from the desk of Dr. Terry F Allen

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Posts Tagged ‘LEAPS’

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.

Actual Positions in One Terry’s Tips Portfolio

Monday, June 5th, 2017

For the first time ever, I will share with you the exact strategy we use in one of the 9 portfolios we carry out at Terry’s Tips.  I will reveal the exact positions we have in this portfolio, their original cost, and our reasoning for putting them on.  This portfolio started out with $3000 at the beginning of 2017, and has gained 83% so far.  It is not our best performing portfolio, but it exceeds the average 2017 gain of 51.7% for all 9 portfolios.

Terry

Actual Positions in One Terry’s Tips Portfolio

Our Honey Badger portfolio is one of our most aggressive (least conservative).  Our strategy is to select companies which rank high on the Investor’s Business Daily Top 50 List, and make the assumption that these high-momentum stocks will continue to be strong for another six or ten weeks.  The stocks don’t actually have to go up at all for us to make the maximum gain on the spreads we place.  We select strike prices which are just below the then-current stock price so we can tolerate a small drop in the price while we hold the positions.

Here are the exact words we published in our June 3, 2017 Saturday Report which reviews performance of all nine portfolios:

Summary of Honey BadgerPortfolio This portfolio started with $3000 in early January 2017.  It will be our most aggressive portfolio. We will select companies from Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) highest-ranked momentum list (The Top 50) and sell vertical put credit spreads betting that the momentum will last at least another 2 months or so.  In 2017, we have had profitable trades with NVDA, HQY, AMAT, ANET, and ULTA, and suffered a big loss on GS which fell by $30 after we placed the trade.

Current positions:

On May 8 when LRCX was trading at $152:
Buy To Open (BTO) 3 LRCX 16Jun17 145 puts (LRCX170616P145)
Sell To Open (STO) 3 LRCX 16Jun17 150 puts (LRCX170616P150) for a credit of $1.90  (selling a vertical)
If LRCX ends up above $150 on June 16, this spread will gain $562.50 after commissions on an investment of $937.50, or 60% (360% annualized)

On May 11 when AVGO was trading at $230:

BTO 4 AVGO 23Jun17 220 puts (AVGO170623P220)

STO 4 AVGO 23Jun17 225 puts (AVGO170623P225) for a credit of $1.62  (selling a vertical)   If ULTA ends up above $225 on June 23, this spread will gain $638 after commissions on an investment of $1362, or 47% (281% annualized)

On May 11 when ULTA was trading at $300:

BTO 4 ULTA 16Jun17 290 puts (ULTA170616P290)

STO 4 ULTA 16Jun17 295 puts (ULTA170616P295) for a credit of $1.90  (selling a vertical)

If ULTA ends up above $295 on June 17, this spread will gain $750 after commissions on an investment of $1250, or 60% (360% annualized)

Honey Badger Portfolio Positions June 2017

Honey Badger Portfolio Positions June 2017

 Results for the week:  With AVGO (at $254.53) up $13.32 (5.5%), LRCX (at $158.74) up $3.62 (2.3%) and ULTA (at $311.47) up $9.07 (3.0%), for the week, the portfolio gained $810 or 17.3%.   The big gain this week came about because of the surge in AVGO which makes the spread almost certain to make the maximum gain when it expires in three weeks.  All three stocks in this portfolio are comfortably above the price then need to be to achieve the maximum gain.  If they remain above the strike of the option we have sold, we will pick up another $180 in 3 weeks.  This will make the gain for the first six months of the year a nice 88% (after commissions, of course).

Since the IBD Top 50 list is such an important source for this portfolio, we keep a careful watch on the stocks which are added on to the list each week and which ones are deleted.  Over time, we hope to determine whether deletions might be good prospects for bearish spreads.  Momentum often works in both directions, and perhaps stocks which had strong upward momentum will have strong downward momentum when IBD determines that the upward trend has ended.

Here are the changes we reported to our subscribers this week:

Changes to Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 This Week:

IBD Underlying Updates June 2017

IBD Underlying Updates June 2017

We hope you enjoyed this peek at one of our portfolios, and the strategy we use in this portfolio.  While we know that lots of newsletters out there are making all sorts of great promises about how wonderful their performance is, we don’t know of a single one which will reveal all their trades and is doing anywhere near what we have done. Our results include all commissions as well (most newsletters conveniently ignore commissions to make their results look better).  We invite you to come on board and share in our success.

Happy trading,

Terry

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

How to Make 30% on 5 Blue-Chip Companies in 2017 Even if They Fall by 10%

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

Today, we set up a new portfolio at Terry’s Tips  that I would like to tell you about.  It is our most conservative of 9 portfolios.  It consists of selecting 5 blue-chip companies which pay a dividend between 2% and 3.6% and which appear on at least two top analysts’ “top 10” lists for 2017.  This portfolio is designed to gain 30% for the year, and we can know in advance exactly what each of the 5 spreads will make in advance.  For most of these companies, they can fall by 10% over the course of the year and we will still make our 30% gain.

We are also repeating our best-ever offer to come on board before January 11 rolls around.

Terry

How to Make 30% on 5 Blue-Chip Companies in 2017 Even if They Fall by 10%

The spreads we are talking about are vertical put credit spreads.  Once you have found a company you like, you select a strike price which is about 10% below the current price of the stock, and you sell long-term puts (we used options expiring on January 19, 2018) at that strike price while buying the same series puts at a lower strike price.

One of the stocks we picked was Cisco (CSCO).   Here is an example of one of the spreads we placed today.  CSCO yields 3.6% which provides a nice base and support level for the stock.  It is trading just over $30, down a little from almost $32 a couple of months ago.  Our spread will make 30% in one year if CSCO manages to be any higher than $27 when the options expire a year from now.

Here is the exact spread we placed today:

Buy To Open 3 CSCO 19Jan18 23 puts (CSCO180119P23)

Sell To Open 3 CSCO 19Jan18 27 puts (CSCO180119P27) for a credit limit of $.96  (selling a vertical)

We received $96 less $2.50 commissions, or $93.50 per spread, or $280.50 placed in our account for the 3 spreads.  There will be a $400 maintenance requirement per spread ($1200 total) less the $280.50 we received, making our investment $919.50.  If CSCO closes at any price higher than $27 a little over a year from now, on January 19, 2018, both options will expire worthless, and we will get to keep our $280.50.  This makes it a 30% return on our investment.

The actual returns on the other 4 companies we placed this kind of a spread on was actually greater than this amount.  Become a Terry’s Tips  subscriber and get to see every one of them, including other spreads which are a little more aggressive but which yield over 50% for the year and the stock does not have to go up a penny to achieve that return.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terry

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

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

 

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

 

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.

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.

The Difference Between Buying Stock and Trading Options

Monday, August 15th, 2016

This week I would like discuss a little about the differences between buying stock and trading options. I would also like to tell you a little about a specific recommendation I made to paying Terry’s Tips subscribers this weekend in my weekly Saturday Report.

Terry

The Difference Between Buying Stock and Trading Options

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

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

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

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

It is a whole lot easier to play a decent game of checkers than it is to play a decent game of chess. But for some of us, options investing is a whole lot more challenging, and ultimately more rewarding.

Last week I told you about three stock-based Terry’s Tips option portfolios which had doubled in value and a fourth portfolio that was almost there (and it is only 10 months old). I didn’t tell you about two other portfolios that we also carry out which are not available for Auto-Trade at thinkorswim but which are quite easy to trade on your own because they only involve one trade for an entire year (and with luck, options on both side of the spread will expire worthless so no closing trade is necessary).

We have two of these portfolios, and they are set up each January. So far in 2016, while the market (SPY) has gained 4.6%, these two option portfolios have gained 43.9%, and 56.2% without a single adjusting trade having been made. We could close either portfolio right now and take those gains off the table after paying a small commission on one or two spreads. If you buy stock rather than trading options, you will probably never see gains like this, even if you are lucky enough to pick one of the best stocks in the entire market.

This weekend, I recommended another similar spread trade that we are setting up in a new portfolio so we can watch it evolve over time. Like the above two portfolios, it cannot be Auto-Traded but is easy to set up yourself (you can call it in to your broker if you are not familiar with placing option spread trades). This spread will expire on January 20, 2017, about six months from now.

The underlying is a sort of weird derivative of a derivative of a derivative that doesn’t make much sense to anyone (even the Nobel Prize winning managers of Long Term Capital didn’t fully understand the implications of this kind of instrument). The long-term price action of this equity can be measured, however, and it showed that if this spread had been placed every month for the last 50 months, the spread would have made a profit 44 times and it would have lost money 6 times. The average gain for all the trades worked out to 38% for six months (including all the losses in those 6 losing instances). The annualized gain would rise to 90% if you re-invested your money and the average profit at the end of the first six months. Of course, historical price action doesn’t always repeat itself in future months, but if you see how this instrument is engineered, you can see that the pattern should be expected to continue.

This spread idea is so good that I feel I must restrict sharing it with only paying subscribers to the Terry’s Tips newsletter. If you come on board, you can see the full report where I show the profit from this trade for each of the last 50 months and the exact spread that should be placed. I bought more of the exact same spread in my personal account today at the same price I indicated it could be bought in the last Saturday Report.

Lowest Subscription Price Ever

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

This month marks the 15th year in business for Terry’s Tips. We are celebrating this event by offering you our lowest subscription price ever. Read on.

Today I would also like to share with you a small bet I made today on Nike. It should make 60% in 8 months even if the stock does not go up a penny. It can actually fall a little and you would still make 60%. But the big news today is our 15th birthday celebration offer.

Lowest Subscription Price Ever

As our birthday present to you, 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 15Year (or 15YearP for Premium Service – $79.95). The premium service offers you real-time trade alerts so you can follow along with our trades if you wish, or participate in Auto-Trade at thinkorswim.

This is a time-limited offer. You must order by Wednesday, June 15, 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 our 15th birthday with us, and give yourself and your family the perfect birthday gift that is designed to deliver higher financial returns for the rest of your investing life. It may take you a little homework on your part, but I am sure you will end up thinking it was well worth the investment.

A Conservative Nike Trade Which Should Gain 60% in 8 Months

Timing is everything. The price of Nike (NKE) was beaten down last week, apparently on the news that one of their largest retailers, Sports Authority, had declared bankruptcy and was conducting a going-out-of-business sale. I believe that this news has unfairly impacted the price of NKE. After all, people will continue to buy NKE shoes. It just won’t be at Sports Authority.

NKE has been doing very well lately. It has had 4 consecutive spectacular quarters, exceeding estimated earnings by a wide margin each time, yet it is trading very near the low for the year, down 20% from its high reached in December. In that month, there was a 2-for-1 stock split, and this often results in a lower stock price over the subsequent few months (apparently, a fair number of people sell off half their stock so they retain the same number of shares they had before the split, with most or all of their original investment back in their pocket). The same thing happened to Google when it split its stock a few years ago – it was lower at the end of the year than it was at the beginning, the only time in its first 9 years of existence that that happened.

NKE is trading about $54 today. If you believed that this was about as low as it might go, you might make a 5-month bet that it won’t be trading below $52.50 when the 21Oct16 options expire. You would make 50% on your money (after commissions) if you bought 21Oct16 50 puts and sold 21Oct16 52.5 puts, collecting $.86 and risking $1.64 if the stock falls below $50 by that time (using the commission rate charged to Terry’s Tips subscribers at thinkorswim – $1.25 per contract).

This trade, executed as a vertical put credit spread, would put $83.50 in your account. Your broker would assess a maintenance requirement of $250. Subtracting out the $83.50 you received, the net amount the trade would cost you would be $166.50. This is also the maximum loss you could possibly incur. It would come along only if NKE fell below $50 on October 16th. If NKE is at any price above $52.50 on that date, both put options would expire worthless and you would not have to make another trade to close out your positions (saving you commissions on that end of the trade).

An even safer bet could be made by trading those same strikes for the 20Jan17 series where you could collect $.96, risk $1.54, and make 60% on your investment (and maximum loss) if NKE closes above $52.50 in January. Not only is the gain greater, but you have an extra quarter (including the Christmas selling season) to watch NKE grow (or at least not fall).

I consider this to be a conservative investment because I believe NKE has had its price unfairly pushed lower because of the Sports Authority bankruptcy and is selling near the low for the year in spite of exceeding earnings estimates every quarter for the last year. The stock does not have to go up a penny to make 60% on this trade. All it has to do is not fall by more than $1.50 by January 20, 2017. I think it is highly likely to be trading safely higher than $52.50 at the time.

As always, you should only invest money in stock options if you can truly afford to lose it. Options are risky, and while potential gains can be far greater than conventional investments, they usually incur a greater degree of risk (although in the above case, I like the odds when a stock is unfairly downtrodden and doesn’t have to go up a penny to guarantee a gain on the trade).

Happy trading,

Terry

P.S. For this lowest-price-ever $39.95 offer for the complete Terry’s Tips package (including my White Paper for which over 10,000 people have paid our regular price $79.95), click here, enter Special Code 15Year (or 15YearP for Premium Service – $79.95). It could be the best investment decision you ever make.

How To Protect Yourself Against a Market Crash With Options

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Today’s idea is a little complicated, but it involves an important part of any prudent investment strategy. Market crashes do come along every once in a while, and we are eight years away from the last one in 2008. What will happen to your nest egg if it happens again this year?

Options can be a good form of market crash insurance, and it is possible to set up a strategy that might even make a small gain if the crash doesn’t come along. That possibility sets it apart from most forms of insurance which cost you out-of-pocket money if the calamity you insure against doesn’t occur.

Terry

How To Protect Yourself Against a Market Crash With Options

There are some strong indications that the old adage “Sell in May and Go Away” might be the appropriate move right now. Goldman Sachs has downgraded its outlook on equities to “neutral” over the next 12 months, saying there’s no particular reason to own them. “Until we see sustained signals of growth recovery, we do not feel comfortable taking equity risk, particularly as valuations are near peak levels,” the firm said in a research note.

For several months, Robert Shiller has been warning that the market is seriously overvalued by his unique method of measuring prices against long-term average p/e’s. George Soros is keeping the bears happy as well, doubling his wager against the S&P 500. The billionaire investor, who has been warning that the 2008 financial crisis could be repeated due to China’s economic slowdown, bought 2.1M-share “put” options in SPY during Q1. The magnitude of his bet against SPY is phenomenal, essentially 200 million shares short. Of course, he almost always deals in stratospheric numbers, but the size of this bet indicates that he feels pretty strongly about this one. He didn’t become a billionaire by being on the wrong side of market bets.

So what can you do to protect yourself against a big tumble in the market? We are setting up a bearish portfolio for Terry’s Tips subscribers, and this is what it will look like. It is based on the well-known fact that when the market crashes, volatility soars, and when volatility soars, the Exchange Traded Product (ETP) called VXX soars along with it.

Some people buy VXX as market crash insurance (or its steroid-like cousin, UVXY). Over the long run, VXX has been a horrible investment, however, possibly the worst thing you could have done with your money over the past six years. It has fallen from a split-adjusted $4000 to its present price of about $15. It has engineered 1-for-4 reverse splits three times to make the price worth bothering to trade. The split usually occurs when it gets down to about $12, so you can expect another reverse split soon.
An option strategy can be set up that allows you to own the equivalent of VXX while not subjecting you to the long-run inevitable downward trend. When volatility does pick up, VXX soars. In fact, it doubled once and went up 50% another time, both temporarily, in the last year alone. While it is a bad long-term investment, if your timing is right, you might pick up a windfall. Our options strategy is designed to achieve the potential upside windfall while avoiding the long-term prospects you face by merely buying the ETP.

Our new portfolio will buy VXX 20Jan17 15 calls and sell fewer contracts in short-term calls. Sufficient short-term premium will be collected from selling the short term calls to cover the decay on the long calls (and a little bit more).

This portfolio will start with $3000. The entire amount will not be used at the outset, but rather be held in cash in case it might be needed to cover a maintenance call in case the market moves higher.

These might be the starting positions:

BTO 3 VXX 20Jan17 15 calls (VXX170120C15)
STO 3 VXX 17Jun16 15 calls (VXX160617C15) for a debit of $2.40 (buying a diagonal)

BTO 3 VXX 20Jan17 15 calls (VXX170120C15)
STO 3 VXX 24Jun16 16 calls (VXX160624C16) for a debit of $2.45 (buying a diagonal)

BTO 4 VXX 20Jan17 16 calls (VXX170120C16) for $3.30

Here is what the risk profile graph looks like with those positions as of June 18th after the short calls expire:
VXX Better Bear Risk Profile Graph May 2016

VXX Better Bear Risk Profile Graph May 2016
You can see that the portfolio will make gains no matter how high VXX might go. It will make a small gain (about 8% for the month) if the stock stays flat, and starts losing if VXX moves below $14.50. If it falls that far, we might sell call or two at the 14 strike and incur a maintenance requirement which would be partially offset by the amount we collected from selling the call(s). A trade like this would reduce or eliminate a loss if the ETP continues to fall, and it might have to be repeated if VXX continues even lower. At some point, some long calls might need to be rolled down to a lower strike to eliminate maintenance requirements that come along when you sell a call at a lower strike than the long call that covers it.

The above positions could be put on for about $2800. There would be about $200 in cash remaining for the possible maintenance requirement in case one might be necessary.

You probably should not attempt to set up and carry out this strategy unless you are familiar with options trading as it is admittedly a little complicated. A better idea might be to become a Terry’s Tips Insider and open an account at thinkorswim so that these trades could automatically be made for you through their Auto-Trade program.

Every investment portfolio should have a little downside insurance protection. We believe that options offer the best form for that kind of insurance because it might be possible to make a profit at the same time as providing market crash insurance.

As with all forms of investing, you should not be committing money that you truly cannot afford to lose.

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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