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Disadvantages of Option Trading

1.    Taxes.  Except in very rare circumstances, all gains are taxed as short-term capital gains.  This is essentially the same as ordinary income.  The rates are as high as your individual personal income tax rates. Because of this tax situation, we encourage subscribers to carry out option strategies in an IRA or other tax-deferred account, but this is not possible for everyone.  (Maybe you have some capital loss carry-forwards that you can use to offset the short-term capital gains made in your option trading).

2.    Commissions.  Compared to stock investing, commission rates for options, particularly for the Weekly options, are horrendously high.  It is not uncommon for commissions for a year to exceed 30% of the amount you have invested.   Be wary of any newsletter that does not include commissions in their results – they are misleading you big time.

3.    Wide Fluctuations in Portfolio Value.   Options are leveraged instruments.  Portfolio values typically experience wide swings in value in both directions.

The most popular portfolio at Terry’s Tips (they call it the Weekly Mesa) gained over 100% (after commissions) in the last 4 months of 2010.  The underlying stock for the Weekly Mesa is the S&P 500 tracking stock, SPY, one of the most stable of all indexes.  Yet their weekly results included a loss of 31.3% in the last week of November (they have added an insurance tactic to make that kind of loss highly unlikely in the future, by the way).  Three times, their weekly gains were above 20%.

Many people do not have the stomach for such volatility, just as some people are more concerned with the commissions they pay than they are with the bottom line results (both groups of people probably should not be trading options).

4.    Uncertainty of Gains. In carrying out option strategies, most prudent investors depend on risk profile graphs which show the expected gains or losses at the next options expiration at the various possible prices for the underlying.  These graphs are particularly important to check out when placing initial positions, and it is also wise to consult them frequently during the week as well. 

Oftentimes, when the options expire, the expected gains do not materialize.  The reason is usually because option prices (implied volatilities, VIX, - for those of you who are more familiar with how options work) fall.   (The risk profile graph software assumes that implied volatilities will remain unchanged.).   Of course, there are many weeks when VIX rises and you might do better than the risk profile graph had projected.   But the bottom line is that there are times when the stock does exactly as you had hoped  and you still don’t make the gains you originally expected.

With all these negatives, is option investing worth the bother?  We think it is.  Where else is the chance of 100% annual gains a realistic possibility?  We believe that at least a small portion of many people’s investment portfolio should be in something that at least has the possibility of making extraordinary returns.

With CD’s and bonds yielding ridiculously low returns (and the stock market not really showing any gains for the past 4 years), the options alternative has become more attractive for many investors, in spite of all the problems we have outlined above.

Terry's Tips Stock Options Trading Blog

April 22, 2015

Why Calendar Spreads Are So Much Better Than Buying Stock

One of the great mysteries in the investment world (at least to me, an admitted options nut) is why anyone would buy stock in a company they really like when they could dramatically increase their expected returns with a simple stock options strategy instead. Of course, buying options is a little more complicated and takes a little extra work, but if you could make two or three times (or more) on your investment, wouldn’t that little extra effort be more than worth it? Apparently not, since most people take the lazy way out and just buy the stock.

Today I will try to persuade you to give stock options a try. I will show you exactly what I am doing in one of my Terry’s Tips portfolios while trading one of my favorite stocks.

Terry

Why Calendar Spreads Are So Much Better Than Buying Stock

I like just about everything about Costco. I like to shop there. I buy wine by the case, paying far less than my local wine store (I am not alone – Costco is the largest retailer . . .

April 14, 2015

$20 Spread Investment Idea – a Bet on Oil

This week I would like to share an option spread idea which will cost you only $20 to try (plus commission). Of course, it you like the idea, you could buy a hundred or more of them like I did, or you could just get your options toe wet at a cost of a decent lunch (skip lunch and take a walk instead – it could improve both your physical and financial health).

The bet requires you to take a stab at what the price of oil might do in the next few weeks. Your odds of winning are surely better than placing a bet on a fantasy baseball team, and it could be as much fun. Read on.

Terry

$20 Spread Investment Idea – a Bet on Oil

I continue to investigate investment opportunities in USO, both . . .

April 3, 2015

Update on Oil Play Designed to Make 25% in One Month

About a month ago I sent out a strategy we were using to capitalize on the price of oil falling further (as many analysts, including those at Goldman, Citi, and Barclays, were predicting). We set up a small demonstration portfolio which had $2910 to start, and bought calendar spreads at the 18, 17, and 16 strikes when USO was trading at $18.45.

When the price of oil did retreat further, USO fell to about $17, and we sold our calendar spreads at the 17 and 18 strikes and replaced them with calendar spreads at the 15 and 14 strikes. Since the strike prices of calendar spreads is what determines whether you are bullish or bearish on the stock, when we had all our calendar spreads at strikes below the stock price, we were extremely bearish.

Then the stock turned around and headed higher, taking away the gains we had made, and we were right back to where we started. Today we made a new start, and I would like to share our thinking at this time.

Terry

Update on Oil Play Designed to Make 25% in One Month

USO is an Exchange Traded Product (ETP) which is highly . . .

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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