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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

December 5, 2016

Comparing Calendar and Diagonal Spreads in an Earnings Play

Last week, in one of our Terry’s Tips portfolios, we placed calendar spreads with strikes about $5 above and below the stock price of ULTA which announced earnings after the close on Thursday. We closed out our spreads on Friday and celebrated a gain of 86% after commissions for the 4-day investment. It was a happy day.

This week, this portfolio will be making a similar investment in Broadcom (AVGO) which announces earnings on Thursday, December 8. I would like to tell you a little about these spreads and also answer the question of whether calendar or diagonal spreads might be better investments.

Terry

Comparing Calendar and Diagonal Spreads in an Earnings Play

Using last Friday’s closing option prices, below are the risk profile graphs for Broadcom (AVGO) for options that will expire Friday, December 9, the day after earnings are announced. Implied volatility for the 9Dec16 series is 68 compared to 35 for the 13Jan17 series (we selected the 13Jan17 series because IV was 3 less than it was for the 20Jan17 series). The graphs assume that IV for the 13Jan17 series will fall from 35 to 30 after the announcement. We believe that this is a reasonable expectation.

December 2, 2016

Update on Oil Trade (USO) Suggestion

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.

November 29, 2016

Benefiting From the Current Uncertainty of Oil Supply

The price of oil is fluctuating all over the place because of the uncertainty of OPEC’s current effort to get a widespread agreement to restrict supply. This has resulted in unusually high short-term option prices for USO (the stock that mirrors the price of oil). I would like to share with you an options spread I made in my personal account today which I believe has an extremely high likelihood of success.

Terry

Benefiting From the Current Uncertainty of Oil Supply

I personally believe that the long-run price of oil is destined to be lower. The world is just making too much of it and electric cars are soon to be here (Tesla is gearing up to make 500,000 next year and nearly a million in two years). But in the short run, anything can happen.

Meanwhile, OPEC is . . .

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