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Tip 7 - Trading ETF Options

Exchange-Traded Funds, or ETFs, are index funds that trade just like stocks on major stock exchanges. All the major stock indexes have ETFs based on them, including: Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA), Standard & Poor's 500 Index (SPX), and Nasdaq 100 Composite (QQQQ).

In addition, just about every major industry has an ETF for investors who wish to select an entire industry rather than individual stocks.

ETFs differ fundamentally from traditional mutual funds, which do not trade during the normal trading hours of the day. Traditional mutual funds take orders during Wall Street trading hours, but the transactions actually occur at the close of the market. The price they receive is the sum of the closing day prices of all the stocks contained in the fund. Not so for ETFs, which trade instantaneously all day long (just like ordinary stock).

Since ETFs trade all day, options are available on them.  These options provide interesting opportunities for certain strategies, including what I call the 10K Strategy, which is the major strategy offered by Terry’s Tips.

For the most part, at Terry’s Tips, we use broad-based ETFs as underlyings (SPY, DIA) for our option portfolios because they do not fluctuate wildly like individual stocks often do (our strategy works best when the underlying stays flat or moves only slightly in either direction).

We have had good luck with one ETF that is not broad-based, but made up of 84 companies in the banking and financial services area (XLF). 

The 15 most important components of the Financial SPDR (XLF) and their weights are:

1  JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)  11.80% 

2  Bank of America Corp. (BAC) 8.90% 

3  Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) 8.60% 

4  Citigroup Inc.(C)  5.60% 

5  U.S. Bancorp (USB) 4.20% 

6  Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) 3.10% 

7  Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK) 2.90% 

8  American Express Co. (AXP) 2.60% 

9  MetLife Inc. (MET) 2.20% 

10  Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. (MER)  2.20% 

11  Travelers Cos. Inc. (TRV) 2.00% 

12  PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (PNC) 1.90% 

13  AFLAC Inc. (AFL) 1.80% 

14  CME Group Inc. (CME) 1.60% 

15  Morgan Stanley  (MS) 1.60% 

A hedged strategy:The options strategy I use with XLF is a hedged strategy. In many respects, this strategy involves taking less risk than if I had just purchased XLF stock. Half the options are “long”, meaning they benefit when XLF moves in one particular direction, while half are “short”, meaning that they benefit if XLF moves in the other direction.   No matter which way XLF moves, half the options benefit from the change in stock price.

XLF options can be better than XLF stock. I must admit that I am an options guy, not a stock guy. No matter how much I like XLF (and I do), I know that I can make a whole lot more with the options than I ever can with the stock. And I can do it with a strategy that is “hedged”. I can make money with XLF even if the stock does not go up. Usually, I can even make money when it goes down, (just as long as it doesn’t go down too much, too fast).

If you trade actively in options, and particularly if you are hedged (meaning that you are putting on many different positions rather than speculating with the simple purchase of puts or calls), it is important to look at the options market for the underlying security. Option markets for individual companies, except for a very few extremely active stocks, often have large spreads between the bid and asked price. In many cases, a single market maker sets the prices, and it is difficult to get good executions when you trade.

This means that every time you buy an option, you pay more than you would if the options were more actively traded, and when you sell, you receive less than you would in an active options market. The options market for XLF is liquid. Bid-asked spreads are small, and you can successfully execute spread orders and count on getting decent prices regardless of whether you are buying or selling.

Why is XLF better than trading individual companies?  It has nothing to do with the company.  Rather, it has to do with the price behavior of most individual companies.  The 10K Strategy does best when the stock does not gyrate wildly.  At certain times, most individual companies are subject to sudden wide swings in their stock prices.  Earnings are announced, and the company either exceeds (or fails to meet) expected results, and the stock moves accordingly.  An analyst upgrades (or downgrades) the stock unexpectedly, and the stock makes a big move.   Sudden price changes in the stock can result in losses when using the 10K Strategy, so we prefer to trade on a basket of stocks (like XLF) rather than an individual company.  That way, if one company has a big swing in stock price, the effect on the total basket of stocks is usually minimal.  (If the companies are all in the same industry, sometimes one company’s gain is another’s loss, so the net effect on the basket of stocks is zero).

I call my system the 10K Strategy.  It is somewhere between a boring buy-and-hold strategy and day-trading.  It is not a marathon – you do not have to wait forever to see results.  Neither is it a sprint, dependent on short-term increases in the price of the stock.  Like any race, it takes a little effort to execute.  But the extraordinary profit potential makes it all worth while, at least to my way of thinking.

A Simple Options Strategy:The 10K Strategy is based on the simple fact that all options become less valuable every day (if the stock stays flat), but short-term options go down in value (decay) at a faster rate than long-term options.  I purchase slower-decaying long-term options and use them as collateral to sell faster-decaying short-term options to someone else.  If the stock stays flat, I always win.  Guaranteed!

But as we know, all stocks do not stay flat.  Some good stocks, like XLF, actually go up much of the time.  Having a good feeling about a stock (and being right) makes the 10K Strategy even more profitable than just enjoying the option decay advantage.  If the stock goes up, I can make more with the 10K Strategy than I ever could with the stock alone.

If the 10K Strategy is so simple, why doesn’t everybody follow it?  First of all, only Terry’s TipsInsiders know about it.  That’s a pretty small, but growing, universe.  Second, it really isn’t as simple as the basic underlying concept makes it seem.  The strategy consists of calendar spreads at several different strike prices (both above and below the stock price), with differing numbers of spreads at different strikes (depending on your personal risk tolerance), often involves puts rather than calls (even if you are bullish on the stock), and is governed by a strict set of Trading Rules that determine when adjustments need to be made.

Does the 10K Strategy make money all the time?  I’m afraid that nothing could be quite that good.  But it is close.  In March 2009, I set up the XLF portfolio using the 10K Strategy (we call it the Marco Polo portfolio).  This portfolio was set up in an actual brokerage account all by itself, and the positions (and every trade) updated each week for Terry’s Tips Insiders.

In the first 7 months, the portfolio gained 35% after all commissions (60% annualized) in spite of some extreme mid-month volatility.  Several times, the stock fluctuated by over 30% in a single month, something that our strategy has the most trouble handling.  To check how the portfolio has performed since that time, go to our Track Record page.

It all sounds too complicated – can you manage the 10K Strategy for me?  Unfortunately, I can’t manage your money.  I publish an options newsletter, and am not a licensed investment advisor.  But through a mechanism called Auto-Trade, the best of all brokerage firms (in my opinion, and also Barron’s), thinkorswim, Inc. by TD Ameritrade, will execute my recommendations in your account for you. 

How Much Does It Cost to Learn All About the 10K Strategy?  The White Paper costs less than a meal for two at a decent restaurant.  It gives you all the information you will need to execute the 10K Strategy, and set up, and maintain, a portfolio that matches the degree of risk that you are comfortable taking.  Complete Trading Rules for every risk level portfolio are included as well.

And there is more.  First, you will receive a free Stock Options Tutorial which will acquaint you with the basics of option trading, including a simple explanation of the often-intimidating “Greeks.”  Second, you will receive a free two-month subscription to our Insiders Newsletter, where you can watch our actual portfolios unfold each week (and receive Trading Alerts whenever a change is made in a portfolio).  If you wish, you can mirror one or more of these portfolios in your own account, or sign up for Auto-Trade with thinkorswim, Inc. by TD Ameritrade and have the trades made for you.

And there is still more, like a list of 20 “Lazy Way” companies which allow you to make two trades at the beginning, and do nothing more for two full years.  At the end of this period, you will have earned a minimum 100% on your investment, mathematically guaranteed, if the stock stays flat or goes up by any amount.  In most cases, it can even fall by 5% and you make at least 100%, and it can fall by 25% and a small profit still results.  (You can figure out all these numbers precisely, before you make the investment.)

Once you have become an Insider (by buying the White Paper), you will have access to several valuable reports on a variety of option strategies, many of which you will not be able to find in any books on options.

All this for less than the cost of a meal for two at a decent restaurant.  And once you put the strategy to work, you might well be spending many pleasant evenings at better-than-decent restaurants for the rest of your life.  Who knows?  In could happen.  It did to me, and I want to pass on my learning experiences to you.

So here’s my offer:

Become a Terry’s Tips Insider, pay only $79.95, and receive my 72 page White Paper which describes 4 unique trading strategies with complete Trading Rules for each, including the 10K Strategy that earned an average of 103% for 8 portfolios in 2005, and get all these additional benefits absolutely free:

  • My Stock Options Tutorial Program service, fourteen separate lessons which provide a sound background for options trading (a $29.90 value).
  • A list of 20 “Lazy Way” companies which make 100% mathematically guaranteed in 2 years if the stock stays flat, goes up by any amount, or falls by less than 5%.  The “Lazy Way” strategy involves making two trades up front, and then sitting back and waiting for 2 years for your 100% to come in.
  • Two free months of the Insiders weekly reports (a $49.90 value) – with updates on several actual portfolio accounts with every trade ever made in each one.  Each account is a real-time unfolding of one of the basic strategies developed in the White Paper.  Different underlyings or investment amounts are used for each portfolio.
  • If you would like, I will email you with every trade I make in each of these accounts, so you can make those same trades yourself if you wish, maybe at even better prices.

Here is the link that could change the way you invest your money for the rest of your life - https://www.terrystips.com/signup.

If you are not convinced that now is the right time to make this investment in yourself, at least sign up for my free newsletter. You will receive my free report, "How to Create an Options Portfolio That Will Outperform a Stock or Mutual Fund Investment".

For more information about the "Lazy Way" strategy to double your money, click Tip #5.

For more information about how you can use the 10K Strategy in your IRA, click Tip #4.

For more information about options in general, click Tip #1.

But the most important link is right here - https://www.terrystips.com/signup. That is where you can order my White Paper and maybe change how you ever thought about investing for the rest of your life.

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Terry's Tips Stock Options Trading Blog

March 17, 2019

Will MasTec’s (MTZ) Growth Prospects Keep the Stock Bid?

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.  The Terry’s Tips actual portfolio that trades these ideas has gained 164% so far in 2019.  As always, future results can’t be assured to be as good, but we are pleased with the results so far.

Terry

Will MasTec’s (MTZ) Growth Prospects Keep the Stock Bid?

MasTec’s recent earnings report exceeded expectations and several analysts believe growth trends will continue, here are two of them – MasTec’s 2018 Results: A Lot to Like Here and Will MasTec Earnings Grow Over The Next Year?

Although a daily chart is displayed below, the strongest technical indicator for MTZ is seen on a weekly chart where the stock regained it’s 100 moving average on a sustained basis.  The daily chart confirms the uptrend as the stock is held within a rising trend channel.  The stock has held above a horizontal level at $47.30 in recent sessions, this is a level that was well respected resistance for most of 2018 on several attempts.  Further support in the event of a dip lower is seen near $45.55 where a horizontal level is found as well as the 20-day moving average.

[caption id="attachment_2356" align="alignnone" width="300"]MZT Chart March 2019 MZT Chart March 2019[/caption]

*source Tradingview.com

If you agree there's further upside ahead for MZT, consider this trade which is a bet that the stock will continue to advance over the next five weeks, or at least not decline very much.

Buy To Open MZT 18APR19 44 Puts (MZT190418P44)
Sell To Open MZT 18APR19 47 Puts (MZT190418P47) for a credit of $0.85 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when MZT was trading near $48.  Unless the stock rallies quickly from here, you should be able to get close to this amount.

Your commission on this trade will only be $2.50 per spread (the rate charged by thinkorswim for Terry’s Tips’ subscribers).  Each contract would then yield $82.50 and your broker would charge a $300 maintenance fee, making your investment $217.50 ($300 – $82.50).  If MZT closes at any price above $47 on April 18, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 38% (433% annualized).

Changes to Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 This Week:

[caption id="attachment_2357" align="alignnone" width="258"]IBD Underlying Updates March 14, 2019 IBD Underlying Updates March 14, 2019[/caption]

We have found that the Investor’s Business Daily Top 50 List has been a reliable source of stocks that are likely to move higher in the short run.  Recent additions to the list might be particularly good choices for this strategy, and deletions might be good indicators for exiting a position that you might already have on that stock.

As with all investments, you should only make option trades with money that you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading,

Terry

March 10, 2019

MGM Growth Properties (MGP) Dips Lower, Is It A Buy?

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

MGM Growth Properties (MGP) Dips Lower, Is It A Buy?

Several analysts think MGM Growth Properties has a lot more upside, here are two of them – A Careful Analysis of MGM Growth Properties and MGM Growth Properties On The Radar of Prospective Investors.

MGP is seen pulling back after testing resistance from a trendline drawn by connecting a high from late 2017 with the high from last year.  Momentum indicators show no reason to believe a triple top is playing out and candlestick patterns on the higher time frames point to strength in recent upward momentum.  The stock is currently testing its 200-day moving average which could be a spot where bulls might look to reenter.

[caption id="attachment_2352" align="alignnone" width="300"]MGP Chart March 2019 MGP Chart March 2019[/caption]

*source Tradingview.com

If you agree there's further upside ahead for MGP, consider this trade which is a bet that the stock will continue to advance over the next six weeks, at least a little.

Buy To Open MGP 18APR19 25 Puts (MGP190418P25)
Sell To Open MGP 18APR19 30 Puts (MGP190418P30) for a credit of $1.18 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when MGP was trading near $30.  Unless the stock rallies quickly from here, you should be able to get close to this amount.

Your commission on this trade will only be $2.50 per spread (the rate charged by thinkorswim for Terry’s Tips’ subscribers).  Each contract would then yield $115.50 and your broker would charge a $500 maintenance fee, making your investment $384.50 ($500 – $115.50).  If MGP closes at any price above $30 on April 18, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 30% (281% annualized).

Changes to Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 This Week:

[caption id="attachment_2353" align="alignnone" width="258"]IBD Underlying Updates March 7, 2019 IBD Underlying Updates March 7, 2019[/caption]

We have found that the Investor’s Business Daily Top 50 List has been a reliable source of stocks that are likely to move higher in the short run.  Recent additions to the list might be particularly good choices for this strategy, and deletions might be good indicators for exiting a position that you might already have on that stock.

As with all investments, you should only make option trades with money that you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading,

Terry

March 3, 2019

American Tower Corp (AMT) Rallies to Record Highs, What’s Next?

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. The actual Terry’s Tips portfolio which trades these weekly trade ideas has gained 157% so far in 2019, by far surpassing our other portfolios which have enjoyed average gains of 19% for the first two months of the year.  Of course, past results can’t always be replicated in the future, but we are pleased with the results so far this year.

Terry

American Tower Corp (AMT) Rallies to Record Highs, What’s Next?

Several analysts remain bullish AMT following their earnings report in the past week, here are two of them – American Tower Delivers High-Speed Growth in Q4 and Gearing for a bull run? American Tower Corp Moves 7.42% For The Quarter.

AMT has been rising within an ascending trend channel that dates back to a low printed in late December.  The price action surrounding the earnings report suggests that bulls remain in control.  The stock was volatile on the earnings date, rising about 2% initially but then reversing sharply to end lower on the day.  However, a rally the following day after testing the lower bound of the trend channel saw the price break to a record high, fully erasing the earnings-inspired drop.  The technical outlook points to the potential of a rally towards the top of the rising trend channel.

*source Tradingview.com

If you agree there's further upside ahead for AMT, consider this trade which is a bet that the stock will continue to advance over the next five weeks, or at least not decline very much.

Buy To Open AMT 05APR19 175 Puts (AMT190405P175)
Sell To Open AMT 05APR19 177.5 Puts (AMT190405P177.5) for a credit of $0.85 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when AMT was trading near $178.  Unless the stock rallies quickly from here, you should be able to get close to this amount.

Your commission on this trade will only be $2.50 per spread (the rate charged by thinkorswim for Terry’s Tips’ subscribers).  Each contract would then yield $82.50 and your broker would charge a $250 maintenance fee, making your investment $167.50 ($250 – $82.50).  If AMT closes at any price above $177.5 on April 05, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 49% (559% annualized).

Changes to Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 This Week:

[caption id="attachment_2347" align="alignnone" width="168"]IBD Underlying Updates February 28, 2019 IBD Underlying Updates February 28, 2019[/caption]

We have found that the Investor’s Business Daily Top 50 List has been a reliable source of stocks that are likely to move higher in the short run.  Recent additions to the list might be particularly good choices for this strategy, and deletions might be good indicators for exiting a position that you might already have on that stock.

As with all investments, you should only make option trades with money that you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading,

Terry

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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