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Stock Options 101

Welcome to Stock Options 101

Our goal is to explain stock options in simple English. As you learn more, you will appreciate how difficult a task it is. People say that investing in stock is like playing checkers, while investing in options is like playing chess. We look forward to teaching you how to play the more complex game of stock options.

Are Stock Options Risky?

Most people would answer that question with a resounding "yes". True, according to some studies, over half of all options that people buy end up being worth absolutely nothing. Nada! Tear up your ticket stub and walk away.

If buying options is such a bad investment, maybe a strategy of selling options to someone else would be a better idea. Let their loss be your gain. But there is a problem here as well - it is called selling a naked option, because that is how you feel for the whole time you have sold that option. You are facing a theoretical unlimited loss. You can lose many more times the amount you invested. At least when you bet on a horse, that is all you lose when he trips on his way to the finish line.

So if buying options is usually not a good idea, and selling them can be worse, it is easy to see why people decide that options are risky no matter what you do. It does not occur to most of them that a strategy of buying an option and simultaneously selling another option to someone else might be an entirely different story.

This website is designed to explain an options strategy that we believe is less risky than buying stock or mutual funds, and potentially a whole lot more profitable. We hope you will read through this material and learn to love the world of options as we do.

Why Trade Stock Options?

Stock options are exchanged for two main reasons: for speculation (adds risk) and for hedging (reduces risk).

Speculation

Stock options are a way of leveraging your money. This is usually done by buying call options. You are able to participate in any upward moves of a stock without having to put up all the money to buy the stock. However, if the stock does not go up in price, the call option buyer may lose 100% of his/her investment. For this reason, options are considered to be risky investments.

Hedging

Stock options can be used to considerably reduce risk. Put options are usually traded for hedging purposes. While hedging reduces risk, it also limits the amounts of gains you can make. Since most stock markets go up over time, and most people invest in stock because they hope prices will rise, there is more interest and activity in call options than there is in put options.

Terry's Tips Stock Options Trading Blog

May 10, 2017

Closing Out Last Week’s Facebook Trades

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 . . .

May 2, 2017

Interesting Earnings Play on Facebook

Facebook (FB) has had a great year so far, gaining just over 30%. Terry's Tips has an actual portfolio that trades calendar and diagonal spreads on FB. This portfolio has gained 157% this year, more than 5 times as much as the stock has gone up. A big part of this gain came just after the January earnings announcement when the stock dropped a small amount on the news.

FB announces earnings after the close on Wednesday (May 3), and I would like to share some trades I made today in my personal account at my favorite broker, tastyworks. These trades approximate the current risk profile of the Terry's Tips’ FB portfolio.

Terry

Interesting Earnings Play on Facebook

Terry's Tips carries out 9 actual portfolios for paying subscribers. After the first four months of 2017, all 9 portfolios are in the black. The composite average has gained 34.5% for the year, certainly an outstanding result. The FB portfolio is by far the greatest . . .

April 17, 2017

40% Possible in 2 Weeks With an Iron Condor?

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 . . .

Making 36%

Making 36% – A Duffer's Guide to Breaking Par in the Market Every Year in Good Years and Bad

This book may not improve your golf game, but it might change your financial situation so that you will have more time for the greens and fairways (and sometimes the woods).

Learn why Dr. Allen believes that the 10K Strategy is less risky than owning stocks or mutual funds, and why it is especially appropriate for your IRA.

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TastyWorks

Tastyworks is a new brokerage firm from the brains behind tastytrade and it is our top choice of options-friendly brokers. Their commission rates are extremely competitive - options trades are only $1 per contract to open and $0 commission to close (all options trades incur a clearing fee of $0.10 per contract). The tastyworks trading platform quickly became our favorite platform for options trading and it keeps getting better with new features released each week. Terry uses tastyworks and loves everything about them!

TD Ameritrade

This Chicago brokerage firm with the unlikely name thinkorswim, Inc. by TD Ameritrade is considered by many to be the best option-friendly broker. For openers, they have extremely good analytic software and their option trading platform is exceptional. Thinkorswim Mobile has been called the best mobile app in the industry. In 2017, TD Ameritrade received 4 stars out of 5 in the annual Barron`s* Best Online Brokers Survey. TD Ameritrade was tops as an online broker for long-term investors and for novices. The company is the only broker that receives the highest 5.0 score for research amenities among all firms participated in the ranking last year.

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TD Ameritrade, Inc. and Terry's Tips are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other’s services and products.

tastyworks, Inc. has entered into a Marketing Agreement with Terry’s Tips (“Marketing Agent”) whereby tastyworks pays compensation to Marketing Agent to recommend tastyworks’ brokerage services. The existence of this Marketing Agreement should not be deemed as an endorsement or recommendation of Marketing Agent by tastyworks and/or any of its affiliated companies. Neither tastyworks nor any of its affiliated companies is responsible for the privacy practices of Marketing Agent or this website. tastyworks does not warrant the accuracy or content of the products or services offered by Marketing Agent or this website.

tastyworks, Inc. and Terry’s Tips are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other’s services and products. Options are not suitable for all investors as the special risks inherent to options trading my expose investors to potentially rapid and substantial losses. Options trading in a tastyworks account is subject to tastyworks’ review and approval. Please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options before investing in options

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