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How to Make 27% in 45 Days With a Bet on Tesla

The 9 actual portfolios carried out by Terry’s Tips are having a great 2017 so far.  Their composite value has increased 23.8% for the year, about 4 times as great as the overall market (SPY) has advanced.

The basic strategy employed by most of these portfolios is to bet on what the company won’t do rather than what it will do. Most of the time, that involves picking a blue chip company that you really like, especially one paying a large dividend, and betting that it won’t fall by very much.  You don’t care if it goes up or stays flat.  You just don’t want it to fall more than a few points while you hold your option positions.

Today, I would like to offer a different kind of a bet based on what a popular company might not do.  The company is Tesla (TSLA), and what we think it will not do is to move much higher than it is right now, at least for the next few months.

Terry

 How to Make 27% in 45 Days With a Bet on Tesla

Tesla is a company which has thousands of passionate supporters.  They have bid up the price of a company with fabulous ideas but no earnings to near all-time highs.  If you peruse some of the multiple articles recently written about the company, you can’t help but wonder how the current lofty price can be maintained.

Here are some of the things that are being said:

It’s possible that the Model 3 could bury Tesla in several ways, including:

  • It being substantially late.
  • It not being profitable at the low price it was promised, and thus require a much higher selling price.
  • A much higher selling price or emerging competition leading to much lower than expected volumes.

Tesla will need to spend about $8 billion in its network of charging stations in the U.S. alone if it wants to make recharging a car as convenient as going to a gas station.

Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity was really a bailout. SolarCity was in deep financial trouble. It could have gone bankrupt, and will need a huge infusion of capital to survive.

The company has historically issued overly optimistic projections, and the recent exodus of its CFO is evidence that some executives are rebelling.

More and more traditional car companies are coming out with all-electric models that will compete directly with Tesla.

China represented 15.6% of its automotive sales during 2016. China’s market is weakening during early 2017 due to tax changes. Hong Kong will be crashing due to the elimination of a tax waiver which will nearly double the price of a Model S.

Goldman Sachs recently downgraded the stock and said it expected it would fall by 25% over the next six months.

Tesla has a market cap of $40 billion on revenue of around $7 billion, while General Motors (G) has a market cap of $55 million on revenue of $166 billion. Ford (F) has similar multiples, and Toyota (TM), despite significant topline growth, still has a P/S ratio of only 0.49. These numbers make Tesla look astronomically overvalued and are the reason TSLA is a magnet for short sellers.

TSLA will probably need $35 billion over the next 9 years to support its planned ramping up of manufacturing.  This will require additional stock sales which could dampen prices.

And there are many others out there making other dire predictions…

So what do you do if these writers have collectively convinced you that TSLA is overvalued?  One thing you could conclude is that the stock will not move much higher from here.

Here is a possible trade you might consider:

With TSLA trading about $252, you might believe that it is highly unlikely to move higher than $270 in the next 7 weeks.  This is a trade you might consider:

Buy To Open # TSLA 21Apr17 275 calls (TSLA170421C275)
Sell To Open # TSLA 21Apr17 270 calls (TSLA170421C270) for a credit of $1.10  (selling a vertical)

This spread is called a vertical call credit spread.  We prefer using calls rather than puts if you are bearish on the stock because if you are right, and the stock is trading below the strike price of the calls you sold on expiration day, both call options will expire worthless and no further trades need to be made or commissions payable.

For each contract sold, you would receive $110 less commissions of $2.50 (the rate Terry’s Tips’ subscribers pay at thinkorswim), or $107.50.  The broker will place a $500 maintenance requirement on you per spread.  Subtracting out the $107.50 you received, your net investment is $392.50 per spread.  This is also the maximum loss you would incur if TSLA closes above $275 April 21, 2017 (unless you rolled the spread over to a future month near the expiration date, something we often do, usually at a credit, if the stock has gained a bit since the original trade was placed).

Making a gain of $107.50 on an investment of $392.50 works out to a 27% for the 7 weeks you will have to wait it out.  That works out to over 200% annualized, and you can be wrong (i.e., the stock rises) by $18 and still make this gain.

If you were REALLY convinced that TSLA wouldn’t move higher in the next 7 weeks, you might consider selling this spread:

Buy To Open # TSLA 21Apr17 255 calls (TSLA170421C255)
Sell To Open # TSLA 21Apr17 260 calls (TSLA170421C260) for a credit of $2.00  (selling a vertical)

This spread does not allow the stock to move up much at all (about $3) for the maximum gain to come your way, but if you are right and the stock ends up at any price below $255 on April 21, you would gain a whopping 67% in the next 7 weeks.

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

Happy trading.

Terry

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