Let’s say you have $200,000 or so in a margin account at a brokerage — $206,400 to be precise (but more about that number later).
The account is in cash. Probably because as at some point you took to heart Bernard Baruch’s famous comment that he made his fortune in the stock market because he “sold too soon”, and now so have you as this bull market continues to climb leaving you, you think, behind.
What to do? What to do?
Let’s take AAPL, FB, TSLA and NFLX as examples, not as stock holdings, which are far too expensive for a $200K account, but as option trading opportunities using the cash margin your money provides.
I didn’t post these on Twitter this week to verify the timeliness (see more entries below for some of that) so this is a study in retrospect, a look at possibilities, not what was done but instead what could have been done this week, and what can be done any week going forward.
On Monday (11/11), 30 minutes after the open, AAPL was a 259, the price to set up a “short strangle” on its stock. In this case, I’m suggesting selling a 265 call above the market and a 255 put below the market, 10 contracts each, for a combined credit of $1,230 with a margin requirement of about $49,000. Same day, same time, FB was at 189 so a 195 call with a 185 put for a combined credit of $1,100 with a margin requirement of $34,800. Same day, same time, TSLA was at 346 so a 355 call and a 335 put at a combined credit of $6,600 with a margin requirement of $67,700. Same day, same time, NFLX was at 292, so a 300 call above the market and a 285 put below the market for a combined credit of $3,320. The margin requirements are those prescribed for each short strangle strategy by the CBOE, the Chicago Options Exchange.
Hope no one got lost in the thicket of dollar signs in the paragraph above. It all adds up to $12,250 added to you account at the beginning of the week. Now let’s see if you can keep it.
You are going to have to buy back the options you sold to get those credits or let them expire worthless if they are not in the money by the end of the week. All of these options are out of the money and will expire worthless at the end of the week if the stock does not rise above the call strike or drop below the put strike. That is the point of the strangle strategy, to have them all expire worthless.
Drum roll please…
At the end of the week, the AAPL strangle was down $520, which is a profit on the short sale, a gain of about 42% on the position.
At the end of the week, FB had a profit of about $990, a gain of 93% on the strangle position.
At the end of the week, TSLA had a profit of about $6,580, a gain of 99% on the position.
At the end of the week, NFLX had a profit of about $3,500, a gain of 99% on the position.
The total gains on all four stock strangles for the week was approximately $11,590. That is a 94.6% gain on the positions, but not on the margin requirements. The combined margin requirement for the four trades would have been $206,400 (ah-ha!, there’s that “more about that number later” number), which would make the actual percentage gain in the account for the week about 5.6%.
Five-point-six percent may not seem like all that much in volatile options trading but week in and week out for 52 weeks…
It must be said, however, there can be losses, and big losses if there is no stop-loss discipline, but short strangles on stocks could be as close as one can get to safely and legally stealing money in the stock market with just cash to work with.