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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

April 24, 2018

Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy Update #5 - Mastercard (MA)

When using the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy, one of the things we like to find is a stock about to announce earnings where the options have priced in a post-announcement price fluctuation which is greater than the historical average of the post-announcement changes for that company.

Our goal is to create two diagonal spreads at a credit (or slight debit) which allow for a profit to be made if the post-announcement fluctuation is within the historical average amount.  In the past few weeks, we have placed spreads that met these criteria on several companies, including Carmax (KMX), TD Ameritrade (AMTD), and Red Hat (RHT), and these plays were all profitable, with returns from 30% to over 70% including commissions in a single week.

This week, we are looking forward to taking a position in Mastercard (MA) which announces earnings before the market opens on May 2.  The 4May18 options have priced a 3.8% post-announcement price change while the average change for the last eight quarters has been only 1.1% (about $2 when the stock is trading about $175).

Here are the trades we made this week using . . .

April 23, 2018

Micron Technology (MU) Retreats - Can it Hold Above the Psychological $50 Handle?

This week we are looking at another of the Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 List companies.  We use this list in one of our options portfolios to spot outperforming stocks and place option spreads that take advantage of the momentum.

Terry

Micron Technology (MU) Retreats - Can it Hold Above the Psychological $50 Handle?

Micron Technology has posted an impressive gain in the early year and several analysts are expecting more upside.  The following two articles provide the details behind this view – 3 Stocks That Could Double Your Money and Bull of the Day: Micron (MU).

April 18, 2018

Facebook (FB) Play - Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy

Facebook (FB) announces earnings after the close on April 24, 2018.  I have submitted an article to Seeking Alpha outlining the reasons I believe that the stock will trade higher (or at least, not lower) after the announcement compared to its current level. If they accept my article for publication, I will send you the link.  If they don’t accept it in a timely basis, I will send it along to you.

Here are the trades we made this week in accordance with this positive post-announcement outlook using the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy that is outlined here in case you missed it earlier.  Note that one of the diagonals is being placed at a slight debit, a small deviation from the strategy.  This should not be a problem because the 1Jun18 options are considerably higher than this debit, and will surely hold up enough so that one of the two spreads is guaranteed to be a serious gainer.

BTO 1 FB 1Jun18 160 put (FB180601P160)

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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TastyWorks

Tastyworks is a new brokerage firm from the brains behind tastytrade and it is our top choice of options-friendly brokers. Their commission rates are extremely competitive - options trades are only $1 per contract to open and $0 commission to close (all options trades incur a clearing fee of $0.10 per contract). The tastyworks trading platform quickly became our favorite platform for options trading and it keeps getting better with new features released each week. Terry uses tastyworks and loves everything about them!

TD Ameritrade

This Chicago brokerage firm with the unlikely name thinkorswim, Inc. by TD Ameritrade is considered by many to be the best option-friendly broker. For openers, they have extremely good analytic software and their option trading platform is exceptional. Thinkorswim Mobile has been called the best mobile app in the industry. In 2017, TD Ameritrade received 4 stars out of 5 in the annual Barron`s* Best Online Brokers Survey. TD Ameritrade was tops as an online broker for long-term investors and for novices. The company is the only broker that receives the highest 5.0 score for research amenities among all firms participated in the ranking last year.

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