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Shoot for the Stars Strategy

In spite of the odds against winning, many people seem to like to invest in individual stocks. It is sort of like picking horses at the race track (and often for similar sound selection reasons, like the reputation of the trainer or the jockey or the color of his silks, or the horse’s name or his recent race record, or what the touts are touting).

To our way of thinking, picking individual stocks is a lot more like gambling than carrying out a prudent option strategy such as the 10K Strategy.  But picking individual stocks is easier, and a whole lot more fun for many people.

If you insist on picking individual companies, there are two good ways to use an options strategy to multiply your gains if you are lucky enough to pick a winner.  First, the 10K Strategy, our favorite strategy, is best if you merely like a particular company.  Second, if you really LOVE the company, you might use the Shoot Strategy.

At Terry’s Tips, we conduct options strategies based on several individual companies we feel good about.  For example, in October 2013 we set up a portfolio based on Nike (NKE), a company we liked.  If we had really loved NKE, we would have used the Shoot Strategy.  We were lucky to have picked a good company. We started with $4000 in the portfolio (set up in an actual brokerage account with no other positions) when NKE was trading at $63.  By the end of November 2014, NKE had surged to $99, up 57%.  Our portfolio was then worth $11,435, a gain of 186%.  Our options portfolio had performed more than 3 times as well as the stock had gained.

If we had loved the stock at the outset, rather than just liking it, we would have used the Shoot Strategy instead of the 10K Strategy, and we would have gained even more. This time around. the Shoot Strategy would have done much better.  On the other hand, we felt pretty good about almost tripling our investment in 16 months while taking less risk than is involved in the Shoot Strategy.

While we don’t use the Shoot Strategy in any of our actual portfolios, we show you exactly how to do it if you have a company you really love.  It is more risky than our 10K Strategy but it should outperform if the stock actually does move up a lot.  If the stock stays flat, the Shoot Strategy will usually about break even. On the other hand, if the stock stays flat, the 10K Strategy is designed to make a nice gain.

Les Brown said “Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.  And Confucius said long ago “If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it’s OK. But you’ve got to shoot for something. A lot of people don’t even shoot.”

This is how the Shoot Strategy works –

1.  If the stock goes up, the Shoot Strategy will make money.  The gain will be considerably greater than the percentage gain would have been if the stock had been bought instead of the LEAPS.

2. If the stock stays flat, your account value will be about flat as well, or a small gain might result.  Since you are collecting slightly more than the average monthly decay of the LEAPS each month (until they have only a few months of remaining life) you might often make a small gain.  However, even a small gain is more than you would have made if you had bought the stock and it doesn’t go up a penny.

3. If the stock falls, a loss will usually result just like it would if you had bought the stock, and the loss will likely be a greater percentage loss than if the stock itself had been purchased instead.  However, in many cases, the loss could be reduced (or eliminated) if the stock fell during those months when our Trading Rules call for selling in-the-money calls.

General Trading Rules for executing the Shoot Strategy:

Pick a stock you believe is headed higher (we suggest using www.magicformulainvesting.com. as a guide – see discussion below).

1. Buy slightly in-the-money or out-of-the-money call LEAPS.  At least two LEAPS must be purchased.  If your budget does not warrant buying at least two true LEAPS, shorter-term calls can be purchased as long as they have at least six months of remaining life.
         Calculate the average monthly decay of the LEAPS (time premium divided by the number of remaining months).

2.  Sell enough slightly out-of-the-money current month calls to cover the average monthly decay.

3. Near or at expiration, roll over the short calls to the next month (if they are in the money), again selling enough out-of-the-money contracts to cover the average monthly decay.  If the expiring calls are out-of-the-money, let them expire worthless and sell the next month out, as above.

4. If short-term calls that have been sold become in the money (i.e., the stock has gone up), they must be bought back during expiration week, and the amount paid must be added to the remaining decay of the LEAPS and a new (higher) average monthly decay bogey established based on the number of remaining months of the LEAPS.

The biggest differences between the Shoot Strategy and the 10K Strategy is the calls are used exclusively in the Shoot Strategy and all of the short calls are at the money or out of the money (i.e., at strikes which are at or above the current price of the stock. These positions will cause the portfolio to have a strongly positive net delta at all times.

Deciding Which Companies to Buy:

The best single source we have found for selecting individual companies is the Magic Formula system outlined in the small book by Joel Greenblat called “The Little Book That Beats the Market” and is available online at www.magicformulainvesting.com

Rather than relying entirely on the Magic Formula, it might be even better to select individual stocks that also rank high at Investors Business Daily (IBD), Value Line, and by composite analyst rankings.  While we prefer the 10K Strategy because of its lower risk, using the Shoot Strategy offers considerably higher returns than merely buying the stock, and if you carry it out correctly, you can sometimes make money with the Shoot Strategy even if the stock stays flat.

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TERRY’S TIPS STOCK OPTIONS TRADING BLOG

June 20, 2022

Roku (ROKU) is a stock many believe is in play as a takeover candidate. Netflix and Disney are potential suitors, among others. Whatever the rumor or sentiment, the stock has been flat for the past seven weeks, which is saying something. In fact, since April 27, ROKU is down 2.7% while QQQ has fallen more than 13%.

There’s no denying that ROKU has been a spectacular flop for the past year. The shares are down a whopping 83% from their July 2021 high. But the stock has held up well over the past couple of months with takeover rumors in the air. It may not be advancing, but it’s not falling either. Moreover, the stock appears to have found solid support in the 72-73 area, the site of a two-year low.

One way to see how the market feels about a stock is by looking at equidistant out-of-the-money put and call prices. Currently, calls are trading for more than their corresponding puts, suggesting that the market sees more risk to the upside. That is highly unusual in this market, where most everything has richer put prices. We are therefore trading a put credit spread with the short put strike below the recent two-year low level. 

If you agree that ROKU is in play and will continue sideways at worst, consider the following trade that relies on the stock staying above $70 through expiration in six weeks. Note that ROKU is scheduled to report earnings the day before expiration.

Buy to Open ROKU 29Jul 65 put (ROKU220729P65)
Sell to Open ROKU 29Jul 70 put (ROKU220729P70) for a credit of $1.50 (selling a vertical)

This credit is $0.05 less than the mid-point of the option spread when ROKU was trading at $82.42. Unless the stock surges quickly from here, you should be able to get close to this amount.

Your commission on this trade should be no more than $1.30 per spread.  Each spread would then yield $148.70. This trade reduces your buying power by $500 and makes your net investment $351.30 ($500 – $148.70) for one spread.  If ROKU closes above $70 on July 29, both options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would be 42% ($148.70/$351.30).

November 22, 2021

Target
(TGT) reported earnings before the bell on Wednesday that beat estimates on
both revenue and profits. The company also expects its fiscal Q4 comparable
sales growth to be higher than previous forecasts. Moreover, TGT claimed the
supply chain mess has not been an issue – store shelves are full and ready for
the holiday buying onslaught.

Analysts
were mostly bullish on the report, giving TGT several target price increases
(there was one lower price). One went as high as $350, a 38% premium to
Friday’s closing price. The stock price was not rewarded, however. The shares
dropped 4.7% on Wednesday and slid further the rest of the week. However, this
was a common theme among several retailers, including Walmart (WMT). In fact,
the overall retail sector was lower for the week.

The pullback dropped the shares to just above their 50-day moving average (blue line in chart). This trade is thus a bet that TGT will regain its footing and stay above the 50-day as holiday sales numbers – that are predicted to be robust – start rolling in. The short 245 strike (red line) of our put credit spread is below the 50-day, relying on trendline support to hold through expiration.

If
you agree that TGT will stay atop its 50-day moving average line in chart),
consider the following trade that relies on the stock remaining above 245  (through expiration in six weeks.

Buy
to Open TGT 31Dec 240 put (TGT211231P240)
Sell to Open TGT
31Dec 245 put (TGT211231P245) for a credit of $1.60 (selling a vertical)

This
credit is $0.02 less than the mid-point
of the option spread when TGT was trading around $251. Unless the stock rises
quickly from here, you should be able to get close to this amount.

Your
commission on this trade will be only $1.30 per spread.  Each spread would then yield $158.70. This
trade reduces your buying power by $500 and makes your net investment $341.30
($500 – $158.70) for one spread.  If TGT
closes above $245 on December 31, both options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would
be 46% ($158.70/$341.30).

November 15, 2021

Affirm
Holdings (AFRM) provides a platform for point-of-sale payments for consumers
and merchants. In August, AFRM announced a partnership with Amazon.com (AMZN)
to offer flexible payment solutions to customers with AMZN purchases above $50.
AFRM reported earnings on Wednesday after the bell that missed on profits but
beat on revenue. The company also raised sales guidance.

Wall
Street apparently forgave the earnings miss, largely because it was not clear
if the discrepancy used comparable numbers. Moreover, AFRM said its AMZN
relationship as a buy-now-pay-later service was exclusive. Clearly, analysts
were looking at AFRM’s growth prospects, as the company was greeted with
several target price upgrades that reached as high as $185 (the stock closed at
$149 on Friday).

After a nasty, four-day 21% plunge heading into earnings that pulled the stock to its 50-day moving average, the stock rebounded 13.7% the day after the earnings news. Given the earnings rebound, analyst target upgrades and deal with AMZN, we are going with a bullish trade on AFRM that keys on the stock maintaining its three-month rally and staying atop its 50-day moving average (blue line in chart). The short put strike of our credit spread sits at $133 (red line in chart), just below the 50-day.

If
you agree that AFRM will continue its uptrend and stay atop its 50-day moving
average line in chart), consider the following trade that relies on the stock
remaining above $133  (through expiration
in seven weeks.

Buy
to Open AFRM 31Dec 128 put (AFRM211231P128)
Sell to Open AFRM 31Dec
133 put (AFRM211231P133) for a credit of $1.85 (selling a vertical)

This
credit is $0.05 less than the mid-point
of the option spread when AFRM was trading at $149. Unless the stock rises
quickly from here, you should be able to get close to this amount.

Your
commission on this trade will be only $1.30 per spread.  Each spread would then yield $183.70. This
trade reduces your buying power by $500 and makes your net investment $316.30
($500 – $183.70) for one spread.  If AFRM
closes above $133 on December 31, both options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would
be 58% ($183.70/$316.30).

Making 36%

Making 36% – A Duffer's Guide to Breaking Par in the Market Every Year in Good Years and Bad

This book may not improve your golf game, but it might change your financial situation so that you will have more time for the greens and fairways (and sometimes the woods).

Learn why Dr. Allen believes that the 10K Strategy is less risky than owning stocks or mutual funds, and why it is especially appropriate for your IRA.

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