$TSLA – Day trading short strangles for simplicity’s sake

I’ve been told repeatedly on Facebook and Reddit that no one can day trade options on stocks. No one?

Is that a flat-out challenge or what?

So I set about to see if it could be simple enough to be possible. Simple because it’s a day trade, and because I’ve been chasing the simple in trading forever. To my mind Henry David Thoreau -“Simplify, simplify, simplify’ – is the greatest stock market guru of all. And I wanted it to be systematic so it could be done day in and day out as rhythmically as a perfect golf swing.

First, a few simple basics.

When one buys an option in the stock market there are only three things that can happen and two of them are bad for the buyer. It goes your way right away which is good. It goes against you, which is bad. Or it goes sideways and time decay eats away the premium paid, which is bad. It’s the same selling an option but much better because the time decay is on the seller’s side. If the stock goes sideways, the seller keeps the premium on the option. In other words, if one buys an option, one has a 66% chance of losing money; if one sells the option, it’s a 66% chance of making money.

So, obviously, it’s best to be on the sell side…

Simple as that?

Not so fast, if one does this without owning the stock, it’s called being “naked”, being naked a call, naked a put. The trouble is the margin requirement on those are often times so high one might as well be trading the stock. One might have to put up as much as $20,000 on a day trade with the prospect of making a couple of hundred bucks. A lot of risk, it would seem, for not much return. And it’s a day trade so there’s not all that much time to have the stock go your way or sideways.

No wonder the guy knocking me on Facebook is certain day-trading options of stocks can’t be done.

He’s wrong, of course, or I wouldn’t writing this.

On the table below I’ve taken the margin requirements calculated by the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and applied to day trading short strangles on weekly TSLA options for every trading day for a month. A short strangle is selling both an out-of-the-money call and an out-of-the-money put.

To illustrate the day trade:

Let’s take the last trade on the table, the 3/13 short selling the 540 call and the 520 put while TSLA itself was at 530.89. This is a trade on the day of the weekly expiration.

The maximum gain on this trade would have been $1,511 if TSLA had stayed between 540 and 520 by the end of the day. But TSLA vaulted to 546 on the market’s last-half-hour rally cutting the gain at the close to $810, a 53% gain on the actual credit received for selling the two options. Not bad. However, the margin requirement was $11,217 on the naked sales for the expiration day so the gain was actually 7.2% on overall margin for the day. Also not bad.

This is a strategy that can be used on a any prominent stock — AAPL, NFLX SHOP, NFLX BA, NVDA — with decent options liquidity and worthwhile price swings. And it’s a strategy that can be used week in and week out without ever having to buy the stock itself.

On the table below, there are the details for each day trade on TSLA (peruse if you choose), but what’s most important are the weekly totals in green boxes for each week, the net cash for the week and the percentage gain; and the final gain for the past four weeks in the yellow stripe, $11,478, generally a 57.3 gain on margin.

Because this is a day trading strategy the same cash margin is being used over and over again anew each day and although it is most often a lower requirement day by day, the percentage gain here is calculated on a flat $20,000 margin requirement…for simplicity’s sake.

(click on the table for a larger view)

#ShortStrangles on #Stocks – day trading the weekly #options

Interesting week last week in the strategy to day trade short strangles on various stocks.

The basic idea with this strategy is limit risk while taking advantage of daily time decay on the calls and puts expiring on each Friday.

The trades are taken 30 minutes into each day and closed at the close. The protective stop is a 5-minute close either above the upper strike or below the lower strike. If a protective stop is hit then both sides are closes on the stop.

Since the opposite strike hedges the losing strike, a stop at that point is usually a breakeven or small loss for the trade, and sometimes, depending how long during the day the trade has run, yields a small profit. When the stop is hit and the trade closed, if there is a enough time left in the day, the strangle can be rewritten and reentered at the next strike levels.

Last week the short strangles were on TSLA, NFLX and SHOP. See the table below for the day-by-day trading.

TSLA stopped out on Thursday for a 3.6% loss on the margin requirement (see the table) but the reentry has a 2% gain before the end of the day, mitigating the initial loss.”

What is obvious is how steady the week was for logging profits. Since this is day trading, the trades are using roughly the same cash margin over and over each day. As a result, although the daily gains for options trading may be relatively small, the accumulated profits for the week can have a notable return.

Margin requirements can vary day by day, strike by strike and, I supposed, broker by broker. Those listed here are calculated on the margin calculator at the CBOE. For presentation purposes, I’ve calculated the dollar amount on these trades as per each contract.

The short TSLA strangles gained 18.79% for the week, SHOP gained 6.52% and NFLX gained 11.03%. See the green blocks on the table to those results.

In the last green block, I averaged the margins across the week and across the three stocks and came up with the $11,857 number. The highest requirement was the $20K per contract on TSLA at the beginning of the week (that would also be the minimum required to trade this for the week).

The total profit for the trades was $4,759 for the week, a yield of 10% on the three strangles combined.

That’s what I meant when I said above it can have a “notable return.”

(click on the table for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – the Santa Claus Rally, a progress report

On December 6th, the all-important NYSI, measuring longer-term market breadth, turned up signalling an on-coming upswing in the market beginning the open of Monday, December 9th. It was an unusual turn in that it preceded the NYMO short-term breadth indicator.

That doesn’t usually happen unless there’s been a V-bottom in price on the most recent downswing. And, in this case there was, and the NYMO confirmed the rally on 12/11 giving its own buy signal for the open of 12/12 when I wrote this entry below:

#MarketTiming – with not much fanfare Santa slips into view

Since then most of the major indexes, and their 3x-leveraged ETFs, have been up a cumulative eight days. Needless to say, the market is overbought. CNN Money’s Fear and Greed index is at 90, an “Extreme Greed” level, a level which eventually leads to sells downs.

Consequently, the market could take a dip or a tumble anytime (although with Christmas yet to come everything remains bullish). With that in mind, me thinks it’s time for swing traders and anyone else who feels comfortable taking profits should either tighten stops under the advance or cash out some of the gains.

Among the major leveraged ETFs, TQQQ is 9.0% for the eight days, TNA up 6.3%, UPRO up 6.0%. In the leveraged sector ETFs, TECL is up 10.4%, ERX (remarkably) up 10.3% and SOXL is up a whopping 19.6%. Eight trading days.

Notable stocks in my bellwether group include TSLA up 19.5%, NVDA up 11.3%, SHOP up 7.5%, NFLX up 7.9%. AAPL usually gets the press coverage but it’s a laggard at up 3.6%. Still, it’s just eight trading days.

(click on the chart for a larger view)

#ShortStrangles on #Stocks – 11/18 – 11/22

Trades on the strangles for AAPL, FB, TSLA and NFLX were in direct relation to this post below to show how selling naked would work as a hedge on cash alone:

#ShortStrangles on #Stocks – stealing money weekly in cash

It was not a spectacular week but there was a gain 2.3% on total margins for the trades (still, scale that over a year and happiness will reign).

Should note only AAPL steadily decayed through week. FB came within a whisper of being stopped out with a loss but righted itself by Friday and expired worthless. TSLA slightly touched its upper strike stop at 360.84 but sold off so quickly I didn’t close it.

MADE A MISTAKE AND GOT AWAY WITH IT – NOT GOOD

Should have closed NFLX which showed a 47% loss for the position, a 2.8% loss on the margin requirement, but with the stock itself up a virtual six days in a row, wildly overbought and ripe for a bit of end-of-the-week profit taking, so decided to hold it into Friday. Probably because I wrote the post in the link above, I was thinking too much. Not a good thing to do in options trading.

Not honoring the NFLX stop was a mistake and I’m rationalizing its profit since it worked out great but doing that on a regular basis is a road to ruin. Being rewarded for making a mistake makes one think it can be done again…and again…until one comes along and kills you.

THIS WEEK’S STRANGLES:

#ShortStrangles on #Stocks – stealing money weekly in cash

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.

#ShortStrangles on #Stocks – 10/14-10/18

THIS WEEKS SHORT STRANGLES:

LAST WEEKS RESULTS:

A PERTINENT QUESTION ON TWITTER:

#ShortStrangles on Stocks 10/07 – 10/11

This week’s strangles:

Last week’s results:

(Percentage gains and losses reflect returns on cost of strangles, not margin needed for the trade.)

#ShortStrangles on Stocks 9/30 – 10/04

This week’s setups:

Last week’s results:

#ShortStrangles on Stocks – 9/20 to 9/27



See chart panel below.

(click on chart for a larger view)

Short Strangles on Stocks 9/9 – 9/13

This week’s short strangles (see chart panel below):

Last week’s short strangles:

Results were for the week but during the week (and FB stopped out at breakeven):

CHART KEY: The number in the yellow flag on the lower right is the cost of the strangle. The number in the white flag on the lower right is the price gain on the position (a negative number on the shorts is a gain). The number in the green flag on the lower left of each chart in the panel is the percentage gain or loss on the price of the strangle (not accounting for margin needed for the position).

(click on chart for a larger view)