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An Interesting “Conservative” Option Purchase That Could Make 5% a Week

This week I would like to describe an actual option play we made two weeks ago which you should be able to duplicate with no more than a $1600 investment.  We believe it will make at least 5% a week for the six remaining weeks of its existence.

We are pleased that every one of our portfolios made nice gains last week.  The average portfolio gained 7% after commissions in spite of fairly high mid-week volatility.  We were especially happy with our bearish 10K Bear portfolio – it gained 13% even though SPY ended up going up by 1% last week.  Our William Tell portfolio (using AAPL as the underlying) gained 8.7% while AAPL rose 1%.

An Interesting “Conservative” Option Purchase That Could Make 5% a Week:

Two weeks ago, we made the following trades in one of our portfolios as a demonstration of an option play that we believe will make at least 5% a week after paying all commissions.  At the time, SPY was trading just about $125:

Buy To Open 1 SPY Jan-12 132 put (SPY120121P132)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 put (SPY111209P125) for a debit of $6.98  (buying a diagonal)
Buy To Open 1 SPY Jan-12 118 call (SPY120121C118)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 call (SPY111209P125) for a debit of $7.05  (buying a diagonal)

These two spreads cost us a total of $1403 plus commissions of $5 (the commission rate for Terry’s Tips subscribers at thinkorswim).  It is an interesting option play because the deep in-the-money Jan-12 put and call together will be worth at least $1400 (their intrinsic value) when they expire on the third Friday in January (7 weeks after we made these trades).  Since we only paid $1408 for these options, as long as we don’t have to buy back any short options we might sell against them, we are guaranteed to collect at least $1400 when they expire in January.

We will have 6 opportunities to sell Weekly puts and calls using the Jan-12 options as collateral for those sales.  Any money we collect from selling those options is pure profit (unless they end up in the money and we have to buy them back on the Friday that they expire).

Since the options we sold were both at the 125 strike price, one of them would have to be bought back on Friday, December 9th (unless SPY closed exactly at $125.00, an unlikely event). 

Two days after we bought the two spreads, SPY shot up to $127 (when the stock moves $2 with this strategy, we make an adjustment because we do not want any of our short options to become more than $2 in the money).  These are the trades we placed:

Buy To Close 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 call (SPY111209C125)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 127 call (SPY111209C127) for a debit of $1.33  (buying a vertical)

Buy To Close 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 put (SPY111209P125)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 127 put (SPY111209P127) for a credit of $.67  (selling a vertical)

We paid out $133 to roll up the short call from the 125 strike to the 127 strike, and collected $67 when we rolled up the short put from the 125 to 127 strike.  After commissions, these two trades cost us a net $71.

The stock then fell back to $125 and we reversed the last put trade (but did not bother rolling down the short call to the 125 strike, electing to let it expire worthless):

Buy To Close 1 SPY Dec2-11 127 put (SPY111209P127)
Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 put (SPY111209P125) for a debit of $1.11  (buying a vertical)

This trade cost us $113.50 including commissions.  When we bought back the soon-to-expire short options on Friday (paying no commissions since thinkorswim does not change a commission to buy back a short option for $5 or less), we paid out another $8, making the total outlay $1600.50  ($1408 + $71 + $113.50 + $8). 

At last Friday’s prices, our long Jan-12 options were trading at a total of $1705.50, indicating that we had gained $105 for the week, or 6.2% after commissions.

At the outset, we said that we expected this little investment would gain us an average of 5% a week, so for the first week, we are right on target.

These are the orders we placed on Friday, December 9th:

Buy To Close 1 SPY Dec2-11 127 call (SPY111209C127) for $.05 (no commission)

Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec-11 127 call (SPY111217C127) for $1.28

Buy To Close 1 SPY Dec2-11 125 put (SPY111209P125) for $.03 (no commission)

Sell To Open 1 SPY Dec-11 126 put (SPY111217P126) for $1.99

For the second week, we collected a total of $324.50 by selling a Dec-11 126 put and a Dec-11 127 call which will expire next Friday, December 16th.  By the end of the day, their value had fallen to $252.25, so we had already made some of the gain we expect for the second week. If the stock ends up between these strikes (126 and 127) and we don’t have to adjust mid-week, the entire amount (about 20%) could be profit.

Here is the risk profile graph for our current positions.  It shows the expected loss or gain at the various possible prices where SPY might be on Friday (remember, if the stock moves by $2 in either direction, we will make an adjustment similar to those we made in the first week), and the curve will move in the direction that the stock moved.  Some of the potential gain will be erased when adjustments are made.

If you can follow the above trades, you have a good understanding how we carry out our portfolios at Terry’s Tips.  If this strategy can indeed make 5% a week (and there is the possibility of much more), we wonder why anyone would be buying stock or mutual funds rather than investing in an option strategy similar to this. 

Many of our subscribers are mirroring our trades in this portfolio (or having thinkorswim make the trades for them through their Auto-Trade service).  Last week they were all happy campers.

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