$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)

#ShortStrangles on stocks – the weekly on $SHOP WITH UPDATES

Didn’t get around to posting this on Twitter Monday to get the real-time stamp as is often my custom with trades like these but now that’s it is stopped out, I thought I’d note it anyway.

I first wrote about this short-strangle strategy in this post in September:

#ShortStrangles on #Stocks – stealing money weekly in cash

As per the strategy, this was a position to be taken 30 minute into the open Monday (see the green vertical line on the chart below for reference). SHOP closed that bar at 441.01 which made the short strangle an out-of-the-money 450 call and the 430 put, a ten-point spread on each side of the stock price and a 20-point spread over all. The option expiration was this Friday, 1/17.

The stop loss was on a five-minute close by the stock above or below either strike.

If all went well, meaning SHOP stayed between 450 and 430 for the week both the call and the put would expire worthless and earn approximately $850 per contract, a 9.6% gain on the cash margin required for the trade.

All did not go well as the stock broke 450 this morning (see the red line on the chart for reference), which closed out the strangle. Still there was bit of profit, about $183 per contract, 19% on the price of the strangle, 2% on the margin required. SHOP could fade back below 450 by Friday’s close (which wouldn’t surprise me) which would reap the full reward for the strategy but this stop discipline is crucial, otherwise this strategy can have unlimited losses.

UPDATE: At the close of the week SHOP did not slip back below 450 but the flush in the call premium, along with the put going worthless, would have this strangle gaining approximately $427 per contract, a gain of 4.8% on the margin requirement. But it would haven’t taken a different stop-loss strategy to capture the end-of-the-week return.

P.S. Shorted a 460c/440p strangle on the bar after the other stopped out for a potential gain of about $485 per contract on Friday’s expiration.

UPDATE: This strangle which replace the other went well with both the call and the put expiring worthless for a gain of about $475 per contract, a gain of 5.5% on the margin requirement.

(click on chart for a larger view)

#MarketTiming – Long-term breadth says sell the rally

MARKET TIMING SIGNALS FOR 7/18/2019.

Long-Term Breadth (NYSI): Sell DAY 1
Short-Term Breadth (NYMO): Sell DAY 3
Price: Sell DAY 2
Nifty-50-Stock-List: 13 BUYS, 1 NEW BUYS, 4 OVERBOUGHT; 37 SELLS, 11 NEW SELLS, 12 OVERSOLD.
CNN MONEY’S “Fear and Greed” Index: 46, falling, NEUTRAL LEVEL.
Bellwether Stocks: 6 UP, 9 DOWN.

WHAT?

The market took the tumble that been brewing for the past couple of days.

First short-term breadth turned down after a sequence of highs below highs, then price triggered a sell on today’s open, and now long-term breadth has given a sell signal for tomorrow’s open.

That last part is the most significant. Long-term breadth (the NYSI) is the primary context behind the entire market. If it is going up the bulls have the ball, if it is going down the market will tumble too. Maybe not right away — it can whipsaw like anything else, but if it keeps going down most stocks will follow.

Technically the sell signals are on tomorrow’s open but at today’s close this upswing, which began on the open of 6/28 (13 trading days ago), took TQQQ up 8.2%, UPRO up 5.1%, FNGU (the FANG ETF) up 12.4% and TNA remarkably was flat. Among notable stocks TSLA advanced 15.1%, SHOP 7.3%, TWLO 6.1%, WYNN 99%, FB 5.9% and AAPL lagged at up 2.3%.

The Nifty-50-stock-list was a mixed bag with as many stock down double digits as those up double digits. In retrospect that was probably a read on the raggedness of the rally.

However, INS, the number-one stock on the list coming into the upswing vaulted a spectacular 49.4%.

Interesting to note the divergence that registered on the overbought Fear-and-Greed Index, kept by CNN Money, called the exact top two days ago in SPY and in QQQ (see the chart below) and was telling across the board.

WHAT NEXT?

With the NYSI declining, one can only assume swing traders will be looking for short entries, options traders playing puts predominantly (see the post below), and long-term investors should tighten stops to their individual risk tolerance or just hold their breath and hope not to die.

Of note: NFLX after the bell reported earnings, a shortfall in expected subscriptions, and is getting clobbered in overnight trading. That may set a tone for trading tomorrow. Intriguing how often news comes along from somewhere to agree with the NYMO/NYSI breadth indicators.

Nothing much more to say. The market will go down until it doesn’t, and granted, that could be even as early as tomorrow. The VIX remains below 15, which is a bullish level indicating this is likely a pullback and not a serious correction.

(click on the Fear-and-Greed chart below for a larger view)