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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

October 17, 2014

Knowing When to Bite the Bullet

Sometimes, the market does just the opposite of what you hoped it would, and you are faced with the decision to hang on and hope it will reverse itself, or accept that you guessed wrong, and close out your position and move on to something else.

That will be our subject today.

Terry

Knowing When to Bite the Bullet

Kenny Rogers said it well – “You’ve got to know when to walk away and know when to run.” We set up demonstration portfolio to trade diagonal spreads on an ETP called SVXY. We were betting that the stock would go up. In each of the last two years, SVXY had doubled in value. Its inverse, VXX, had fallen from a split-adjusted $3000+ to under $30 over the past 5 years, making it just about the biggest dog on the entire stock exchange (selling it short would have made anyone a bundle over that time period). We felt comfortable being long (i.e., the equivalent of owning stock) in something that would do just the opposite of VXX.

In our demonstration portfolio, we decided to . . .

October 10, 2014

Handling an Adverse Price Change

Our SVXY demonstration hit a real snag this week, as the volatility index (VIX) soared to over 20 and SVXY got hammered, falling from the mid-$80’s level when we started the portfolio to about $65 while we were betting that it would move higher.

I hope you find this ongoing demonstration of a simple options strategy designed to earn 3% a week to be a simple way to learn a whole lot about trading options.

Terry

Handling an Adverse Price Change

There wasn’t much we could do today. The short 80.5 SVXY put that we had sold was . . .

October 2, 2014

How to Avoid an Option Assignment

This message is coming out a day early because the underlying stock we have been trading options on has fallen quite a bit once again, and the put we sold to someone else is in danger of being exercised, so we will trade a day earlier than usual to avoid that possibility.

I hope you find this ongoing demonstration of a simple options strategy designed to earn 3% a week to be a simple way to learn a whole lot about trading options.

Terry

How to Avoid an Option Assignment

Owning options is a little more complicated than owning stock. When an expiration date of options you have sold to someone else approaches, you need . . .

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