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Posts Tagged ‘Stocks vs. Stock Options’

Black Friday Special Offer Lowest Price Ever

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Learn the Exact Details of the Options Strategies That Have Resulted in Average Gains of 120% so far in 2017…

…at a Near-Give-Away Price Never Offered Before

Terry’s Tips is an options newsletter that has been around for 16 years.  Over that time period, we have developed and refined several options strategies that are enjoying unprecedented success.

We carry out 10 separate options portfolios for our subscribers to follow on their own with our favorite brokerage tastyworks or by having the trades executed automatically through thinkorswim’s Auto-Trade program.

Each portfolio is carried out in a separate account available for everyone to see (we don’t just publicize the most successful ones).  Each portfolio employs a specific pre-defined strategy using one or more underlying stocks or ETPs (Exchange Traded Products).   Unlike other options newsletters, we include the actual commissions in all our results.

The composite average gain for 2017 for our 10 portfolios through the first week of November was 120%.  Subscribers who mirrored all 10 of our portfolios would have invested $48,600 in January.  Those portfolios were worth $107,103 last week.  But of course, you can mirror just the portfolios that you like or choose.

We have made these gains with various strategies including Credit Spreads and Selling Naked Puts.  But for the last 16 years our flagship strategy is what we call the 10K Strategy.  It involves selling short-term options on individual stocks and using longer-term (or LEAPS) as collateral.  It is sort of like writing calls, except that you don’t have to put up all that cash to buy 100 or 1000 shares of the stock.  The 10K Strategy is sort of like writing calls on steroids.  It is an amazingly simple strategy that really works with the one proviso, that you select a stock that stays flat or moves higher over time.

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

Lowest Subscription Price Ever:  As a Black Friday special, we are offering the lowest subscription price that we have ever offered – our full package, including:

    • Over 10 case study reports
    • my 60+ page 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 options trading
    • and two months of our weekly newsletter full of tradable option ideas.

Here is a sampling of the additional free reports you will get with a subscription to Terry’s Tips:

How We Made 100% on Apple

VXX – The Holy Grail for the 10K Strategy

Using the Vertical Credit Put Spread

Eight Consecutive Earnings Play Wins and What We Learned

An Options Strategy That Could Realistically Make 40% a Month

Two 2015 Case Studies of Option Portfolios – COST and SBUX

It is hard to place a value on these special reports – if they helped you improve your investment results for the rest of your life, how much might they be worth to you?  Not exactly priceless, but maybe getting close to it.

For this lowest-price-ever $37.95 offer, click here, enter Special Code BF117 (or BF117P for Premium Service – $77.95).

If you are ready to commit for a longer time period, you can save even more with our half-price offer on our Premium service for an entire year.  This special offer includes everything in our basic service, and in addition, real-time trade alerts and full access to all 9 of our current actual portfolios so that you can Auto-Trade or follow any or all of them.  We have several levels of our Premium service, but this is the maximum level since it includes full access to all nine portfolios.  A year’s subscription to this maximum level would cost $1080.  With this half-price offer, the cost for a full year would be only $540.  Use the Special Code MAX17P.

This is a time-limited offer.  You must order by Monday, November 27, 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 Thanksgiving and Black Friday gift that is designed to deliver higher financial returns for the rest of your investing life. Just imagine sitting around at the family get together and explaining to your favorite know it all buy and hold uncle about Vertical Bull Put Spreads as his eyes glaze over.

I look forward to helping you get the next investment cycle (ride the holiday retail economy cash injection) 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 $37.95 for our entire package.  Get it here using Special Code BF117 (or BF117P for Premium Service – $79.95).   Do it today, before you forget and lose out.  This offer expires on Monday, November 27, 2016.

P.P.S. Use special code MAX17P to get the ultimate Premium Special for $540 (normally $1080)

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.

Will Nvdia (NVDA) Continue Its Upward Momentum?

Monday, June 12th, 2017

This week we are discussing another of Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 List companies.  In one of our portfolios, we use this list to find stocks which have displayed a strong upward momentum, and we place spreads which will profit if the upward momentum continues for about six more weeks.  Actually, the stock can even fall a little for the maximum gain to be made on these spreads.

Terry

Will Nvdia (NVDA) Continue Its Upward Momentum?

Several articles have recently been published on the positive outlook for NVDA.  Here are two of them – Nvidia: Citigroup Analyst Thinks The Stock Can Go To $300 and BofAML pushes Nvidia to new price target high; shares up 2.7%.

If you agree with these analysts, you might consider making this trade which is a bet that NVDA will continue its upward momentum (or at least not decline very much) over the next six weeks:

Buy To Open NVDA 21Jul17 140 puts (NVDA170717P140)

Sell To Open NVDA 21Jul17 145 puts (NVDA170717P145) for a credit of $2.30 (selling a vertical)

This price was $.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when NVDA was trading just below $150.  You should be able to get close to this amount unless the stock moves quickly higher. (In my personal account, I sold this spread on Monday for $2.33).

If you use our favorite broker for this trade, tastyworks, your commission on this trade will only be $2 per contract (and there is no commission on closing trades, only the $.10 clearing fee).  Each contract would then yield $228 and your broker would charge a $500 maintenance fee, making your investment $272 ($500 – $228).  If NVDA closes at any price above $145 on July 17, 2017, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 83% (586% annualized).

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

IBD Underlying Updates June 12, 2017

IBD Underlying Updates June 12, 2017

We have found that the Investor’s Business Daily Top 50 List has been a reliable source of stocks that are likely to move higher in the short run.  The Terry’s Tips portfolio which places spreads like the above one has gained 76% in the first five months of 2017 in spite of incurring some losses on some of the spreads placed.  Recent additions to the list might be particularly good choices for this strategy, and deletions might be good indicators for exiting a position that you might already have on that stock.

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

Happy trading,

Terry

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

Closing Out Last Week’s Facebook Trades

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Today I would like to report on the gains I made last Friday on the trades I told you about that I had placed last Monday in advance of Facebook’s (FB) earnings announcement on May 3.  I was fortunate enough for the stock to take a moderate drop after the announcement, and have some thoughts on how I might play the FB  earnings announcement in 3 months.

Terry

Closing Out Last Week’s Facebook Trades

A little over a week ago, I passed on a pre-earnings trade I had made on Facebook in advance of their May 3 after-market announcement.  Essentially, I bought calendar spreads (long side 16Jun17 series and short side 05May17 series) at the 150, 152.5 and 155 strikes when FB was trading just under $152.

I was hoping that the stock would barely budge after the announcement.  I was lucky.  It did just that, falling a bit to close out the week at $150.24, about $1.50 lower than it was when I bought the spreads.

Near the close, I was able to buy back all of the expiring options (puts at the 150 strike, calls at the 152.5 and 155 strikes for $.02 or $.03), and sell every long call for a higher price than I had paid for the original spread.

Here are the spreads I made today when FB was trading just under $152:

Buy to Open 2 FB 16Jun17 150 puts (FB170616P150)

Sell to Open 2 FB 05 May17 150 puts (FB170505P150) for a debit of $1.49 (buying a calendar)   Spread closed for $2.19, gaining $140.

Buy to Open 1 FB 16Jun17 150 calls (FB170616C150)

Sell to Open 1 FB 05 May17 152.5 calls (FB170505C152.5) for a debit of $3.03 (buying a diagonal)  Spread closed for $3.75, gaining $72.

Buy to Open 1 FB 16Jun17 155 calls (FB170616C155)

Sell to Open 1 FB 05 May17 152.5 calls (FB170505C152.5) for a debit of $.55 (buying a diagonal)  Spread closed for $1.55, gaining $100.

Buy to Open 2 FB 16Jun17 155 calls (FB170616C155)

Sell to Open 2 FB 05 May17 155 calls (FB170505C155) for a debit of $1.59 (buying a diagonal) Spread closed for $1.62, gaining $6.

These spreads cost me a total of $974 plus $12 in commissions at tastyworks’ ultra-low rate of $1.00 per contract.  Even better, when I closed out these trades on Friday, I did not incur a commission at all (only paid the $.10 per contract clearing fee).

I made a net profit of $318 on an investment of $986, or 32% on an investment that lasted for 5 days. The Terry’s Tips portfolio that trades FB options gained 22% last week, and now has gained 215% for the year (after commissions).  The stock has gained 30% in 2017, but our portfolio has done 7 times that number.

The risk profile graph I published in the last blog assumed that implied volatility (IV) of the June options would fall from 24% to 16%.  I was a little too conservative.  IV fell to 18%, and the spreads performed a little better than the graph had projected.

While this is certainly a nice gain for the week, it only came about because I was lucky enough for the stock not to fluctuate very much.  In the future, I think I might buy more spreads at strikes below the current stock price of FB because the clear pattern around announcement time has been for the company to exceed expectations by a nice margin and the stock falls a small amount on the news.

Happy trading,

Terry

40% Possible in 2 Weeks With an Iron Condor?

Monday, April 17th, 2017

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

Terry

40% Possible in 2 Weeks With an Iron Condor?

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

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

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

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

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

This is the spread I executed this morning:

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

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

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

Trading Options Can be a Lifetime Learning Experience

Friday, April 7th, 2017

I have been trading options just about every day the market is open for about 40 years, including some time on the floor of the CBOE.  I have made large sums of money at times, and (sadly) have also lost money along the way.  But the amazing thing about my experience is that I continue to learn things even after all these years.

Today I would like to talk about trading options with an analogy.

Terry

Trading Options Can be a Lifetime Learning Experience

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 probably 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 professionals who are selling the stock to them rather than 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 in 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.  For example, Facebook (FB) has had a great start for 2017.  It has gained 20.5% in the first ten weeks.  The Terry’s Tips option portfolio that trades FB options (calendar and diagonal spreads) has gained 105.7% over this same period, over 5 times as much.  With actual results like this, why wouldn’t any reasonable adult with enough cash to buy stock want to learn how to multiply his or her earnings by learning a little about the wonderful world of options?

Playing checkers (and buying stock) is boring.  Playing chess (and trading options) is far more challenging.  And rewarding, if you do it right.

What Can Be Learned From Successful Option Strategies

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

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

Terry

 What Can Be Learned From Successful Option Strategies

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 19th, 2016

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

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

 

Terry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy trading.

Terry

 

Update on Oil Trade (USO) Suggestion

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

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

Terry

Update on Oil Trade (USO) Suggestion

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Happy trading.

Terry

Making 36%

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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.

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