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Writing Covered Calls

Many financial advisors and more than a dozen websites advocate writing (selling) covered calls as a sound investment strategy. Thousands of subscribers pay millions of dollars to get advice on profitable covered calls to write.

I believe they are wasting their money. Writing covered calls only limits the potential gain you might enjoy.

Let’s take an example. You buy 100 shares of XYZ for $80 and write (sell) an at-the-money two-month call ($80 strike price) for $4.00. If the stock stays flat, you will earn 5% on your money for the period (plus collect a dividend if there is one). If you can do this six times a year (write a two-month call six times), you will earn 30% annually (less commissions); or so goes the promise.

(In the last chapter we showed that selling calls against a one-year option rather than stock results in a hypothetical 300% gain if the stock stays absolutely flat, or ten times the amount you could earn by writing calls against the stock.)

In this covered call-writing example, 30% is the maximum amount you can earn. No matter how high XYZ goes in price, you can never earn more than 30%. The bottom line truth is that you will NEVER earn that 30%. The reason is that no stock price ever stays the same. If the stock goes up by $5 in the first 60 days, you will either lose your stock (through exercise), or more likely, you will buy back the call you wrote, paying $5, and losing $1 on the call (but making $5 on the increase in the price of the stock). So for the first 60 days, you actually made a 5% net gain ($4 net gain on a $80 stock).

Presumably, you then sell another 60-day at-the-money call (now at the $85 strike) and collect perhaps $4.25. Then the stock falls back to $80. In this time period, you gain $4.25 from selling the call but you lose $5 in stock value for a net loss of $.75.

Your gains on the calls you wrote now total $3.25 for a 120-day period (you gained $4.00 in the first 60-day period and lost $.75 in hoped would earn you 30% for the year). At this rate (four months of activity), your annual return will be $9.75, or 12.2% on the original $80 stock. Commissions on six sales of calls over the year will considerably reduce this return — to 10% or so. Not a bad return, but certainly not 30%. And it’s an awful lot of work for a 10% return.

For a full explanation of an option strategy that is designed to outperform writing covered calls, check out Dr. Terry Allen’s Free Report on calendar spreads.

Terry's Tips Stock Options Trading Blog

July 30, 2015

Long-Term Options Strategies For Companies You Like

Today I would like to share an article I sent to paying subscribers two months ago. It describes an 8-month options play on Facebook (FB), a company that seems to be doing quite well these days. The spread is a vertical credit put spread which I like because once you place it, you don’t have to make any closing trades (both options hopefully expire worthless, all automatically) as long as the stock is any higher than a pre-determined price. It is actually quite simple to do, so please don’t tune out because its name sounds so confusing.

Terry

Here is the exact article sent out on April 24, 2015:

“A Long-Term Play on Facebook (FB): Last week in my charitable trust account I made a long-term bet that FB would not fall dramatically from here during the balance of 2015. It seems to be a good company that is figuring out how . . .

June 27, 2015

5 Option Strategies if you Think the Market is Headed Lower

A subscriber wrote in and asked what he should do if he thought the market would be 6% lower by the end of September. I thought about his question a little bit, and decided to share my thoughts with you, just in case you have similar feelings at some time along the way.

Terry

5 Option Strategies if you Think the Market is Headed Lower

We will use the S&P 500 tracking stock, SPY, as a proxy for the market. As I write this, SPY is trading just below $210. If it were to fall by 6% by the end of September (3 months from now), it would be trading about $197 at that time. The prices for the possible investments listed below are slightly more costly than the mid-point between the bid and ask prices for the options or the option spreads, and include . . .

June 1, 2015

Why Option Prices are Often Different

This week I would like to discuss why stock option prices are low in some weeks and high in others, and how option spread prices also differ over time. If you ever decide to become an active option investor, you should understand those kinds of important details.

Terry

Why Option Prices are Often Different

The wild card in option prices is implied volatility (IV). When IV is high, option prices are higher than they are when IV is lower. IV is determined by the market’s assessment of how volatile the market will be at certain times. A few generalizations can be made:

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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