been made:

AMAT Risk Profile Graph April 2018

AMAT Risk Profile Graph April 2018

For the past 8 quarters, the post-announcement fluctuation has averaged 1.75%.  This graph shows that a profit should result if the stock fluctuates less than 5% in either direction.  The potential gains may not appear to be significant, but there seems to be a fair chance to make 20% on the investment for a single week of waiting.

LRCX Diagonal Condor Earnings Play

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

This is a possible option play using the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy that we recently sent you details about.

Lam Research (LRCX) announces earnings after the close on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. The stock has been on a downtrend for the past several weeks, a good indication that expectations are seriously lowered.  We have seen many instances when lowered expectations have resulted in a higher post-announcement date regardless of how well or poorly the actual results were compared to estimates. If you agree with this prognosis, you might consider making these trades (when the stock is trading about $196):

Buy To Open # LRCX 18May18 180 puts (LRCX180518P180)
Sell To Open # LRCX 20Apr18 195 puts (LRCX180420P195) for a credit of $2.20  (buying a diagonal)

Buy To Open # LRCX 18May18 220 calls (LRCX180518C220)
Sell Open # LRCX 20Apr18 205 calls (LRCX180420C205) for a debit of $.30  (buying a diagonal)

This is the risk profile graph for the options which expire on Friday, April 20, 2018 at a time when LRCX was trading about $196 and assuming the implied volatility of the May 25 options will fall from their current 43 to 38 after the earnings announcement on April 17th:

LRCX Risk Profile Earnings Graph April 2018

LRCX Risk Profile Earnings Graph April 2018

The two spreads will involve an investment of about $1400 per pair of spreads.  The maintenance requirement is $1500 and there is a net credit of about $100 after commissions.  If the stock were to end up at any price between $195 and $205, the graph shows that a gain of about 50% on investment would come our way.

The break-even range extends from about a 5% drop to an 8% rise.  This is well within the 4.9% average fluctuation that LRCX has made over the past 8 quarterly announcements.

Since there is a net credit from selling the two spreads, one of the spreads essentially is guaranteed to make a profit.  If the stock were to end up at any price between $195 and $205, both April 20 short options would expire worthless and the May 18 options would still have significant residual value.

If the stock were to fluctuate so much that it ended up outside the $195 – $205 range, the expiring April 20 options could be rolled over to out-of-the-money options in the April 27 series, likely at a credit.  There would be 5 additional weeks where short-term premium might be collected so that the original spreads might ultimately prove to be profitable even though it did not work out as expected in the announcement week.

As with all investments, you should only make option trades with money that you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading,



A Carmax Spread Trade to Put the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy to Work

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

A Carmax Spread Trade to Put the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy to Work:

Carmax (KMX) announces earnings before the market opens on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.  If anyone would like to place the spread trade that we suggest below, the order must be placed no later than the market close on Tuesday, April 3rd.

Here are the numbers we compiled for KMX for the last eight quarters:

The prices in green are lower than the last pre-announcement price, suggesting that expectations are rising.  Most companies we tested show much many more green numbers than KNX.  Most of the time, KMX showed a high correlation between the actual results and what the stock price did after the announcement (while one might expect this would be universally true, our back-testing and personal experience has proved otherwise).  While the direction of the change for KMX was highly consistent (beating estimates resulted in a higher stock price, and vice versa), the magnitude of the change was not consistent.

In the June 2017 announcement, earnings were a whopping 23% above estimates, but the stock only gained 4% after they became public. In the next quarter, September 2017, earnings exceeded estimates by only 3% while the stock gained 10%.

KMX does not seem consistently beat or fall behind estimates.  This is a different pattern than we see in many companies who low-ball guidance, and then exceed estimates by a large amount quarter after quarter.  KMX does not seem to do this.

The average post-announcement stock price change for KMX was 4.9%.  This is less than the current option prices which have priced in a likely 5.7% change.  Someone who likes the stock might take advantage of the higher option prices and write an out-of-the-money call against their stock, and collect some nice premium in addition to some price appreciation if the stock manages to move higher.

We do not have a strong feeling concerning which way we feel the stock is headed after next week’s announcement other than that we think it will probably go in the same direction as the actual results compared to estimates. Since there is no clear pattern of how well the company does compared to estimates, this leaves us with a neutral position on the direction the stock might take after the announcement.

We have developed what we call the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy as our preferred options play prior to announcements.

Based on our neutral outlook on KMX, these are the spreads we placed for the upcoming announcement:

Buy to Open KMX 11May18 58 puts (KMX180511P58)
Sell to Open KMX 06Apr18 61 puts (KMX180406P61) for a credit of $.08  (buying a diagonal)

Buy to Open KMX 11May18 67 calls (KMX180511C67)
Sell to Open KMX 06Apr18 64 calls (KMX180406C64) for a credit of $.08 (buying a diagonal)

The net maintenance requirement (investment) on these spreads is $294 per pair ($300 – $16 plus $10 commission), and we have a net credit of $6 per pair in the account.

This is what the risk profile graph looks like after the market close on April 6, assuming that implied volatility (IV) of the May options falls by 3, from the current 33 to 30 (which is consistent with prior earnings week IV drops for 5-week-out options).

With KMX currently trading just below $62, the graph shows that we should end up with a gain if the stock ends up at any price between $59 and $67 on Friday, April 6th.  The sweet spot of the graph shows an approximate gain of $200 (about 66%) if the price ends up between $61 and $64.

If the stock fluctuates by its average post-announcement amount (4.9%), it would end up somewhere between about $59 and $65. In six of the last eight quarters, the fluctuation would have landed somewhere inside of this range, and in two of the quarters, it would not have.

To summarize our thinking, based on the level of IV for the options prior to the announcement (67) compared to IV for further-out options (33), investors do not get unduly excited about earnings announcements from KMX. The stock generally fluctuates after the announcement in the same direction as the results compared to estimates.  The company does not show a pattern of either consistently beating or falling behind estimates.  We believe this pattern is a perfect candidate for the options play outlined above which is essentially a neutral outlook, neither particularly bullish or bearish, but does best if the stock only fluctuates moderately after the announcement.

Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Summary of Strategy: Based on 17 years of studying price changes following an earnings announcement, Terry’s Tips has designed a strategy  which has a high probability of successfully navigating the extreme volatility that usually accompanies quarterly earnings reports.  The strategy is based on the observation that there is very little correlation between the actual numbers reported and what the stock does after the announcement.  Stock price fluctuations tend to be larger in announcement weeks and smaller in subsequent weeks.  That is just about all we can say about most earnings events, except that we have identified one indicator that appears an average of only once a year for most companies, and when this indicator is triggered, the stock has a much higher probability of going up than down.

The Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy only applies to companies which have weekly options. Two diagonal spreads are bought, one with puts and one with calls.  The long side is in the furthest out weekly series (usually six weeks out) and the short side is the weekly series that expires just after the earnings announcement.  The long sides are well out of the money and the short sides are at strikes much nearer to the current stock price, and each spread is bought at a credit. Since the Implied Volatility (IV) of the short-term options is considerably higher than that of the longer-term options at earnings time, a credit can be established with a much smaller range between the strikes than is available when earnings is not a factor.

There is only one maintenance requirement for the two spreads because only one of the spreads can lose money, and the other one has a guaranteed profit of some sort.  The strike prices of the short options set up with a range of possible stock prices within which the investor hopes the stock ends up after the announcement.  If it does, both short-term options will expire worthless and the investor will bank both the original credit from the spreads and selling the residual long options. When this occurs, there is an immediate gain averaging between 30% and 50% of the initial net maintenance requirement.

As an alternative to cashing in the positions and taking a profit when there is a moderate stock price change after the announcement, near-the-money options could be sold in the next weekly series for additional premium to take advantage of the propensity of stock price fluctuations to be much smaller in the weeks following the earnings week fireworks.

The net effect of the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy is to use the higher option prices that exist during earnings week to inexpensively set up the 10K Strategy of calendar and diagonal spreads which is one of the foundation strategies of the Terry’s Tips program.  This strategy does best when the underlying stock does not fluctuate very much, and this is exactly what typically happens for most companies in the few weeks after quarterly earnings are announced.

If the stock fluctuates more than the investor wishes after the announcement, a potential short-term loss is likely, but there are still five remaining weekly series of options that could be sold against the long positions to recover the announcement-week loss.  The strike price of one of the long options (the one that the stock price moved away from) may be changed by buying a vertical spread so that the original maintenance requirement is not increased when slightly out-of-the-money options are sold against them in the next weekly series.  The in-the-money short-term option will be bought back and a slightly out-of-the-money option sold in the next weekly series.  The net changes at the end of expiration week should result in a net credit which will reduce the maximum possible loss (the original net maintenance requirement).

This strategy is designed to make a profit in the earnings week whenever the stock fluctuates by an amount which is about 20% less than the fluctuation baked into the earnings week options.  In those weeks when the fluctuation exceeds the number priced into the option prices, there will be up to five weeks for selling new premium to recover the losses caused by the excessive fluctuation.  Since these weeks will probably have only moderate weekly price changes, it should be possible to collect significant amounts of premium decay from the near-to-the-money short puts and calls each week.

A Look Back: About five years ago, we did a lot of work on a model which was designed to successfully predict the direction of a stock price change after an earnings announcement. The model was primarily based on the assumption that investor expectations played a greater role in how the stock moved after earnings than the actual results themselves. If expectations were too high, the stock would fall regardless of how good those results might be. We tried to get a handle on how high expectations were, based on several variables, including whisper numbers published by and how much the stock price rose or fell in the week or two before the announcement.

At one time, we successfully predicted the direction of the post-earnings change on 8 consecutive earnings plays (usually selling vertical credit spreads which we hoped would expire worthless), but then we ended up being wrong on a couple of consecutive ones, and we discontinued these plays. It became apparent that the whisper numbers we were dealing with were not particularly reliable. It was not clear how these numbers were compiled by Of course, they said it was a proprietary algorithm, but they admitted to polling selected analysts while inviting the public to cast votes on their website. The composite estimates of analysts is supposed to be what defines expectations, so we wonder about these analysts who were asked to reveal their “true” estimates. If their opinions were indeed different, why wouldn’t they be telling their clients what they really believed rather than favoring a private company with their innermost thoughts. And asking individual investors what they were expecting, if they actually counted those votes, should be a contrary variable instead, since individual investors are notoriously wrong most of the time. Bottom line, we did not have confidence in those whisper numbers.

Now we want to try again, with a couple of changes. Instead of relying on whisper numbers, we will check what the stock price does in the days leading up to the announcement as an indication of the level of expectations, and also look at the historical record of earnings announcements for each company to see if we can identify any consistent patterns. We may also take a look at recent hedge fund or insider trading activity if there is any significant action that might help predict the direction of the post-announcement price change.

Equally important, we will use a different options strategy than we applied in the past. This time around, we will use diagonal spreads which we sell at a credit (or extremely low debit in some instances). The short side will be in the weekly series that expires on the Friday after the announcement, and the long side will be in the longest-out weekly series (usually six weeks later). We will place both a put and call credit spread, usually in the afternoon of the day before earnings are released. One of the two spreads will be guaranteed to make a profit (both the initial credit and whatever the residual five-week-out out-of-the-money option can be sold for).

The other spread may also be profitable, depending on the strikes that were selected. In the event that the stock moved so much that one of the spreads loses more money than the gaining spread makes, causing the combination of spreads not to be profitable at the end of expiration week, there will be about 5 more weeks that new premium (weeklys) might be sold against the remaining long option, hopefully enough so that a loss will be avoided.

If both spreads are successful, the entire play can begin and end in a single week. If the combination of spreads is not profitable, we will have to spend up to five weeks trying to recover from the too-high post-announcement stock price change by collecting new premium each week. If the strategy works out to be profitable in a single week over half the time (which I believe should be the case), and we can roll out of the others over five weeks or less, it certainly should be a profitable concept.

Case Study – Red Hat (RHT):  Let’s use Red Hat (RHT) as an example. They announced earnings after the close, on Monday, March 26, 2018. We were uncertain about the expectation level, so we gave ourselves a little wiggle room in both directions and sold both 3/30/18 puts and calls which were slightly out of the money. In the afternoon of March 26 when RHT was trading about $153, we made the following trades:

BTO # RHT 04May18 141 puts (RHT180504P141)
STO # RHT 29Mar18 148 puts (RHT180329P148) for a credit of $.11 (buying a diagonal)

BTO # RHT 04May18 162.5 calls (RHT180504C162.5)
STO # RHT 29Mar18 155 calls (RHT180329C155) for a credit of $.13 (buying a diagonal)

If the stock ended up on Thursday (markets would be closed on Good Friday) anywhere between $148 and $155, both these spreads would end up being profitable (both from the credit collected plus the value of selling the residual May 4 options). If either of the short options expired in the money, we would need to buy it back and close out all the positions if a profit could be made, or roll over the in-the-money option to the next week and collect some additional premium in an effort to eventually make a gain over the next five weeks.

The stock ended up at $149.51 which placed it between the 148 and 155 range of our short options, so both of them were about to expire worthless (and were bought back for $.05, with no commissions payable at thinkorswim).  For half our contracts, we sold the long side of these spreads for a total of $3.48.  This yielded a net profit of $357 (including the original credit) per pair of spreads after all commissions on our net maintenance requirement of $781, making it a gain of 46% for the week.  Not bad, but hopefully a whole lot less than we will eventually do on the contracts that we did not sell.

We did not close out our remaining contracts because we wanted to experiment with rolling short options to the next weekly series to take advantage of the expected quiet period for RHT after earnings week.

Near the close on Thursday we bought back both the soon-to-expire puts and calls for $.05 and sold 06Apr18 148 puts for $2.52 and 13Apr18 155 calls for $1.55.  This gave us a net credit if $387 per pair of original spreads and reduced our investment (net maintenance requirement) from $781 to $394.

Here is the risk profile graph for these positions per pair of spreads for the week ending April 6, 2018:

RHT Risk Profile Earnings April 2018

RHT Risk Profile Earnings April 2018

If RHT remains quiet as we expect, we might earn about $200 on our net investment of $394, or almost 40% in one week. Our break-even range for the week extends from a drop of $4 on the downside to a little more than $5 on the upside.  We will update this case study as the weeks go by going forward.


Closing Out Last Week’s Facebook Trades

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Today I would like to report on the gains I made last Friday on the trades I told you about that I had placed last Monday in advance of Facebook’s (FB) earnings announcement on May 3.  I was fortunate enough for the stock to take a moderate drop after the announcement, and have some thoughts on how I might play the FB  earnings announcement in 3 months.


Closing Out Last Week’s Facebook Trades

A little over a week ago, I passed on a pre-earnings trade I had made on Facebook in advance of their May 3 after-market announcement.  Essentially, I bought calendar spreads (long side 16Jun17 series and short side 05May17 series) at the 150, 152.5 and 155 strikes when FB was trading just under $152.

I was hoping that the stock would barely budge after the announcement.  I was lucky.  It did just that, falling a bit to close out the week at $150.24, about $1.50 lower than it was when I bought the spreads.

Near the close, I was able to buy back all of the expiring options (puts at the 150 strike, calls at the 152.5 and 155 strikes for $.02 or $.03), and sell every long call for a higher price than I had paid for the original spread.

Here are the spreads I made today when FB was trading just under $152:

Buy to Open 2 FB 16Jun17 150 puts (FB170616P150)

Sell to Open 2 FB 05 May17 150 puts (FB170505P150) for a debit of $1.49 (buying a calendar)   Spread closed for $2.19, gaining $140.

Buy to Open 1 FB 16Jun17 150 calls (FB170616C150)

Sell to Open 1 FB 05 May17 152.5 calls (FB170505C152.5) for a debit of $3.03 (buying a diagonal)  Spread closed for $3.75, gaining $72.

Buy to Open 1 FB 16Jun17 155 calls (FB170616C155)

Sell to Open 1 FB 05 May17 152.5 calls (FB170505C152.5) for a debit of $.55 (buying a diagonal)  Spread closed for $1.55, gaining $100.

Buy to Open 2 FB 16Jun17 155 calls (FB170616C155)

Sell to Open 2 FB 05 May17 155 calls (FB170505C155) for a debit of $1.59 (buying a diagonal) Spread closed for $1.62, gaining $6.

These spreads cost me a total of $974 plus $12 in commissions at tastyworks’ ultra-low rate of $1.00 per contract.  Even better, when I closed out these trades on Friday, I did not incur a commission at all (only paid the $.10 per contract clearing fee).

I made a net profit of $318 on an investment of $986, or 32% on an investment that lasted for 5 days. The Terry’s Tips portfolio that trades FB options gained 22% last week, and now has gained 215% for the year (after commissions).  The stock has gained 30% in 2017, but our portfolio has done 7 times that number.

The risk profile graph I published in the last blog assumed that implied volatility (IV) of the June options would fall from 24% to 16%.  I was a little too conservative.  IV fell to 18%, and the spreads performed a little better than the graph had projected.

While this is certainly a nice gain for the week, it only came about because I was lucky enough for the stock not to fluctuate very much.  In the future, I think I might buy more spreads at strikes below the current stock price of FB because the clear pattern around announcement time has been for the company to exceed expectations by a nice margin and the stock falls a small amount on the news.

Happy trading,


Trading Options Can be a Lifetime Learning Experience

Friday, April 7th, 2017

I have been trading options just about every day the market is open for about 40 years, including some time on the floor of the CBOE.  I have made large sums of money at times, and (sadly) have also lost money along the way.  But the amazing thing about my experience is that I continue to learn things even after all these years.

Today I would like to talk about trading options with an analogy.


Trading Options Can be a Lifetime Learning Experience

If the truth be known, investing in stocks is pretty much like playing checkers.  Any 12-year-old can do it.  You really don’t need much experience or understanding.  If you can read, you can buy stock (and probably do just about as well as anyone else because it’s basically a roulette wheel choice).  Most people reject that idea, of course.  Like the residents of Lake Wobegone, stock buyers believe that they are all above average – they can reliably pick the right ones just about every time.

Trading options is harder, and many people recognize that they probably aren’t above average in that arena.  Buying and selling options is more like playing chess.  It can be (and is, for anyone who is serious about it) a life-time learning experience.

You don’t see columns in the newspaper about interesting checker strategies, but you see a ton of pundits telling you why you should buy particular stocks.  People with little understanding or experience buy stocks every day, and most of their transactions involve buying from professionals with far more resources and brains. Most stock buyers never figure out that when they make their purchase, about 90% of the time, they are buying from professionals who are selling the stock to them rather than buying it at that price.

Option investing takes study and understanding and discipline that the purchase of stock does not require.  Every investor must decide for himself or herself if they are willing to make the time and study commitment necessary to be successful in option trading.  Most people are too lazy.

It is a whole lot easier to play a decent game of checkers than it is to play a decent game of chess.  But for some of us, options investing is a whole lot more challenging, and ultimately more rewarding.  For example, Facebook (FB) has had a great start for 2017.  It has gained 20.5% in the first ten weeks.  The Terry’s Tips option portfolio that trades FB options (calendar and diagonal spreads) has gained 105.7% over this same period, over 5 times as much.  With actual results like this, why wouldn’t any reasonable adult with enough cash to buy stock want to learn how to multiply his or her earnings by learning a little about the wonderful world of options?

Playing checkers (and buying stock) is boring.  Playing chess (and trading options) is far more challenging.  And rewarding, if you do it right.

Invest in Yourself in 2017 (at the Lowest Rate Ever)

Friday, December 30th, 2016

To celebrate the coming of the New Year I am making the best offer to come on board that I have ever offered.  It is time limited.  Don’t miss out.

Invest in Yourself in 2017 (at the Lowest Rate Ever)

The presents are unwrapped.  The New Year is upon us.  Start it out right by doing something really good for yourself, and your loved ones.

The beginning of the year is a traditional time for resolutions and goal-setting.  It is a perfect time to do some serious thinking about your financial future.

I believe that the best investment you can ever make is to invest in yourself, no matter what your financial situation might be.  Learning a stock option investment strategy is a low-cost way to do just that.

As our New Year’s gift to you, we are offering our service at the lowest price in the history of our company.   If you ever considered becoming a Terry’s Tips Insider, this would be the absolutely best time to do it.  Read on…

Don’t you owe it to yourself to learn a system that carries a very low risk and could gain over 100% in one year as our calendar spreads on Nike, Costco, Starbucks, and Johnson & Johnson have done in the last two years?  Or how our volatility-related portfolio gained 80% in 2016 with only two trades.

So what’s the investment?  I’m suggesting that you spend a small amount to get a copy of my 60-page (electronic) White Paper, and devote some serious early-2017 hours studying the material.

Here’s the Special Offer – If you make this investment in yourself by midnight, January 11, 2017, this is what happens:

For a one-time fee of only $39.95, you receive the White Paper (which normally costs $79.95 by itself), which explains my favorite option strategies in detail, and shows you exactly how to carry them out on your own.

1) Two free months of the Terry’s Tips Stock Options Tutorial Program, (a $49.90 value).  This consists of 14 individual electronic tutorials delivered one each day for two weeks, and weekly Saturday Reports which provide timely Market Reports, discussion of option strategies, updates and commentaries on 11 different actual option portfolios, and much more.

2) Emailed Trade Alerts.  I will email you with any trades I make at the end of each trading day, so you can mirror them if you wish (or with our Premium Service, you will receive real-time Trade Alerts as they are made for even faster order placement or Auto-Trading with a broker).  These Trade Alerts cover all 11 portfolios we conduct.

3) If you choose to continue after two free months of the Options Tutorial Program, do nothing, and you’ll be billed at our discounted rate of $19.95 per month (rather than the regular $24.95 rate).

4) Access to the Insider’s Section of Terry’s Tips, where you will find many valuable articles about option trading, and several months of recent Saturday Reports and Trade Alerts.

With this one-time offer, you will receive all of these benefits for only $39.95, less than the price of the White Paper alone. I have never made an offer better than this in the fifteen years I have published Terry’s Tips.  But you must order by midnight on January 11, 2017. Click here, choose “White Paper with Insider Membership”, and enter Special Code 2017 (or 2017P for Premium Service – $79.95).

If you ever considered learning about the wonderful world of options, this is the time to do it.  Early in 2017, we will be raising our subscription fees for the first time in 15 years.  By coming on board now, you can lock in the old rates for as long as you continue as a subscriber.

Investing in yourself is the most responsible New Year’s Resolution you could make for 2017.  I feel confident that this offer could be the best investment you ever make in yourself.  And your family will love you for investing in yourself, and them as well.

Happy New Year!  I hope 2017 is your most prosperous ever.  I look forward to helping you get 2017 started right by sharing this valuable investment information with you.


If you have any questions about this offer or Terry’s Tips, please call Seth Allen, our Senior Vice President at 800-803-4595.  Or make this investment in yourself at the lowest price ever offered in our 15 years of publication – only $39.95 for our entire packagehere using Special Code 2017 (or 2017P for Premium Service – $79.95).

If you are ready to commit for a longer time period, you can save even more with our half-price offer on our Premium service for an entire year.  This special offer includes everything in our basic service, and in addition, real-time trade alerts and full access to all of our portfolios so that you can Auto-Trade or follow any or all of them.  We have several levels of our Premium service, but this is the maximum level since it includes full access to all nine portfolios which are available for Auto-Trade.  A year’s subscription to this maximum level would cost $1080.  With this half-price offer, the cost for a full year would be only $540.  Use the Special Code MAX17P.


Benefiting From the Current Uncertainty of Oil Supply

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

The price of oil is fluctuating all over the place because of the uncertainty of OPEC’s current effort to get a widespread agreement to restrict supply. This has resulted in unusually high short-term option prices for USO (the stock that mirrors the price of oil). I would like to share with you an options spread I made in my personal account today which I believe has an extremely high likelihood of success.


Benefiting From the Current Uncertainty of Oil Supply

I personally believe that the long-run price of oil is destined to be lower. The world is just making too much of it and electric cars are soon to be here (Tesla is gearing up to make 500,000 next year and nearly a million in two years). But in the short run, anything can happen.

Meanwhile, OPEC is trying to coax producers to limit supply in an effort to boost oil prices. Every time they boast of a little success, the price of oil bounces higher until more evidence comes out that not every country is on board. Iran and Yemen won’t even show up to the meeting. Many oil-producing companies have hated one another for centuries, and the idea of cooperating with each other seems a little preposterous to me.

The good old U.S.A. is one of the major producers of oil these days, and it is not one of the participants in OPEC’s discussion of limiting supply. Two significant new domestic oil discoveries have been announced in the last couple of months, and the total number of operating rigs has moved steadily higher in spite of the currently low oil prices.

Bottom line, option prices on USO are higher than we have seen them in quite a while, especially the shortest-term options. Implied volatility (IV) of the long-term options I would like to buy is only 36 compared to 64 for the shortest-term weekly options I will be selling to someone else.

Given my inclination to expect lower rather than higher prices in the future, I am buying both puts and calls which expire a little over a year from now and selling puts and calls which expire on Friday. Here are the trades I made today when USO was trading at $10.47:

Buy To Open 20 USO 19Jan18 10 puts (USO180119P10)
Sell To Open 20 USO 02Dec16 10 puts (USO161202P10) for a debit of $1.20 (buying a calendar)

Buy To Open 20 USO 19Jan18 10 calls (USO180119C10)
Sell To Open 20 USO 02Dec16 10.5 calls (USO161202C10.5) for a debit of $1.58 (buying a diagonal)

Of course, you can buy just one of each of these spreads if you wish, but I decided to pick up 20 of them. For the puts, I paid $1.43 ($143) for an option that has 60 weeks of remaining life. That means it will decay in value by an average of $2.38 every week of its life. On the other hand, I collected $.23 ($23) from selling the 02Dec16 out-of-the-money 10 put, or almost 10 times what the long-term put will fall by. If I could sell that put 60 times, I would collect $1380 of over the next 60 weeks, more than 10 times what I paid for the original spread.

Here is the risk profile graph which shows what my spreads should be worth when the short options expire on Friday:

USO Risk Profile Graph December 2016

USO Risk Profile Graph December 2016

My total investment in these spreads was about $5600 after commissions, and I could conceivably make a double-digit return in my very first week. If these short-term option prices hold up for a few more weeks, I might be able to duplicate these possible returns many more times before the market settles down.

As usual, I must add the caveat that you should not invest any money in options that you cannot truly afford to lose. Options are leveraged investments and can lose money, just as most investments. I like my chances with the above investment, however, and look forward to selling new calls and puts each week for a little over a year against my long options which have over a year of remaining life.

Option Idea Which Must Be Executed Before Market Closes November 1st

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Option Idea Which Must Be Executed Before Market Closes November 1st

I am sorry to send you a second email message today, but I need to hurry because it will disappear tomorrow.  It involves Gilead Sciences (GILD)

Gilead (GILD) announces earnings on Tuesday, November 1st after the close.  The post-announcement options are extremely expensive.  Implied Volatility (IV) for the 04Nov16 series is 60 compared to 34 for the 16Dec16 series which expires six weeks later.  The company has fallen 32% from its 52-week high and pays a dividend of 2.5% and has a p/e of only 6.4 which should provide some level of support. Expectations are for lower sales and earnings.  These facts support the idea that a big drop in stock price is unlikely after the announcement.  This trade will make money if the stock is flat or goes up by any amount (a maintenance requirement of $400 per spread, less the amount of the credit, will result):

Buy To Open 1 GILD 16Dec16 70 put (GILD161216P70)

Sell To Open 1 GILD 04Nov16 74 put (GILD161104P74) for a credit of $.25  (buying a diagonal)

We bought 5 contracts of exact spread today in our portfolio that trades on earnings announcements.  It will make a maximum gain if the stock closes on Friday exactly at $74.  Any price higher than that will also result in a profit.  The stock should be able to fall about $2 before any loss should appear on the downside.

This is the risk profile graph for this spread, assuming that IV for the 16Dec16 series falls by 5 after the announcement:

GILD Risk Profile Graph Oct 31 2016

GILD Risk Profile Graph Oct 31 2016

The theoretical risk of this investment is $375 (the $400 maintenance requirement less the $25 received).  However, since we plan to close the spread on Friday and there will still be 6 weeks of remaining life for the 16Dec16 70 put, the actual risk is far less than $375.  That is the amount that you will tie up in your account for this week, however.

You can see that if the stock is flat or moderately higher on Friday, you will make a profit of about $100 on your $475 investment, or about 25%.  Not bad for a week.

If the stock falls by more than $2, the graph indicates that a loss would result.  Since we believe the low valuation and the high dividend rate both provide a solid support level for the stock, we don’t believe the stock will fall by very much, and we feel good about making this investment.

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Happy trading.


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IBM Pre-Announcement Play

Friday, September 30th, 2016

IBM announces earnings on October 17, less than three weeks from now. I would like to share with you a strategy I used today to take advantage of the extremely high option prices which exist for the option series that expires on October 21, four days after the announcement. I feel fairly confident I will eventually make over 100% on one or both of these trades before the long side expires in six months.


IBM Pre-Announcement Play

One of my favorite option strategies is to buy one or more calendar spreads on a company that will be announcing earnings in a few weeks. The option series which expires directly after the announcement experiences an elevated Implied Volatility (IV) relative to all the other option series. A high IV means that those options are relatively expensive compared to all the other options that are trading on that stock.

IV for the post-announcement series soars because of the well-known tendency for stock prices to fluctuate far more than usual once the announcement is made. It may go up if investors are pleased with the company’s earnings, sales, or outlook, or it may tumble because investors were expecting more. While there is some historical evidence that the stock usually moves in the opposite direction that it did in the week or two leading up to the announcement, it is not compelling enough to always bet that way.

IBM has risen about $5 over the last week, but it is trading about equal to where it was two weeks ago, so there is no indication right now as to what might happen after the announcement.

IBM has fluctuated by just under 4% on average over the last few announcement events. That would make an average of $6 either way. I really have no idea which way it might go after this announcement, but it has been hanging out around it/s current level (just under $160) for a while, so I am planning to place my bet around that number

In the week leading up to the announcement, IV for the post-announcement series almost always soars, and the stock often moves higher as well, pushed higher by investors who are expecting good news to be forthcoming. For that reason, I like to buy calendar spreads at a strike slightly above the current price of the stock in hopes that the stock will move toward that strike as we wait for the announcement day. Remember, calendar spreads make the greatest gain when the stock is exactly at the strike price on the day when the short side of the spread expires.

This is the trade I placed today when IBM was at $159 (of course, you may choose any quantity you are comfortable with, but this is what each spread cost me):

Buy To Open 1 IBM 21Apr17 160 call (IBM170421C160)
Sell To Open 1 IBM 21Oct16 160 call (IBM161021C160) for a debit of $4.71 (buying a calendar)
Each spread cost me $471 plus $2.50 (the commission rate charged to Terry’s Tips subscribers at thinkorswim), for a total of $473.50. I sold the 21Oct16 160 call for $354. In order to get all my $473.50 back once October 21st rolls around, I will have 25 opportunities to sell a one-week call (if I wish). Right now, a 160 call with one week of remaining life could be sold for about $.90. If I were to sell one of these weeklies on 6 occasions, I would get my entire investment back and still have 19 more opportunities to sell a weekly call.

Another way of moving forward would to sell new calls with a month of remaining life when the 21Oct16 calls expire. If IBM is around $160 at that time, a one-month call could be sold for about $2.00. It would take three such sales to get all of my initial investment back, and I would have three more opportunities to sell a one-month call with all the proceeds being pure profit.

Before the 21Apr17 calls expire, another earnings announcement will come around (about 3 ½ months from now). If IBM is trading anywhere near $160 at that time, I should be able to sell a 160 call with 3 weeks of remaining life for about $354, just like I sold one today. That alone would get about 75% of my initial investment back.

In any event, over the six-months that I might own the 21Apr17 calls, I will have many chances to sell new calls and hopefully collect much more time premium than I initially shelled out for the calendar spread. There may be times when I have to buy back expiring calls because they are in the money, but I should be able to sell further-out short-term calls at the same strike for a nice credit and whittle down my initial investment.
I also made this trade today:

Buy To Open 1 IBM 21Apr17 160 call (IBM170421C160)
Sell To Open 1 IBM 14Oct16 160 call (IBM161014C160) for a debit of $6.65 (buying a calendar)

This is the same calendar spread as the first one, but the sell side is the 14Oct16 series which expires a week before the announcement date week. If IV for the 21Oct16 series does escalate from its present 25 (as it should), I might be able to sell calls with a week of remaining life for a higher price than is available right now. I might end up with paying less than $473.50 for the original spread which sold the post-announcement 21Oct16 calls.

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