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The 10K Strategy

The 10K Strategy is my favorite investment strategy. I have used it to make an average of over 50% a year for three out of four consecutive years.  I have now added a twist to the strategy so that annual returns might be less than those years but there should be a much higher likelihood of its succeeding.

I got so excited about the strategy that I wrote a book about it (see special offer below).  I set up an actual portfolio to demonstrate how the strategy worked for my subscribers in March 2009. I called it the Boomer’s Revenge portfolio (designed so Baby Boomers who had lost much of their retirement capital in late 2008 could get it back). The underlying stock was SPY (the tracking stock for the S&P 500, so we were essentially betting on the market as a whole rather than any individual stock. I started with $10,000 but every month when the portfolio was worth more than that, I withdrew the extra amount.

A little more than a year later, I had withdrawn $6600 from the portfolio and it was still worth over $10,000 (after paying all commissions, of course). Hundreds of my subscribers had mirrored this portfolio and enjoyed those returns right along with me.

Some people discounted these remarkable gains because the market had moved steadily higher most months in 2009 and early 2010. But then the May 2010 expiration month came along and concerns in Greece and Europe spooked the entire market. The S&P fell over 8%.

So how did the Boomer’s Revenge portfolio hold up when the market swooned? I am proud to report that we gained over 4% that month while investors all around were gnashing their teeth.

The great thing about this strategy is that it can make money even if the market as a whole falls in value (just as long as the drop is not too great) In May 2010 we proved that the market could fall as much as 8% and we could still make a nice gain.

What we didn’t have to do to achieve these results was maybe even more remarkable than what we did have to do. .We didn’t have to be smart traders to make this money. We did not have to guess which way the market would move. We did not have to pick a hot stock, or any stock. We just followed a pre-determined set of Trading Rules, buying longer-term options and selling short-term options to someone else.

The 10K Strategy takes a little work, and at least a small understanding of stock options, but it is well worth the effort. (Actually, you don’t even have to understand it all if you subscribe to my Options Tutorial Program, where I email you every trade I make once it is made. You can mirror my trades, and maybe even get better prices than I do.) You can order it here.

Are you willing to make the effort?

How would you feel about yourself if you did not take the hour or two it might take to learn how to make extraordinary returns on your money every year, even if your stock doesn’t go up at all?

On the other hand, how would it feel to know that you understood a trading strategy that could multiply your net worth many times over in a few short years? Think of the exotic vacations you could take, the fancy cars you could buy, and the early retirement you could earn — all possible because you understood and used an investment vehicle (stock options) that scare most people to death.

This is no fishy proposition.

While making 36% every year without taking big risks may sound too good to be true, this is no fishy proposition. I am not giving you fish — mahi-mahi, red snapper or sea bass. Holy mackerel, all I’m doing is teaching you how to fish. I will give you a formula. Once you have learned it, you may be able to make extraordinary returns on your money every single year – without any help from me.

You will be proud of your newfound ability to achieve stock market riches with this formula. Your family and friends will love you. Your business associates will envy you. Your mother will take full credit for your success.

Here’s the fine print.

Okay, anything this good must have some drawbacks, so here they are:

  1. I can’t guarantee a 36% return in one year while not risking a loss. But I can show you every trade we made in 2009 that resulted in better than a 60% gain on our money (after paying all the commissions).
  2. You will have to work. That means placing option orders with your discount broker on or about the third Friday of each month. When you subscribe to Terry’s Tips, I will email you the exact trades I make in every portfolio using the 10K Strategy (for two months there is no extra charge). Once you understand how the strategy unfolds you probably won’t need my help any longer. You will know exactly what to do each month on your own.  
  3. You will need to have access to an Internaet connection or a telephone on or about the third Friday (expiration day), and sometimes for adjustments at other times. This is not always easy, but I have made hundreds of trades on the telephone from a remote island in the Bahamas, a bastide in Provence, and a small village in the middle of Russia. So it is almost always possible.
  4. Most of your profits will be taxed as short-term capital gains.  This is a major disadvantage of the strategy and a big reason to carry it out in your IRA or other tax-deferred account.

Yes, you can use this strategy in your IRA. You will have to set up an IRA account with a broker who allows option spreads.

Does the stock have to go up for the 10K Strategy to be profitable? 

As long as the stock moves only moderately (5% or so) during an expiration month, it doesn’t matter which way the stock moves.  We spend a good share of the invested amount in an insurance bet that pays off only if the stock falls (and usually maintain a cash reserve for a downside adjustment as well).

A Conservative Options Strategy

Many people believe that a conservative options strategy is an oxymoron.  Options are leveraged and depreciating investments that involve a great deal of risk.  However, for virtually every option that the 10K Strategy owns, there is an offsetting short option to protect against a moderate stock price move in either direction.

The 10K Strategy in a nutshell – it’s all about the Decay Rate

Decay Rate for a Typical Option

If the price of the stock remains the same, all options become less valuable over time. This makes total sense. If you own an option that has a year to go before it expires, you would be willing to pay more for it than you would for an option that lasted only a month.

The amount that the option falls in value is called its decay. There are two interesting aspects of decay. First, it tends to be quite low when there is a long time until the option expires. Second, decay increases dramatically as the option moves toward the date when it expires (the expiration date).

A typical 12-month call option (strike price 70) for a $70 stock might be about $7.80. Instead of paying $7000 to buy 100 shares of the stock, you could buy the right to purchase the stock at $780. Having the option would give you all the rights of stock ownership except receiving dividends and voting on company matters. For every dollar the stock went up, you would gain $100 just like the owner of 100 shares would enjoy.

Of course, you wouldn’t actually make a gain until after the stock had gone up by $7.80 to cover the cost of the call option you bought. But you would have a full year for that to happen.

Each month you waited to buy this option (assuming the stock stayed at $70), you would pay less much less. When there was only a month to go until expiration, a one-month call option (same strike, same $70 stock) might sell for $1.80 The stock would only have to go up $1.80 before you made money on your call purchase, but there would only be one month for that to happen.

Most option buyers prefer to pay $1.80 for an option that only has a month of remaining life rather than $7.80 for an option that has a year of life. In the 10K Strategy, we do just the opposite.

In the 10K Strategy, at the same time we buy options with several months of remaining life until expiration, we sell someone else an option that only has a month to go until expiration. We are allowed to use our longer-term option as collateral for the short term sale.

When you simultaneously buy a long-term option and sell a short-term option on the same underlying stock or ETF at the same strike price, you are placing what is called a calendar spread (also called a time spread).

The price we pay is the difference in price between the two options. For example:

Buy one-year call option at 70 strike price for $7.80
Sell one-month call option at 70 strike price for $1.80
Cost of spread: $6.00 ($600)

After one month, if the price of the stock remains at $70, the price of the option we bought for $7.80 will have fallen in value by about $.40, and would be worth about $7.40. However, the option we sold to someone else would be worthless since the stock price is not higher than $70 and there is no time remaining for the option.

At the end of one month (assuming the stock is still at $70), the spread that we purchased for $600 would then consist of a single call option with 11 months of remaining life which is worth $740. We would have made a gain of $140, or about 23% on our investment in a single month (less commissions). At that point, we would sell another one-month option for $180 and wait for another month to expire.

If the stock remained at $70 for an entire year, and we sold a one-month option 11 more times for $1.80 a pop, we would collect $19.80 ($1980) on our original investment of $6.00 ($600), or over 300%.

The difference in the lower decay rate of the long-term option we own and the higher decay rate of the short-term option we sell is the essence of the 10K Strategy. Everything else is just details.

Of course, this is a simplified example. Commissions would eat a little into the gains, and the stock will never stay exactly flat. Sometimes it will stay almost flat, however, and we would earn over 20% in a single month in the above example.

The 10K Strategy consists spending most of your cash to purchase call calendar spreads at strikes near and above the stock price. A portion of portfolio value, usually 10% – 20% is retained as a reserve in case adjustments need to be made.

For example, if the stock falls early in an expiration month, some downside protection might be added on to insure that if the market continues to fall, a loss can be avoided. These adjustments might take one of several possible forms. The most common one would be to purchase additional calendar spreads at strike prices below the stock price.

We have also had good luck with what we call an exotic butterfly spread. This is much like a traditional butterfly spread except that one of the legs is in a further-out month. When you become a Terry’s Tips Insider, our options tutorial will include a complete set of adjustment Trading Rules, including both the traditional and exotic butterfly spreads.

Buy the Book and Learn all About Calendar Spreads and the 10K Strategy

If you would like to see how calendar spreads can be used to achieve consistent returns every year that the market moves moderately in either direction, all you have to do is buy a copy of my book (Making 36%). 

You can buy the book here and you will receive:

  1. An electronic version of Making 36%: Duffer’s Guide to Breaking Par in the Market Every Year, in Good Years and Bad.
  2. A copy of the paperback book mailed to you by first class mail.

This may seem a little hard to believe. For a total cost of $12.94, you will have everything you need to make superior investment returns for many years. It could easily be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to you. There is nothing else for you to buy (unless you would like to learn even more, and become a Terry’s Tips Insider).

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

Making 36%: Duffer's Guide to Breaking Par in the Market Every Year in Good Years and Bad Here is what the book looks like (but the good stuff is inside):The book was originally published at $19.95. You will receive an electronic version so you can start right away, and the paperback version will be mailed to you free of shipping and handling charges. Order it today

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September 25, 2023

September 25, 2023

Cold and Soggy

There were a few interesting earnings announcements this week, even though we’re in the quiet period for earnings reports (things start to ramp up again in three weeks). In fact, I had three bearish plays to choose from. That’s a good thing since we currently have three bullish and three bearish trades open, and I feel like the bears need a little more weight after the past week’s Fed-infected price action.

The trade this week is on prepared-food giant General Mills (GIS), which owns several iconic cereal brands along with such names as Betty Crocker, Blue Buffalo, Pillsbury, Progresso, Green Giant and Yoplait. GIS reported earnings numbers on Wednesday before the open that were filled with a lot of “buts.” Sales increased 4% due to higher prices, but volume was lower. Net income beat the consensus expectation but fell 18% from a year ago. GIS executives are bullish on their pet food segment but sales for the quarter were flat. Moreover, some analysts feel that consumers are reaching their limit on rising food costs. And GIS’s CFO said that the company’s operating profit margin will not improve this year.

All in all, it was not a great report, which is perhaps why the stock was hit with a few price target cuts. At least there were no ratings downgrades. Analysts on the whole are neutral toward the stock, while the average target price is in the $70-75 range compared to Friday’s close near $65.

Perhaps analysts would be a bit more skeptical if they took a quick glance at GIS’s chart, which shows the stock plunging 30% in the past four months. This descent has been expertly guided by the 20-day moving average, a trendline the stock has closed above just four times since mid-May. This resistance was evident the two days after earnings this week, when the shares failed to pierce the 20-day with early rallies. Note that the short call strike of our spread sits above this trendline.

If you agree that the stock will continue its downtrend after an uninspiring earnings report and remain below its 20-day moving average (blue line), consider the following credit spread trade that relies on GIS staying below $67.50 (red line) through expiration in 8 weeks:

Buy to Open the GIS 17 Nov 70 call (GIS231117C70)
Sell to Open the GIS 17 Nov 67.5 call (GIS231117C67.5) for a credit of $0.45 (selling a vertical)

This credit is $0.05 less than the mid-point price of the spread at Friday’s $64.82 close.  Unless GIS falls sharply at the open on Monday, you should be able to get close to that price.

The commission on this trade should be no more than $1.30 per spread. Each spread would then yield $43.70. This trade reduces your buying power by $200, making your net investment $156.30 per spread ($200 – $43.70). If GIS closes below $67.50 on Nov. 17, the options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would be 28% ($43.70/$156.30).  

September 11, 2023

September 12, 2023

Health Bear … Sort Of

With no notable earnings reports this week, we’re turning to an ETF that’s done little of late. It’s the SPDR Health Care ETF (XLV), which holds such heavyweights as UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Eli Lilly (LLY), Merck (MRK), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Amgen (AMGN) among its top 10 holdings. This trade is a bearish credit spread, though I’m not particularly bearish on the sector. I’m not bullish, either. But that’s the beauty of credit spreads. You can be more neutral than directional and still collect a maximum profit so long as the short strike remains out of the money. It’s a forgiving strategy that caters to those who don’t have a strong directional bias.

I’m using a bearish call spread for this trade because the overhead 135 level has proven difficult for XLV to overcome throughout most of 2023. In fact, the ETF has closed above this mark only a handful of times since January. Recent attempts to take out 135 were rejected in April, August and July.

Although XLV currently sits below all its major moving averages, it hasn’t respected these trendlines for support or resistance for much of the year. So, even though the 20-day, 50-day and 200-day moving averages lie between the current XLV price and the 135 level, I’m not relying on their potential for resistance. This is more about the 135 level acting as a top in recent months.

Note that this trade extends into the start of the next earnings season. In fact, four of XLV’s top 10 holdings, including UNH and JNJ, report before the spread expires on Oct. 20. However, given XLV’s performance this year (down around 3%) and the fact that it’s gone nowhere for seven months, I’m not expecting earnings from a few XLV names to give the ETF a huge shot in the arm prior to expiration.

If you agree that XLV will continue its “meh” performance, consider the following credit spread trade that relies on XLV staying below $135 (blue line) through expiration in 6 weeks:

Buy to Open the XLV 20 Oct 137 call (XLV231020C137)
Sell to Open the XLV 20 Oct 135 call (XLV231020C135) for a credit of $0.40 (selling a vertical)

This credit is $0.04 less than the mid-point price of the spread at Friday’s $132.06 close.  Unless XLV sinks sharply at the open on Monday, you should be able to get close to that price.

The commission on this trade should be no more than $1.30 per spread. Each spread would then yield $38.70. This trade reduces your buying power by $200, making your net investment $161.30 per spread ($200 – $38.70). If XLV closes below $135 on Oct. 20, the options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would be 24% ($38.70/$161.30).  

**We continue to beat the market in 2023. Don’t miss out on the profits … now you can save more than 50% on a monthly subscription to Terry’s Tips. Just Click Here, select Sign Up Now and use Coupon Code D21M to start a monthly subscription to Terry’s Tips for half off.**

September 5, 2023

September 5, 2023

With the market throwing off bullish vibes this week, we’re going with another bullish trade on one of the few notable names that reported earnings this week: athletic apparel maker Lululemon Athletica (LULU). The company reported solid numbers after the bell on Thursday, including an 18% revenue jump that surpassed the analyst estimate. Earnings also handily beat expectations. To complete the trifecta, full-year revenue and earnings guidance came in above the analyst estimate.

Analysts were seemingly thrilled with the numbers, as a slew of price target increases poured in. But many raised the price by only a few dollars, which is meaningless for a $400 stock. After the flurry, the new average target price stands only around 3% above Friday’s close. And there were no ratings changes, leaving the current consensus in the buy/outperform category.

So, while analysts appear bullish, nobody seems willing to bet the mortgage payment on LULU. I’m fine with that, however, as I hesitate to jump on a bandwagon that’s already full. I like to see some room for upgrades and target price increases.

Traders apparently thought differently, pushing LULU up 6% on Friday to an 18-month high. It also propelled the stock above a trading range that has captured most of the price moves of the past five months. Note in the chart how the 20-day and 50-day moving averages have combined forces near the 380 level. I expect these trendlines to rise above the top of the range around $385 within the next week or two. That should provide a multi-layered tier of support to keep the short put of our spread out of the money.

The other technical driver of this trade is the fact that LULU tends to stay flat for several weeks after earnings. That is, the stock doesn’t tend to stray too far from its initial post-earnings move. Given that we have around a 5% cushion combined with the trading range and potential trendline support, I like the odds of LULU staying above the key $385 mark through expiration.

If you agree that the stock will respect the top of its trading range, consider the following credit spread trade that relies on LULU staying above $385 (green line) through expiration in 6 weeks:

Buy to Open the LULU 13 Oct 380 put (LULU231013P380)
Sell to Open the LULU 13 Oct 385 put (LULU231013P385) for a credit of $1.05 (selling a vertical)

This credit is $0.02 less than the mid-point price of the spread at Friday’s $404.19 close.  Unless LULU surges at the open on Tuesday, you should be able to get close to that price.

The commission on this trade should be no more than $1.30 per spread. Each spread would then yield $103.70. This trade reduces your buying power by $500, making your net investment $396.30 per spread ($500 – $103.70). If LULU closes above $385 on Oct. 13, the options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would be 26% ($103.70/$396.30).  

**You can save more than 50% on a monthly subscription to Terry’s Tips. Just Click Here, select Sign Up Now and use Coupon Code D21M to start a monthly subscription to Terry’s Tips for half off.**

Making 36%

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

This digital 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.

Order Now

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