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Posts Tagged ‘ETF’

Back-to-School Special – Lowest Price Ever

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Back-to-School Special – Lowest Price Ever

Why must back-to-school purchases only be for the kids?  You got them new back-packs and pens and pads and lots of other things to help them make their learning experience a little easier or fun.

But how about yourself?   How about adults who would like to learn a little something, too?  What if you would like to learn how to dramatically improve your investment results?  Don’t you deserve a little something to help make that learning experience possible?

What better back-to-school gift could there be than a subscription to Terry’s Tips at the lowest price ever?  You will learn exactly how we have made over 100% so far this year trading our favorite strategy on two different stocks, and how you can do it yourself with your favorite stock.

We carry out 10 different portfolios with different options strategies, and you can learn each strategy and follow the actual results (including commissions) with all the trades we have made.  The composite average gain the 10 portfolios for the first 8 months of 2017 has been over 60%.

At the beginning of 2017, we set up an account to use our favorite strategy (we call it the 10k Strategy) using Mastercard (MA) options. MA has had a good run, gaining 27% so far this year.  Our portfolio has gained 110%, about 4 times as much.  Another portfolio was lucky enough to select Facebook (FB) as its underlying.  FB has gained 50% through the first 8 months of 2017 while our portfolio has gained 338%, over 6 times as much. Come on board and see every trade that we made in all 10 portfolios.

Many subscribers to Terry’s Tips have followed along with these portfolios since the beginning, having all their trades made for them through the Auto-Trade program at thinkorswim.  Others have followed our trades at another broker.  Regardless of where they traded, they are all happy campers right now.

We have made these gains with what we call the 10K Strategy.  It involves selling short-term options on individual stocks and using longer-term options (or LEAPS) as collateral.  It is sort of like writing calls, except that you don’t have to put up all that cash to buy 100 or 1000 shares of the stock.   It really works, especially if you select a stock that stays flat or moves higher over time.

We have other portfolios which have more modest goals.  Our most conservative portfolio selected 5 blue chip companies at the beginning of 2017 and used a strategy that would make a gain as long as these companies did not fall by 10% over the course of the year.  The annual goal for this portfolio was 30%, but it has over-achieved, picking up 32% so far, and is guaranteed to make 40% for the year as long as the underlying stocks don’t fall over 10% from here. (One of the underlyings, (JNJ) can only fall 6% for us to make the 40%.)

Another conservative portfolio was set up to make over 30% for the year as long as the overall market (the S&P 500) did not fall by more than 5% over the course of the year.  As you may know, the market has done quite well so far, gaining almost 10%, while our portfolio could be closed out for a 32% gain right now, and is on target to gain 40% for the year unless SPY drops over 15% between now and the end of the year.

These portfolios are carried out in separate broker accounts for our subscribers to follow.  We count all the commissions and don’t hide any of the trades (like many newsletters do).  Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to learn how we have done it and how you can do it on your own?

Lowest Subscription Price Ever:  As a back-to-school special, we are offering the lowest subscription price that we have ever offered – our full package, including all the free reports, my White Paper, which explains my favorite option strategies in detail, and shows you exactly how to carry them out on your own, a 14-day options tutorial program which will give you a solid background on option trading, and two months of our weekly newsletter full of tradable option ideas.  All this for a one-time fee of $39.95, less than half the cost of the White Paper alone ($79.95).

For this lowest-price-ever $39.95 offer, click here, enter Special Code BTS17 (or BTS17P for Premium Service – $79.95).

This is a time-limited offer.  You must order by Monday, September 18, 2017.  That’s when the half-price offer expires, and you will have to go back to the same old investment strategy that you have had limited success with for so long (if you are like most investors).

This is the perfect time to give you and your family the perfect back-to-school gift that is designed to deliver higher financial returns for the rest of your investing life.

I look forward to helping you get the school year started off right by sharing this valuable investment information with you at the lowest price ever. It may take you a little homework, but I am sure you will end up thinking it was well worth the investment.

Happy trading.

Terry

P.S.  If you would 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 16 years of publication – only $39.95 for our entire package.  Get it here using Special Code BTS17 (or BTS17P for Premium Service – $79.95).   Do it today, before you forget and lose out.  This offer expires on Monday, September 18, 2017.

40% Possible in 2 Weeks With an Iron Condor?

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Today’s idea involves an esoteric Exchange Traded Product (ETP) called SVXY.  It is one of our favorite underlyings at Terry’s Tips.  Chances are, you don’t know very much about it, and I can’t help you much in this short note.  But I will share a trade I made on this ETP this morning, and my thinking behind this trade.

Terry

40% Possible in 2 Weeks With an Iron Condor?

The best way to explain how SVXY works might be to explain that it is the inverse of VXX, the ETP that some people buy when they fear that the market is about to crash.  Many articles have been published extolling the virtues of VXX as the ideal protection against a setback in the market.  When the market falls, volatility (VIX) most always rises, and when VIX rises, VXX almost always does as well.  It is not uncommon for VXX to double in value in a very short time when the market corrects.

The only problem with VXX is that in the long run, it is just about the worst equity that you could imagine buying.  Over the last 5 years, it has fallen from a split-adjusted several thousand dollar price to today’s $18 level.  About every year and a half, a reverse 1-for-4 reverse split must be engineered on VXX to keep the price high enough to bother with buying.  The last time this happened was in August 2016.  It pushed the price up from just over $9 to about $40, and it has lost over half its value since then.

Clearly, you would only buy VXX if you felt strongly that the market was about to implode.  Most of the time, we prefer to own the inverse of VXX.  That is SVXY.  So far, it has gone from $90 to over $140 in 2017, only to fall back to about $123 last week when geopolitical fears arose and depressed the market a bit, and even more significant for volatility-related ETPs like VXX and SVXY, volatility (VIX) rose from the 11 -13 range where it has hung out most of the time for the past few years to about 16 today.

When VIX rose and SVXY fell last week, something interesting happened. Implied volatility (IV) of the SVXY options skyrocketed to nearly double what it was a month ago.  I think that these high option prices will not exist for too long, and would like to sell some at this time.

Rather than selling either or both puts and calls naked (inviting the possibility of unlimited loss), a good way of selling high-IV options is through an iron condor spread.  I believe that SVXY, trading near the $123 where it opened this morning, is unlikely to be higher than $135 or lower than $95 in 11 days when the 28April17 options expire.

This is the spread I executed this morning:

Buy to Open # 28Apr17 140 calls (SVXY170428C140)
Sell to Open # 28Apr17 135 calls (SVXY170428C135)
Buy to Open # 28Apr17 90 puts (SVXY170428P90)
Sell to Open # 28Apr17 95 puts (SVXY170428P95) for a credit of $1.63 (selling an iron condor)

I received $163 for each contract I sold, less $5 in commissions.  My maximum loss is $500 less the $158 net I received, or $342.  If SVXY ends up at any price between $95 and $135 on April 28, all of these options will expire worthless and I will be able to keep my $158.  This works out to a 46% gain for the 11 days of waiting.

As with any investment, you would only commit money that you can truly afford to lose.  I like my chances here, and I committed an amount that would not change my style of living if I lost it.

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 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

 

Halloween Special Expires at Midnight Tonight

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Halloween Special Expires at Midnight Tonight

I want to send you a copy of the October 29, 2016 Saturday Report, the weekly email sent to paying subscribers to Terry’s Tips.  This report details how our 13 actual portfolios perform each week.    Last week was a down one for the market (SPY lost 0.7%), and many of our portfolios experienced a similar loss.  Others did considerably better.

The portfolio based on Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) gained 25% while the stock rose 1.7%.  The portfolio based on Facebook (FB) gained 8.7% even though FB fell by 0.6% last week.  This portfolio was started with $6000 one year and three weeks ago, and is now worth $13,449, a gain of 124%.

One of our portfolios invests in companies which are about to announce earnings, and closes out the positions on the Friday after the announcement.  Last week, we closed out our spreads in Mastercard (MA) which had been put on only a week and a half earlier.  We enjoyed a gain of 34.3% (after commissions, as is the case for all of these portfolios).

Finally, we have a portfolio that is designed as protection against a market crash or correction.  While SPY fell only 0.6%, this bearish portfolio picked up 13.6% (admittedly, this was an unusually positive result which rarely occurs to this extent, but sometimes we are a little lucky).

Watching how these portfolios unfold over time in the Saturday Report is a wonderful (and easy) way to learn the intricacies of option trading.  You can get started today by coming on board at our half-off Halloween Special which expires at midnight tonight. I will personally send you the October 29th Saturday Report so you can start immediately.

Most of these portfolios employ what we call the 10K Strategy.  It involves selling short-term options on individual stocks and using longer-term (or LEAPS) as collateral.  It is sort of like writing calls, except that you don’t have to put up all that cash to buy 100 or 1000 shares of the stock.  The 10K Strategy is sort of like writing calls on steroids.  It is an amazingly simple strategy that really works with the one proviso that you select a stock that stays flat or moves higher over time.

Lowest Subscription Price Ever

As a Halloween special, we are offering the lowest subscription price than we have ever offered – our full package, including several valuable case study reports, my White Paper, which explains my favorite option strategies in detail, and shows you exactly how to carry them out on your own, a 14-day options tutorial program which will give you a solid background on option trading, and two months of our Saturday Reports full of tradable option ideas.  All this for a one-time fee of $39.95, less than half the cost of the White Paper alone ($79.95).

For this lowest-price-ever $39.95 offer, click here, enter Special Code HWN16 (or HWN16P 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 MAX16P.

 This is a time-limited offer.  You must order by midnight tonight, October 31, 2016.  That’s when the half-price offer expires, and you will have to go back to the same old investment strategy that you have had limited success with for so long (if you are like most investors).

This is the perfect time to give you and your family the perfect Halloween treat that is designed to deliver higher financial returns for the rest of your investing life.

I look forward to helping you survive Halloween by sharing this valuable investment information with you at the lowest price ever. It may take you a little homework, but I am sure you will end up thinking it was well worth the investment.

Happy trading.

Terry

P.S.  If you would 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 package.  Get it here using Special Code HWN16 (or HWN16P for Premium Service – $79.95).   Do it today, before you forget and lose out.  This offer expires at midnight tonight, October 31, 2016.

 

 

Halloween Special – Lowest Subscription Price Ever

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Halloween Special – Lowest Subscription Price Ever

Why must Halloween be only for the kids? You got them all dressed up in cute little costumes and trekked around the neighborhood in hopes of bringing home a full basket of cavity-inducing treats and smiles all around.

But how about a treat for yourself? You may soon have some big dental bills to pay. What if you wanted to learn how to dramatically improve your investment results? Don’t you deserve a little something to help make that possible?

What better Halloween treat for yourself than a subscription to Terry’s Tips at the lowest price ever? You will learn exactly how we have set up and carried out an options strategy that doubled the starting portfolio value (usually $5000) of five individual investment accounts which traded Costco (COST), Apple (AAPL), Nike (NKE), Starbucks (SBUX), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), including all commissions. These portfolios took between 7 and 17 months to double their starting value, and every single portfolio managed to accomplish that goal.

One year and one week ago, we set up another portfolio to trade Facebook (FB) options, this time starting with $6000. It has now gained over 97% in value. We expect that in the next week or two, it will surge above $12,000 and accomplish the same milestone that the other five portfolios did.

Many subscribers to Terry’s Tips have followed along with these portfolios since the beginning, having all their trades made for them through the Auto-Trade program at thinkorswim. Others have followed our trades on their own at another broker. Regardless of where they traded, they are all happy campers right now.

We have made these gains with what we call the 10K Strategy. It involves selling short-term options on individual stocks and using longer-term (or LEAPS) as collateral. It is sort of like writing calls, except that you don’t have to put up all that cash to buy 100 or 1000 shares of the stock. The 10K Strategy is sort of like writing calls on steroids. It is an amazingly simple strategy that really works with the one proviso that you select a stock that stays flat or moves higher over time.

How else in today’s investment world of near-zero dividend yields can you expect to make these kinds of returns? Find out exactly how to do it by buying yourself a Halloween treat for yourself and your family. They will love you for it.

Lowest Subscription Price Ever

As a Halloween special, we are offering the lowest subscription price than we have ever offered – our full package, including all the free reports, my White Paper, which explains my favorite option strategies in detail, and shows you exactly how to carry them out on your own, a 14-day options tutorial program which will give you a solid background on option trading, and two months of our weekly newsletter full of tradable option ideas. All this for a one-time fee of $39.95, less than half the cost of the White Paper alone ($79.95).

For this lowest-price-ever $39.95 offer, click here, enter Special Code HWN16 (or HWN16P 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 9 of our current actual 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. 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 MAX16P.

This is a time-limited offer. You must order by Monday, October 31, 2016. That’s when the half-price offer expires, and you will have to go back to the same old investment strategy that you have had limited success with for so long (if you are like most investors).

This is the perfect time to give you and your family the perfect Halloween treat that is designed to deliver higher financial returns for the rest of your investing life.

I look forward to helping you get the school year started off right by sharing this valuable investment information with you at the lowest price ever. It may take you a little homework, but I am sure you will end up thinking it was well worth the investment.

Happy trading.

Terry

P.S. If you would 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 package. Get it here using Special Code HWN16 (or HWN16P for Premium Service – $79.95). Do it today, before you forget and lose out. This offer expires on Monday, October 31, 2016.

 

Calendar Spreads Tweak #5 (Like Writing Calls on Steroids)

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Lots of people like the idea of writing calls. They buy stock and then sell someone else the right to repurchase their shares (usually at a higher price) by selling a call against their shares. If the stock does not go up by the time that the call expires, they keep the proceeds from the sale of the call. It is sort of like a recurring dividend.

If writing calls appeals to you, today’s discussion of an option strategy is right up your alley. This strategy is like writing calls on steroids.

Terry

Calendar Spreads Tweak #5 (Like Writing Calls on Steroids)

When you set up a calendar spread, you buy an option (usually a call) which has a longer life than the same-strike call that you sell to someone else. Your expected profit comes from the well-known fact that the longer-term call decays at a lower rate than the shorter-term call you sell to someone else. As long as the stock does not fluctuate a whole lot, you are guaranteed to make a gain as time unfolds.

If you are dealing with a stock you think is headed higher, you might write an out-of-the-money call (where the strike price is higher than the current price of the stock). If you are right and the stock moves up to that strike price or above, you might lose your stock through exercise of the call, but you would be selling it at that higher price and also keeping the proceeds of your call sale.

With options, you can approximate this risk profile by buying a calendar spread at a strike which is higher than the current price of the stock. If the stock moves up to that strike price as you wait out the time for the call you sold to expire, the value of the call you own will rise and you will also keep the proceeds from the call you sold. Your long call will not go up as much as your stock would have gone up (perhaps only 60% or 70% as much), but this is a small concern considering that you have to put up such a small amount of money to buy the call compared to buying 100 shares of stock. Most of the time, you can expect that your return on investment with the calendar spread to be considerably greater than the return you would enjoy from writing calls against shares of stock.

The tweak we are discussing today concerns what you do when the call you have sold expires. On that (expiration) day, if the call is out of the money (at a strike which is higher than the price of the stock), it will expire worthless and you get to keep the money you originally sold the call for, just like it would be if you owned the stock and wrote a call against it. You would then be in a position where you could sell another call with a further-out expiration date and collect money for it, or sell your original call and no longer own a calendar spread.

If the call on expiration day is in the money (i.e., at a strike price which is lower than the price of the stock), the owner of that call will likely exercise his option and ask for your stock. However, right up until the last few minutes of trading on expiration day, there is usually a small time premium remaining in the call he or she owns, and it would be more profitable for him or her to sell the call on the market rather than exercising it.

As the owner of an in-the-money calendar spread on expiration day, you could merely sell the spread (buying back the call you originally sold and selling the call you bought), making the trade as a sale of a calendar spread. As an alternative, you could buy back the expiring call and sell another call which has a longer lifetime. This would be selling a calendar spread as well, but the date of the call you sold would probably be not as far out in the distance as the call you originally bought. At the end of the day, you would still own that original call and you would be short a call which has some remaining life before it expires.

You can see that this tweak is much like what you could do if you were in the business of writing calls. Another similarity is that you might want to sell a new call which is at a higher (or lower) strike. You could do this with either the call-writing strategy or the calendar-spread (call-writing on steroids) strategy. If you replace an expiring call with a new short call at a different strike price, you would be selling what is called a diagonal spread and you would end up owning a diagonal spread as well. A diagonal spread is exactly the same as a calendar spread except that the strike price of the long call you own is different from the call that you sold to someone else.

One limitation of the options strategy is that if you want to sell a lower-strike call than you originally did, your broker would charge you with a maintenance requirement of $100 for every dollar difference between the strike of your long call and the strike of the call you sold. There is no interest charged on this amount (like a margin loan would involve), but that amount is set aside in your account and can’t be used to buy other shares or options. If you sold a call at a strike which was $2 lower than the strike price of your long call (creating a maintenance requirement of $200), and you were able to sell that call for $2.50 ($250), you would collect more cash than the amount of the maintenance requirement, so you would still end up with more cash than what you started with before selling the new call.

This all may seem a little complicated, but once you do it a few times, it will seem quite simple and easy. And from my experience, profitable most of the time as well, far more profitable than writing calls against stock you own.

Happy trading.

Calendar Spreads Tweak #4

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Today I would like to discuss how you can use calendar spreads for a short-term strategy based around the date when a stock goes ex-dividend. I will tell you exactly how I used this strategy a week ago when SPY paid its quarterly dividend.

Terry

Calendar Spreads Tweak #4

Four times a year, SPY pays a dividend to owners of record on the third Friday of March, June, September, and December. The current dividend is about $1.09. Each of these events presents a unique opportunity to make some money by buying calendar spreads using puts to take advantage of the huge time premium in the puts in the days leading up to the dividend day.

Since the stock goes down by the amount of the dividend on the ex-dividend day, the option market prices the amount of the dividend into the option prices. Check out the situation for SPY on Wednesday, September 14, 2016, two days before an expected $1.09 dividend would be payable. At the time of these prices, SPY was trading just about $213.70.

Facebook Bid Ask Puts Calls Sept 2016

Facebook Bid Ask Puts Calls Sept 2016

Note that the close-to-the-money options at the 213.5 strike show a bid of $1.11 for calls and $1.84 for puts. The slightly out-of-the-money put options are trading for nearly double the prices for those same distance-out calls. The market has priced in the fact that the stock will fall by the amount of the dividend on the ex-dividend day. In this case, that day is Friday.

SPY closed at $215.28 on Thursday. Friday’s closing price was $213.37, which is $1.91 lower. However, the change for the day was indicated as -$.82. The difference ($1.09) was the size of the dividend.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I decided to sell some of those puts that had such large premiums in them to see if there might be some opportunity there. While SPY was trading in the $213 to $216 range, I bought put calendar spreads at the 214.5, 214, 213.5, and 213 strikes, buying 21Oct16 puts at the even-strike numbers and 19Oct16 puts for the strikes ending in .5 (only even-number strikes are offered in the regular Friday 21Oct16 options). Obviously, I sold the 16Sep16 puts in each calendar spread.

Note: On August 30th, the CBOE offered a new series of SPY options that expire on Wednesday rather than Friday. The obvious reason for this offering involves the dividend situation. Investors who write calls against their SPY stock are in a real bind when they sell calls that expire on an ex-dividend Friday. First, there is very little time premium in those calls. Second, there is a serious risk that the call will be exercised by the holder to take the stock and capture the dividend. If the owner of SPY sold the series that expired on Wednesday rather than Friday, the potential problem would be avoided.

I paid an average of $2.49 including commissions for the four calendar spreads and sold them on Friday for an average of $2.88 after commissions. I sold every spread for more money that it cost (including commissions). My net gain for the two days of trading was just over 15% after commissions.

The stock fell $.82 (after accounting for the $1.09 dividend). If it had gone up by that amount, I expect that my 15% gain would also have been there. It is unclear if the gains would have been there if SPY had made a big move, say $2 or more in either direction on Friday. My rough calculations showed that there would still be a profit, but it would be less than 15%. Single-day moves of more than $2 are a little unusual, however, so it might not be much to be concerned about.

Bottom line, I am delighted with the 15% gain, and will probably try it again in three months (at the December expiration). In this world of near-zero interest rates, many investors would be happy with 15% for an entire year. I collected mine in just two days.

Trading SPY options is particularly easy because of the extreme liquidity of those options. In most cases, I was able to get an execution at the mid-point price of the calendar spread bid-ask range. I never paid $.01 more or received more than $.01 less than the mid-point price when trading these calendar spreads.

While liquidity is not as great in most options markets, it might be interesting to try this same strategy with other dividend-payers such as JNJ where the dividend is also over $1.00. I regularly share these kinds of trading opportunities with Terry’s Tips Insiders so that they can follow along in their own accounts if they wish.

Happy trading.

All About, or at Least an Introduction to Calendar Spreads

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

This week I would like start an ongoing discussion about one of my favorite option plays. It is called a calendar spread. It is also known as a time spread or a horizontal spread. But most people call it a calendar because that’s where you focus much of your attention while you hold this kind of a spread. On a specific date on the calendar, you discover whether you made or lost money since you first bought the calendar spread. In the next few blogs, I will discuss all sorts of variations and permutations you can make with calendar spreads, but today, we will focus on a bare bones explanation of the basic spread investment.

Terry

All About, or at Least an Introduction to Calendar Spreads

A calendar spread consists of the simultaneous purchase of one option (either a put or a call) and the sale of another option (either a put or call), with both the purchase and the sale at the same strike price, and the life span of the option you bought is greater than the option you sold. You can trade either puts or calls in this kind of spread, but not both in the same spread. You have to choose to use either puts or calls, but as we will see at a later time, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference which choice you make.

Some things that we all know about options: 1) they all have a limited life span, and 2) if the underlying stock does not change in price, all options fall in value every day. This is called decay. In option parlance, it is called theta. Theta is the amount that the option will decay in value in a single day if the underlying stock remains flat.

The basic appeal of a calendar spread is that the decay (or theta) of the option that has been sold is greater than the decay (or theta) of the stock that was bought. Every day that the stock remains flat, the value of the spread should become slightly greater. For this reason, most buyers of calendar spreads are hoping that the stock does not move in either direction very much (but we will see that is not always the case with all calendar spreads).

Here is a typical calendar spread purchase on Nike (NKE) on August 24, 2016 when NKE was trading just about $60:

Buy to Open 5 NKE 20Jan17 60 calls (NKE170120C60)
Sell to Open 5 NKE 23Sep16 60 calls (NKE160923C60) for a debit of $2.20 (buying a calendar)

The options that are being bought will expire on January 21, 2017 (about 5 months from now) and the options being sold will expire on September 23, 2016, one month from now. You don’t really care what the prices are for the calls you bought or the calls you sold, just as long as the difference between the two prices is $2.20 ($220 per spread, plus a commission of about $2.50 per spread). That’s how much money you will have to come up with to buy the spread. This spread order will cost $1100 plus $12.50 in commissions, or $1112.50.

The all-important date of this spread is September 23, 2016. That is the day on which the short options (the ones you sold) will expire. If the stock is trading on that day at any price below $60, the calls that you sold will expire worthless, and you will be the owner of 5 NKE 60 calls which have about 4 months of remaining life. If NKE is trading at exactly $60 on that day, those 20Jan17 60 calls will be worth about $3.05 and you could sell them for about $1525, netting yourself a profit of about $400 after commissions. That works out to a 35% gain for a single month, not a bad return at all, especially if you can manage to do it every month for the entire year (but now, we’re dreaming). That is, alas, the maximum you could make on the original spread, and that would come only if the stock were trading at exactly $60 on the day when the short calls expired.

Here is the risk profile graph which shows the loss or gain on the original spread at various prices where the stock might be trading on September 23rd:

2016 NKE Risk Profile Graph September Expiration

2016 NKE Risk Profile Graph September Expiration

In the lower right-hand corner under P/L Day, the profit or loss on the spread is listed for each possible stock price between $58 and $62. Those numbers should be compared to the investment of just over $1100. The graph shows the maximum gain takes place if the stock ends up right about $60, and about half that gain would result if the stock has moved a dollar higher or lower from $60. If it rises or falls by $2, a loss would result, but this loss would be much lower than the potential gains if the stock fluctuated by less than $2. If the stock moves by a much greater amount than $2, even greater losses would occur.

One good thing about calendar spreads is that the value of the options you bought will always be greater than the ones you sold, so you can never lose the entire amount of money you invested when you bought the spread. If you just buy a call option with the hopes that the stock will rise, or buy a put option with hopes that the stock will fall, you risk losing 100% of your investment if you are wrong. Even worse, in most cases, you would lose the entire investment if the stock stays flat rather than moving in the direction you were hoping.

With calendar spreads, you should never lose everything that you invested and you don’t have to be exactly right about the direction the stock needs to move. There is a range of possible prices where your spread will be profitable, and if you enter your proposed spread in a software program like the (free) Analyze Tab at thinkorswim, you can tell in advance what the break-even range will be for your investment.

There are ways that you can expand the break-even range so that a greater stock price fluctuation could be tolerated, and that will be the subject of our next blog.

Historical Performance of 10K Strategy Stock-Based Portfolios

Monday, August 8th, 2016

This week I would like to outline the basic stock option strategy we use at Terry’s Tips where we have created eight portfolios each of which is traded in an actual separate account and is available for Auto-Trade at TDAmeritrade/thinkorswim. Terry’s Tips subscribers can have every trade in these portfolios placed automatically for them in their own thinkorswim accounts through their free Auto-Trade service.

Enjoy the full report.

Terry

Historical Performance of 10K Strategy Stock-Based Portfolios: At Terry’s Tips, we call our options strategy the 10K Strategy. We like to think of it as shorter than a marathon but longer than a sprint. Most people who trade options seem to prefer sprints, i.e., short-term speedy wins (or losses). The basic underlying idea of our 10K Strategy is to do the opposite of what most options traders do. Instead of buying short-term calls in hopes of a quick windfall gain, we primarily sell those calls to option speculators. Since something like 80% of all options expire worthless, we like our odds of selling those options rather than buying them. We like to think that we are sort of in the business of selling lottery tickets.

We buy longer-term options to use as collateral for selling short-term options. All options go down in value every day that the underlying stock remains unchanged. This daily decay in value is called theta in options parlance. Theta for short-term options is much greater than theta for longer-term options at the same strike price, and this difference in decay rates is what makes our strategy a successful one (most of the time).

At Terry’s Tips, we currently have 4 stock-based portfolios. Other portfolios are based on Exchange Traded Products (ETPs). ETPs include Exchange Trade Funds (ETFs) such as the S&P 500 tracking stock (SPY or the Dow Jones Industrial Average tracking stock (DIA), and Exchange Traded Notes (ETNs) such as volatility-based XIV, SVXY, VXX, and UVXY. We also have a portfolio based on options of USO where we are betting that the long term price of oil will be higher than it is today.

Three out of 4 of our stock-based portfolios have doubled in value at some point in their lifetime, and the 4th, Foxy Facebook is up 71% since we started it 10 months ago. The prospects look excellent for it to double before its first year has been completed. The record:

2016 HIstorical 10K Portfolios

2016 HIstorical 10K Portfolios

In a world of record low interest rates and anemic investment returns for most equities (even hedge funds lost money in 2015), these results offer a strong vindication of the 10K Strategy. Admittedly, NKE has tumbled steadily over the past 8 months and much of the gains have been eroded away, but a basic assumption of the strategy is that you select underlying stocks which you think will remain flat or rise over time. If you are wrong and the stock doesn’t do one of those things, you should expect to lose money on that investment. So far, we have been fortunate enough to pick winners.

I invite you to become a subscriber to Terry’s Tips so that you can learn the important details of carrying out the 10K Strategy on your favorite stock (assuming that options are available for it). If you are lucky enough to pick a winner, you would have an excellent chance to make many times as much as you would make just buying the stock. It doesn’t have to go up to be a winner – just remaining flat is almost always profitable with this strategy.

Many years ago, someone wrote a book that I bought – it was entitled “Happiness is a Stock That Doubles in a Year.” If you can find a stock that will stay flat or move higher, you might very well enjoy this kind of happiness once you learn how to execute the 10K Strategy.

As with all investments, you should only use money that you can truly afford to lose. Options are leveraged investments, and unless you totally understand the risks, you can easily and quickly lose more money than you could with the equivalent investment in the purchase of stock. I think it is worth a little work to educate yourself about the risks (and potential rewards) of trading options.

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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