On Monday, I reported on an oil options trade I had made in advance of OPEC’s meeting on Wednesday when they were hoping to reach an agreement to restrict production. The meeting took place and an agreement was apparently reached. The price of oil shot higher by as much as 8% and this trade ended up losing money. This is an update of what I expect to do going forward.
Update on Oil Trade (USO) Suggestion
Several subscribers have written in and asked what my plans might be with the oil spreads (USO) I made on Monday this week. When OPEC announced a deal to limit production, USO soared over a dollar and made the spreads at least temporarily unprofitable (the risk profile graph showed that a loss would result if USO moved higher than $11.10, and it is $11.40 before the open today). I believe these trades will ultimately prove to be most profitable, however.
First, let’s look at the option prices situation. There continues to be a huge implied volatility (IV) advantage between the two option series. The long 19Jan18 options (IV=36) are considerably cheaper than the short 02Dec16 and 09Dec16 options (IV=50). The long options have a time premium of about $1.20 which means they will decay at an average of $.02 per week over their 60-week life. On the other hand, you can sell an at-the-money (11.5 strike) put or call with one week of remaining life for a time premium of over $.20, or ten times as much. If you sell both a put and a call, you collect over $.40 time premium for the week and one of those sales will expire worthless (you can’t lose money on both of them).
At some point, the stock will remain essentially flat for a week, and these positions would return a 20%+ “dividend” for the week. If these option prices hold as they are now, this could happen several times over the next 60 weeks.
I intend to roll over my short options in the 02Dec16 series that expires today and sell puts and calls at the 11.5 and 11 strikes for the 09Dec16 series. I will sell one-quarter of my put positions at the 10.5 strike, going out to the 16Dec16 series instead. I have also rolled up (bought a vertical spread) with the 19Jan18 puts, buying at the 12 strike and selling the original puts at the 10 strike. This will allow me to sell new short-term puts at prices below $12 without incurring a maintenance requirement.
Second, let’s look at the oil situation. The OPEC companies supposedly agreed to restrict production by a total of 1.2 million barrels a day. That is less than a third of the new oil that Iran has recently added to the supply when restrictions were relaxed on the country. The third largest oil producer (the U.S.) hasn’t participated in the agreement, and has recently added new wells as well as announcing two major oil discoveries. Russia, the second largest producer, is using its recent highest-ever production level as the base for its share of the lowered output. In other words, it is an essentially meaningless offer.
Bottom line, I do not expect the price of oil will move higher because of this OPEC action. It is highly likely that these companies may not follow through on their promises as well (after all, many of them have hated each other for centuries, and there are no penalties for not complying). Oil demand in the U.S. has fallen over the past 5 years as more electric cars and hybrids have come on the market, and supply has continued to grow as fracking finds oil in formerly unproductive places. I suspect that USO will fluctuate between $10 and $11 for much of the next few months, and that selling new weekly puts and calls against our 19Jan18 options will prove to be a profitable trading strategy. You can do this yourself or participate in the Boomer’s Revenge portfolio which Terry’s Tips subscribers can follow through Auto-Trade at thinkorswim which is essentially doing the same thing.