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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

September 26, 2014

How to Handle an Option Assignment

Yesterday, the SVXY put we had sold in our ongoing demonstration portfolio was exercised. While this is sort of an inconvenience to contend with, it will give us a learning opportunity. People with little or no options trading experience are often concerned that something awful happens when an option they have sold is exercised. This week’s experience should put their mind at ease.

Every Friday, we will make a trade in this portfolio and tell you about it here. Our goal is to earn an average gain of 3% a week in this portfolio after commissions.

I hope you find this ongoing demonstration to be a simple way to learn a whole lot about trading options.

Terry

How to Handle an Option Assignment

Yesterday SVXY fell over $5 a share as the market tanked and options volatility . . .

September 19, 2014

Ongoing SVXY Spread Strategy – Week 6

Today we will continue our discussion of both SVXY and the actual portfolio we are carrying out with only two positions. Every Friday, we will make a trade in this portfolio and tell you about it here.

Our goal is to earn an average gain of 3% a week in this portfolio after commissions. So far, we are well ahead of this goal.

I hope you find this ongoing demonstration to be a simple way to learn a whole lot about trading options. We will also discuss another Greek measure today – gamma.

Terry

Ongoing SVXY Spread Strategy – Week 6

Near the open today, SVXY was trading about $89.00. We want to sell a put that is about $1 in the money (i.e., at a strike one dollar higher than the current stock price). Our maximum gain each week will come if we are right, and the stock ends the week very close to the strike of our short put.

Here is the trade we placed today:. . .

September 12, 2014

Ongoing SVXY Spread Strategy – Week 5

Today we will continue our discussion of both SVXY and the actual portfolio we are carrying out with only two positions. Every Friday, we will make a trade in this portfolio and tell you about it here.

Our goal is to earn an average gain of 3% a week in this portfolio after commissions. So far, we are well ahead of this goal.

I hope you find this ongoing demonstration to be a simple way to learn a whole lot about trading options. We will also discuss some other options concepts today,

Terry

Ongoing SVXY Spread Strategy – Week 5

Near the open today, SVXY was trading about $86. We want to sell a put that is about $1 in the money (i.e., at a strike one dollar higher than the current stock price). Our maximum gain each week will come if we are right, and . . .

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