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Posts Tagged ‘Out-Of-The-Money Options’

5 Option Strategies if you Think the Market is Headed Lower

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

A subscriber wrote in and asked what he should do if he thought the market would be 6% lower by the end of September.  I thought about his question a little bit, and decided to share my thoughts with you, just in case you have similar feelings at some time along the way.Terry

5 Option Strategies if you Think the Market is Headed Lower

We will use the S&P 500 tracking stock, SPY, as a proxy for the market.  As I write this, SPY is trading just below $210.  If it were to fall by 6% by the end of September (3 months from now), it would be trading about $197 at that time.  The prices for the possible investments listed below are slightly more costly than the mid-point between the bid and ask prices for the options or the option spreads, and include the commission cost (calculated at $1.25 per contract, the price that Terry’s Tips subscribers pay at thinkorswim).

#1.  Buy an at-the-money put.  One of the most common option purchases is the outright buy of a put option if you feel strongly that the market is crashing.  Today, with SPY trading at $210, a September 2015 put option at the 210 strike would cost you $550.  If SPY is trading at $197 (as the subscriber believed it would be at the end of September), your put would be worth $1300.  You would make a profit of $750, or 136% on your investment.

Buying a put involves an extremely high degree of risk, however. The stock must fall by $5 ½ (about 2.6%) before you make a nickel of profit.  If the market remains flat or goes higher by any amount, you would lose 100% of your investment.  Studies have shown that about 80% of all options eventually expire worthless, so by historical measures, there is a very high likelihood that you will lose everything.  That doesn’t sound like much of a good investment idea to me, even if you feel strongly about the market’s direction.  It is so easy to get it wrong (I know from frequent personal experience).

If you were to buy an out-of-the-money put (i.e., the strike price is below the stock price), the outlook is even worse.  A Sept-15 205 put would cost about $400 to buy.  While that is less than the $550 you would have to shell out for the at-the-money 210 put, the market still has to fall by a considerable amount, $9 (4.3%) before you make a nickel.  In my opinion, you shouldn’t even consider it.

#2.  Buy an in-the-money put.  You might consider buying a put which has a higher strike than the stock price.  While it will cost more (increasing your potential loss if the market goes up), the stock does not need to fall nearly as far before you get into a profit zone.  A Sept-15 215 put would cost you $800, and the stock would only have to fall by $3 (1.4%) before you could start counting some gains.  If the market remains flat, your loss would be $300 (38%).

If the stock does manage to fall to $197, your 215 put would be worth $1800 at expiration, and your gain would be $1000, or 125% on your investment.  In my opinion, buying an in-the-money put is not a good investment idea, either, although it is probably better than buying an at-the-money put, and should only be considered if you are strongly convinced that the stock is headed significantly lower.

#3.  Buy a vertical put spread.  The most popular directional option spread choice is probably a vertical spread.  If you believe the market is headed lower, you buy a put and at the same time, sell a lower-strike put as part of a spread.  You only have to come up with the difference between the cost of the put you buy and what you receive from selling a lower-strike put to someone else.  In our SPY example, you might buy a Sept-15 210 put and sell a Sept-15 200 put.  You would have to pay $300 for this spread.  The stock would only have to fall by $3 before you started collecting a profit.  If it closed at any price below $200, your spread would have an intrinsic value of $1000 and you would make a profit of $700 (230% on your investment), less commissions.

With this spread, however, if the stock remains flat or rises by any amount, you would lose your entire $300 investment.  That is a big cost for being wrong.  But if you believe that the market will fall by 6%, maybe a flat or higher price isn’t in your perceived realm of possible outcomes.

Another (more conservative) vertical put spread would be to buy an in-the-money put and sell an at-the-money put. If you bought a Sept-15 220 put and sold a Sept-15 210 put, your cost would be $600.  If the stock closed at any price below $210, your spread would be worth $1000 and your gain ($400) would work out to be about 64% after commissions. The neat thing about this spread is that if the stock remained flat at $210, you would still gain the 64%.  If there is an equal chance that a stock will go up, go down, or stay flat, you would have two out of the three possible outcomes covered.

You also might think about compromising between the above two vertical put spreads and buy a Sept-15 215 put and sell a Sept-15 205 put.  It would cost you about $420.  Your maximum gain, if the stock ended up at any price below $205, would be $580, or about 135% on your investment.  If the stock remains flat at $210, your spread would be worth $500 at expiration, and you would make a small gain over your cost of $420.  You would only lose money if the stock were to rise by more than $.80 over the time period.

#4.  Sell a call credit vertical spread.  People with a limited understanding of options (which includes a huge majority of American investors) don’t even think about calls when they believe that the market is headed lower.  However, you can gain all the advantages of the above put vertical spreads, and more, by trading calls instead of puts if you want to gain when the market falls.  When I want to make a directional bet on a lower market, I always use calls rather than puts.

If you would like to replicate the risk-reward numbers of the above compromise vertical put spread, you would buy a Sept-15 215 call and sell a Sept-15 205 call. The higher-strike call that you are buying is much cheaper than the lower-strike call you are selling.  You could collect $600 for the spread.  The broker would place a $1000 maintenance agreement (no interest charge) on your account (this represents the maximum possible loss on the spread if you had not received any credit when placing it, but in our case, you collected $600 so the maximum possible loss is $400 – that is how much you will have to have in your account to sell this spread).  Usually, buying a vertical put spread or selling the same strikes with a credit call vertical spread cost about the same – in this case, the call spread happened to be a better price (an investment of $400 rather than $420).

There are two advantages to selling the call credit spread rather than buying the vertical put spread.  First, if you are successful and the stock ends up below $205 as you expect, both the long and short calls will expire worthless.  There will be no commission to pay on closing out the positions. You don’t have to do anything other than wait a day for the maintenance requirement to disappear and you get to keep the cash you collected when you sold the spread at the outset.

Second, when you try to sell the vertical put spread for $10 (the intrinsic value if the stock is $205 or lower), you will not be able to get the entire $10 because of the bid-ask price situation.  The best you could expect to get is about $9.95 ($995) as a limit order.  You could do nothing and let the broker close it out for you – in that case you would get exactly $1000, but most brokers charge a $35 or higher fee for an automatic closing spread transaction.  It is usually better to accept the $995 and pay the commission (although it is better to use calls and avoid the commissions altogether).

#5.  Buy a calendar spread.  My favorite spreads are calendar spreads so I feel compelled to include them as one of the possibilities. If you think the market is headed lower, all you need to do is buy a calendar spread at a strike price where you think the stock will end up when the short options expire. In our example, the subscriber believed that the stock would fall to $197 when the September options expired.  He could buy an Oct-15 – Sept-15 197 calendar spread (the risk-reward is identical whether you use puts or calls, but I prefer to use calls if you think the market is headed lower because you are closing out an out-of-the-money option which usually has a lower bid-ask range).  The cost of this spread would be about $60.  Here is the risk profile graph which shows the loss or gain from the spread at the various possible stock prices:

Bearish SPY Risk Profile Graph June 2015

Bearish SPY Risk Profile Graph June 2015

You can see that if you are exactly right and the stock ends up at $197, your gain would be about $320, or over 500% on your investment (by the way, I don’t expect the stock will fall this low, but I just went into the market to see if I could get the spread for $60 or better, and my order executed at $57).

What I like about the calendar spread is that the break-even range is a whopping $20.  You can be wrong about your price estimate by almost $10 in either direction and you would make a profit with the spread.  The closer you can guess to where the stock will end up, the greater your potential gain.  Now that I have actually bought a calendar spread at the 197 strike, I will buy another calendar spread at a higher strike so that I have more upside protection (and be more in line with my thinking as to the likely stock price come September).

There are indeed an infinite number of option investments you could make if you have a feeling for which way the market is headed.  We have listed 5 of the more popular strategies if someone believes the market is headed lower.  In future newsletters we will discuss more complicated alternatives such as butterfly spreads and iron condors.

How to Play Oil Prices With Options

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

If you are anything like me, I have enjoyed filling up my car lately.  It almost seems too good to be true. How long do you think gas prices will stay this low?    I figure that the price is more likely to move higher from here than it is to move lower, but I could be wrong.  It seems like a prudent bet would be that it won’t move much lower from here, and that the price of oil is more likely to stay the same or move higher over the next year.  If either scenario (flat or up) is true, you can easily double your money using options.  Today I will show you one way that might be accomplished.

Terry

How to Play Oil Prices With Options

If you want to bet on higher oil prices, you might consider buying the ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) OIL.  This is simply a measure of the price of crude oil.  I don’t like to trade OIL, however, because the price is too low (under $12) to have meaningful option prices (and the options market is not very efficient which means it is hard to get decent prices because bid-ask ranges are too high).

An alternative ETF is OIH.  This covers the oil service companies, like drillers and transporters.  There is an extremely high correlation between the prices of OIL and OIH, and OIH has the advantage of having a higher absolute price ($35.50 at Friday’s close) and a more efficient options market (including weekly options and LEAPS).

Check out the chart for OIH for the last year:

OIH Historical Chart Feb 2015

OIH Historical Chart Feb 2015

If you had been smart (or lucky) enough to buy OIH when it rose above its 30-day moving average a year ago, you might have owned it while it rose from about $46 to about $55 when it fell below its 30-day moving average and then if you sold it short, you might make gains all the way down to $36 (you would have had to resist buying it back when it briefly moved above the moving average a few months ago).

Now OIH is well above this moving average and this might be a good time to make a bet that it will move higher going forward.  If you wanted to bet that the price of oil (and OIH) will remain flat or move higher, you might consider these trades (with OIH trading at $35.50):

Buy 3 OIH Jan-16 35 calls (OIH160115C35)
Sell 3 OIH Mar-15 36 calls (OIH150320C36) for $3.05 (buying a diagonal)

Buy 1 OIH Jan-16 35 call (OIH160115C35) for $4.45

These prices are at $.05 more than the mid-point between the bid and ask prices for the option or the spread.  You should be able to get those prices – be sure to enter it as a limit order because bid-ask ranges are a little high (although narrower than they are for OIL).

If you got those prices, your total investment would be $915 plus $445 plus $5 commission (Terry’s Tips commission rate at thinkorswim) for a total of $1365.

This is the risk profile graph for these positions when the March calls expire on March 20:

OIH Risk Profile Graph 2015

OIH Risk Profile Graph 2015

The graph shows that if the price of OIH ends up in a range of being flat or moving higher by $3, the portfolio should gain about $300, or about 20% for the six weeks of waiting.  The nice thing about owning options is that you can make this 20% even if the ETF doesn’t go up by a penny.  If you just bought OIH instead of using options, you wouldn’t make anything if the ETF didn’t move higher.

Even better, if OIH falls by a dollar, you still make a profit with the options positions.  If you owned the ETF instead, you would lose money, of course.

Owning an extra uncovered long Jan-16 35 call gives you upside protection in case OIH moves dramatically higher.  It also leaves room to sell another short-term call if OIH drifts lower instead of remaining flat or moving higher. Such a sale would serve to reduce or eliminate a loss if the ETF moves lower.

When the March calls expire, you would buy them back if they are in the money (i.e., the ETF is above $37) and you would sell Apr-15 calls at a strike slightly above the current ETF price.  You should be able to collect a time premium of about $100 for each call you sell.

There will be 10 opportunities to sell one-month-out calls for $100 before the Jan-16 calls expire.  Once you have collected $100 for each of 3 monthly calls you sell, you will have all your original investment back, and further  sales are clear profit.  As long as the Jan-16 calls are in the money when they are about to expire, you would collect additional money from those sales as well.

This strategy involves making trades around the third Friday of each month when the short-term short options are about to expire.  That could be a pain in the neck, but to my way of thinking, it is a small price to pay for the possibility of doubling my money over the course of a year.  There is a variety of other option strategies you might employ, but this one makes good sense to me.

Using Puts vs. Calls for Calendar Spreads

Monday, April 7th, 2014

I like to trade calendar spreads.  Right now my favorite underlying to use is SVXY, a volatility-related ETP which is essentially the inverse of VXX, another ETP which moves step-in-step with volatility (VIX).  Many people buy VXX as a hedge against a market crash when they are fearful (volatility, and VXX. skyrockets when a crash occurs), but when the market is stable or moves higher, VXX inevitably moves lower.  In fact, since it was created in 2009, VXX has been just about the biggest dog in the entire stock market world.  On three occasions they have had to make 1 – 4 reverse splits just to keep the stock price high enough to matter.

Since VXX is such a dog, I like SVXY which is its inverse.  I expect it will move higher most of the time (it enjoys substantial tailwinds because of something called contango, but that is a topic for another time).  I concentrate in buying calendar spreads on SVXY (buying Jun-14 options and selling weekly options) at strikes which are higher than the current stock price.  Most of these calendar spreads are in puts, and that seems a little weird because I expect that the stock will usually move higher, and puts are what you buy when you expect the stock will fall.  That is the topic of today’s idea of the week.

Terry

Using Puts vs. Calls for Calendar Spreads

It is important to understand that the risk profile of a calendar spread is identical regardless of whether puts or calls are used.  The strike price (rather than the choice of puts or calls) determines whether a spread is bearish or bullish.  A calendar spread at a strike price below the stock price is a bearish because the maximum gain is made if the stock falls exactly to the strike price, and a calendar spread at a strike price above the stock price is bullish.

When people are generally optimistic about the market, call calendar spreads tend to cost more than put calendar spreads.  For most of 2013-14, in spite of a consistently rising market, option buyers have been particularly pessimistic.  They have traded many more puts than calls, and put calendar prices have been more expensive.

Right now, at-the-money put calendar spreads cost more than at-the-money call calendar spreads for most underlyings, including SVXY.  As long as the underlying pessimism continues, they extra cost of the put spreads might be worth the money because when the about-to-expire short options are bought back and rolled over to the next short-term time period, a larger premium can be collected on that sale.  This assumes, of course, that the current pessimism will continue into the future.

If you have a portfolio of exclusively calendar spreads (you don’t anticipate moving to diagonal spreads), it is best to use puts at strikes below the stock price and calls for spreads at strikes which are higher than the stock price.  If you do the reverse, you will own a bunch of well in-the-money short options, and rolling them over to the next week or month is expensive (in-the-money bid-asked spreads are greater than out-of-the-money bid asked spreads so you can collect more cash when rolling over out-of-the-money short options).

Using Puts vs. Calls for Calendar Spreads

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

A lot of our discussion lately has focused on pre-earnings-announcement strategies (we call them PEA Plays).  This has been brought about by lower option prices (VIX) than we have seen since 2007, a full six years ago.  With option prices this low it has been difficult to depend on collecting premium as our primary source of income with our basic option strategies. 

But the earnings season has now quieted down and will not start up again for several weeks, so we will return to discussing more conventional option issues. 

Terry 

Using Puts vs. Calls for Calendar Spreads 

 It is important to understand that the risk profile of a calendar spread is identical regardless of whether puts or calls are used.  The strike price (rather than the choice of puts or calls) determines whether a spread is bearish or bullish.  A calendar spread at a strike price below the stock price is a bearish because the maximum gain is made if the stock falls exactly to the strike price, and a calendar spread at a strike price above the stock price is bullish. 

When people are generally optimistic about the market, call calendar spreads tend to cost more than put calendar spreads.  For most of 2012 and into 2013, in spite of a consistently rising market, option buyers have been particularly pessimistic.  They have traded many more puts than calls, and put calendar prices have been more expensive. 

Right now, at-the-money put calendar spreads cost more than at-the-money call calendar spreads.  As long as the underlying pessimism continues, they extra cost of the put spreads might be worth the money because when the about-to-expire short options are bought back and rolled over to the next short-term time period, a larger premium can be collected on that sale.  This assumes, of course, that the current pessimism will continue into the future.

If you have a portfolio of exclusively calendar spreads (you don’t anticipate moving to diagonal spreads), it is best to use puts at strikes below the stock price and calls for spreads at strikes which are higher than the stock price.  If you do the reverse, you will own a bunch of well in-the-money short options, and rolling them over to the next week or month is expensive (in-the-money bid-asked spreads are greater than out-of-the-money bid asked spreads so you can collect more cash when rolling over out-of-the-money short options). 

The choice of using puts or calls for a calendar spread is most relevant when considering at-the-money spreads.  When buying at-the-money calendar spreads, the least expensive choice (puts or calls) should usually be made. An exception to this rule comes when one of the quarterly SPY dividends is about to come due.  On the day the dividend is payable (always on expiration Friday), the stock is expected to fall by the amount of the dividend (usually about $.60).  Since the market anticipates this drop in the stock (and knowing the specific day that the stock will fall), put prices are generally bid higher in the weeks before that dividend date. 

The bottom line is that put calendar spreads are preferable to call calendar spreads for at-the-money strikes (or even at strikes slightly higher than the stock price) coming into a SPY dividend date.   Even though the put spreads cost more, the Weekly options that can be sold for enough extra to cover the higher cost.  You do not want to own SPY call calendar spreads which might become in the money on the third Friday of March, June, September, or December because you will have to buy them back on Thursday to avoid paying the dividend, and you may not want to make that purchase to keep your entire portfolio balanced.

Discussion of Delta, Continued:

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Last week we discussed an interesting way to think about Delta (i.e., it is the percentage number that the market believes the option is likely to expire in the money).  Today we will talk about how delta varies depending on how many weeks or months of remaining life it has.

Discussion of Delta, Continued:

Just in case you missed last week’s newsletter, Delta tells us how much the price of the option will change if the underlying stock or ETF changes by $1.00. 

If you own a call option that carries a delta of 70, that means that if the stock goes up by $1.00, your option will increase in value by $.70 (if the stock falls by $1.00, your option will fall by a little less than $.70).  Since each option is good for 100 shares, a price change of $.70 in the option means that the total value of your option has gained $70.

If a call option is deep in the money (i.e., at a strike price which is much lower than the stock price) and there are only a few days until it expires, the option is highly likely to finish in the money (i.e., at a higher price than the strike price).  If SPY is trading at $140 with a week to go until expiration, a 130 call option would naturally have a very high delta (approaching 100).  The stock would have to fall by $10 before it was no longer in the money, and that size move is unlikely in just a few days.

Owning a deep in-the-money call with only a few days until expiration is almost like owning the stock.  If the stock goes up by a dollar tomorrow, the option is likely to go up by that amount ($1.00, or $100 since the option is for 100 shares of stock).

On the other hand, if the 130 option had six months of remaining life, a lot can happen over those six months.  The delta value of the 130 call might be closer to 70 than it is to 100 since the stock is far more likely to fall by $10 if it has such a long time over which to change.  If the stock goes up tomorrow and you own a call with six months of remaining life, you can only expect your option to gain about $70 in value.

The opposite occurs when the option is out of the money.  At today’s option prices (which are a little lower than the historical mean average), with SPY at $140, the 143 call with one month of remaining life is 30.  Owning that call is the equivalent of owning 30 shares of stock.

If the 143 option had six months of remaining life, the delta would be 45 at today’s option prices.  The market is saying that there is a higher likelihood of that option finishing in the money since it has so many more months to fluctuate.  Owning a 143 call with six months of remaining life is like owning 45 shares of stock.

Delta is one of the most important Greeks to understand about options.  Just like most everything about options, it is not simple, especially since it changes depending on how close to the stock price the strike price is, and how much time is remaining in the option’s life.

 

A Useful Way to Think About Delta

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

This week we will start a discussion about the “Greeks” – the measures designed to predict how option prices will change when underlying stock prices change or time elapses. It is important to have a basic understanding of some of these measures before embarking on trading options.

I hope you enjoy this short discussion.

A Useful Way to Think About Delta

The first “Greek” that most people learn about when they get involved in options is Delta.  This important measure tells us how much the price of the option will change if the underlying stock or ETF changes by $1.00. 

If you own a call option that carries a delta of 50, that means that if the stock goes up by $1.00, your option will increase in value by $.50 (if the stock falls by $1.00, your option will fall by a little less than $.50).

The useful way to think about delta is to consider it the probability of that option finishing up (on expiration day) in the money.  If you own a call option at a strike price of 60 and the underlying stock is selling at $60, you have an at-the-money option, and the delta will likely be about 50.  In other words, the market is saying that your option has a 50-50 chance of expiring in the money (i.e., the stock is above $60 so your option would have some intrinsic value).

If your option were at the 55 strike, it would have a much higher delta value because the likelihood of its finishing up in the money (i.e., higher than $55) would be much higher.  The stock could fall by $4.90 or go up by any amount and it would end up being in the money, so the delta value would be quite high, maybe 70 or 75.  The market would be saying that there is a 70% or 75% chance of the stock ending up above $55 at expiration.

On the other hand, if your call option were at the 65 strike while the stock was selling at $60, it would carry a much lower delta because there would be a much lower likelihood of the stock going up $5 so that your option would expire in the money.

Of course, the amount of remaining life also has an effect on the delta value of an option.  We will talk about that phenomenon next week.

Trading Rules for New 5%-a-Week Strategy

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Today I will list the trading rules for the new strategy that has made an average 6.4% gain every week since we set it up in early December.  

More importantly, we are repeating of our offer of becoming an Insider for the lowest price we have ever offered.

Trading Rules for New 5%-a-Week Strategy

Our goal is to make 5% a week.  Admittedly, that sounds a little extreme.  But we did it for the first 3 weeks we tried it in a real account.  In fact, we gained an average of 6.4% after commissions.  

We call it the STUDD StrategySTUDD stands for Short Term Under-Intrinsic Double Diagonal.  How’s that for a weird acronym?

Here are the Trading Rules:

1)    Purchase an equal number of deep in-the-money (5 – 8 strikes from the stock price) puts and calls for an expiration month which has 3 to 7 weeks of remaining life.

2)    At the same time, sell the same number of at-the-money or just out-of-the-money Weekly puts and calls.

3)    Make the above purchases and sales at a net price which is less than the intrinsic value of the long options. (Intrinsic value is the difference between the strike prices.  For example, we purchased IWM January-12 70 calls and 80 puts, and the intrinsic value of these two options will be at least $10 no matter where the stock ends up.  We paid a net $9.46 for the initial spreads, and as long as the short options are out of the money, the long options will eventually be worth at least their intrinsic value of $10).  Any out-of-the-money premium collected in subsequent weeks would be pure profit.

4)    During the week, if either of the short Weekly options become over $1 in the money, buy them back and replace them with another short option which is 2 strikes higher or lower (depending on which way the stock has moved).  Move both short Weekly options by 2 strikes in the same direction, one at a debit (buying a vertical spread) and one at a credit (selling a vertical spread).  The net amount that the two trades cost will reduce the potential maximum gain for the week.

5)    On the Friday when the Weeklys expire, buy back the short Weeklys and sell next-week Weeklys at the just out-of-the-money strike price for both puts and calls.

6)    On the Friday when the original monthly options are due to expire, close out all the positions and start the process over with new positions.
There will invariably be some variations to these trading rules.  For example, instead of selling just out-of-the-money Weekly options, we might sell some which are a dollar more than the just out-of-the-money strike.  We also might close out the original monthly options a week before the final Friday if they can be sold for appreciably more than the intrinsic price (the more the stock has moved during the month, the higher above the intrinsic value the options will be able to be sold for).

This all may seem a little confusing right now, but if you decide to make a serious investment in your financial future, it will all become clear as you can watch how an actual portfolio (or two) unfolds using these trading rules for the next two months as a Terry’s Tips Insider.

As our New Year’s gift to you, we are offering our service at the lowest price in the history of our company.  We have never before offered a discount of this magnitude.  If you ever considered becoming a Terry’s Tips Insider, this would be the absolutely best time to do it.  

So what’s the investment?  I’m suggesting that you spend a small amount to get a copy of my 70-page (electronic) White Paper, and devote some serious early-2012 hours studying the material.  

And now for the Special Offer – If you make this investment in yourself by midnight, December 31, 2011, 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 two favorite option strategies in detail, 20 “Lazy Way” companies with a minimum 100% gain in 2 years, mathematically guaranteed, if the stock stays flat or goes up, plus the following services :

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 8 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 8 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.

5) A FREE special report  “How We Made 100% on Apple in 2010-11 While AAPL Rose Only 25%“.

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 anything like this in the eleven years I have published Terry’s Tips.  But you must order by midnight on December 31, 2011. Click here and enter Special Code 2012 (or 2012P for Premium Service – $79.95) in the box to the right.

Investing in yourself is the most responsible New Year’s Resolution you could make for 2012.  I feel confident that this offer could be the best investment you ever make in yourself.

Happy New Year!  I hope 2012 is your most prosperous ever.  I look forward to helping you get 2012 started right by sharing this valuable investment information with you. 

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 8 years of publication – only $39.95 for our entire package – http://www.terrystips.com/track.php?tag=2012&dest=programs-and-pricing using Special Code 2012 (or 2012P for Premium Service – $79.95).

Update on 5% a Week “Conservative” Portfolio

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Last week was a bad one for the market.  The S&P 500 fell 3.5%.  Six of the 8 portfolios carried out at Terry’s Tips made gains last week. Once again, our subscribers where happy that they owned options rather than stock.

One of the two portoflios that lost money is not carried out with our basic strategy, but is a proxy for owning stock in AAPL (which fell over $12 last week, obviously causing a loss).

Our 10K Bear portfolio gained almost 10% for the week, and now has gone up over 70% since we started it 5 months ago (SPY has fallen 7.5% over that time period).  This portfolio continues to be a good hedge against other investments which do best when markets move higher.

Today I would like to update the report I sent out last week on a $1479 investment which we believe should make 5% a week.

Update on 5% a Week “Conservative” Portfolio:

Three weeks ago, we made the following trades in one of our portfolios as a demonstration of an option play that we believe will make at least 5% a week after paying all commissions.  At the time, SPY was trading just about $125:

Buy To Open 1 SPY Jan-12 132 put (SPY120121P132)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 put (SPY111209P125) for a debit of $6.98  (buying a diagonal)
 
Buy To Open 1 SPY Jan-12 118 call (SPY120121C118)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 call (SPY111209P125) for a debit of $7.05  (buying a diagonal)

These two spreads cost us a total of $1403 plus commissions of $5 (the commission rate for Terry’s Tips subscribers at thinkorswim).  It is an interesting option play because the deep in-the-money Jan-12 put and call together will be worth at least $1400 (their intrinsic value) when they expire on the third Friday in January (7 weeks after we made these trades).  Since we only paid $1408 for these options, as long as we don’t have to buy back any short options we might sell against them, we are guaranteed to collect at least $1400 when they expire in January.

An interesting additional feature of this portfolio is that if the stock manages to make a big move during the 7 or so weeks of the long options’ existence, the original long put and call might be able to be sold at the beginning of the final week for well more than their intrinsic value.  The closer to one of the original strike prices the stock becomes, the greater the additional time premium will be.  Of course, if the stock moves outside the original range (118 – 132), the total value would exceed the original intrinsic value of $14 (again, as long as the short options continue to be out of the money).

We will have 6 opportunities to sell Weekly puts and calls using the Jan-12 options as collateral for those sales.  Any money we collect from selling those options is pure profit (unless they end up in the money and we have to buy them back on the Friday that they expire).

Since the options we sold were both at the 125 strike price, one of them would have to be bought back on Friday, December 9th (unless SPY closed exactly at $125.00, an unlikely event). 

As we reported a week ago, the portfolio gained 6.2% after commissions in its first week, and we started out last week being short a Dec-11 SPY 127 call (which we had sold for $1.28 and a Dec-11 SPY 126 put (which we had sold for $1.99).  If we would be lucky enough for the stock to remain in the $126 – $127 range all week, the $324 we collected (after commissions) by selling these two options would be pure profit (a whopping 22% on our original investment in a single week).

The secret of success to this little strategy is in the adjustments that invariably need to be made because the stock usually doesn’t stay perfectly flat all week.  Last week was no exception.  SPY fell $4.46.  Ouch!

When SPY fell over $2, we bought back our short 126 put and sold a 123 put which also expired on Friday, December 16.  Buying this vertical spread cost us $181 after commissions, but our net cost was reduced by what we gained by selling a vertical spread on the short 127 call, replacing it with a short 124 call (this sale gained us $104 after commissions).  So we had now lost $77 of the potential maximum $324 gain for the week.

On Friday, we had to buy back the in-the-money 123 put, paying out $133, and we bought back the out-of-the-money 124 call for $1 (no commission charged at thinkorswim for this trade).  These trades reduced the potential maximum gain by $134. For the week, then, we gained $113, or 7.6% on the original investment of $1479 ($1408 plus an adjustment cost) three weeks earlier.

At the outset, we said that we expected this little investment would gain us an average of 5% a week, and we have exceeded that goal in each of the first two weeks.  Going into the third week, we have collected $127 from selling a 121 put which expires on December 23 and $142 from selling a 122 call which expires on that same day. 

If SPY ends up between $121 and $122 this Friday (and no adjustments become necessary), we could earn $269, or 18% on our original investment.  (At the end of the day last Friday, these two options were worth a total of $253, so we had already picked up a paper gain of $16).

Here is the risk profile graph for our positions, indicating the loss or gain next Friday at the various possible prices for SPY. Of course, if SPY fluctuates by $2, we would make an adjustment as we did this week, and hopefully turn a possible loss into a gain (as we did last week).

If you can follow the above trades, you have a good understanding how we carry out our portfolios at Terry’s Tips.  If this strategy can indeed make 5% a week (and there is the possibility of much more), we wonder why anyone would be buying stock or mutual funds rather than investing in an option strategy similar to this. 

Many of our subscribers are mirroring our trades in this portfolio (or having thinkorswim make the trades for them through their Auto-Trade service).  Last week they were all happy campers. 
___

Any questions?   I would love to hear from you by email (terry@terrystips.com), or if you would like to talk to our guy Seth, give him a jingle at 800-803-4595 and either ask him your question(s) or give him your thoughts.

You can see every trade made in 8 actual option portfolios conducted at Terry’s Tips and learn all about the wonderful world of options by subscribing here.   Why wait any longer to make this important investment in yourself?

I look forward to having you on board, and to prospering with you.

Terry

An Interesting “Conservative” Option Purchase That Could Make 5% a Week

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

This week I would like to describe an actual option play we made two weeks ago which you should be able to duplicate with no more than a $1600 investment.  We believe it will make at least 5% a week for the six remaining weeks of its existence.

We are pleased that every one of our portfolios made nice gains last week.  The average portfolio gained 7% after commissions in spite of fairly high mid-week volatility.  We were especially happy with our bearish 10K Bear portfolio – it gained 13% even though SPY ended up going up by 1% last week.  Our William Tell portfolio (using AAPL as the underlying) gained 8.7% while AAPL rose 1%.

An Interesting “Conservative” Option Purchase That Could Make 5% a Week:

Two weeks ago, we made the following trades in one of our portfolios as a demonstration of an option play that we believe will make at least 5% a week after paying all commissions.  At the time, SPY was trading just about $125:

Buy To Open 1 SPY Jan-12 132 put (SPY120121P132)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 put (SPY111209P125) for a debit of $6.98  (buying a diagonal)
 
Buy To Open 1 SPY Jan-12 118 call (SPY120121C118)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 call (SPY111209P125) for a debit of $7.05  (buying a diagonal)

These two spreads cost us a total of $1403 plus commissions of $5 (the commission rate for Terry’s Tips subscribers at thinkorswim).  It is an interesting option play because the deep in-the-money Jan-12 put and call together will be worth at least $1400 (their intrinsic value) when they expire on the third Friday in January (7 weeks after we made these trades).  Since we only paid $1408 for these options, as long as we don’t have to buy back any short options we might sell against them, we are guaranteed to collect at least $1400 when they expire in January.

We will have 6 opportunities to sell Weekly puts and calls using the Jan-12 options as collateral for those sales.  Any money we collect from selling those options is pure profit (unless they end up in the money and we have to buy them back on the Friday that they expire).

Since the options we sold were both at the 125 strike price, one of them would have to be bought back on Friday, December 9th (unless SPY closed exactly at $125.00, an unlikely event). 

Two days after we bought the two spreads, SPY shot up to $127 (when the stock moves $2 with this strategy, we make an adjustment because we do not want any of our short options to become more than $2 in the money).  These are the trades we placed:

Buy To Close 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 call (SPY111209C125)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 127 call (SPY111209C127) for a debit of $1.33  (buying a vertical)

Buy To Close 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 put (SPY111209P125)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 127 put (SPY111209P127) for a credit of $.67  (selling a vertical)

We paid out $133 to roll up the short call from the 125 strike to the 127 strike, and collected $67 when we rolled up the short put from the 125 to 127 strike.  After commissions, these two trades cost us a net $71.

The stock then fell back to $125 and we reversed the last put trade (but did not bother rolling down the short call to the 125 strike, electing to let it expire worthless):

Buy To Close 1 SPY Dec2-11 127 put (SPY111209P127)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 put (SPY111209P125) for a debit of $1.11  (buying a vertical)

This trade cost us $113.50 including commissions.  When we bought back the soon-to-expire short options on Friday (paying no commissions since thinkorswim does not change a commission to buy back a short option for $5 or less), we paid out another $8, making the total outlay $1600.50  ($1408 + $71 + $113.50 + $8). 

At last Friday’s prices, our long Jan-12 options were trading at a total of $1705.50, indicating that we had gained $105 for the week, or 6.2% after commissions.

At the outset, we said that we expected this little investment would gain us an average of 5% a week, so for the first week, we are right on target.

These are the orders we placed on Friday, December 9th:

Buy To Close 1 SPY Dec2-11 127 call (SPY111209C127) for $.05 (no commission)

Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec-11 127 call (SPY111217C127) for $1.28

Buy To Close 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 put (SPY111209P125) for $.03 (no commission)

Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec-11 126 put (SPY111217P126) for $1.99

For the second week, we collected a total of $324.50 by selling a Dec-11 126 put and a Dec-11 127 call which will expire next Friday, December 16th.  By the end of the day, their value had fallen to $252.25, so we had already made some of the gain we expect for the second week. If the stock ends up between these strikes (126 and 127) and we don’t have to adjust mid-week, the entire amount (about 20%) could be profit.

Here is the risk profile graph for our current positions.  It shows the expected loss or gain at the various possible prices where SPY might be on Friday (remember, if the stock moves by $2 in either direction, we will make an adjustment similar to those we made in the first week), and the curve will move in the direction that the stock moved.  Some of the potential gain will be erased when adjustments are made.

If you can follow the above trades, you have a good understanding how we carry out our portfolios at Terry’s Tips.  If this strategy can indeed make 5% a week (and there is the possibility of much more), we wonder why anyone would be buying stock or mutual funds rather than investing in an option strategy similar to this. 

Many of our subscribers are mirroring our trades in this portfolio (or having thinkorswim make the trades for them through their Auto-Trade service).  Last week they were all happy campers.

A Useful Way to Think About Delta

Monday, December 5th, 2011

This week we will ignore the looming European debt crisis for a minute and talk a little about one of the “Greeks” – a measure designed to predict how option prices will change when underlying stock prices change or time elapses. It is important to have a basic understanding of some of these measures before embarking on trading options.

I hope you enjoy this short discussion.

A Useful Way to Think About Delta

The first “Greek” that most people learn about when they get involved in options is Delta.  This important measure tells us how much the price of the option will change if the underlying stock or ETF changes by $1.00. 

If you own a call option that carries a delta of 50, that means that if the stock goes up by $1.00, your option will increase in value by $.50 (if the stock falls by $1.00, your option will fall by a little less than $.50). 
The useful way to think about delta is to consider its value to be the probability of that option finishing up (on expiration day) in the money.  If you own a call option at a strike price of 60 and the underlying stock is selling at $60, you have an at-the-money option, and the delta will likely be about 50.  In other words, the market is saying that your option has a 50-50 chance of expiring in the money (i.e., the stock is above $60 so your option would have some intrinsic value).

If your option were at the 55 strike, it would have a much higher delta value because the likelihood of its finishing up in the money (i.e., higher than $55) would be much higher.  The 55 call might have a delta of 80 or 90 (or if the option is about to expire, it will approach 100).  With the stock at $60 and the strike at 55, the stock could fall by $4.99 or go up by any amount and it would end up being in the money, so the delta value would be quite high.

On the other hand, if your call option were at the 65 strike while the stock was selling at $60, it would carry a much lower delta (maybe 10 if expiration is near, or 30 if there are a few months to go until expiration) because there would be a much lower likelihood of the stock going up $5 so that your option would expire in the money.

Of course, the amount of remaining life also has an effect on the delta value of an option.  For in-the-money call options, the closer to expiration you are, the higher the delta value.  For out-of-the-money options, delta values are higher for further-out expirations.  As in many things concerning options, even the most simple measure, delta, is a little confusing.  Fortunately, most brokers (especially thinkorswim) show you the net delta value of your long and short options at all times (or the deltas of any options you are thinking of buying or selling).
In one Terry’s Tips portfolio, we have sold December call options for AAPL which expire on December 16th.  With the stock currently trading about $395, the Dec-11 395 call carries a delta of 50 (meaning the market is betting that there is a 50-50 chance of AAPL trading above $395 in two weeks, at expiration).  We are also short a Dec-11 405 call which carries a delta of 30.  The market figures that there is about a 30% chance that AAPL will be above $405 in two weeks.  And the Dec-11 415 call has a delta of only 14, so the expectation is that 14% of the time, the stock might rally by $20 over those two weeks.

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