Today I would like to share an options strategy that we are carrying out in an actual portfolio at Terry’s Tips. It is based on the underlying stock Nike (NKE), and is set up to show how an options portfolio can make far greater gains than you could expect if you bought shares of the stock instead.The options portfolio should make a double-digit gain in the next four weeks even if the stock falls by $3 or so. If you like Nike, you will have to like this options portfolio even more.
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How to Use Options to Invest in Nike: Please spend a few minutes studying this risk profile graph carefully. It shows the expected return you would make on an investment of about $4000 in NKE call options in the next 25 days:
- NKE Risk Profile Graph
If the stock ends up at about where it is right now ($69) when the October call options expire on Friday, October 19, 2013, the graph shows that you could expect to make almost $1000 on your $4000 investment. That is almost 25% and the stock doesn’t have to go up one nickel.
People who buy shares of NKE instead of setting up a simple options portfolio like this one will not make any gains at all while we make over 20% in a single month. Of course, stockholders get to keep the 1.5% dividend that the company pays (regardless of which way the stock price might move). We have to give up that reward in exchange for the possibility of making over 20% in the next month, and presumably, in every subsequent month as well.
Admittedly, this sounds a little too good to be true. But the graph does not lie. Those are the numbers.
The graph shows that if the stock manages to move higher by about $3 over the next 25 days, less money would come our way. Only about 13% (after commissions) on our $4000 investment. But that is still a whole lot better than the stockholders would gain. They would pick up about 4.3% (a $3 gain on a $69 stock), less than half of what we expect.
The biggest advantage to our options portfolio actually comes about in the event that the stock falls moderately over the next month. If it should fall about $3 to the $66 area, the graph shows that we would make a profit of about 11% on our investment. Of course, if that happens, the owners of the stock would all lose money while we are re-investing some nice gains, or taking a little vacation in Provence, or whatever we want to do with those winnings.
It’s particularly pleasing to rack up a nice gain for the month when the stock we picked actually fell in value. We call it the “options kicker” and we really get a kick out of it.
So what does this portfolio consist of, and why can we expect to make money if the stock stays flat or moves moderately either up or down? It all comes about from the decay rate of the options that we own and the options that we have sold to someone else.
This portfolio owns call options with strike prices of 62.5 and 65, and most of these calls are LEAPS expiring in January, 2015. All options fall in value every day (assuming that the stock stays flat), but the rate of decay is much lower for longer-term options like the ones we own. Every day, our call LEAPS fall in value by about $1 each (in the options world, this is called theta). Since we own 7 LEAPS, we lose about $7 a day in decay.
Using these LEAPS as collateral, we have sold October, 2013 calls at the 70 and 72.5 strikes to someone else. These calls decay at the rate of $4 a day, and the 7 we have sold short collectively go down in value by $28 every day. Since our long positions are decaying by $7 a day and the ones we sold to someone else are falling by $28, the portfolio is gaining $21 every day that the stock is flat. This number will grow larger as the October 19th expiration is approached. In the last few days, those options will fall by $15 or so (each) while our LEAPS will continue to fall by only about $1 each.
When the October expiration day comes around, we will buy back the expiring short calls if they are in the money (i.e., the strike price is lower than the stock price) and we will sell November calls in their place. If our short calls are out of the money (i.e., the strike price is higher than the current stock price), they will expire worthless and we will be able to keep 100% of what we sold those calls for. At that point we will sell new calls expiring in November.
This is a simplistic explanation of the strategy. It gets a little more complicated when you have to decide which strike prices to sell calls at each month. Since we are bullish on NKE, we usually sell calls that are mostly at out-of-the-money strike prices so that we will gain both from the increase in the stock price and the decay of the calls that we have sold. The above risk profile graph is typical of what we normally have in place because a bigger gain will come our way if the stock gains $3 compared to what we would make if it fell by $3.
You can use this same strategy on just about any stock. It doesn’t have to be Nike. We also have a portfolio that uses the same strategy with one of my favorite companies, Costco. While the strategy may look a little confusing to someone who is not familiar with stock options, it is actually quite simple. I invite you to become a Terry’s Tips Insider and watch how this strategy (and others) are carried out over time.
Once you learn how to do it, you won’t need us any longer. My goal is for every person who subscribes to my service to learn enough in a few months to be able to quit and do it on their own. But first you need to come on board. It only costs a total of $79.95, or you can get it free if you open an account with our link at thinkorswim.