by phil - June 5th, 2010 7:12 am
Like any good car race, the lead changes often in the markets. Yesterday the bears took the lead as the combination of Hungarian debt issues and a disappointing jobs number were like a tire blow-out for the bulls, who were forced to pull in for a pit stop. Fortunately, we had our seat belts on and had assumed the crash position as I had warned Members on THURSDAY Morning at 10:04:
Watch that 666 line on the RUT – we don’t want to lose that or even show weakness there… ISM a bit disappointing, now we’ll see what holds but I’m out of short-term, unhedged, upside plays here.
I felt strongly enough about it that we also posted it on Seeking Alpha, to warn as many people as possible, under the heading: "Phil Calls Short-Term Top." I don’t post live trade ideas on Seeking Alpha but in Premium Member Chat (and you can subscribe here) I followed right up at 10:17 Thursday morning with the following trade idea:
BGZ (large-cap bear) is at $15.27 and I like them as a hedge here with the (June) $14/16 bull call spread at .75, selling the July $14 puts for .95 and that’s a net .20 credit on the $2 spread with about $2.70 in margin so you can do a 10 contract spread for a $200 credit and $2,700 in margin (according to TOS standard) with a $2K upside if the market even twitches lower. Worst case is you own BGZ as a hedge to a dip below Dow 10,600 (your put-to area) at net $13.80 (9% lower than current price).
That’s what hedged trade ideas look like in our Member Chat. At PSW, you need to put some time in LEARNING how to trade and, more importantly, how to hedge. This is a fairly complicated options play but we take it BECAUSE IT WORKS! There are many, many simpler ways to play that don’t work (or carry far more risk) but we prefer to teach our Members how to do the things that do work. As it stands, just 48 hours later, BGZ is up 10% on Friday to $16.89 (so the spread is now 100% in the money) and June $14/16 bull call spread is now $1.50 while the July $14 puts are Down to .60 so net .90 already on the spread that already paid…
by phil - April 15th, 2010 4:18 am
Our $100K Virtual Portfolio is not doing so well.
Staying in cash after taking a big loss on FAZ did not turn out to be a good move as FAZ went deeper in the red and the cash didn’t go up. We had fantastic winners on our upside plays, which were:
|Symbol||Description||QTY||Price Paid||Last Price||Change||MKT Value||Profit Loss||%|
|GENERAL ELECTRIC CO VGE1122A15||GE CALL 15 Jan 11||5||$2.24||$4.75 Stock: $19.35||$0.40||$2,375.00 Margin: $0.00||$1,255.00||112.05%|
|SUNPOWER CORPORATION QRU1017P19||SPWRA PUT 19 Apr 10||-5||$2.00||$0.80 Stock: $18.26||-$0.11||$400.00 Margin: $2,682.50||$600.00||60.00%|
|VALERO ENERGY CORP VLB1017P18||VLO PUT 18 Apr 10||-5||$1.10||$0.02 Stock: $20.36||$0.00||$10.00 Margin: $1,375.00||$540.00||98.18%|
|SIRIUS XM RADIO INC QXO1017P1||SIRI PUT 1 Apr 10||-50||$0.15||$0.05 Stock: $1.07||$0.00||$250.00 Margin: $1,235.63||$500.00||66.67%|
|MEMC ELECTRONIC MATERIALS CJC1017P12||WFR PUT 12 Apr 10||-5||$0.85||$0.01 Stock: $16.82||-$0.01||$5.00 Margin: $605.00||$420.00||98.82%|
|GENERAL ELECTRIC CO VGE1122M12.5||GE PUT 12.5 Jan 11||-10||$0.70||$0.29 Stock: $19.35||-$0.02||$290.00 Margin: $1,540.00||$410.00||58.57%|
|PROSHARES ULTRA FINANCIALS UUF1017P5||UYG PUT 5 Apr 10||-20||$0.16||$0.01 Stock: $7.75||$0.00|
by phil - March 18th, 2010 6:15 pm
Oh, I have tried!
I have tried to be bullish, I have tried to get enthusiastic about this rally but I have been reviewing these picks for a few days and looking at the market, the charts, the sentiment, reading the news and studying the fundamentals and I’m OUT! Oh, I’ll be back, we’ll set up a new, aggressive $100K Virtual Portfolio next week for some fun shorter-terrm plays (still keeping the conservative one for the full year) to take full advantage of this insanity but it’s going to be mainly cash through the end of the month as I do not trust this rally one bit and it will be so nice to head into the easter holiday with lots of cash on the sidelines.
We hit a perfect entry on Feb 8th, in our last round, and the market is up almost 9% since that day and I’m not expecting another 9% in the next 6 weeks so it’s a very good time to take a break. We were able to roll and enjoy these trades since Christmas and we will be revisiting some, maybe even keeping a few but, on the whole, I want to do what I often counsel members to do, which is follow our simple two-step process to maximizing your profits in a market rally:
- Step 1) Take Money
- Step 2) Run
There – isn’t that simple? Keep in mind that we LOVE all of these stocks so we’ll be back in them if they go on sale and, perhaps, even if they don’t and the market looks stronger through April earnings. Meanwhile, keep in mind that these are 6-week profits so 20% is A LOT for generally conservative plays. Not much else to talk about – let’s just see how many of these suckers are worth keeping (noted in green):
AET (12/21 – $34.04, 1/9 – $32.70, 1/31 – $29.97, 3/18 – $33.24) They could not have done better for us, staying right in range and giving us 4 excellent sales but health care is passing this weekend and that’s too wild for us to stick with. Our last batch is right on target:
- Apr $33 calls sold for $2.40, now .40 – up 83%
- Apr $30 puts sold for $1.50, now .02 - up 99%
- 2012 $25/35 bull call spread at $5, now $5.40 – Keeper if we sell July $34 calls to cover at $2.35
- 2011 $22.50s at $9.10
by phil - March 14th, 2010 5:20 am
I’m having writer’s block this weekend.
Usually when I can’t think of what to write it helps me to go over our virtual portfolios so I started this morning reviewing the Buy List but I didn’t get far because it was silly. Of 43 plays on the buy list, 39 are doing well – too well in fact to the point where it’s hard for me, in good conscience, not to say let’s kill the whole thing and get back to cash as we’re up about 20% in 2 months and that’s just ridiculous – most people would call that a good year and go on vacation.
The Buy List was 100% bullish and we did catch a good bottom on our early February entries. I was gung ho bullish then because I felt comfortable that the 10,000 line on the Dow would prevail and that we were good for a run back to the top (10,700), following, more or less, the pattern we had in 2004 (see original post for charts). Well that’s pretty much what’s happened since then but that’s not making me happy because I see no reason we won’t complete that pattern and begin falling off a cliff shortly.
As you all know, I’m not a big fan of TA, or patterns for that matter but the reason I started looking for patterns was to try to get a handle on how long market could really keep going up before falling victim to exhaustion. To me it seemed we weren’t at that point on Feb 6th but now that we’ve put in that big push back up – if we can’t punch up to new highs on all our indexes then I do think it’s time for the markets to take a break.
Clearly I’ve been too bearish for the past couple of weeks and we are now 224 points over 10,400 on the Dow which is where I turned bearish as the January data made me lose faith in our ability to get back to 10,700. I should have stuck to the TA because we’re a lot closer to 10,700 than we are to 10,400. With the Russell and Nasdaq exploding to their own new highs. You can see though, from the above chart, why I do want to wait to see the NYSE, Dow and S&P confirm this move up – it’s not far now!…
by phil - March 7th, 2010 5:30 pm
10 Winners and 5 losers but our loser is a doozy!
Despite being down $7,170 on our FAZ hedge, we are at net $99,079.64 in the virtual portfolio after two weeks, which is fine as we still have plenty of premium to collect and we still have $92,884.64 in cash with $163,661.13 in available buying power. Now comes the hard part – where (if anywhere) do we need to make some adjustments? I was a little too skeptical of the rally, we could have grabbed some more bargains but I thought we’d at least try to make our adjustments to this well-balanced set first and THEN worry about adding more complexity – kind of like this video on balance.
We closed our first position on Friday, buying back the FAZ Apr $17 calls for .95, a $1.68 gain off our $2.63 short entry (up 64%) for a $2,860 gain. As we expected, our other positions did very well as FAZ went down but it does look like we could do with a few more of them, especially if this continues. Don’t forget we were supposed to fill the FAZ spread at $2.20 and it filled at $2.53, which is a $990 difference on 30 contracts and that is the entirety of our loss. If you have a broker that does "little things" like this to you – THEY ARE KILLING YOUR PROFITS! Don’t let them get away with it… Our other positions are all open and as follows:
How are our trading plans holding up?
BAC - 10 Apr $15 puts sold for .46, now .23. - up 50% (margin $1,730). $1,730 in margin is a lot to try to make $230 but not if you’re not using it for anything else. Also, it’s $230 in 6 weeks on $1,730, which is 13% or 112% a year so don’t sell these little victories short! We are 50% ahead and way ahead of our goal for 2 weeks on this trade but the real questions are: 1) Do we have any better use for the margin? No, we do not as we are still early in our scales and we anticipate having lots of cash around for a few months. 2) Are we worried about losing the 50% ($230) we already made? Ah, that’s an interesting question. Let’s define "worry," shall we?
BAC has a rising 200 dma AND a rising 50 dma that don’t look like they want…
by phil - February 24th, 2010 10:11 pm
I’ve had a few new members ask me about deploying a new virtual portfolio.
I thought it would be a good idea to do a little practice run using the WSS platform with ORDINARY margins so these will be trades anyone can make. My intention with this virtual portfolio is not to touch it very often and I WILL NOT be able to watch it all day. So, this will be an ideal virtual portfolio for the "set and forget" crowd. Obviously, you can do this with $50,000 or even $25,000 – just buy less positions!
Our goal is conservatism and earning a least 2% a month. We did this with last spring’s Q2 $100K Virtual Portfolio, which was doing better than $1,000 PER WEEK until we closed it in week 18. If those two things don’t seem to go hand in hand – I hope to get you to think again as we use many of the techniques we learn ever day at PSW to take advantage of different market movements. I haven’t tried the new option system at WSS yet so we’ll see how it goes and how much of a pain in the ass it is but, basically – if you are the kind of trader who is busy during the day and has little time to deal with a virtual portfolio – then we’re in the same boat on this one!
If you are brand new to our site I seriously request that you don’t "experiment" by following this live. You can paper trade too until you get the feel for managing these positions. For new Members, we have a "New Member’s Guide" which pretty much lays things out with these standard assignments:
- If you are new to options, read Sage’s Book
- Read 1 full month of my posts and all comments, you will get a good feel for the site, the kind of trades we do and also get to know a bit about the people in chat. Knowing people’s various expertises and understanding their market philosophy and position makes the next live comment they make much more informative…
- Read Option Sage’s articles under his tab, many were co-authored by me that highlight various option strategies with real-world examples.
- Watch The Man Who Planted Trees, a short video about investing that characterizes a solid investing philosophy.
by phil - January 9th, 2010 7:26 am
Well we finally hit our levels!
Fundamentally, I still don’t buy this rally but, technically, we could go up and up from here. We discussed in chat yesterday how we may be in a pattern similar to 2003-7 where we came out of the dot com crash and 9/11, which took the market lower than it should have and then government stimulus took us higher than we should have been. Sure it all ended badly but there was a really good ride up in between. HOWERVER, 2004, which is about where we would be now, was a choppy and downtrending year. That is not a problem for our buy/write strategy as long as we keep our heads and scale into our positions.
Obviously we can’t rely on patterns to simply keep repeating themselves. We could have another terrorist attack, we could have more stimulus or maybe both in our future but, until we see the patten broken, we can play for a similar move. Our buy/write strategy is ideal for this as it’s a conservative play that gives us 15-20% downside protection. Combine this with our usual strategy to scale into positons along with some sensible disaster hedges and we can build a nice, bullish virtual portfolio for 2010. Keep in mind we don’t fear the upside with buy/writes as our "worst case" there is we get called away with a nice profit.
I put up our latest Watch List on Dec 22nd, following through from our bullish lists of September 6th, October 8th and Nov 24th. These are the bullish plays that form the bulk of our virtual portfolios and that sometimes gets lost in our weekly short-term trading. It was a lot like shooting fish in a barrel, picking winners since September (we had our last Buy List on July 11th our first since the bottom in March, which was followed by the more conservatively mixed $100K Virtual Portfolio that we used from April through July, when we were worried the market would be choppy (it was). As always, our active lists are found under the Virtual Portfolio Tab near the top of our pages - always check there for recent updates.
by Option Review - September 11th, 2009 4:39 pm
Today’s tickers: XLK, RF, NBR, MCD, KEY, MGM, HBAN & LVS
XLK - The tech-sector exchange-traded fund attracted a hoard of call buyers this afternoon amid a less than 0.5% decline in shares during the session to $20.62. Traders expecting upward momentum in the price of the stock looked to the December 22 strike price where approximately 35,000 call options were purchased for an average premium of 43 cents per contract. Investors will turn a profit on the calls if shares of the XLK rise 9% from the current level to surpass the breakeven price of $22.43 by expiration in December. – Technology Select Sector SPDR –
RF - Investors exhibited near-term bearish sentiment on RF today by piling into put options on the stock. Shares of Regions Financial have slipped 1% lower today to stand at the current price of $5.54. The heaviest volume was observed at the September 5.0 strike where about 31,000 puts look to have been purchased for an average premium of 11 cents apiece. More pessimistic traders looked to the lower October 4.0 strike to get long of 3,100 puts valued at 10 cents per contract. Perhaps traders exhibiting such behavior are long shares of the underlying stock. If this is the case, the put action was inspired by traders seeking downside protection through expiration next Friday and through October’s expiration day. – Regions Financial –
NBR The largest onshore drilling firm edged onto our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner today due to call action in the October contract. Investors were apparently not discouraged from taking bullish stances on the stock even though shares are currently lower by about 1% to $18.84. Approximately 6,000 calls were coveted at the October 20 strike for an average premium of 95 cents apiece. Traders long the calls are hoping to see shares rally about 11% higher by expiration so that they may begin to garner profits above the breakeven point at $20.95. – Nabors Industries Limited –
MCD - Traders hungry for calls – or perhaps a Big Mac – placed bullish bets on the golden arches using options despite a 1% decline in the price of its shares to $54.36. Nearer-term optimism was observed at the October 60 strike where approximately 4,500 calls were pocketed for an average premium of 12 cents per contract. Perhaps the continued rise in unemployment has helped fuel bullish sentiment on the fast…
by phil - August 8th, 2009 8:23 am
Next week will be the last week for our very profitable virtual portfolio, that started with $100,000 on April 10th.
This virtual portfolio has already made 19% in 16 weeks and many members wanted to start a new one from scratch. So, by popular demand, we will be restarting a brand new virtual portfolio the week after options expiration, also with $100,000 and also a hedged virtual portfolio but this time with the goal of drawing a monthly income. I got this idea when I went down to Florida last week and spoke to many people who asked me about their investing accounts. Many of these "safe" accounts had been cut in half or worse and the returns they were producing were coming in at 5% year – if that and people were counting on this money for their monthly expenses. I spoke to many people with $1M in the bank who were living off $50,000 a year in interest and dividends!
Using options and good hedging strategies, we have been able to produce a return in our virtual portfolio of 19% in just 16 weeks (12% cash, 7% unrealized). I’m not advocating someone take a whole $1M and shift it to stocks and options but, if you can make 20% on $200,000 while your other $800,000 makes a "safe" 5%, your annual income goes from $50,000 to $80,000 – that’s a lot of early-bird specials! I will, of course, be happy to answer any adjustment questions on this virtual portfolio anytime during chat but we will no longer be tracking it weekly or making new plays. The goals of the new virtual portfolio will be similar and the new trade ideas can be applied whether you are looking to draw an income or just start building long-term set of holdings for reinvestment.
In the last $112,007 Virtual Portfolio Update, from July 28th, we remained bullish and it really paid off with another $2,117 in unrealized gains ($6,690 not included in above total) as we made a very well-timed bottom call the week before and ran with it. We have haven’t had to call an "audible" in two weeks, sticking to our plan as the market held up nicely.
The first few weeks after you sell options are usually the worst and the rising VIX had boosted the premiums of the puts and calls we sold but none of that matters because we played a little more aggressive to the upside and, despite losing…
by Option Review - August 3rd, 2009 4:22 pm
Today’s tickers: AA, KEY, EWZ, F, CBS, TCK & OSK
AA – The aluminum producer has experienced a more than 7.5% rally in shares today to $12.66. Commodity stocks rose on reports indicating manufacturing has declined less than previously forecast, in addition to an unexpected increase in spending on construction. Options activity on Alcoa suggests near-term bullish sentiment and medium-term bearishness. Bullish traders targeted the August 13 strike price to buy more than 5,700 calls for 36 cents apiece. Meanwhile, one investor rolled 2,000 call options up from the August 12 strike price by selling the lots for 83 cents, which he then spread against the purchase of 2,000 calls at the higher August 14 strike for 14 cents a-pop. A much gloomier tale was inferred from the actions of bearish individuals in the October contract. The now in-the-money October 12.5 strike has approximately 12,900 calls shed for 1.15 apiece. We note that the call sales could represent the work of investors banking gains due to the existing open interest at the strike of 71,000. However, a similar picture was seen at the October 15 strike where approximately 25,000 calls were sold for 48 cents per contract. The October 15 strike previously had open interest of just 6,900 contracts compared to the more than 30,900 lots which exchanged hands there today. Perhaps call sellers do not see shares of Alcoa rising through $15.00 by expiration. Otherwise, investors could be long shares of the underlying and establishing pseudo-covered calls by shedding the contracts at the higher strike. Finally, the January 2011 5.0 strike price had 18,500 puts trade for 40 cents apiece. We believe it is likely that the investor is closing out a short put position originally established back on May 8, 2009. It appears that the trader sold 18,000 puts for 83 cents and today bought the lots back for 40 cents apiece. If this is indeed the direction of the trade, the investor has banked profits of 43 cents per contract, or a total of $774,000. – Alcoa, Inc.
KEY – Shares of the banking services firm have rallied nearly 11.5% higher during today’s trading session to stand at the current price of $6.44. One long-term options bull was observed initiating a call spread in the January 2010 contract. It appears that the investor purchased 4,000 now in-the-money calls at the January 6.0 strike price for an…