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Posts Tagged ‘Earnings Play’

CDW Corp. (CDW) Is Poised to Break to Fresh Record Highs

Monday, September 9th, 2019

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.

CDW Corp. (CDW) Is Poised to Break to Fresh Record Highs

Several Analysts are optimistic about CDW’s outlook, take a look at what there two publications have to say – Is CDW (CDW) Outperforming Other Computer and Technology Stocks This Year? And With EPS Growth And More, CDW (NASDAQ:CDW) Is Interesting.

The most impressive part of CDW is how steadily it has been rising throughout the year. Dips in the stocks price are shallow and appear to be quickly bought up. A rising trend channel has encompassed price action and there are several layers of downside support. The first is a horizontal level that comes in just above $116. Further support comes from the 50-day moving average, currently near $113.50. The moving average is near the bottom of the trend channel and therefore is considering to be major support.

CDW Chart September 2019 verticle options spread

CDW Chart September 2019

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

Buy To Open CDW 18OCT19 110 Puts (CDW191018P110)
Sell To Open CDW 18OCT19 115 Puts (CDW191018P115) for a credit of $1.18 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when CDW was trading near $118.  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 CDW closes at any price above $115 on October 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:

IBD Underlying Updates September 5, 2019 weekly trade idea

IBD Underlying Updates September 5, 2019

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

Will Paycom Software (PAYC) Continue to Outperform?

Monday, August 26th, 2019

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

Will Paycom Software (PAYC) Continue to Outperform?

PAYC has performed incredibly well this year and has significantly outperformed the markets since early August. These two analyst are expecting more upside for the stock – Why Paycom Software, Inc. (NYSE:PAYC) Looks Like A Quality Company and Is Paycom Software (PAYC) Stock Outpacing Its Computer and Technology Peers This Year?

From a technical standpoint, PAYC recently broke to record highs after climbing above resistance at $245. There is now a bit of a support confluence near the horizontal level as a rising trendline falls close to it. The stock shows strength via correlation as it has outperformed the broader markets and most of the stocks on the IBD Top 50 list. The chart below shows performance against the S&P 500 (SPY) which is marked by the gray line. Despite the index trading heavy this month, PAYC has not only manage to rally, but it has done so to new record highs which is impressive to say at the least.

PAYC Chart August 2019 verticle options spread

PAYC Chart August 2019

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

Buy To Open PAYC 20SEP19 240 Puts (PAYC190920P240)
Sell To Open PAYC 20SEP19 250 Puts (PAYC190920P250) for a credit of $4.13 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when PAYC was trading near $249.  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 $410.50 and your broker would charge a $1000 maintenance fee, making your investment $589.50 ($1000 – $410.50).  If PAYC closes at any price above $250 on September 20, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 70% (798% annualized).

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

IBD Underlying Updates August 22, 2019

IBD Underlying Updates August 22, 2019

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

Ulta Beauty (ULTA) Looks Poised to Break to Fresh Record Highs

Monday, August 12th, 2019

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

Ulta Beauty (ULTA) Looks Poised to Break to Fresh Record Highs

Several analysts are optimistic regarding Ulta Beauty’s stock price following their recent earnings surprise, here are two of them –  Why the Earnings Surprise Streak Could Continue for Ulta (ULTA) and How one retailer is beating the odds.

From a technical standpoint, ULTA has held above prior support near $330 and bounced higher. In the advance from the level, it has retaken both the 50 and 100-day moving averages. What’s most impressive about ULTA is the longer-run trend as the stock is up more than 40% YTD already. Considering the strong trend, and lack of bearish evidence, the path seems to be to the upside for ULTA with an aim of breaking to new record highs above $370.

ULTA Chart August 2019 Verticle Spread

ULTA Chart August 2019

If you agree there’s further upside ahead for ULTA, 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 ULTA 13Sep19 342.5 Puts (ULTA190913P342.5)
Sell To Open ULTA 13Aug19 345 Puts (ULTA190913P345) for a credit of $1.13 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when ULTA was trading near $347.  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 $110.50 and your broker would charge a $250 maintenance fee, making your investment $139.50 ($250 – $110.50).  If ULTA closes at any price above $345 on August 13, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 79% (901% annualized).

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

IBD Underlying Updates August 8, 2019 Trade Ideas

IBD Underlying Updates August 8, 2019

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

PayPal (PYPL) Dips Following Earnings, What’s Next?

Monday, July 29th, 2019

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

PayPal (PYPL) Dips Following Earnings, What’s Next?

PayPal slipped lower after reporting earnings in the past week. Take a look at what these analysts are saying about the stock post-earnings – PayPal Q2 Earnings Beat Estimates, Revenues Up Y/Y and PayPal’s Earnings May Have Disappointed but Its Chart is “BTF”.

Paypal dipped to the 50-day moving average on Thursday and held above the moving average on Friday. The stock trades at a confluence of support as there is also a horizontal level in play. The level comes in at $113.70 and acted as both resistance and support in the past. In the event the stock falls to hold here, there is further support from the 100-day moving average close to around $112.

PYPL Chart July 2019 vertical options spread after earnings announcement

PYPL Chart July 2019

If you agree there’s further upside ahead for PYPL, 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 PYPL 30AUG19 112 Puts (PYPL190830P112)
Sell To Open PYPL 30AUG19 115 Puts (PYPL190830P115) for a credit of $1.45 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when PYPL was trading near $115.  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 $142.50 and your broker would charge a $300 maintenance fee, making your investment $157.50 ($300 – $142.50).  If PYPL closes at any price above $115 on August 30, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 90% (1027% annualized).

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

IBD Underlying Updates July 25, 2019 weekly trade ideas

IBD Underlying Updates July 25, 2019

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

Has The Tide Turned in Paycom Software (PAYC)?

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

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

Has The Tide Turned in Paycom Software (PAYC)?

Investor’s Business Daily, the website belonging to the creators of the IBD Top 50 list, named PAYC their IBD Stock of the Day on Friday.  Take a look at the article here for the reason behind the choice.  As well, an article published on The Motley Fool explains why Paycom Software is one of three stocks the analyst just added to his retirement portfolio.

After consolidating lower within a correction for about a month or so, PAYC has turned decisively higher, crossing above an important barrier.  Two prior attempts since May at the horizontal resistance level near $110 resulted in a notable correction, however, the stock managed to climb above it last week to signal that bulls may be retaking control.  The level has been significant since April, acting as both support and resistance.  In addition to the horizontal level, the stock has comfortably regained its 20-day moving average and trades near 52-week highs.

PAYC Chart June 2018

PAYC Chart June 2018

*source Tradingview.com

If you agree there’s further upside ahead for PAYC, 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 PAYC 20JUL18 105 Puts (PAYC180720P105)
Sell To Open PAYC 20JUL18 110 Puts (PAYC180720P110) for a credit of $1.33 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when PAYC was trading near $112.  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 $130.50 and your broker would charge a $500 maintenance fee, making your investment $369.50 ($500 – $130.50).  If PAYC closes at any price above $110 on July 20, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 35% (399% annualized).

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

IBD Underlying Updates June 14, 2018

IBD Underlying Updates June 14, 2018

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

Can Nvidia (NVDA) Continue Its Earnings-driven momentum?

Monday, May 28th, 2018

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 real-life Terry’s Tips portfolio that trades these spreads has gained 97% so far in 2018, and has 4 spreads in place that will increase the gain to 123% in 3 weeks if the underlying stock prices hold their current prices or go up by any amount. And the year will not be half over by then.  Clearly, we have some happy campers who subscribe to our newsletter service, especially those who are having trades placed in their account through the Auto-Trade service offered by thinkorswim.

Terry

Can Nvidia (NVDA) Continue Its Earnings-driven momentum?

Several analysts have renewed their bullish NVDA outlook following their recent earnings report.  Here are two of them – Why Nvidia (NVDA) Is a Strong Buy and Nvidia Seen Soaring to Record on Explosive Growth.

NVDA pushed firmly higher following earnings earlier this month, gapping above a horizontal level at $239.  After briefly piercing to a record high, the stock has consolidated lower.  Buyers have stepped in slightly ahead of the horizontal level with the 20-day moving average providing additional support.  This area remains an important zone of support for NVDA.

NVDA Chart May 2018

NVDA Chart May 2018

*source Tradingview.com

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

Buy To Open NVDA 22JUN18 242.5 Puts (NVDA180622P242.5)
Sell To Open NVDA 22JUN18 245 Puts (NVDA180622P245) for a credit of $0.93 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when NVDA was trading near $249.  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 $90.50 and your broker would charge a $250 maintenance fee, making your investment $159.50 ($250 – $90.50).  If NVDA closes at any price above $242.5 on June 22, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 68% (834% annualized).

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

IBD Underlying Updates May 25, 2018

IBD Underlying Updates May 25, 2018

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

Facebook (FB) Play – Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Here is the link to the Seeking Alpha article on FB: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4164510-expect-facebook-earnings-announcement

This article explains our thinking behind the trades we suggested for the upcoming Facebook’s earnings announcement taking place next week.  See full recommendation below. 

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)
STO 1 FB 27Apr18 165 put (FB180427P165) for a credit of $.25 (buying a diagonal)

BTO 1 FB 1Jun18 177.5 call (FB180601C177.5)
STO 1 FB 27Apr18 172.5 call (FB180427C172.5) for a debit of $.28 (buying a diagonal)

IV of the 27Apr18 options is 47 compared to 31 for the 1Jun18 series (this huge difference is what makes this play so potentially profitable).

Here is the risk profile graph for these spreads assuming that IV for the 1Jun18 series will fall from 31 to 26 after the announcement.  I think there is a fair chance that it will not fall that far, and the results could be even better than what is indicated below:

Facebook Risk Profile Graph April 2018

Facebook Risk Profile Graph April 2018

These spreads require a maintenance requirement of just over $500 per pair of spreads.  One of them is guaranteed to make a gain no matter what the stock price does.

For the past 8 quarters, FB’s post-announcement fluctuation has averaged 3%.  This graph shows that a profit should result if the stock fluctuates less than $5 (about 3%) in either direction.  The potential gains are over 60% for a one-week play if the stock fluctuates less than $5 (and ends up at any price between $165 and $173).

If the stock fluctuates more than $2.50 from the $166.36 price when we placed the spreads, you might want to adjust the strike prices by $2.50 in the same direction.

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

Happy trading,

Terry

Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy Update #3

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

This is our third suggestion on how to carry out the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy on companies which are about to announce earnings. The first two suggestions (RHT and KMX) resulted in 40% gains in a single week when the stock fluctuated only moderately after the announcement.  One of these times, the stock is likely to fluctuate more than we would like, and we will be able to put the second part of the strategy to work.  This will involve selling out-of-the-money weekly puts and calls over the next few weeks until the initial trade turns into a net gain.

This week’s choice is TDAmeritrade (AMTD) which announces before the market opens on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.  Implied volatility (IV) of the 27Apr18 options has not escalated at this point – it is 32.5, barely higher than a six-week-out 25May18 series (31).  We expect IV for the 27Apr18 series to move much higher over the next 10 days, and we hope to take advantage of higher option prices as well as a possibly higher stock price before the announcement date.

Here are the trades we made this week.  Note that the diagonals were set up at a small debit rather than the credit that we seek with this strategy, but when we roll over the 20Apr17 puts and calls to the next weekly series, we expect to create solid credits, especially if IV for those options moves higher as we expect.

BTO 1 AMTD 25May18 57 put (AMTD180525P57)
STO 1 AMTD 20Apr18 60 put (AMTD180420P60) for a debit of $.11  (buying a diagonal)

BTO 1 AMTD 25May18 64 call (AMTD180525C64)
STO 1 AMTD 20Apr18 61 call (AMTD18042061) for a debit of $.28  (buying a diagonal)

Once we roll over these options to the 27Apr17, we expect our net investment will be about $250 per set of spreads ($300 maintenance requirement less $50 net credit).  Here is the risk profile graph for those spreads after the roll has been made:

AMAT Risk Profile Graph April 2018

AMAT Risk Profile Graph April 2018

For the past 8 quarters, the post-announcement fluctuation has averaged 1.75%.  This graph shows that a profit should result if the stock fluctuates less than 5% in either direction.  The potential gains may not appear to be significant, but there seems to be a fair chance to make 20% on the investment for a single week of waiting.

A Carmax Spread Trade to Put the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy to Work

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

A Carmax Spread Trade to Put the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy to Work:

Carmax (KMX) announces earnings before the market opens on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.  If anyone would like to place the spread trade that we suggest below, the order must be placed no later than the market close on Tuesday, April 3rd.

Here are the numbers we compiled for KMX for the last eight quarters:

The prices in green are lower than the last pre-announcement price, suggesting that expectations are rising.  Most companies we tested show much many more green numbers than KNX.  Most of the time, KMX showed a high correlation between the actual results and what the stock price did after the announcement (while one might expect this would be universally true, our back-testing and personal experience has proved otherwise).  While the direction of the change for KMX was highly consistent (beating estimates resulted in a higher stock price, and vice versa), the magnitude of the change was not consistent.

In the June 2017 announcement, earnings were a whopping 23% above estimates, but the stock only gained 4% after they became public. In the next quarter, September 2017, earnings exceeded estimates by only 3% while the stock gained 10%.

KMX does not seem consistently beat or fall behind estimates.  This is a different pattern than we see in many companies who low-ball guidance, and then exceed estimates by a large amount quarter after quarter.  KMX does not seem to do this.

The average post-announcement stock price change for KMX was 4.9%.  This is less than the current option prices which have priced in a likely 5.7% change.  Someone who likes the stock might take advantage of the higher option prices and write an out-of-the-money call against their stock, and collect some nice premium in addition to some price appreciation if the stock manages to move higher.

We do not have a strong feeling concerning which way we feel the stock is headed after next week’s announcement other than that we think it will probably go in the same direction as the actual results compared to estimates. Since there is no clear pattern of how well the company does compared to estimates, this leaves us with a neutral position on the direction the stock might take after the announcement.

We have developed what we call the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy as our preferred options play prior to announcements.

Based on our neutral outlook on KMX, these are the spreads we placed for the upcoming announcement:

Buy to Open KMX 11May18 58 puts (KMX180511P58)
Sell to Open KMX 06Apr18 61 puts (KMX180406P61) for a credit of $.08  (buying a diagonal)

Buy to Open KMX 11May18 67 calls (KMX180511C67)
Sell to Open KMX 06Apr18 64 calls (KMX180406C64) for a credit of $.08 (buying a diagonal)

The net maintenance requirement (investment) on these spreads is $294 per pair ($300 – $16 plus $10 commission), and we have a net credit of $6 per pair in the account.

This is what the risk profile graph looks like after the market close on April 6, assuming that implied volatility (IV) of the May options falls by 3, from the current 33 to 30 (which is consistent with prior earnings week IV drops for 5-week-out options).

With KMX currently trading just below $62, the graph shows that we should end up with a gain if the stock ends up at any price between $59 and $67 on Friday, April 6th.  The sweet spot of the graph shows an approximate gain of $200 (about 66%) if the price ends up between $61 and $64.

If the stock fluctuates by its average post-announcement amount (4.9%), it would end up somewhere between about $59 and $65. In six of the last eight quarters, the fluctuation would have landed somewhere inside of this range, and in two of the quarters, it would not have.

To summarize our thinking, based on the level of IV for the options prior to the announcement (67) compared to IV for further-out options (33), investors do not get unduly excited about earnings announcements from KMX. The stock generally fluctuates after the announcement in the same direction as the results compared to estimates.  The company does not show a pattern of either consistently beating or falling behind estimates.  We believe this pattern is a perfect candidate for the options play outlined above which is essentially a neutral outlook, neither particularly bullish or bearish, but does best if the stock only fluctuates moderately after the announcement.

Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Summary of Strategy: Based on 17 years of studying price changes following an earnings announcement, Terry’s Tips has designed a strategy  which has a high probability of successfully navigating the extreme volatility that usually accompanies quarterly earnings reports.  The strategy is based on the observation that there is very little correlation between the actual numbers reported and what the stock does after the announcement.  Stock price fluctuations tend to be larger in announcement weeks and smaller in subsequent weeks.  That is just about all we can say about most earnings events, except that we have identified one indicator that appears an average of only once a year for most companies, and when this indicator is triggered, the stock has a much higher probability of going up than down.

The Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy only applies to companies which have weekly options. Two diagonal spreads are bought, one with puts and one with calls.  The long side is in the furthest out weekly series (usually six weeks out) and the short side is the weekly series that expires just after the earnings announcement.  The long sides are well out of the money and the short sides are at strikes much nearer to the current stock price, and each spread is bought at a credit. Since the Implied Volatility (IV) of the short-term options is considerably higher than that of the longer-term options at earnings time, a credit can be established with a much smaller range between the strikes than is available when earnings is not a factor.

There is only one maintenance requirement for the two spreads because only one of the spreads can lose money, and the other one has a guaranteed profit of some sort.  The strike prices of the short options set up with a range of possible stock prices within which the investor hopes the stock ends up after the announcement.  If it does, both short-term options will expire worthless and the investor will bank both the original credit from the spreads and selling the residual long options. When this occurs, there is an immediate gain averaging between 30% and 50% of the initial net maintenance requirement.

As an alternative to cashing in the positions and taking a profit when there is a moderate stock price change after the announcement, near-the-money options could be sold in the next weekly series for additional premium to take advantage of the propensity of stock price fluctuations to be much smaller in the weeks following the earnings week fireworks.

The net effect of the Diagonal Condor Earnings Strategy is to use the higher option prices that exist during earnings week to inexpensively set up the 10K Strategy of calendar and diagonal spreads which is one of the foundation strategies of the Terry’s Tips program.  This strategy does best when the underlying stock does not fluctuate very much, and this is exactly what typically happens for most companies in the few weeks after quarterly earnings are announced.

If the stock fluctuates more than the investor wishes after the announcement, a potential short-term loss is likely, but there are still five remaining weekly series of options that could be sold against the long positions to recover the announcement-week loss.  The strike price of one of the long options (the one that the stock price moved away from) may be changed by buying a vertical spread so that the original maintenance requirement is not increased when slightly out-of-the-money options are sold against them in the next weekly series.  The in-the-money short-term option will be bought back and a slightly out-of-the-money option sold in the next weekly series.  The net changes at the end of expiration week should result in a net credit which will reduce the maximum possible loss (the original net maintenance requirement).

This strategy is designed to make a profit in the earnings week whenever the stock fluctuates by an amount which is about 20% less than the fluctuation baked into the earnings week options.  In those weeks when the fluctuation exceeds the number priced into the option prices, there will be up to five weeks for selling new premium to recover the losses caused by the excessive fluctuation.  Since these weeks will probably have only moderate weekly price changes, it should be possible to collect significant amounts of premium decay from the near-to-the-money short puts and calls each week.

A Look Back: About five years ago, we did a lot of work on a model which was designed to successfully predict the direction of a stock price change after an earnings announcement. The model was primarily based on the assumption that investor expectations played a greater role in how the stock moved after earnings than the actual results themselves. If expectations were too high, the stock would fall regardless of how good those results might be. We tried to get a handle on how high expectations were, based on several variables, including whisper numbers published by WhisperNumbers.com and how much the stock price rose or fell in the week or two before the announcement.

At one time, we successfully predicted the direction of the post-earnings change on 8 consecutive earnings plays (usually selling vertical credit spreads which we hoped would expire worthless), but then we ended up being wrong on a couple of consecutive ones, and we discontinued these plays. It became apparent that the whisper numbers we were dealing with were not particularly reliable. It was not clear how these numbers were compiled by WhisperNumbers.com. Of course, they said it was a proprietary algorithm, but they admitted to polling selected analysts while inviting the public to cast votes on their website. The composite estimates of analysts is supposed to be what defines expectations, so we wonder about these analysts who were asked to reveal their “true” estimates. If their opinions were indeed different, why wouldn’t they be telling their clients what they really believed rather than favoring a private company with their innermost thoughts. And asking individual investors what they were expecting, if they actually counted those votes, should be a contrary variable instead, since individual investors are notoriously wrong most of the time. Bottom line, we did not have confidence in those whisper numbers.

Now we want to try again, with a couple of changes. Instead of relying on whisper numbers, we will check what the stock price does in the days leading up to the announcement as an indication of the level of expectations, and also look at the historical record of earnings announcements for each company to see if we can identify any consistent patterns. We may also take a look at recent hedge fund or insider trading activity if there is any significant action that might help predict the direction of the post-announcement price change.

Equally important, we will use a different options strategy than we applied in the past. This time around, we will use diagonal spreads which we sell at a credit (or extremely low debit in some instances). The short side will be in the weekly series that expires on the Friday after the announcement, and the long side will be in the longest-out weekly series (usually six weeks later). We will place both a put and call credit spread, usually in the afternoon of the day before earnings are released. One of the two spreads will be guaranteed to make a profit (both the initial credit and whatever the residual five-week-out out-of-the-money option can be sold for).

The other spread may also be profitable, depending on the strikes that were selected. In the event that the stock moved so much that one of the spreads loses more money than the gaining spread makes, causing the combination of spreads not to be profitable at the end of expiration week, there will be about 5 more weeks that new premium (weeklys) might be sold against the remaining long option, hopefully enough so that a loss will be avoided.

If both spreads are successful, the entire play can begin and end in a single week. If the combination of spreads is not profitable, we will have to spend up to five weeks trying to recover from the too-high post-announcement stock price change by collecting new premium each week. If the strategy works out to be profitable in a single week over half the time (which I believe should be the case), and we can roll out of the others over five weeks or less, it certainly should be a profitable concept.

Case Study – Red Hat (RHT):  Let’s use Red Hat (RHT) as an example. They announced earnings after the close, on Monday, March 26, 2018. We were uncertain about the expectation level, so we gave ourselves a little wiggle room in both directions and sold both 3/30/18 puts and calls which were slightly out of the money. In the afternoon of March 26 when RHT was trading about $153, we made the following trades:

BTO # RHT 04May18 141 puts (RHT180504P141)
STO # RHT 29Mar18 148 puts (RHT180329P148) for a credit of $.11 (buying a diagonal)

BTO # RHT 04May18 162.5 calls (RHT180504C162.5)
STO # RHT 29Mar18 155 calls (RHT180329C155) for a credit of $.13 (buying a diagonal)

If the stock ended up on Thursday (markets would be closed on Good Friday) anywhere between $148 and $155, both these spreads would end up being profitable (both from the credit collected plus the value of selling the residual May 4 options). If either of the short options expired in the money, we would need to buy it back and close out all the positions if a profit could be made, or roll over the in-the-money option to the next week and collect some additional premium in an effort to eventually make a gain over the next five weeks.

The stock ended up at $149.51 which placed it between the 148 and 155 range of our short options, so both of them were about to expire worthless (and were bought back for $.05, with no commissions payable at thinkorswim).  For half our contracts, we sold the long side of these spreads for a total of $3.48.  This yielded a net profit of $357 (including the original credit) per pair of spreads after all commissions on our net maintenance requirement of $781, making it a gain of 46% for the week.  Not bad, but hopefully a whole lot less than we will eventually do on the contracts that we did not sell.

We did not close out our remaining contracts because we wanted to experiment with rolling short options to the next weekly series to take advantage of the expected quiet period for RHT after earnings week.

Near the close on Thursday we bought back both the soon-to-expire puts and calls for $.05 and sold 06Apr18 148 puts for $2.52 and 13Apr18 155 calls for $1.55.  This gave us a net credit if $387 per pair of original spreads and reduced our investment (net maintenance requirement) from $781 to $394.

Here is the risk profile graph for these positions per pair of spreads for the week ending April 6, 2018:

RHT Risk Profile Earnings April 2018

RHT Risk Profile Earnings April 2018

If RHT remains quiet as we expect, we might earn about $200 on our net investment of $394, or almost 40% in one week. Our break-even range for the week extends from a drop of $4 on the downside to a little more than $5 on the upside.  We will update this case study as the weeks go by going forward.

 

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