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Posts Tagged ‘Straddles’

PayPal (PYPL) Dips After Earnings, Is it a Buy?

Sunday, February 3rd, 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 After Earnings, Is it a Buy?

After briefly piercing to record highs, PayPal stock declined following its earnings report in the past week.  Is the dip a buying opportunity? The following article provides some solid arguments for why it is – Buy the Dip in Paypal Stock Because $100 Is the Next Stop.  Also an article recently published on The Motley Fool makes a compelling argument for growth on the back of rising popularity and potential for PayPal’s app Venmo.  In the article, the company’s CEO was quoted as saying the P2P payment app could potentially surpass PayPal’s payment system in profitability – The Big News in PayPal’s Fourth-Quarter Update.

Aside from chart patterns, a significant appeal to PYPL is that it touched record highs this month, fully erasing the prior decline.  Not only that, it was the first IBD Top 50 listed stock to do so while most have only recovered a part of the fall that took place late in 2018.  In this context, it is certainly an outperformer.  Support is found at $87.55 as a horizontal level there has previously acted as both support and resistance dating back to June last year.  Note that this level was a major barrier in the fourth quarter.  On a weekly chart, the 20-week moving average was the equivalent barrier for Q4.  It currently falls near $85.50 to provide additional support in the event of further near-term downside.  Just above it, the 50-day moving average is found, currently at $86.14.

PYPL Chartl February 2019

PYPL Chartl February 2019

*source Tradingview.com

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 six weeks, or at least not decline very much.

Buy To Open PYPL 15MAR19 87.5 Puts (PYPL190315P87.5)
Sell To Open PYPL 15MAR19 90 Puts (PYPL190315P90) for a credit of $0.95 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when PYPL was trading near $90.  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 $92.50 and your broker would charge a $250 maintenance fee, making your investment $157.50 ($250 – $92.50).  If PYPL closes at any price above $90 on March 15, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 59% (552% annualized).

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

IBD Underlying Updates February 1, 2019

IBD Underlying Updates February 1, 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

Is the Earnings Dip in Atlassian Corp (TEAM) A Buy Opportunity?

Sunday, January 27th, 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

Is the Earnings Dip in Atlassian Corp (TEAM) A Buy Opportunity?

Atlassian is a well-liked stocked by several analysts, not only because of their business model but also the stock price performance.  Look at what these two analysts are saying about the company – Software Stock Could Surge Into February and Analysts Hold Stances On Atlassian Following A ‘Ripper’ Of A Quarter.

TEAM turned higher alongside the broader markets in late December and briefly pierced to record highs following their recent earnings release, however, the stock closed about 10% lower after the report.  The price action that follows is particularily important as it suggests that bulls remain well in control.  First, the stock failed to make a sustained drop below it’s 20-day moving average.  Also a rising trend channel remains intact and buyers defended the lower bound of the channel following the post-earnings dip.  Lastly, on a weekly chart, TEAM closed at a weekly high for the year in the past week to further support the view that the earnings dip may have been a buying opportunity as opposed to a sell signal.

TEAM Chart January 2019

TEAM Chart January 2019

*source Tradingview.com

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

Buy To Open TEAM 15MAR19 90 Puts (TEAM190315P90)
Sell To Open TEAM 15MAR19 95 Puts (TEAM190315P95) for a credit of $1.93 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when TEAM was trading near $96.  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 $190.50 and your broker would charge a $500 maintenance fee, making your investment $309.50 ($500 – $190.50).  If TEAM closes at any price above $95 on March 15, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 62% (492% annualized).

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

IBD Underlying Updates January 24, 2019

IBD Underlying Updates January 24, 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

Consider Cadence Design Systems (CDNS) Following the Technical Breakout

Sunday, January 20th, 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

Consider Cadence Design Systems (CDNS) Following the Technical Breakout

Several analysts expect more upside from CDNS, here are two of them – Disney and 4 Other Stock Picks from a Parnassus Fund Manager and Why Should You Retain Cadence Stock in Your Portfolio?

CDNS is seeng breaking higher from a triangle pattern which signals a continuation of the broader uptrend, often with a pick up in upside momentum.  In addition to the technical break, the stock is one of few on the IBD Top 50 List, and in the broader markets for that matter, that is on the verge of breaking to record highs.

CDNS Chart January 2019

CDNS Chart January 2019

*source Tradingview.com

If you agree there’s further upside ahead for CDNS, 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 CDNS 15FEB19 43 Puts (CDNS190215P43)
Sell To Open CDNS 15FEB19 46 Puts (CDNS190215P46) for a credit of $0.65 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when CDNS was trading near $47.  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 $62.50 and your broker would charge a $300 maintenance fee, making your investment $237.50 ($300 – $62.50).  If CDNS closes at any price above $46 on February 15, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 26% (380% annualized).  Note:  Options on CDNS are fairly illiquid, with large bid-ask spreads.  It would be especially important to place a limit order rather than a market order here.

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

IBD Underlying Updates January 17, 2019

IBD Underlying Updates January 17, 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

Can CyberArk Software (CYBR) Continue the Upside Momentum?

Sunday, January 13th, 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

Can CyberArk Software (CYBR) Continue the Upside Momentum?

The Investor’s Business Daily recently published an article picking out CYBR as one of the 5 best companies that stand to gain as the market rallies, view the full article here.  As well, take a look at this article published on Zacks that details CYBR as an outperformer among its peers.

From a technical perspective, the main appeal to CyberArk’s stock is that it’s trading within a rising trend channel while a majority of stocks remain within a declining trend channel, which is an indication of strength.  In fact, looking at the CYBR chart alone, it would not be apparent that the broader markets had such a volatile decline in the last two months of 2018.  The stock price ended last week near highs and looks to be threatening a break above the December top.

CYBR Chart January 2019

CYBR Chart January 2019

*source Tradingview.com

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

Buy To Open CYBR 8FEB19 75 Puts (CYBR19028P75)
Sell To Open CYBR 8FEB19 78 Puts (CYBR19028P78) for a credit of $1.33 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when CYBR was trading near $80.  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 $300 maintenance fee, making your investment $169.50 ($300 – $130.50).  If CYBR closes at any price above $78 on February 8, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 77% (1124% annualized).

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

IBD Underlying Updates January 10, 2019

IBD Underlying Updates January 10, 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 Five9 Inc (FIVN) Break Higher From It’s Range?

Sunday, January 6th, 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 Five9 Inc (FIVN) Break Higher From It’s Range?

Take a look at what these analysts have to say about Five9 – IBD 50 Stocks To Watch: How Cloud, AI Shape Five9’s Software Future and Lookout for these Two stocks: American International Group, Five9 Inc.

Five9 has consolidated higher since hitting a low in late October and is seen trading within a range.  The stock is an outperformer as most stocks posted losses in the last two months of the year.  A technical pattern is emerging as a triangle can be drawn around the recent consolidation.  To the upside, a break above $44.40 would suggest a bullish breakout.  There is a confluence of downside support deriving from a rising trendline, the 50-day moving average, as well as a horizontal level.  The horizontal level, which resides at $39.55, is considered well respected as it has acted both resistance and support on several occasions since the initial test in June.

*source Tradingview.com

If you agree there’s further upside ahead for FIVN, 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 FIVN 15FEB19 35 Puts (FIVN190215P35)
Sell To Open FIVN 15FEB19 40 Puts (FIVN190215P40) for a credit of $1.18 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when FIVN was trading near $43.  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 FIVN closes at any price above $40 on February 15, 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 January 3, 2019

IBD Underlying Updates January 3, 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

Kirkland Lake Gold (KL) Follows Gold Prices Higher

Sunday, December 30th, 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

Kirkland Lake Gold (KL) Follows Gold Prices Higher

Kirkland Lake Gold has been an outperformer among the IBD Top 50 companies, gaining from strength in the price of Gold.  Take a look at this article which speculates a significant upside based on a technical outlook –  Kirkland Lake Gold Is Shining Bright on the Charts and this following article which discusses the performance of KL as well as other stocks and ETF’s within the same sector – Gold Mining Crushing the Market: Best ETFs & Stocks of Q4.

KL has made a clear break higher this month to trade at record highs.  The company stands out when compared to other IBD Top 50 stocks as it is the only one to make a decisive break higher.  The main appeal to KL is the recent acceleration in upside momentum which is evident on nearly every time frame.  Horizontal support is found near $23 as the level held the stock lower over the summer, however, considering the bullish momentum, investors may look to step in ahead of the level.

KL Chart December 2018

KL Chart December 2018

*source Tradingview.com

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

Buy To Open KL 15FEB19 22.5 Puts (KL190215P22.5)
Sell To Open KL 15FEB19 25 Puts (KL190215P25) for a credit of $.93 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when KL was trading near $25.  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 KL closes at any price above $25 on February 15, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 57% (452% annualized).

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

IBD Underlying Updates December 27, 2018

IBD Underlying Updates December 27, 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

An Options Strategy Designed to Make 40% a Month

Friday, November 28th, 2014

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and/or loved ones, and are ready for some exciting new information.  Admittedly, the title of this week’s Idea of the Week is a little bizarre.  Surely, such a preposterous claim can’t possibly have a chance of succeeding.  Yet, that is about what your average monthly gain would have been if you had used this strategy for the past 37 months that the underlying ETP (SVXY) has been in existence.  In other words, if the pattern of monthly price changes continues going forward, a 40% average monthly gain should result (actually, it would be quite a bit more than this, but I prefer to underpromise and over-deliver).  Please read on.

We will discuss some exact trades which might result in 40%+ monthly gains over the next four weeks.  I hope you will study every article carefully.  Your beliefs about options trading may be changed forever.

Terry

An Options Strategy Designed to Make 40% a Month

First of all, we need to say a few words about our favorite underlying, SVXY.  It is not a stock.  There are no quarterly earnings reports to push it higher or lower, depending on how well or poorly it performs.  Instead, it is an Exchange Traded Product (ETP) which is a derivative of several other derivatives, essentially impossible to predict which way it will move in the next week or month.  The only reliable predictor might be to look how it has performed in the past, and see if there is a way to make extraordinary gains if the historical pattern of price changes manages to extend into the future.  This price change pattern is the basis of the 40% monthly gain potential that we have discovered.

SVXY is the inverse of VXX, a popular hedge against a market crash.  VXX is positively correlated with VIX (implied volatility of SPY options), the so-called fear index.  When the market crashes or corrects, options volatility, VIX, and VXX all soar.  That is why VXX is such a good hedge against a market crash.  Some analysts have written that a $10,000 investment in VXX will protect against any loss on a $100,000 stock portfolio (I have calculated that you would really need to invest about $20,000 in VXX to protect against any loss in a $100,000 stock portfolio, but that is not a relevant discussion here.)

While VXX is a good hedge against a market crash, it is a horrible long-term holding.  In its 7 years of existence, it has fallen an average of 67% a year.  On three occasions, they have had to engineer 1-for-4 reverse splits to keep the stock price high enough to bother trading.  In seven years, it has fallen from a split-adjusted $2000+ price to today’s under-$30.

Over the long run, VXX is just about the worst-performing “stock” that you could possibly find.  That is why we are so enamored by its inverse, SVXY.

Deciding to buy a stock is a simple decision.  Compare that to SVXY, an infinitely more complicated choice.  First, you start with SPY, an ETP which derives its value from the weighted average stock price of 500 companies in the S&P 500 index.  Options trade on SPY, and VIX is derived from the implied volatility (IV) of those options.  Then there are futures which are derived from the future expectations of what VIX will be in future months. SVXY is derived from the value of short-term futures on VIX.  Each day, SVXY sells these short-term futures and buys at the spot price (today’s value) of VIX.  Since about 90% of the time, short-term futures are higher than the spot price of VIX (a condition called contango), SVXY is destined to move higher over the long run – an average of about 67% a year, the inverse of what VXX has done.  Simple, right?

While SVXY is anything but a simple entity to understand or predict, its price-change pattern is indeed quite simple.  In most months, it moves higher.  Every once in a while, however, market fears erupt and SVXY plummets.  In October, for example, SVXY fell from over $90 to $50, losing almost half its value in a single month.  While owning SVXY might be a good idea for the long run, in the short run, it can be an awful thing to own.

Note on terminology: While SVXY is an ETP and not literally a stock, when we are using it as an underlying entity for options trading, it behaves exactly like a stock, and we refer to it as a stock rather than an ETP.

We have performed an exhaustive study of monthly price fluctuations (using expiration month numbers rather than calendar month figures).  Our major finding was that in half the months, SVXY ended up more than 12% higher or lower than where it started out.  It was extremely unusual for it to be trading at the end of an expiration month anyway near where it started out.  This would suggest that buying a straddle (both a put and a call) at the beginning of the month might be a good idea.  However, such a straddle would cost about 10% of the value of the stock, a cost that does not leave much room for gains since the stock would have to move by 10% before your profits would start, and that occurs only about half the time.

A second significant finding of our backtest study of SVXY price fluctuations was that in 38% of the months, the stock ended up at least 12.5% higher than it started the expiration month.  If this pattern persisted into the future, the purchase of an at-the-money call (costing about 5% of the stock price) might be a profitable bet.  There are other strategies which we believe are better, however.

One possible strategy would be to buy a one-month out vertical call spread with the lower strike about 6% above the current price of the stock.  Last week, with SVXY trading about $75, we bought a Dec-14 80 call and sold a Dec-14 85 call.  The spread cost us $1.11 ($111 per spread, plus $2.50 in commissions at the special thinkorswim rate for paying Terry’s Tips subscribers).  This means that if the stock ends up at any price above $85 (which it has historically done 38% of the time), we could sell the spread for $497.50 after commissions, making a profit of $384 on an investment of $113.50.  That works out to a 338% gain on the original investment.
If you bought a vertical call spread like this for $113.50 each month and earned a $384 gain in the 14 months (out of 37 historical total) when SVXY ended up the expiration month having gained at least 12.5%, you would end up with $5376 in gains in those months.  If you lost your entire $113.50 investment in the other 23 months, you would have losses of $2610, and this works out to a net gain of $2766 for the total 37 months, or an average of $74 per month on a monthly investment of $113.50, or an average of 65% a month.  Actually, it would be better than this because wouldn’t lose the entire investment in many months when the maximum gain did not come your way.

But as good as 65% a month seems (surely better than the 40% a month I talked about at the beginning), it could get better.  Again using the historical pattern, we identified another variable which could tell us whether or not we should buy the vertical spread at the beginning of the month. If you followed this measure, you would only buy the spread in 17 of the 37 months.  However, you would make the maximum gain in 10 of those months. Your win rate would be 58% rather than 38%, and your average monthly gain would be 152%.  This variable is only available for paying subscribers to Terry’s Tips, although maybe if you’re really smart and can afford to spend a few dozen hours of searching, you can figure it out for yourself.

Starting in a couple of weeks, we are offering a portfolio that will execute spreads like this every month, and this portfolio will be available for Auto-Trading at thinkorswim (so you don’t have to place any of the orders yourself).  Each month, we will start out with $1000 in the portfolio and buy as many spreads as we can at that time.  We expect it will be a very popular portfolio for our subscribers.  With potential numbers like this, I’m sure you can agree with our prognosis.

Of course, this entire strategy is based on the expectation that future monthly price fluctuations of SVXY will be similar to the historical pattern of price changes.  This may or may not be true in the real world, but we think our chances are pretty good.  For example, for the November expiration that ended just one week ago, the stock had risen a whopping 34%.  In the preceding October expiration month, it had fallen by almost that same amount, but at the beginning of the month, our outside variable measure would have told us not to buy the spread for that month, so we would have made the 338% in November and avoided any loss at all in October.

There are other possible spreads that could be placed to take advantage of the unusual price behavior of SVXY, and we will discuss some of them in future reports.  I invite you to check them out carefully, and to look forward for a year-end special price designed to entice you to come on board for the lowest price we have ever offered. It could be the best investment decision you make in 2014.

Update on the ongoing SVXY put demonstration portfolio.  This sample demonstration portfolio holds a SVXY Mar-15 75 put, and each week, (almost always on Friday), we buy back an expiring weekly put and sell a one-week-out put in its place, trying to sell at a strike which is $1 – $2 in the money (i.e., at a strike which is $1 or $2 above the stock price).  Our goal in this portfolio is to make 3% a week.

Last week, SVXY rose to just less than $75 and we bought back the expiring Nov-14 73 put  and sold a Dec1-14 75 put (selling a calendar), collecting a credit of $1.75 ($172.50 after commissions).

The account value was then $1570, up $70 for the week, and $336 from the starting value of $1234 on October 17th, 5 weeks ago.  This works out to $67 a week, well more than the $37 weekly gain we need to achieve our 3% weekly goal.  In fact, we have gained 5.4% a week for the 5 weeks we have carried out this portfolio.

At this point, we closed out this portfolio so that we could replace the positions with new options plays designed to take advantage of the SVXY price fluctuation pattern we spoke about today.  It seems like very few people were following our strategy of selling weekly puts against a long Mar-15 put, but we clearly showed how 3% a week was not only possible, but fairly easy to ring up.  Where else but with stock options can you achieve these kinds of investment returns?

A Possible Great Option Trading Idea

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Just before the close on Friday, we made a strongly bullish trade on our favorite underlying stock in a portfolio at Terry’s Tips.  In my personal account, I bought weekly calls on this same underlying.  As I write this in the pre-market on Monday, it looks like that bet could triple in value this week.

I would like to share with you the thinking behind these trades so next time this opportunity comes up (and it surely will in the near future), you might decide to take advantage of it yourself.

Terry

A Possible Great Option Trading Idea: As we have discussed recently, option prices are almost ridiculously low.  The most popular measure of option prices is VIX, the so-called “fear index” which measures option prices on SPY (essentially what most people consider “the” market) is hanging out around 12.  The historical mean is over 20, so this is an unprecedented low value.

When we sell calendar or diagonal spreads at Terry’s Tips, we are essentially selling options to take advantage of the short-term faster-decaying options.  Rather than using stock as collateral for selling short-term options we use longer-term options because they tie up less cash.

With option prices currently so low, maybe it is a time to reverse this strategy and buy options rather than selling them.  One way of doing this would be to buy a straddle (both a put and a call at the same strike price, usually at the market, hoping that the stock will make a decent move in either direction.  In options lingo, you are hoping that actual volatility (IV) is greater than historical volatility.

The biggest problem with buying straddles is that you will lose on one of your purchases while you gain on the other.  It takes a fairly big move in the underlying to cover the loss on your losing position before you can make a profit on the straddle.

A potentially better trade might be to guess which way the market will move in the short term, and then buy just a put or call that will make you money if you are right. The big challenge would be to find a price pattern that could help you choose which direction to bet on?

One historically consistent pattern for most market changes (the law of cycles) is that the direction of the change from one period to the next is about twice as likely to be in the same direction as it was in the previous same time period.  In other words, if the stock went up last week (or month), it is more likely to go up again next week (or month).

We tested this pattern on SPY for several years, and sadly, found that it did not hold up.  The chances were almost 50-50 that it would move in the opposite direction in the second period.

Maybe the pattern would work for our most popular underling, an ETP called SVXY.  You might recall that we love this “stock” because it is extremely volatile and option prices are wonderfully high (great for selling).  In the first 22 weeks of 2014, SVXY fluctuated by at least $3 in one direction or the other in 19 of those weeks.  Maybe we could use the pattern and buy weekly either puts or calls, depending on which way the market had moved in the previous week.

Once again, the historical results did not support the law of cycles pattern.  The stock was almost just as likely to move in the opposite direction as it had in the previous week.  Another good idea dashed by reality.

In making this study, we discovered something interesting, however.  In the first half of 2014, SVXY fell more than $3 in a single week on 5 different occasions.  In 4 of the subsequent weeks, it made a significant move ($3 or more) to the upside.  Buying a slightly out-of-the-money weekly call for about a dollar and a half ($150 per contract) could result in a 100% gain (or more) in the next week in 4 out of 5 weeks.

If this pattern could be counted on to continue, it would be a fantastic trading opportunity.  Yes, you might lose your entire investment in the losing weeks, but if you doubled it in the winning weeks, and there were many more of them than losing weeks, you would do extremely well.

For  those reasons, I bought calls on SVXY on Friday.  The Jul-14 90.5 call that expires this Friday (July 18th) could have been bought for $1.30.  The stock closed at $88.86.  I plan to place an order to sell these calls, half at $2.60, and half at $3.90.  The pre-market prices indicate that one of these orders might exercise sometime today and I will have all my money back and still own half my calls.  It might be a fun week for me.  We’ll see.

On another subject, have you got your free report entitled 12 Important Things Everyone with a 401(K) or IRA Should Know (and Probably Doesn’t).  This report includes some of my recent learnings about popular retirement plans and how you can do better.  Order it here.  You just might learn something (and save thousands of dollars as well).

Six-Month Review of Our Options Strategies – Part 1

Monday, June 30th, 2014

We have just finished the first half of 2014.  It has been a good year for the market.  It’s up about 6.7%.  Everyone should be fairly happy.  The composite portfolios conducted at Terry’s Tips have gained 16% over these months, almost 2 ½ times as much as the market rose.  Our subscribers are even happier than most investors.

Our results would have been even better except for our one big losing portfolio which has lost nearly 80% because we tried something which was exactly the opposite to the basic strategy used in all the other portfolios (we essentially bought options rather than selling short-term options as our basic strategy does).  In one month, we bought a 5-week straddle on Oracle because in was so cheap, and the stock did not fluctuate more than a dollar for the entire period. We lost about 80% of our investment.  If we had bought a calendar spread instead (like we usually do), it would have been a big winner.

Today I would like to discuss the six-month results of a special strategy that we set up in January which was designed to make 100% in one year with very little (actually none) trades after the first ones were placed.

Terry

Six-Month Review of Our Options Strategies:

We have a portfolio we call Better Odds Than Vegas.  In January, we picked three companies which we felt confident would be higher at the end of the year than they were at the beginning of the year.  If we were right, we would make 100% on our money.  We believed our odds were better than plunking the money down on red or black at the roulette table.

Today we will discuss the first company we chose – Google (GOOG).  This company had gone public 10 years earlier, and in 9 of those 10 years, it was higher at the end of the calendar year than it was at the outset.  Only in the market melt-down of 2007 did it fail to grow at least a little bit over the year.  Clearly, 9 out of 10 were much better odds than the 5 out of 10 at the roulette table (actually the odds are a little worse than this because of the two white or yellow possibilities on the wheel).

In January 2014 when we placed these trades, GOOG was trading just about $1120.  We put on what is called a vertical credit spread using puts.  We bought 5 January 2015 1100 puts and with the same trade sold 5 Jan-15 1120 puts for a credit spread of $5.03.  That put a little more than $2500 in our account after commissions.  The broker would charge us a maintenance requirement of $5000 on these spreads.  A maintenance requirement is not a loan, and no interest is charged on it – you just can’t spend that money buying other stocks or options.

If you subtract the $2500 we received in cash from the $5000 maintenance requirement you would end up with an investment of $2500 which represented the maximum loss you could get (and in this case, it was the maximum gain as well).  If GOOG ended up the year (actually on the third Friday in January 2015) at any price higher than where it started ($1120), both put options would expire worthless, the maintenance requirement would disappear, and we would get to keep the $2500 we got at the beginning.

Then GOOG declared a 2 – 1 stock split (first time ever) and we ended up with 10 put contracts at the 560 and 550 strike prices.  Usually, when a company announces that a split is coming, people buy the stock and the price moves higher.  Once the split has taken place, many people sell half their shares and the stock usually goes down a bit.  That is exactly what happened to GOOG.  Before the split, it rose to over $1228.  We were happy because it could then fall by over $100 and we would still double our money with our original put spreads.  But then, after the split, following the pattern that so many companies do, it fell back to a split-adjusted $1020, a level at which we would lose our entire investment.

Fortunately, today GOOG is trading at about $576, a number which is above our break-even post-split price of $560.  All it has to do now for the rest of the year is to go up by any amount or fall by less than $16 and we will double our money.  We still like our chances. If we were not so confident, we could buy the spread back today and pay only $4.25 for it and that would give us a profit of about 15% for the six months we have held it.

Next week we will discuss the two other vertical put spreads we sold in January.  After you read about all 3 of our plays, you will have a better idea on how to use these kinds of spreads on companies you like, and return a far greater percentage gain than the stock goes up (in fact, it doesn’t have to go up a penny to earn the maximum amount).

An Interesting Trade to Make on Monday

Monday, June 16th, 2014

The recent developments in Iraq have nudged options volatility higher, but for one underlying, SVXY, it has apparently pushed IV through the roof.  This development has brought about some potentially profitable option spread possibilities.Terry

An Interesting Trade to Make on Monday

In case you don’t know what SVXY is, you might check out the chart of its volatility-related inverse, VXX.  This is the ETP many investors use as a protection against a market crash.  If a crash comes along, options volatility skyrockets, taking VXX right along with it.  The only problem with VXX is that over time, it is just about the worst investment you could imagine making.  Three times in the last five years they have had to engineer 1 – for – 4  reverse splits to keep the price higher enough to bother with buying.  Over the past 7 years, VXX has fallen from a split-adjusted price over $2000 to its current $32.

Wouldn’t you like to buy the inverse of VXX?  You can.  It’s called SVXY  (XIV is also its inverse, but you can’t trade options on XIV).

Last week I talked about buying short-term (weekly) call options on SVXY because in exactly half the weeks so far in 2014, the stock had moved $4 higher at least once during the week.  I also advised waiting until option prices were lower before taking this action.  Now that option prices have escalated, the best thing seems to be selling option premium rather than buying it.

Two weeks ago, a slightly out-of-the-money weekly SVXY option had a bid price of $1.05.  Friday, that same option had a bid price of $2.30, more than double that amount.

All other things being equal, SVXY should move higher each month at the current level of Contango (6.49%).  That works out to about $1.20 each week.  I would like to place a bet that SVXY moves higher by about that amount and sell a calendar spread at a strike price about that much above Friday’s close ($79.91).

Below I have displayed the risk profile graph  for a July-June 81 calendar put spread (I used puts rather than calls because if the stock does move higher, the June puts will expire worthless and I will save a commission by not buying them back.

This would be the risk profile graph if we were to buy 5 Jul-14 – Jun-14 put calendar spreads at the 81 strike price at a cost of $3.00 (or less).  You would have $1500 at risk and could make over 50% on your investment if the stock goes up by amount that contango would suggest.  Actually, as I write this Monday morning, it looks like SVXY will open up about a dollar lower, and the spread might better be placed at the 80 strike instead of the 81.

SVXY Risk Profile Graph June 2014
SVXY Risk Profile Graph June 2014

A break-even range of $3 to the downside and about $5 on the upside looks quite comfortable.  If you had a little more money to invest, you might try buying September puts rather than July – this would allow more time for SVXY to recover if it does fall this week on scary developments in Iraq (or somewhere else in the world).

I have personally placed a large number of Sep-Jun calendar spreads on SVXY at strike prices both above and below the current stock price in an effort to take advantage of the unusually higher weekly option prices that exist  right now.

That’s enough about SVXY for today, but I would like to offer you a free report entitled 12 Important Things Everyone with a 401(K) or IRA Should Know (and Probably Doesn’t).  This report includes some of my recent learnings about popular retirement plans and how you can do better.  Order it here.  You just might learn something (and save thousands of dollars as well).

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