January 9, 2023
Here is your Option Trade of the Week, generated by our trading team, for your consideration. We’re going with another ETF this week, but this time back on the bearish side.
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With earnings reports non-existent, we’re sticking with ETFs again this week, this time on the bearish side with the retail sector. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) is a broad-based, equal-weighted index of around 100 retail stocks. No stock is worth more than 1.5% of the portfolio and the top 10 holdings are littered with small niche names, some of which I’ve frankly never heard of (Sally Beauty, Franchise Group, Leslie’s). Amazon and Costco, on the other hand, make up a mere 2.2% combined.
XRT had a rough 2022, losing about a third of its value. That puts it on par with tech stocks, which it is not, and trailing the broader market. Should we expect a rebound in 2023? I won’t hazard a guess. But we know the Fed will continue to raise rates to tame inflation. Many expect some sort of recession. The outlook appears muddy at best and bearish at worst.
XRT has staged a mini-rally to start 2023, gaining 3.8% in the first week. But the ETF is now bumping into its 50-day moving average. However, the 50-day hasn’t provided much resistance or support for the past several months. Of greater concern is the overhead 200-day moving average, which has been declining for more than a year. This trendline marked a top in August and kept XRT in check in November, allowing just two daily closes above it.
This bearish trade is a play on XRT once again faltering at the 200-day, which sits 3.7% above the Friday closing price. Note that the short call strike of our spread (red line) sits above the 200-day (blue line), meaning this resistance will need to be broken to move the spread into the money. Options traders have a similar outlook, pricing puts higher than equidistant out-of-the-money calls.
If you agree that XRT will fail to overtake the 200-day, consider the following trade that relies on the ETF staying below $66 through expiration in 6 weeks:
Buy to Open the XRT 17 Feb 69 call (XRT230217C69)
Sell to Open the XRT 17 Feb 66 call (XRT230217C66) for a credit of $0.85 (selling a vertical)
This credit is $0.05 less than the mid-point price of the spread at Monday’s $62.46 close. Unless XRT drops quickly, 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 $83.70. This trade reduces your buying power by $300, making your net investment $216.30 per spread ($300 – $83.70). If XRT closes below $66 on Feb. 17, both options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would be 39% ($83.70/$216.30).
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