from the desk of Dr. Terry F Allen

Skip navigation

Member Login  |  Contact Us  |  Sign Up

1-800-803-4595

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

May 14, 2015

How to Make Gains in a Down Market With Calendar Spreads

This week I came to the conclusion that the market may be in for some trouble over the next few months (or longer). I am not expecting a crash of any sort, but I think it is highly unlikely that we will see a large upward move anytime soon.

Today, I would like to share my thinking on the market’s direction, and talk a little about how you can use calendar spreads to benefit when the market (for most stocks) doesn’t do much of anything (or goes down moderately).

Terry

How to Make Gains in a Down Market With Calendar Spreads

For several reasons, the bull market we have enjoyed for the last few years seems to be petering out. First, as Janet Yellen and . . .

April 29, 2015

Check Out a Long-Term Bet on FaceBook (FB)

In the family charitable trust I set up many years ago, I trade options to maximize the amounts I can give away each year. In this portfolio, I prefer not to actively trade short-term options, but each year, I make selected bets on companies I feel good about and I expect they won’t tank in price over the long run. Last week, I made such a bet on FaceBook (FB) that I would like to tell you about today. The spread will make over 40% in the next 8 months even if the stock were to fall $5 over that time.

Terry

Check Out a Long-Term Bet on FaceBook (FB)

When most people think about trading options, they are thinking short-term. If they are buying calls in hopes that the stock will skyrocket, they usually by the cheapest call they can find. These are the ones which return the greatest percentage gain , , ,

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 . . .

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.

Order Now

Sign Up Your 2 Free Reports & Our Newsletter Now!

Sign up for Dr. Terry F Allen’s free newsletter and get immediate access to his most current report on his stock option trading strategies.

TD Ameritrade

Member Login  |  Programs and Pricing  |  Testimonials  |  About Us  |  Legal Notices  |  Accessibility Statement  |  Privacy Policy  |  Site Map

thinkorswim, Division of TD AMERITRADE, Inc. and Terry’s Tips are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other's services and products.

©Copyright 2001–2015 Terry's Tips, Inc. dba Terry's Tips

Close Window

Sign up for the Terry’s Tips Free Newsletter and Receive 2 Options Strategy Reports:

or

Login to Your Existing Account Now

No Thanks

Newsletter Signup

Member Login

Enter your primary email below, and we'll send you a new password