from the desk of Dr. Terry F Allen

Skip navigation

Member Login  |  Contact Us  |  Sign Up

1-800-803-4595

Archive for the ‘Last Minute Strategy’ Category

More Legging Into Pre-Announcement Calendar Option Spreads

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Over the past month I have suggested legging into calendar spreads in advance of an earnings announcement for 4 different companies. In every case, you should have been able to duplicate my success in creating a calendar spread at a credit. These spreads are absolutely guaranteed to make a profit since the long side of the spreads has more time remaining and will always be worth more than the short side, regardless of what the stock does after the earnings announcement.

Today I would like to suggest two more companies where I am trying to set up calendar spreads at a credit.

Terry

More Legging Into Pre-Announcement Calendar Option Spreads

First, an update on the Facebook (FB) pre-earnings play I suggested last week. Earlier, I showed how you could leg into a calendar spread in FB at the 110 strike, and this proved to be successful. In addition, last week I suggested something different – the outright buying of 17JUN16 – 29APR16 calendar spreads at the 105 strike (using puts and paying $1.58), the 110 strike (using puts and paying $1.52) and the 115 strike (using calls and paying $1.52). I was able to execute all three of these spreads in my account at these prices, and you should have been able to do the same.

As you probably know, FB reported blow-out numbers, and the stock soared, initially to over $121, but then it fell back to $117 near the close on Friday the 29th. We were hoping that the stock could end up inside our range of strikes (105 – 115) but we were not so lucky. At 3:00 on Friday, I sold these three spreads for $.95, $1.82, and $3.40 for a total of $6.17 for all 3. This compared to a cost of $4.62 for the 3 spreads. Deducting out $15 in commissions, I netted $1.40 ($140) for every set of three calendar spreads I had put on. While this was a disappointing result, it worked out to 22% on the investment in only 4 days. I enjoyed the thrill of holding a possible 100% gain (if the stock had ended up at $110 instead of $117) and still managed to make a greater return than most people do in an entire year.

This week, on Monday morning, I looked at Costco (COST), (one of my favorite stocks) which reports earnings on May 25. The options series that expires just after this announcement is the 27MAY16 series. With the stock at about $148.50, I bought 10JUN16 150 calls (which expire two weeks later than the 27MAY16 options), paying $2.90. Implied Volatility (IV) for those options was 21 and the 27MAY16 series was only 22. I expect the difference between these IVs to get much higher over the next couple of weeks (mostly, the 27MAY16 series should move higher).

I immediately placed an order to sell the 27MAY16 150 calls (good-til-cancelled order) for $3.05 which would give me a credit of $.15 ($15 less $2.50 commissions). The stock shot $2 higher and this order executed less than 2 hours after I placed it. I apologize that I didn’t send this out to you in time for you to duplicate what I did.

I still like the company and its prospects, so I placed another order to buy 10JUN16 152.5 calls, paying $2.56 when COST was trading at $150.80. I then placed a good-til-cancelled order to sell 27MAY16 152.5 calls for $2.65. That has not executed yet.

Another company that looked interesting was Target (TGT) which announces earnings before the bell on May 18. IV for the 20MAY16 series was 27, only barely higher than the 3JUN16 series of 24 (this difference should get bigger). When the stock was trading about $79.40, I bought 3JUN16 79.5 calls for $1.88 and immediately placed an order to sell 20MAY16 calls for $1.95. This order executed about 2 hours later when the stock rose about $.60. Once again, I apologize that I did not get his trade possibility out to you in time for you to copy it.

Tomorrow I intend to buy TGT 3JUN16 81 calls and as soon as I get them, I will place an order to sell 20MAY16 81 calls for $.10 more than I paid for them. If the stock rises or IV of the 20MAY16 options gets larger (as it should), another credit calendar guaranteed profit spread should be in place.

In the last few weeks, I have both told you about and used this strategy for SBUX, JNJ, FB, and TWX. Now I have added COST and TGT to the list. In each case, I bought a slightly out-of-the-money call a few weeks out and immediately placed an order to sell the post-announcement same-strike call so that I would create a calendar spread at a credit.

The ultimate gain on these spreads will depend on how close the stock ends up to the strike price of my calendar spread after the announcement. The nearer to the strike, the greater the gain. It is fun owning a spread that you are certain will make a profit, no matter what the stock does.

Last Minute Facebook Earnings Play

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Facebook (FB) announces earnings tomorrow, Wednesday the 27th, after the close. There is still time to place what I think will be a dynamite options play. You have until the close tomorrow to get these spreads in place.

Terry

Last Minute Facebook Earnings Play

Over the past few weeks, I have suggested legging into calendar spreads at a price slightly above the current stock price for companies that would be announcing earnings about two or three weeks later. The underlying idea of these spreads is that, 1) in the days leading up to the announcement, the stock tends to drift higher as hope for a positive announcement grows and, 2) implied volatility (IV) of the option series that expires directly after the announcement date almost always soars because big moves in the stock often take place right after results are disclosed.

In my personal account, in the last few weeks, I have both told you about and used this strategy for SBUX, JNJ, and FB. In each case, I bought a slightly out-of-the-money call a few weeks out and immediately placed an order to sell the post-announcement same-strike call so that I would create a calendar spread at a credit.

In every case, I was able to complete the calendar spread at a credit which was large enough to cover the cost of the call I had bought as well as commissions on the trade ($1.25 per option at the commission rate thinkorswim charges Terry’s Tips subscribers). This means I not only made a small profit at the time, but I was guaranteed a much larger profit when the short calls expired. The closer the stock price ends up to the strike price, the greater that profit will be.

Last week, I also tried this strategy with Time Warner (TWX), another company I like. I bought 27 May 16 76 calls when TWX was trading at $75.50, paying $2.31. I immediately placed a good-til-cancelled order to sell 6 May 16 76 calls for $2.39. This was executed the following day, and I now own a calendar spread that is guaranteed to make me a profit. TWX announces on May 4 before the open and I will close out the calendar two days later when the 6 May 16 calls expire.

There is something wonderful about owning an option spread that is guaranteed to make a profit. The only question mark is how big that profit will be.

FB announces after the close tomorrow, April 27. It is too late to leg into a calendar spread like I did for the above 4 companies, but it is not too late to take advantage of some huge IV advantages. IV for the 29 APR 16 series has soared to 82 (it was “only” 52 a week ago). IV for the 17 JUN 16 series is only 34. These IVs make the FB calendar spreads exceptionally cheap right now, at least to my way of thinking.

With FB trading about $109 today, these are the calendar spreads I have placed:

Buy to Open FB 17 JUN 16 105 puts (FB160617P105)
Sell to Open FB 29 APR 16 105 puts (FB160417P105) for a debit of $1.58 (buying a calendar)

Buy to Open FB 17 JUN 16 110 puts (FB160617P110)
Sell to Open FB 29 APR 16 110 puts (FB160417P110) for a debit of $1.52 (buying a calendar)

Buy to Open FB 17 JUN 16 115 calls (FB160617C115)
Sell to Open FB 29 APR 16 115 calls (FB160417C115) for a debit of $1.52 (buying a calendar)

These prices are a little more than the mid-point of the bid-ask range for the calendar spreads. You should be able to get these prices.

On Friday when the short options expire, an at-the-money calendar spread with 49 days of remaining life (as these are) should be worth over $5, or more than what I paid for all three spreads. If the stock is $5 higher or lower than a strike, the calendar should be worth over $2.50, well more than what any of the spreads cost.

I think these are good trades to make and am hoping for a $110 price for FB on Friday near the close. If that comes about, I should more than double my investment in less than a week.

 

Earnings Season Has Arrived – How to Capitalize on it With Options

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

For each of the last two Mondays I have told you about an earnings-related trade I made. Today I would like to review my thinking on those trades, update how they are going, and offer you a new idea of a third trade I made his morning.

Terry

Earnings Season Has Arrived – How to Capitalize on it With Options

In the last few weeks leading up to a quarterly earnings announcement, two things usually happen. First of all, the stock often moves higher as the announcement day approaches as some investors start hoping that the company might beat expectations. The second thing is even more likely (and essentially always happens). Implied Volatility (IV) of the option prices moves much high. This means that the prices for options temporarily rise in value across the board. The greatest upward move in IV takes place in the options series which expires just after the announcement date.

The reason that IV becomes greater at this time is that once earnings are announced, the stock is likely to move either up or down by a much larger amount than it does most trading days. When volatility is expected to be high, option prices rise in anticipation of that higher level of anticipated price changes.

One of my favorite option plays is based on these two tendencies to occur as the announcement day approaches. I like to leg into a calendar spread at a strike price which is slightly higher than the stock price. I do this by buying a call option at that strike in the option series that expires two weeks after the series which expires just after the announcement is made. Once I have made my purchase, I place a good-til-cancelled order to sell a call at the same strike in the series that expires just after the announcement date (the series which will carry the highest IV and therefore the highest option prices). I set a limit price which is sufficiently greater than what I paid for the two-week-longer call to cover the commissions and leave a small profit as well.

This limit price should be met if either or both of the tendencies end up happening (the stock moves higher or IV increases). Most of the time, I have been able to complete the trade and end up with a calendar spread at a credit.

If I am successful in setting up a calendar spread at a credit, I am guaranteed to make a nice profit on the spread. I can’t lose because the call I own has two weeks more of life than the same-strike call I have sold to someone else, so it can be sold at a credit, no matter what the stock price does after the announcement. My greatest gain will come if the stock ends up very close to the strike price which I selected.

The Starbucks (SBUX) Play: SBUX announces on April 21. Two weeks ago, with SBUX trading about $58.60, I placed an order to buy SBUX May1-16 calls. I paid $1.12 ($112 per contract) plus $1.25 commission at the rate paid by Terry’s Tips subscribers at thinkorswim (if you are paying more than this as commission rate, you might consider opening an account at this brokerage – see the offer below).

I immediately placed an order to sell Apr4-16 60 calls at a limit price of $1.20. The Apr4-16 series expires on April 22, the day after the announcement on the 21st. This trade executed the very next day. After commissions, I had gained $5.50 for each spread, and was guaranteed to make an additional gain once the Apr4-16 calls expired. Since the May1-16 calls have two weeks more of remaining life than the Apr4-16 calls, the spread will always have at least some value. The closer the stock is to $60, the greater the value of the spread. If I am lucky enough to see it end up at $60 on April 22, I could expect to collect about $80 for each spread (on top of the $5.50 I already have collected).

The Facebook (FB) Play: One week ago today, knowing that FB would announce earnings on April 27, when the stock was trading at $112 (it had fallen $4 at the open from Friday’s close because an analyst forecast that their earnings would disappoint). I bought May2-16 114 calls for $4.40 ($440 plus $1.25 per contract, or $441.25). I then placed a good-til-cancelled order to sell Apr5-16 114 calls for $4.50. These calls would expire on April 29, two days after the announcement on the 27th.

Both the stock and IV of the Apr5-16 options rose on Tuesday, and my trade executed. IV for the Apr4-16 series was 40 when I reported this trade to you two weeks ago, and it is now 48. Now I am guaranteed a profit in FB as well, and I am rooting for the company to exceed expectations and a $114 price come along after the announcement. (As I write this, FB has fallen further, to about $110). There is something nice about holding an options investment that is guaranteed to make a gain no matter what the stock price does. Most of the time, I would be anguishing when my stock is dropping in price.

Closing Out the Trades: On the Friday when the short calls in these calendar spreads expire, you will have to make a decision. If the stock price is trading at a lower price than the strike price, you don’t really need to do anything as the short calls will expire worthless. However, you might want to buy them back at a nominal price (if that price is $.05 or lower, thinkorswim does not charge any commission, by the way). You would only buy them back if you also planned to make a sell trade as well. You could either sell the call you own which has two weeks of remaining life (essentially closing out the calendar spread), or you might sell the same-strike call which has one week of remaining life (this sale can almost always be made at more than 50% of what you could sell the two-week-out call).

A third alternative would be let the short call expire worthless and just hang on to your long calls (remember, they did not cost you anything at the beginning), and hope for a windfall gain if the stock manages to soar. Most of the time, I resist buying puts or calls outright, preferring instead to be a seller of short-term options. But every once in a while, it is fun to hang on to an option and see what might happen, especially when it didn’t cost me anything. It is sort of like getting a free lottery ticket (with better odds but a smaller pay-off than the lottery offers).

If the Sell Trade Doesn’t Execute: Some of the time, the stock will fall after you have made your call purchase and IV doesn’t rise enough to force an execution on your sell order. In those cases, I wait until the end of the day just before the announcement and sell the same call in my good-til-cancelled order at whatever price I can get. I have found that the stock often ticks up in the final hour of that day, and I can get a better price than earlier.

The calendar spread that you have created will not be made at a credit, but it still might be cheap compared to usual standards because of the elevated IV of the call you are selling.

Another alternative might be to sell your long call. It might be sold at a small profit, or more likely, a small loss. Even if the stock has fallen, IV might have moved high enough to make the option worth more than you paid for it.

This Week’s Trade, Abbvie (ABBV): ABBV is a drug company that pays a high dividend and doesn’t fluctuate very much. For these reasons, IV and option prices are quite low, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make gains with this same strategy. ABBV announces earnings before the market opens on April 28th.

With the stock trading about $58.50 this morning, I bought ABBV May2-16 58.5 calls for $1.87. This series closes two weeks later than the Apr5-16 series which expires on April 29, just after the April 28 announcement date. I have placed a good-til-cancelled order to sell Apr5-16 58.5 calls at a limit price of $1.95. IV for this series is currently 34 and can be expected to rise over the next week or two.

I selected the 58.5 strike instead of a higher strike because there is a $.57 dividend payable on April 13 (tomorrow) which may depress the stock by about that much. In fact, you might want to wait until tomorrow to buy the Apr5-16 call because it might be cheaper then.

I will report back to you on how these trades end up.

How to Play War Rumors

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Last week, on Monday, there were rumors of a possible war with Russia.  The market opened down by a good margin and presented an excellent opportunity to make a short-term gain.  Today I would like to discuss how we did it at Terry’s Tips and how you can do it next time something like this comes along.

Terry

How to Play War Rumors

When the market opens up at a higher price than the previous day’s highest price or lower than the previous day’s lowest price, it is said to have a gap opening.  Gap openings unusually occur when unusually good (or bad) news has occurred.  Since there are two days over which such events might occur on weekends, most gap openings happen on Mondays.

A popular trading strategy is to bet that a gap opening will quickly reverse itself in the hour or two after the open, and day-trade the gap opening.  While this is usually a profitable play even if it doesn’t involve the possibility of a war, when rumors of a war prompted the lower opening price, it is a particularly good opportunity.

Over time, rumors of a new war (or some other economic calamity) have popped up on several occasions, and just about every time, there is a gap (down) opening. This time, the situation in Ukraine flared, even though any reasonable person would have figured out that we were highly unlikely to start a real war with Russia.

When war rumors hit the news wires, there is a consistent pattern of what happens in the market.  First, it gaps down, just like it did on Monday.  Invariably, it recovers after that big drop, usually within a few days.  Either the war possibilities are dismissed or the market comes to its senses and realizes that just about all wars are good for the economy and the market.  It is a pattern that I have encountered and bet on several times over the years and have never lost my bet.

On Monday, when the market gapped down at the open (SPY fell from $186.29 to $184.85, and later in the day, as low as $183.75), we took action in one of the 10 actual portfolios we carry out for Terry’s Tips paying subscribers (who either watch, mirror, or have trades automatically placed in their accounts for them through Auto-Trade).

One of these portfolios is called Terry’s Trades.  It usually is just sitting on cash.  When a short-term opportunity comes along that I would do in my personal account, I often place it in this portfolio as well.  On Monday, shortly after the open, we bought Mar2-14 weekly 184 calls on SPY (essentially “the market”), paying $1.88 ($1880 plus $12.50 commissions, or $1900.50) for 10 contracts.  When the market came to its senses on Tuesday, we sold those calls for $3.23 ($3230 less $12.50 commission, or $3217.50), for a gain of $1317, or about 70% on our investment.  We left a lot of money on the table when SPY rose even higher later in the week, but 70% seemed like a decent enough gain to take for the day.

War rumors are even more detrimental to volatility-related stocks.  Uncertainty soars, as does VXX (the only time this ETP goes up) while XIV and SVXY get crushed.  In my personal account, I bought SVXY and sold at-the-money weekly calls against it.  When the stock ticked higher on Friday, my stock was exercised away from me but I enjoyed wonderful gains from the call premium I had sold on Monday.

Whether you want to bet on the market reversing or volatility receding, when rumors of a war come along (accompanied by a gap opening), it might be time to act with the purchase of some short-term near-the-money calls.  Happy trading.

More Pre-Earnings-Announcement Plays

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Last week I gave you an option play on Tesla Motors (TSLA) to be placed just before they announced earnings.  Since there were no weekly options available, the March series was sold.  By the end of the week, a small gain had been made in the portfolio but the real gains will not come until the March options expire on the 16th. 

 

Today I would like to tell you about two other pre-earnings-announcement (PEA) plays that Terry’s Tips subscribers carried out last week. 

 

More Pre-Earnings-Announcement Plays 

 

Herbalife (HLF) PEA Play:  In the Terry’s Trades portfolio when HLF was trading about $40 we bought 6 Jun-13 – Feb4-13 call calendar spreads at the 39 strike, paying $2.25 per spread. We paid the same for 6 more calendars at the 41 strike.  In retrospect, these strikes were too close to the stock price and did not offer a wide break-even range.  Since most big moves are to the downside, a better strike would have been 38 or even 37 instead of the 39. 

 

Our total investment was $2700.  After the announcement the stock fell 7.5% to $37, putting it outside the range of our strike prices.   We bought back the Feb4-13 41 calls for $.05, paying no commission, and sold the Jun-13 41 calls for $2.25, losing a total of $30 on the spread before commissions.  On Friday we sold the 39 calendar spread for $2.80, gaining $55 x 6 = $330, or a net of $300 for the two spreads.  Commissions amounted to $52.50, so our net gain was $247.50, or 9.2% on our investment. 

 

We felt that this was not a bad gain considering that we didn’t make the ideal choices of strike prices and the stock fell by a relatively large amount.  If we had bought the 38 strike rather than the 39 strike, our gain would have been $150 greater, or almost 15% total for the week. 

 

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) PEA Play: In the Earnings Eagle portfolio, on Thursday, the day before the pre-market announcement on Friday, with ANF trading about $49 we bought 15 Apr-13 – Feb4-13 call calendar spreads at the 48 strike, paying $1.28 per spread. We paid $1.30 for 15 more calendars (using puts) at the 44 strike and $1.35 for 15 diagonals, buying calls at the 52.5 strike (the 53 strike was not available in April) and selling Feb4-13 calls at the 53 strike.  

 

Our total investment was $5859.  After the announcement the stock fell over 7% to $45.50, but remaining within the range of our strike prices.   We bought back the Feb4-13 53 calls for $.03 and the Feb4-13 44 puts for $.05, paying no commission, and sold Apr-13 44 puts and 52.5 calls as a straddle, collecting $2.55, losing a total of $270 on the two spreads before commissions.  We sold the 48 call calendar spread for $1.97, gaining $69 x 15 = $1035, or a net of $765 for the three spreads.  Commissions amounted to $187.50, so our net gain was $577.50, or 9.8% on our investment.

 

We have developed a set of Trading Rules for PEA Plays for Terry’s Tips paying subscribers.  They might be worth many times what a subscription would cost.

Options Strategy for the Tesla Motors Earnings Announcement

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Last week I gave you an option play on Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) that ended up making a 63% gain.  This week I am offering another pre-earnings announcement, this time on Tesla Motors (TSLA).  If you want to try this strategy you will have to hurry because the announcement is due after the close on Wednesday, February 20. 

Options Strategy for the Tesla Motors Earnings Announcement 

In case you want to know the details of my thoughts on this company which makes electric cars, check out my Seeking Alpha article – How to Play the Tesla Motors Earnings Announcement.  

In a nutshell, I think the likelihood of the stock going up after the announcement is very low.  To my way of thinking, it is hopelessly overvalued and even the best of news shouldn’t push it much higher (it has already soared about 50% since August on no more than hope that their new Model S will be a big hit). 

On the other hand, there are a large number of issues (including earnings) that might very well depress the stock.  Here is what I would do: 

With the stock trading around $37, buy TSLA June 39 calls and sell March 37 calls.  This diagonal spread will cost about $1.05 ($105) to place (the natural price is $1.15 but a lower execution should be possible).  There will be a $200 maintenance requirement per spread.  If TSLA ends up at any price below $37 when the March options expire on the 15th, they will be worthless and I will end up owning June 39 calls which surely should be worth more than $1.05 (currently $3.00 – $3.40).  I hope to exit the positions shortly after the announcement is made. 

I also plan to buy half as many June-13 – March-13 33 put calendar spreads (cost about $1.90) to protect me against a possible 10% drop in the stock after the announcement.  If you bought 10 of the above diagonals and 5 of these calendar spreads, your total outlay would be about $4000 (mostly the non-cash $2000 maintenance requirement on the 10 diagonal spreads). 

One disadvantage with these spreads is that it might be necessary to wait as long as 3 ½ weeks to get the maximum possible return, but I expect an earlier exit will be possible at a slightly less than the maximum gain.  I am aiming for a 25% gain on these spreads. 

We will be placing these spreads in one of our Terry’s Tips portfolios on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Terry’s Tips Subscribers Score Big Win With NTAP Earnings Play

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Terry’s Tips Subscribers Score Big Win With NTAP Earnings Play

In anticipation of Network Appliance’s (NTAP) earnings announcement after the close on Wednesday, February 13, on Monday the following trades were made when the stock was trading about $35.50:

BTO 15 NTAP Jun-13 38 calls (NTAP130622C38)
STO 15 NTAP Feb-13 36 calls (NTAP130216C36) for a debit limit of $.77 (buying a diagonal)

BTO 12 NTAP Jun-13 33 puts (NTAP130622P33)
STO 12 NTAP Feb-13 35 puts (NTAP130216P35) for a debit limit of $.82  (buying a diagonal)

These trades cost $2139 to place plus $68 in commissions for a total of $2207.  In addition, the broker imposed a $3000 maintenance requirement on the account (15 contracts at $200 each – the 12 put spreads did not require a charge because we couldn’t lose on both put and call spreads – it was essentially a short iron condor).

On Thursday, the morning after the announcement, the following trades were executed while NTAP fluctuated between $35 and $36:

BTC 15 NTAP Feb-13 36 calls (NTAP130216C36)
STC 15 NTAP Jun-13 38 calls (NTAP130622C38) for a credit limit of $1.28  (selling a diagonal)

BTC 6 NTAP Feb-13 35 puts (NTAP130216P35)
STC 6 NTAP Jun-13 33 puts (NTAP130622P33) for a credit limit of $1.39  (selling a diagonal)

BTC 6 NTAP Feb-13 35 puts (NTAP130216P35)
STC 6 NTAP Jun-13 33 puts (NTAP130622P33) for a credit limit of $1.50  (selling a diagonal)

The total collected from these sales was $3654 less $68 commissions, or $3586.  The profit was $1379, or 62% of the cash outlay for the spreads.

There is a question as to how much of the $3000 maintenance requirement was actually at risk since the long sides had 4 months of remaining life and would have a value no matter where the stock price ended up.  If we assume that half this amount was truly at risk, the return for the trades would be reduced to 37%.

Whether the actual return after commissions was 62% or 37%, it was a nice Valentine’s Day for the Terry’s Tips subscribers who participated in these trades.

 

Closing Out the Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) Spreads

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Closing Out the Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) Spreads

If you recall, on Monday I recommended buying the following two spreads while BWLD was trading about $77 in advance of Tuesday’s earnings announcement after the close:

BTO (buy to open) 6 BWLD Jun-13 85 calls (BWLD130622C85)
STO (sell to open) 6 BWLD Feb-13 80 calls (BWLD130216C80) for a debit of $1.40  (buying a diagonal)

BTO (buy to open) 4 BWLD Jun-13 70 puts (BWLD130622P70)
STO (sell to open) 4 BWLD Feb-13 75 puts (BWLD130216P75) for a debit of $.90  (buying a diagonal)

In my personal account, after sending out this recommendation, just to make sure these prices were still available, I bought the above spreads.  I paid $1.39 for the call spread and $1.35 for the put spread.

These two spreads cost $1374 plus $25 in commissions for a total cost of $1399.  There was a $3000 maintenance requirement charged by the broker, although I figured that the actual amount at risk was no more than half that amount because the long puts and calls both had five months of remaining life and would have value (the broker assumes that you don’t sell them as soon as you can and just let them expire worthless). 

So to my way of thinking, I risked about $2900 on these spreads although I had to leave an additional $1500 in my account alone for what worked out to be a single day.

On Wednesday after the announcement the stock had hardly changed from what it was at the open on Monday, $77, although it had move about $4 higher late Tuesday and opened about $4 lower on Wednesday.

At about 10:30 a.m. I sold the call spread for $2.51 and the put spread for $2.42, collecting $3274 less $25 commissions, or $3249.  That gave me a cash profit of $1850 on my adjusted $2900 at risk.  That works out to a 63% gain for the trades.

I would have made just about the same gain if the stock ended up at any price between $75 and $80.  If I had waited until Friday to close out the spreads, I would have made more if it fell in that range, but I will take a 63% profit for a couple of days any time.

This is the third similar trade I have made with pre-earnings announcement companies in the last three weeks, and all three trades have had similar profitable results.

Options Strategy for the Buffalo Wild Wings Earnings Announcement

Monday, February 11th, 2013

 

Last week I wrote an article explaining why I thought that Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) would move higher after its earnings announcement.  I was totally wrong.  The stock fell by nearly $5. 

In one of my Terry’s Tips portfolios, I placed a diagonal spread which would do best if GMCR moved higher (as I expected it would at the time).  In spite of its moving lower, I closed out the spread the day after earnings for a 30% gain after commissions.  Not a bad return when you are totally wrong. 

Today I would like to propose a similar diagonal spread to be used on another company which will announce earnings next week (on Wednesday, after the close).

Options Strategy for the Buffalo Wild Wings Earnings Announcement 

 

I really don’t know much about Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD).  I have never visited one of their restaurants and don’t think I have ever seen one in New England.  But options on the stock are extremely interesting to me.  The Feb-13 options that expire on Friday, February 15th carry an implied volatility (IV) of 80 while longer-term options such as the Jun-13 series has an IV of only 36.  That means the February options are more than twice as expensive as the June options. 

 

I would like to buy June options and sell February options before Wednesday’s announcement. 

 

I learned everything I could about the company, and wrote an article for Seeking Alpha on it – How To Play The Buffalo Wild Wings Earnings Announcement Next Week.  The most important thing I learned was that some big options players were betting that the stock would tank after earnings (and Jim Cramer suggested selling it as well).  I thought the P/E was too high considering its growth rate which put me in the bearish camp as well.  All these ideas suggested to me that the stock was more likely to fall next week than it is to move higher. 

 

With that scenario in mind, here is the spread that I will be buying (for a $5000 portfolio) with the stock trading about $77: 

 

BTO (buy to open) 6 BWLD Jun-13 85 calls (BWLD130622C85)

 

STO (sell to open) 6 BWLD Feb-13 80 calls (BWLD130216C80) for a debit of $1.40  (buying a diagonal)  

 

If the stock stays flat or goes down by any amount by Friday’s close, the Feb-13 80 calls will expire worthless and I will end up holding Jun-13 85 calls which should have a value well in excess of $1.40 (they are worth $3.60 right now).  The greatest gain for this spread would be if the stock edged up to $80 and the February calls expired worthless while the June calls might be worth more than they are right now.  You can see how this spread can make money even if you aren’t right about how you think about the stock. 

 

The above diagonal spread would require a maintenance requirement of $500 per spread in addition to the $140 cost to buy the spread.  This is not a loan like a margin purchase would involve, but the broker puts a hold on $500 in your account that can’t be used for other purposes.  The reason for this maintenance requirement is that theoretically you could lose that much if the stock rose sharply and you had to buy back the Feb-80 calls, and then you did nothing for five months and let the June options expire worthless.  Of course, since the June options have five additional months of life, they would have a good value if you sold them next week instead of waiting.  This means that from a practical standpoint, the $500 potential loss is not really totally at risk because you plan to sell the June options next week while they still have a good value.  

 

Just in case I am wrong in my assessment of this company, I will also place the following diagonal spread:

 

BTO (buy to open) 4 BWLD Jun-13 70 puts (BWLD130622P70)

 

STO (sell to open) 4 BWLD Feb-13 75 puts (BWLD130216P75) for a debit of $.90  (buying a diagonal)  

 

There will not be a maintenance requirement on this spread because you can’t lose $500 on both this spread and the call spread placed above.  This put spread will do best if the stock falls to $75 and expires worthless while the June 70 puts should increase in value (currently $3.80).  If the stock moves higher, above $75, the February 75 puts expire worthless and the June 70 puts will retain some value because they have five more months of remaining life. 

 

If the stock ends up between $75 and $80, both spreads should make excellent gains.  Losses should come about only if the stock moves over 8% on the upside or over 10% on the downside.  That is quite a large range of possible prices for the two days the options will be held.  

 

If you are totally bearish on the stock you would only place the diagonal call spread.  If you are strongly bullish on the stock you would only place the diagonal put spread. It seems a little ironic that the best spread to buy if you think the stock is headed down uses calls while the best spread to buy if you think the stock is headed higher uses puts. But that’s the way it is in the crazy world of options. 

I expect these spreads will yield at least the 30% I made last week while being wrong about GMCR.  Just imagine how much you could make if you were right.

Options Strategy for the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Earnings

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

 

 

After the market close tomorrow, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) will announce quarterly and year-end earnings.  I am quite bullish on the stock, and have written a Seeking Alpha article explaining why – Why Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Will Soar This Week 

(I apologize for its being so long, but as Abraham Lincoln once said in a letter he wrote to a friend, I didn’t have enough time to make it shorter.)

Options Strategy for the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Earnings

If you I have a strong feeling for a particular stock prior to their making an earnings announcement, there are a couple of strategies I like to employ.  I would like to tell you about one of them today.  It involves a little hedge just in case I am wrong (with this hedge, I won’t lose all my money). 

 

An aggressive strategy if you were very bullish on a stock would be to sell an at-the-money put in the shortest-term option series available (for GMCR, (that would be the Feb2-13 options expiring on Friday February 8, two days after the Wednesday after-close announcement).  Option prices in this series tend to escalate to about double or triple their usual implied volatility, making them very “expensive”.  Since you don’t want to sell any option all by itself (they call that naked selling because that’s how you feel whenever you do it, totally exposed), you must buy some other  put to cover yourself (and avoid a horrendous margin requirement from your broker).  If you bought lower-strike Feb2-13 puts, you would collect a credit on your spread sale (called a vertical put spread), and there would be a maintenance requirement of $100 for each dollar of difference  between the strike prices. 

 

For example, with GMCR selling about $48, you could buy a Feb2-13 43 put and sell a Feb2-13 48 put and collect about $2.  There would be a maintenance requirement of $500 less the $200 you collected from the vertical spread sale.  Your maximum loss is $300 and this would come about if the stock fell to below $43 from the $48 where it was before the announcement. 

 

With this spread, you are hoping that the stock closes on Friday at any price above $48.  If it does, both your long and short puts will expire worthless and you save paying commissions on closing out the positions.  You just end up with $200 (per spread, less commissions) in your account and the maintenance requirement goes away.  You would have made about 65% after commissions on your $300 at risk. 

 

What I do (the hedge) is a little different.  Instead of buying the lower-strike put in the same series, I go out to a longer period series.  I might buy a Feb-13 43 put (which expires February 15, a week later) instead of the Feb2-13 43 put.  It would only cost me about $.30 more (i.e., I would collect about $1.75 instead of $2.00 at the beginning), but if I wrong about GMCR and the stock falls instead of moving higher, this put might have a decent value when the Feb2-13 45 put expires in the money.  If the stock is below $48 at expiration, I will buy it back on Friday and sell my Feb-13 43 put at the same time.   

 

If the stock falls over $3, I will probably lose money on the original spread, but I will gain some of the loss back from selling the Feb-13 43 put.  It is not a perfect hedge, but it reduces the maximum loss from $300. 

 

I have placed this exact spread in my personal account – it is called buying a diagonal put spread.  I received $1.75 and hope to collect that much per spread on Friday (plus whatever I can collect from selling the Feb-13 43 put that that has a week of remaining life.

 

 

Making 36%

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

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

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

Order Now

Success Stories

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

~ John Collins