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Tip 5 – Shoot for the Stars Strategy

In spite of the odds against winning, many people seem to like to invest in individual stocks. It is sort of like picking horses at the race track (and often for similar sound selection reasons, like the reputation of the trainer or the jockey or the color of his silks, or the horse’s name or his recent race record, or what the touts are touting).

To our way of thinking, picking individual stocks is a lot more like gambling than carrying out a prudent option strategy such as the 10K Strategy .  But picking individual stocks is easier, and a whole lot more fun for many people.

If you insist on picking individual companies, there are two good ways to use an options strategy to multiply your gains if you are lucky enough to pick a winner.  First, the 10K Strategy, our favorite strategy, is best if you merely like a particular company.  Second, if you really LOVE the company, you might use the Shoot Strategy.

At Terry’s Tips, we conduct options strategies based on several individual companies we feel good about.  For example, in October 2013 we set up a portfolio based on Nike (NKE), a company we liked.  If we had really loved NKE, we would have used the Shoot Strategy.  We were lucky to have picked a good company. We started with $4000 in the portfolio (set up in an actual brokerage account with no other positions) when NKE was trading at $63.  By the end of November 2014, NKE had surged to $99, up 57%.  Our portfolio was then worth $11,435, a gain of 186%.  Our options portfolio had performed more than 3 times as well as the stock had gained.

If we had loved the stock at the outset, rather than just liking it, we would have used the Shoot Strategy instead of the 10K Strategy, and we would have gained even more. This time around. the Shoot Strategy would have done much better.  On the other hand, we felt pretty good about almost tripling our investment in 16 months while taking less risk than is involved in the Shoot Strategy.

While we don’t use the Shoot Strategy in any of our actual portfolios, we show you exactly how to do it if you have a company you really love.  It is more risky than our 10K Strategy but it should outperform if the stock actually does move up a lot.  If the stock stays flat, the Shoot Strategy will usually about break even. On the other hand, if the stock stays flat, the 10K Strategy is designed to make a nice gain.

The Shoot Strategy is outlined in my White Paper as the Shoot for the Stars Strategy.  Les Brown said “Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.  And Confucius said long ago “If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it's OK. But you've got to shoot for something. A lot of people don't even shoot.”

This is how the Shoot Strategy works -

1.  If the stock goes up, the Shoot Strategy will make money.  The gain will be considerably greater than the percentage gain would have been if the stock had been bought instead of the LEAPS.

2. If the stock stays flat, your account value will be about flat as well, or a small gain might result.  Since you are collecting slightly more than the average monthly decay of the LEAPS each month (until they have only a few months of remaining life) you might often make a small gain.  However, even a small gain is more than you would have made if you had bought the stock and it doesn’t go up a penny.

3. If the stock falls, a loss will usually result just like it would if you had bought the stock, and the loss will likely be a greater percentage loss than if the stock itself had been purchased instead.  However, in many cases, the loss could be reduced (or eliminated) if the stock fell during those months when our Trading Rules call for selling in-the-money calls.

General Trading Rules for executing the Shoot Strategy:

Pick a stock you believe is headed higher (we suggest using www.magicformulainvesting.com. as a guide – see discussion below).

1. Buy slightly in-the-money or out-of-the-money call LEAPS.  At least two LEAPS must be purchased.  If your budget does not warrant buying at least two true LEAPS, shorter-term calls can be purchased as long as they have at least six months of remaining life.
         Calculate the average monthly decay of the LEAPS (time premium divided by the
         number of remaining months).

2.  Sell enough slightly out-of-the-money current month calls to cover the average monthly decay.

3. Near or at expiration, roll over the short calls to the next month (if they are in the money), again selling enough out-of-the-money contracts to cover the average monthly decay.  If the expiring calls are out-of-the-money, let them expire worthless and sell the next month out, as above.

4. If short-term calls that have been sold become in the money (i.e., the stock has gone up), they must be bought back during expiration week, and the amount paid must be added to the remaining decay of the LEAPS and a new (higher) average monthly decay bogey established based on the number of remaining months of the LEAPS.

There are a number of other Trading Rules that have proved to be successful for the Shoot Strategy, including how to change tactics if the stock should fall, how to adjust which calls to sell during seasonally positive (and negative) months of the year, and the best time to sell the original LEAPS.  These important additional Trading Rules are included in the White Paper that comes with the Terry’s Tips Insider service.

Deciding Which Companies to Buy:


The best single source we have found for selecting individual companies is the Magic Formula system outlined in the small book by Joel Greenblat called “The Little Book That Beats the Market” and is available online at www.magicformulainvesting.com

Rather than relying entirely on the Magic Formula, it might be even better to select individual stocks that also rank high at Investors Business Daily (IBD), Value Line, and by composite analyst rankings.  While we prefer the 10K Strategy because of its lower risk, using the Shoot Strategy offers considerably higher returns than merely buying the stock, and if you carry it out correctly, you can sometimes make money with the Shoot Strategy even if the stock stays flat.

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Terry's Tips Stock Options Trading Blog

January 22, 2015

How to Make 20% in one Month on Your Favorite Stock (Using Options)

This week I would like to show you the exact positions of one of the 9 portfolios we are currently carrying out for Insiders at Terry’s Tips. It involves one of my favorite places to shop, Costco, and its stock, COST. We expect to make just under 20% on this portfolio in the next four weeks, even if the stock does not go up a single penny. Welcome to the wonderful world of stock options.

Terry

How to Make 20% in one Month on Your Favorite Stock (Using Options)

The basic strategy that we carry out at Terry’s Tips is to buy longer-term options on stocks we like and sell shorter-term options against them. Since the decay rates of the shorter-term options is . . .

January 8, 2015

Try a Vertical Put Credit Spread on a Stock That You Like

This week I would like to share my thoughts about the market for 2015, and also one of my favorite option strategies when I find a stock I really like. Whenever I find a stock I particularly like for one reason or another, rather than buy the stock outright, I use options to dramatically increase the returns I enjoy if I am right (and the stock goes up, or at least stays flat).

Today I would like to share a trade that I made today in my personal account.  Maybe you would like to do something similar with a company you particularly like.

And Happy New Year – I hope that 2015 will by your best year ever for investments (even if the market falls a bit).

Terry

Try a Vertical Put Credit Spread on a Stock That You Like

First, a few thoughts about the market for 2015.  The Barron’s Roundtable (made up of 10 mostly large investment bank analysts) predicted an average 10% market gain for 2015.  None of the analysts predicted a market loss for the year.  Others have suggested that the year should be approached with more caution, however. The whopping gain in VIX in the last week of 2014 is a clear indication that investors have become more fearful of what’s ahead. The market has gained about 40% over the past two years.  The bull market has continued for 90 months, a near-record–breaking string.

The forward P/E for the market has expanded to 19, several points higher than the historical average, and 2 points above where it was a year ago.  The trailing market P/E is 22.7x compared to 14x for the 125-year average.  Maybe such high valuations are appropriate for a zero-interest environment, but that is about to change. For the first time since 2007, the Fed will not be propping up the market with their Quantitative Easing purchases. The Fed has essentially promised that they will raise interest rates in 2015.  The only question is when it will happen.

There is an old adage that says “don’t fight the Fed.”  Not only have they stopped pumping billions into the economy every month, they plan to raise interest rates this year.  Like it or not, stock market investments made in 2015 are tantamount to picking a fight with the Fed.

While the U.S. economy is strong (and apparently growing), a great number of U.S. companies depend on foreign sales for a significant share of their business, and the foreign prospects aren’t so great for a number of countries. This situation could cause domestic company earnings to disappoint, and stock prices could fall.  At the very best, 2015 seems like a good time to take a cautious approach to investing.

Even if the market is not great for 2015, surely some shares will move higher. Barron’s chose General Motors (GM) as one of its best 10 picks for 2015 and made a compelling argument for the company’s prospects.  The 3.27% dividend should insulate the company from a big down-draft if the market as a whole has a correction in 2015.

I was convinced by their analysis that GM was highly likely to move higher in 2015.  Today, with GM trading at $35.70, I placed the following trade:

Buy To Open 10 GM Jun-15 32 puts (GM150619P32)

Sell To Open 10 GM Jun-15 37 puts (GM150619P37) for a credit of $2.20  (selling a vertical)

I like to go out about six months with spreads like this to give the stock a little time to move higher.  The above trade put $2200 in my account.  There will be a $5000 maintenance requirement which is reduced to $2800 when you subtract out the amount of cash I received.  This means that my maximum loss would be $2800, and this would come about if the stock closes below $32 on June 19, 2015.

If the stock closes at any price above $37, both the long and short puts will expire worthless and I will not have to make any more trades.  If this happens, I will make a profit of $2200 (less $25 commission, or $2175) on an investment of $2800.  This works out to a gain of 77%.

In order for me to make 77% on this investment, GM only needs to go up by $1.50 (4.2%).  If it stays exactly the same on June 19th ($35.70), I will have to buy back the 37 put for a cost of $1.30 ($1300 for 10 contracts).  That would leave me with a gain of $862.50, or 30.8%.

If I had purchased shares of GM with the $2800 I had at risk, I could have bought 78 shares.  I I might have collected a dividend of $91 over the 6 months.  With my options investment, I would have gained nearly 10 times that much if the stock did not move up at all.

Bottom line, even though I am taking a greater risk with options, the upside potential is so much greater than merely buying the stock that it seems to be a better move when you find a company that looks like it will be a winner.

December 4, 2014

Further Discussion on an Options Strategy Designed to Make 40% a Month

Last week we outlined an options play based on the historical fluctuation pattern for our favorite ETP called SVXY. This week we will compare those fluctuations to the market in general (using the S&P 500 tracking stock, SPY, as the market definition). We proposed buying a vertical call spread for a one-month-out expiration date with the lower strike about 6% above the starting stock price.

The results were a little unbelievable, possibly gaining an average of 65% a month (assuming the fluctuation pattern continued into the future). If you used an outside indicator to determine which months were more likely to end up with a winning result, you would invest in just under half the months, but when you did invest, your average gain might be in the neighborhood of 152%. Your average monthly gain would be approximately the same if you only invested half the time or all the time, but some people like to increase the percentage of months when they make gains (the pain of losing always seems to be worse than the pleasure of winning).

This week we will offer a second way to bet that the stock will rise by 12.5% in about 38% of the months (as it has in the past). It involves buying a calendar spread rather than a vertical call spread (and sort of legging into a long call position as an alternative to the simple purchase of a call).

Terry

Further Discussion on an Options Strategy Designed to Make 40% a Month:

First. Let’s compare the monthly price fluctuations of SPY and SVXY. You will see that they are totally different. . . .

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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