One of my favorite options plays is a long-term bet that a particular stock will be equal to or higher than it is today at some future date. Right now might be a perfect time to make that kind of a bet with one of my favorite stocks, Apple (AAPL).Each January, I pick several stocks I feel really positive about and buy a spread that will make an extraordinary gain if the stock is flat or any higher when the options expire one year out. Today I would like to tell you about one of these spreads we placed in one of the Terry’s Tips portfolios we carry out, and how you can place a similar spread right now. If AAPL is only slightly higher than it is today a year from now, you would make 100% on your investment.
How to Make 80% a Year With Long-Term Option Bets
I totally understand that it may seem preposterous to think that over the long run, 80% a year is a possible expectation to have for a stock market investment. But if the AAPL fluctuates in the future as it has in the past, it will absolutely come about. It can be done with a simple option spread that can be placed right now, and you don’t have to do anything else but wait out a year. If the stock is any higher at the end of the year, the options expire worthless and you don’t even have to close out the spread. You just get to keep the money you got at the beginning.
Let’s check out the 10-year chart for Apple:
- 10 Year Apple Chart May 2015
In 9 of the last 10 years, AAPL has been higher at the end of the calendar year than it was at the beginning. Only in the market-meltdown of 2008-2009 was the stock at a lower price at the end of the year than it was at the beginning.
In January of this year, in one of our Terry’s Tips portfolios, we placed the following trade when AAPL was trading at $112. We felt confident that the stock would be at least a little higher a year from then. The precise date would be January 15, 2016, the third Friday of the month when monthly options expire. This is the trade we made:
Buy To Open 7 AAPL Jan-16 105 puts (AAPL160115P105)
Sell To Open 7 AAPL Jan-16 115 puts (AAPL160115P115) for a credit of $5.25 (selling a vertical)
For each spread, we collected $525 less $2.50 in commissions, or $522.50. For 7 spreads, we collected $3657.50 after commissions. The amount at risk per spread was $1000 – $522.50, or $477.50. For all 7, that worked out to $3342.50.
The proceeds from selling the spread, $3657.50, was placed in our account when the sale was made. The broker placed a maintenance requirement on us for $7000 (the maximum we could lose if the stock ended up below $105 at expiration. Our actual risk if this happened would be $7000 less the $3657.50 we received, or $3342.50. If AAPL ends up at any price above $115 on January 15, 2016, both options will expire worthless and we will make a gain of 109% on our investment.
Since we placed that spread, AAPL has moved up nicely, and it is now at $132. If you did not want to wait another six months to collect the 109%, you could buy back the spread today for $2.67 ($269.50 per spread after commissions). Buying back all 7 spreads would cost $1886.50, resulting in a profit of $1771. This works out to be a 53% gain for the 4 months. We are waiting it out rather than taking a gain right now, knowing that 109% will come our way even if the stock falls about $17 from here.
AAPL might not be headed to $240 as Carl Ichan (net worth, $23 billion) believes it is, but it seems likely that it might be higher a year from now than it is today. Options for June, 2016 have just become available for trading. As I write this today, AAPL is trading at $132. If you were willing to bet that over the next 12 months, the stock might edge up by $3 or more, you could sell the following spread (in my personal account, I made this exact trade today):
Buy To Open (pick a number) AAPL Jun-16 125 puts (AAPL160617P125)
Sell To Open ((pick a number) AAPL Jun-16 135 puts (AAPL160617P135) for a credit of $5.10 (selling a vertical)
Each contract will cost you about $500 to place, after commissions. This spread will make a 100% profit after commissions if AAPL ends up at any price above $135 on June 17, 2016.
You might wonder why the title of this blog mentioned 80% as a long-term annual gain possibility. If AAPL behaves in the next 10 years as it has in the last 10 years, and makes a gain in 9 of those years, over the course of a decade, you would gain 100% in 9 years and lose 100% (although the actual loss might be less) in one year, for an average gain of 80% a year.
For sure, you would not want to place all, or even a large part, of your investment portfolio in long-term spreads like this. But it seems to me that a small amount, something that you can afford to lose, is something that you might consider, if only for the fun of doubling your money in a single year.