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Posts Tagged ‘diagonal spreads’

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.

Terry

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,

Terry

Interesting Earnings Play on Facebook

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Facebook (FB) has had a great year so far, gaining just over 30%.  Terry’s Tips has an actual portfolio that trades calendar and diagonal spreads on FB.  This portfolio has gained 157% this year, more than 5 times as much as the stock has gone up.  A big part of this gain came just after the January earnings announcement when the stock dropped a small amount on the news.

FB announces earnings after the close on Wednesday (May 3), and I would like to share some trades I made today in my personal account at my favorite broker, tastyworks.  These trades approximate the current risk profile of the Terry’s Tips’ FB portfolio.

Terry

Interesting Earnings Play on Facebook

Terry’s Tips carries out 9 actual portfolios for paying subscribers.  After the first four months of 2017, all 9 portfolios are in the black.  The composite average has gained 34.5% for the year, certainly an outstanding result.  The FB portfolio is by far the greatest gainer.  We know that we cannot expect to continue these extraordinary gains for the entire year, but we are confident that many portfolios will continue producing gains which outperform the market averages.

Implied volatility (IV) of FB options tends to escalate prior to an earnings announcement.  For example, it is about 45% for the 05May17 series that expires this Friday.  This compares to 24% for the 16Jun17 series that expires six weeks later. We will buy the relatively cheap 16Jun17 series and sell the more expensive 05May17 series.

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)

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)

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)

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)

The second and third spreads together essentially create a calendar spread at the 152.5 strike price.  This was necessary because the 16Jun17 series does not offer that strike.

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 close out these trades, probably on Friday, I will not incur a commission at all (only pay the $.10 per contract clearing fee).

Here is the risk profile graph which shows the expected gains and losses from these trades after the close on Friday, May 5, 2017.  The graph assumes that IV of the June options will fall from 24% to 16%:

FB Risk Profile Graph May 2017

FB Risk Profile Graph May 2017

These spreads will do best if the stock remains flat or moves moderately higher.  If it falls within the range of about $150 to about $155, I should make about 40% for the week.  While we all know that anything can happen after an earnings announcement, if the last announcement is any example, it could be a good week.

One thing I like about these kinds of spreads is that your risk is clearly limited, and you can’t lose your entire investment because the long options will always have a greater value than the options you sold to someone else.

As with all investments, especially with options, you should only use money that you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading,

Terry

What Can Be Learned From Successful Option Strategies

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Today I would like to share some thoughts I sent out on Saturday to paying subscribers at Terry’s Tips.  These thoughts reflected on the recent successes of the nine actual options portfolios we carry out and comment on each week. By the way, all nine portfolios are profitable for 2017 and the composite average gain is currently 28.9% since the beginning of the year.  Last week while the market (SPY) fell 0.3%, our portfolios gained an average of 3.2% for the week, demonstrating that we don’t have to rely on a rising market to enjoy portfolio gains.

Terry

 What Can Be Learned From Successful Option Strategies

 

If we can identify the strategies that resulted in the extraordinary returns we have enjoyed in the first quarter, maybe we can use those strategies for other underlying stocks or ETPs and time periods.

First, we must admit that we had some good luck.  Anyone who makes these kinds of returns must admit that some of it was based on pure luck.  Anyone who follows the mutual fund industry knows this intimately.  Every year, millions of dollars get plowed into the top-performing funds, and a year or five years later (whichever period the top-rated award covered), those funds almost universally underperform in the subsequent period.  As Burton Malkiel explained in the oft-revised book, A Random Walk Down Wall Street, - ”The past history of stock prices cannot be used to predict the future in any meaningful way.” The top stocks (or mutual funds) end up in that position largely on a random basis.  (Some of us remember way back when the Wall Street Journal had a column where monkeys throwing darts competed against the top picks of top-rated analysts, and the monkeys won about half the time.)

But luck doesn’t account for it all.  Our biggest winner was Wiley Wolf where FB rose 21.6% for the year. Our portfolio is up 117.5%, or 5.4 times greater. This is the only portfolio that uses the 10k Strategy, and we have learned that it will return a multiple of what the stock price does.  Unfortunately, that works in both directions, and if the stock had fallen by that amount, our losses would have been proportionately greater.  So we can conclude that we were lucky to be playing FB for a period when it was rising nicely, but our strategy had something to do with achieving the exceptional returns.

A less dramatic explanation of the power of an options strategy has taken place in our SPY-based Leaping Leopard portfolio.  In this portfolio, we are using the strategy of long-term vertical put credit spreads.  This is our favorite way to play underlyings which we believe will at least remain flat, or are likely to rise.  The market (SPY) has picked up 4.9% for the year to date, a wonderful record.  Our Leaping Leopard portfolio has gained 14.9%, or 3 times the size of the index gain.  Even better, our strategy is set up so that if SPY loses as much as 5% or goes up by any amount over the course of the year, we will enjoy a gain of about 40%.  The huge difference between what the market does and our portfolio performance is clearly caused by the strategy.

Returning to the being lucky theme, the volatility-related portfolios have prospered because contango has remained at an elevated level for the entire first quarter of the year.  With the election of a president whose promises and plans were seen to be unusually volatile and uncertain (which ideas would be proposed, and which might actually become real was a real question), the market expected that in the near future, volatility would be great.  Meanwhile, the market racked up small and steady gains, and VIX fell to historic lows and has pretty much remained there.  When VIX is low and the futures are predicting high uncertainty for SPY, contango rises to the historic highs we have seen pretty much all year.

This contango condition has been the major contributor to our Contango portfolio gaining 44.6% so far this year, and to a lesser degree, the 29% gain in Vista Valley and the 14.7% gain in Capstone Cascade.  In the Capstone Cascade portfolio, SVXY has soared by over 40% for the year, a perfect backdrop for a strategy of selling naked puts on the underlying ETP.  At the present level of theta, this portfolio will gain over 100% for the year. We have been selling at strikes which are seriously out-of-the-money, and we would have done just as well if SVXY had not soared like it did.  Even worse, we tried to protect against the possibility of a falling SVXY (we bought into the fears that uncertainty would be the predominant condition), and we also sold some well out-of-the-money calls on the ETP. These short calls caused our returns to be lower than if we had not been so worried that volatility would heat up.

It is far more difficult to predict the short-term movements of a stock than the longer-term movements.  Short-term fluctuations are often caused by emotionally-driven actions in response to news items such as analysts upgrades or downgrades or quarterly numbers or rumors, while longer-term fluctuations are more likely to be based on the fundamental performance of the underlying company or ETP.  In most of our portfolios, we take a longer-term perspective, such as our Boomer’s Revenge portfolio where the shortest-term spread had six months of remaining life when it was placed.  This portfolio is our most conservative, and is designed to gain 30% for the year.  So far, thanks to the rising market, it is ahead of schedule, picking up 18.2% to date.  We are now in the enviable position of being able to look forward to the full 30% annual gains even if the 5 underlying stocks were to fall by 10% between now and the end of the year.

To summarize, the first 11 weeks of 2017 have been good ones for the market.  SPY has gained 4.9%. The prudent owner of a large-market-based index fund will have gained this much so far this year.  This is about the average 2017 gain initially predicted by the composite of the published analysts we identified at the outset of the year.  So the market has achieved in 11 weeks what the analysts expected for the entire year, making it a remarkable year so far.

The difference between this 4.9% market gain and the composite 28.9% of our portfolios is clearly due to the options strategies that we have employed. Options are leveraged investments, and should be expected to perform exponentially better (or worse) than the percentage gains of their underlyings.  However, in most of our portfolios, we can look forward to unusually large gains when the underlyings remain absolutely flat or even lose a little over the course of the year.  This fact alone is proof that a well-designed and executed options strategy can be expected to outperform the market in general or any mutual fund in particular (where over 80% of the funds have underperformed the market over a multi-decade time period, yet still collect billions of dollars every year in fees for their efforts).  We like to think that the performance of our portfolios so far this year is the result of our doing a decent job in the options arena.

How to Make 50% in 5 Months With Options on Celgene

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

One of my favorite option plays is to pick a company I like (or one that several people I respect like) and place a bet that it will at least stay flat for the next few months. Actually, most of the time, I can find a spread that will make a great gain even if the stock falls by a few dollars while I hold the spread.

Today, I would like to share an investment we placed in a Terry’s Tips portfolio just yesterday. By the way, this portfolio has similar spreads in four other companies we like, and it has gained over 20% in the first two months of 2017. We have already closed out two spreads early and reinvested the cash in new plays. The portfolio is on target to make over 100% for the year (and it is available for Auto-Trade at thinkorswim for anyone not interested in placing the trades themselves).

Terry

How to Make 50% in 5 Months With Options on Celgene

Not only is CELG on many analysts’ “Top Picks for 2017” list, but several recent Seeking Alpha contributors have extolled the company’s business and future. One article said “Few large-cap biotech concerns have a clearer earnings and revenue growth trajectory over the next 3-5 years than Celgene.”

Zacks said, “We are expecting an above average return from the stock in the next few months.” See full article here.

So we like the company’s prospects, and this is the spread we sold yesterday when CELG was trading at $123.65:

Buy To Open # CELG 21Jul17 115 puts (CELG170721P115)
Sell To Open # CELG 21Jul17 120 puts (CELG170721P120) for a credit limit of $1.72 (selling a vertical)

For each contract sold, we received $172 less commissions of $2.50 (the rate Terry’s Tips’ subscribers pay at thinkorswim), or $169.50. The broker will place a $500 maintenance requirement on us per spread. Subtracting out the $169.50 we received, our net investment is $330.50 per spread. This is also the maximum loss we would incur if CELG closes below $115 on July 21, 2017 (unless we rolled the spread over to a future month near the expiration date, something we often do, usually at a credit, if the stock has fallen a bit since we placed the original trade).

Making a gain of $169.50 on an investment of $330.50 works out to a 51% for the five months we will have to wait it out. That works out to over 100% a year, and the stock doesn’t have to go up a penny to make that amount. In fact, it can fall by $3.65 and we will still make 51% on our money after commissions.

If the stock is trading below $120 as we near expiration in July, we might roll the spread out to a future month, hopefully at a credit. If this possibility arises (of course, we hope it won’t), we will send out a blog describing what we did as soon as we can, just in case you want to follow along.

This spread is called a vertical put credit spread. We prefer using puts rather than calls even though we are bullish on the stock because if we are right, and the stock is trading above the strike price of the puts we sold on expiration day, both put options will expire worthless and no further commissions will be due.

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

Happy trading.

Terry

Using Investors Business Daily to Create an Options Strategy

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Today I would like to share an idea that we are using in one of our Terry’s Tips’  portfolios.  We started this portfolio on January 4, 2017, and in its first six weeks, the portfolio has gained 30% after commissions.  That works out to about 250% for the whole year if we can maintain that average gain (we probably can’t keep it up, but it sure is a good start, and a positive endorsement for the basic idea).

Terry

 Using Investors Business Daily to Create an Options Strategy

 IBD publishes a list which it calls its Top 50. It consists of companies which have a positive momentum.  Our idea is to check this list for companies that we particularly like for fundamental reasons besides the momentum factor.  Once we have picked a few favorites, we make a bet using options that will make a nice gain if the stock stays at least flat for the next 45 – 60 days.  In most cases, the stock can actually fall a little bit and we will still make our maximum gain.

The first 4 companies we selected from IBD’s Top50 list were Nvidia (NVDA), Goldman Sachs (GS), IDCC (IDCC), and HealthEquity (HQY).  For each of these companies, we sold a vertical put credit spread which involves selling a put at a strike just below the current stock price and buying a put which is usually $5 lower.  When expiration day comes along, we hope the stock will be trading at some price higher than the strike of the puts we sold so that both our long and short puts will expire worthless, and we will be able to keep the cash we collected when we made the sale.

Let’s look at one of the four spreads we placed at the beginning of the year. It involves NVDA, and the options expire this Friday.  You can’t sell this spread for this price today, but you could have back on January 4.

With NVDA trading at $99, we placed this trade:

Buy to Open 2 NVDA 17Feb17 95 puts (NVDA170217P95)

Sell to Open 2 NVDA 17Feb17 100 puts (NVDA170217P100) for a credit of $2.00

$400 was placed in our account, less $5 in commissions, or $395.  The broker placed a $500 per contract maintenance requirement on the trade ($1000).  There is no interest charged on this amount (like there would be on a margin loan), but it is just money that needs to be set aside and can’t be used to buy other stock or options).   Subtracting the cash we received from the requirement yields our net investment of $605.  This would be our maximum loss if the stock were to fall below $95 when the options expired on February 17, 2017.

NVDA is trading today at $108.50.  It looks pretty likely to be above $100 on Friday.  If it does, we will not have to make a closing trade, and both options will expire worthless.  We will be able to keep the $395 that we collected six weeks ago, and that represents a  65% gain on our investment over 6 weeks (390% annualized).  Next Monday, we will go back to the IBD Top 50 list, pick another stock (or maybe NVDA once again – it is their #1 pick), and place a similar trade for an options series that expires about 45 days from then.

We have four stocks in this portfolio, and each week, we sell a new similar spread once we have picked a stock from the Top 50 list.  So far, it has been a very profitable strategy.

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

Happy trading.

Terry

Another Interesting Short-Term Play on Aetna (AET)

Friday, January 20th, 2017

your investment if AET doesn’t move up or down by more than $9 in the next two weeks.

Terry

 Another Interesting Short-Term Play on Aetna (AET)

 This week, once again we are looking at Aetna (AET), a health care benefits company.  If you check out its chart, you can see that it does not historically make big moves in either direction, especially down:

AET Aetna Chart 2 January 2017

AET Aetna Chart 2 January 2017

In spite of this lack of volatility, for some reason, IV of the short-term options is extremely high, 44 for the series that expires in 10 days.  The company is trying to purchase Humana, and the justice department may have some objections, and there seems to be concerns how insurance companies will fare under the Trump administration, two factors which may help explain the high IV. Neither of the possible adverse outcomes are likely to occur in the next 14 days, at least in my opinion.

AET is trading at $122 as I write this.  I think it is highly unlikely that it will fall below $113 in 14 days or above $131 when the 3Feb17 options expire.  Here is a trade I made today:

Buy to Open 10 AET 03Feb17 108 puts (AET170317P108)

Sell to Open 10 AET 03Feb17 113 puts (AET170317P113)
Buy to Open 10 AET 03Feb17 136 calls (AET170317C136)

Sell to Open 10 AET 03Feb17 131 calls (AET170317C131) for a credit of $1.48 (selling an iron condor)

There are 4 commissions involved in this trade ($1.25 each at the rate charged by thinkorswim for Terry’s Tips subscribers), so the $1480 I collected from the above trade, I paid $50 in commisisons and netted $1430.  The spread will create a maintenance requirement of $5000 less the $1430 so that my investment (and maximum loss if AET closes below $109 or above $136) is $3570.

If AET closes in two weeks at any price higher than $113 and lower than $131, all these options will expire worthless and there will be nothing more for me to do that decide how I want to spend my 40% gain.

Of course, you could only do one of these spreads if you did not want to commit the entire $3570.

If AET moves quite close to either of these prices, I will send out another note explaining how I intend to cope with a possible loss.  I hope and expect I will not have to do that.  It is only 14 days to wait.

How to Make 40% a Year Betting on the Market, Even if it Doesn’t Go Up

Monday, December 19th, 2016

This is the time of the year when everyone is looking ahead to the New Year. The preponderance of economists and analysts who have published their thoughts about 2017 seem to believe that Trump’s first year in the oval office will be good for the economy and the market, but not great.

Today I would like to share an option trade I have made in my personal account which will earn me a 40% profit next year if these folks are correct in their prognostications.

 

Terry

How to Make 40% a Year Betting on the Market, Even if it Doesn’t Go Up

Since most people are pretty bad at picking stocks that will go higher (even though they almost universally believe otherwise), many advisors recommend the best way to invest your money is to buy the entire market instead of any individual stock.  The easiest way to do that is to buy shares of SPY, the S&P 500 tracking stock.

SPY has had quite a run of going up every year, 7 years in a row.  This year, it has gone up about 9% and last year it gained about 5%.  Since so many “experts” believe the market has at least one more year of going up, what kind of investment could be made at this time?

Since I am an options nut, I will be keeping a lot of my investment money in cash (or cash equivalents) and spend a smaller amount in an option play that could earn spectacular profits if the market (SPY) just manages to be flat or go up by any amount in 2017.

OK, it isn’t quite a calendar year, but it starts now, or whenever you make the trade, and January 19, 2017.  That’s about 13 months of waiting for my 40% to come home.

Here is the trade I made last week when SPY was trading about $225:

Buy to Open 1 SPY 19Jan18 220 put (SPY180119P220)

Sell to Open 1 SPY 19Jan18 225 put (SPY180119P225) for a credit of $1.95  (selling a vertical)

This is called a vertical put (bullish) credit spread.  You collect $195 less $2.50 commissions, or $192.50 and there will be a $500 maintenance requirement by your broker.  You do not pay interest on this amount, but you have to leave that much untouched in your account until the options expire.  The $500 is reduced by $192.50 to calculate your net investment (and maximum loss if SPY closes below $220 on January 19, 2018.  That net investment is $307.50.

If SPY is at any price higher than $225 on that date in January, both options will expire worthless and you will keep your $192.50.  That works out to a profit of 62% on your investment.

If the stock ends up below $225, you will have to buy back the 225 put for whatever it is trading for.  If SPY is below $220, you don’t have to do anything, but the broker will take the $500 you have set aside (less the $192.50 you collected) and you will have suffered a loss.

I know I said 40% in the headline, and this spread makes 62% if SPY is the same or any higher.  An alternative investment would be to lower the strikes of the above spread and do something like this:

Buy to Open 1 SPY 19Jan18 210 put (SPY180119P210)

Sell to Open 1 SPY 19Jan18 215 put (SPY180119P215) for a credit of $1.50  (selling a vertical)

This spread would get you $147.50 after commissions, involve an investment of $352.50, and would earn a profit of 42% if SPY ends up at any price above $215.  It could fall $10 from its present price over the year and you would still earn over 40%.

Many people will not make either of these trades because they could possibly lose their entire investment.  Yet these same people often buy puts or calls with the hope of making a killing, and over 70% of the time, they lose the entire amount.  Contrast that experience to the fact that the spreads I have suggested would have made over 60% every year for the last seven years without a single loss.  I doubt that anyone who buys puts or calls can boast of this kind of record.

Options involve risk, as any investment does, and should only be used with money you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading.

Terry

 

Comparing Calendar and Diagonal Spreads in an Earnings Play

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Last week, in one of our Terry’s Tips portfolios, we placed calendar spreads with strikes about $5 above and below the stock price of ULTA which announced earnings after the close on Thursday. We closed out our spreads on Friday and celebrated a gain of 86% after commissions for the 4-day investment. It was a happy day.

This week, this portfolio will be making a similar investment in Broadcom (AVGO) which announces earnings on Thursday, December 8. I would like to tell you a little about these spreads and also answer the question of whether calendar or diagonal spreads might be better investments.

Terry

Comparing Calendar and Diagonal Spreads in an Earnings Play

Using last Friday’s closing option prices, below are the risk profile graphs for Broadcom (AVGO) for options that will expire Friday, December 9, the day after earnings are announced. Implied volatility for the 9Dec16 series is 68 compared to 35 for the 13Jan17 series (we selected the 13Jan17 series because IV was 3 less than it was for the 20Jan17 series). The graphs assume that IV for the 13Jan17 series will fall from 35 to 30 after the announcement. We believe that this is a reasonable expectation.

The first graph shows the expected profit and loss at the various prices where the stock might end up after the announcement. Note that the maximum expected gain in both graphs is almost identical and it occurs at any ending price between $160 and $170. The first graph has calendar spreads at the 160 strike (using puts) and the 170 strike (using calls). The cost of placing those spreads would be $2375 at the mid-point of the spread quotes (your actual cost would probably be slightly higher than this, plus commissions). The maximum gain occurs if the stock ends up between $160 and $170 on Friday (it closed at $164.22 last Friday), and if our assumptions about IV are correct, the gain would exceed 50% for the week if it does end up in that range.

AVGO Calendar Spreads December 2016

AVGO Calendar Spreads December 2016

This second graph shows the expected results from placing diagonal spreads in the same two series, buying both puts and calls which are $5 out of the money (i.e., $5 lower than the strike being sold for puts and $5 higher than the strike being sold for calls). These spreads cost far less ($650) but would involve a maintenance requirement of $2500, making the total amount tied up $3150.

We also checked what the situation might be if you bought diagonal spreads where the long side was $5 in the money. Once again, the profit curve was essentially identical, but the cost of the spreads was significantly greater, $4650. Since the profit curve is essentially identical for both the calendar spreads and the diagonal spreads, and the total investment of the calendar spreads is less than it would be for the diagonal spreads, the calendar spreads are clearly the better choice.

AVGO Diagonal Spreads December 2016

AVGO Diagonal Spreads December 2016

AVGO has a long record of exceeding estimates. In fact, it has bested expectations every quarter for the last three years. The stock does not always go higher after the announcement, however, and the average recent change has been 6.5%, or about $7.40. If it moves higher or lower than $7.40 on Friday than where it closed last Friday, the risk profile graph shows that we should make a gain of some sort (if IV of the 13Jan17 options does not fall more than 5).

You can’t lose your entire investment with calendar spreads because your long options have more weeks or months of remaining life, and will always be worth more than the options you sold to someone else. But you can surely lose money if the stock fluctuates too much. Options involve risk and are leveraged investments, and you should only invest money that you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading.

Terry

Update on Oil Trade (USO) Suggestion

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

On Monday, I reported on an oil options trade I had made in advance of OPEC’s meeting on Wednesday when they were hoping to reach an agreement to restrict production.  The meeting took place and an agreement was apparently reached.  The price of oil shot higher by as much as 8% and this trade ended up losing money.  This is an update of what I expect to do going forward.

Terry

Update on Oil Trade (USO) Suggestion

Several subscribers have written in and asked what my plans might be with the oil spreads (USO) I made on Monday this week.  When OPEC announced a deal to limit production, USO soared over a dollar and made the spreads at least temporarily unprofitable (the risk profile graph showed that a loss would result if USO moved higher than $11.10, and it is $11.40 before the open today).  I believe these trades will ultimately prove to be most profitable, however.

First, let’s look at the option prices situation.  There continues to be a huge implied volatility (IV) advantage between the two option series.  The long 19Jan18 options (IV=36) are considerably cheaper than the short 02Dec16 and 09Dec16 options (IV=50).  The long options have a time premium of about $1.20 which means they will decay at an average of $.02 per week over their 60-week life.  On the other hand, you can sell an at-the-money (11.5 strike) put or call with one week of remaining life for a time premium of over $.20, or ten times as much.  If you sell both a put and a call, you collect over $.40 time premium for the week and one of those sales will expire worthless (you can’t lose money on both of them).

 

At some point, the stock will remain essentially flat for a week, and these positions would return a 20%+ “dividend” for the week.  If these option prices hold as they are now, this could happen several times over the next 60 weeks.

 

I intend to roll over my short options in the 02Dec16 series that expires today and sell puts and calls at the 11.5 and 11 strikes for the 09Dec16 series.  I will sell one-quarter of my put positions at the 10.5 strike, going out to the 16Dec16 series instead.  I have also rolled up (bought a vertical spread) with the 19Jan18 puts, buying at the 12 strike and selling the original puts at the 10 strike.  This will allow me to sell new short-term puts at prices below $12 without incurring a maintenance requirement.

 

Second, let’s look at the oil situation.  The OPEC companies supposedly agreed to restrict production by a total of 1.2 million barrels a day.  That is less than a third of the new oil that Iran has recently added to the supply when restrictions were relaxed on the country.  The third largest oil producer (the U.S.) hasn’t participated in the agreement, and has recently added new wells as well as announcing two major oil discoveries.  Russia, the second largest producer, is using its recent highest-ever production level as the base for its share of the lowered output.  In other words, it is an essentially meaningless offer.

 

Bottom line, I do not expect the price of oil will move higher because of this OPEC action.  It is highly likely that these companies may not follow through on their promises as well (after all, many of them have hated each other for centuries, and there are no penalties for not complying).   Oil demand in the U.S. has fallen over the past 5 years as more electric cars and hybrids have come on the market, and supply has continued to grow as fracking finds oil in formerly unproductive places.  I suspect that USO will fluctuate between $10 and $11 for much of the next few months, and that selling new weekly puts and calls against our 19Jan18 options will prove to be a profitable trading strategy.  You can do this yourself or participate in the Boomer’s Revenge portfolio which Terry’s Tips subscribers can follow through Auto-Trade at thinkorswim which is essentially doing the same thing.

Happy trading.

Terry

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.

Terry

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.

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