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How to Play the JP Morgan and Wells Fargo Announcements Friday

While we were right on the direction that Accenture (ACN) would take after the earnings announcement (down), we missed how far it would drop (it fell 15% even though it beat earnings estimates). Our diagonal credit spread using calls would have made gains no matter how far it fell but we added a higher-strike calendar “just in case we were wrong about the direction.” That spread lost big-time, and has encouraged us to stick with our model and stop second-guessing ourselves.

Today I wrote a Seeking Alpha article discussing the only two companies with weekly options who announce this week – How to Play the JP Morgan and Wells Fargo Announcements Friday

In today’s report I will have a more thorough discussion of the option strategies I suggested in that article.


How to Play the JP Morgan and Wells Fargo Announcements Friday

The major point of the Seeking Alpha article was that both companies share similar historic patterns – they consistently beat estimates and the stock either changes very little or falls once earnings are announced. This time around, expectations are quite high for both companies (whisper numbers exceed estimates, and the stock has gone up about 20% since the last earnings announcement and hit new highs this week).

In short, both stocks are in for a likely drop in price after the announcement because some part is likely to disappoint (if not earnings, then maybe revenue, margins, or guidance). We have learned from experience that high expectations consistently result in lower post-announcement prices.

We are buying diagonal call credit spreads in both companies. These spreads will make gains if the stock trades lower by any amount, and will lose if the stock moves higher by a dollar or so (but we doubt that it will move in that direction).

We suggest waiting until late in the day on Thursday to make the trades because the stock often rises in expectation of a good announcement just prior to its being made (and these diagonal spreads should go for a larger credit).

With JP Morgan (JPM) trading at about $54.50, we would buy Jul-13 55 calls and sell Jul2-13 54.5 weekly calls which expire on Friday. Here is the risk profile graph for 10 spreads which could be sold for a $.02 credit right now (but this credit should be higher on Thursday if the stock is higher then):

JPM Risk Profile Graph

JPM Risk Profile Graph

If you were to buy 10 spreads, there would be a $500 maintenance requirement (less any credit you were able to get), and that would be your maximum possible loss (which would come about if the stock moved significantly higher). It can go up about $.50 before a loss should result (assuming that IV of the July options falls from 24 to 20 after the announcement). If there is a small downturn in the stock (our belief as to the most likely outcome), the spread could return as much as 50% before commissions. It is a small bet with limited possible gains (or losses).For Wells Fargo (WFC), we are buying Jul-13 43 calls and selling Jul2-13 43.5 weekly calls expiring on Friday. At the present time, this spread could be sold for a credit of $.10, although if the stock price moves higher by Thursday it should be able to be sold for more. Here is the risk profile graph:

WFC Risk Profile Graph

WFC Risk Profile Graph

If you buy 10 diagonal spreads, there would be a $500 maintenance requirement (reduced by the $100 you collect from the credit) for a net cost of $400 (which is also your maximum loss which would come about if the stock moves significantly higher).  If the stock stays flat, you would keep the $100 credit plus the remaining value of the Jul-13 43 call.  This is not a huge investment (or return) although it looks like there is a pretty good chance of a 25% gain less commissions for the day (this graph assumes that IV of the July options will fall by 5 after the announcement – it might not fall that much and the gain would be greater if the stock is flat).

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