“No one can day trade stock options!” an irate administrator of a Facebook options trading group told me back at the beginning of the year.
His group was centered on “investment income using options.” He was basically doing covered calls or puts, rolling them forward when necessary, in an effort of adding ten or so percent to ownership of the stocks themselves. Fine.
I just happened to blunder into the group day trading SPY calls and puts for ten times that return. I don’t know if it was the returns or, as he said, his belief the practice was so risky I should not be suggesting it anyone.
I argued there were ways to control risk and he might want to open his mind.
He didn’t want to evidently since he blocked from the room.
Well, at the time I got tossed, I thought maybe he might right – after all, trading SPY options was not the same as stock options. As the most popular ETF its option were extremely liquid, with tight spreads, and three expiry days per week. I’ve chronicled much of the SPY trading in posts below so I won’t get into it anymore in this one.
Stock options didn’t have those qualities but some came close – AAPL and FB particularly, others like NFLX, NVDA. The trouble with each of the stock-option trades, however, was that not only did one have to get the direction right for the day (it is a call or a put?) but one also had to have enough movement to make it worthwhile, and then each trade needed to be monitored pretty much constantly all day.
What I was after was a strategy that could be put on early and ignored to the end of the day unless it hit a stop loss during the day, at which time there might have to be a reentry if there was still time to reap some reward.
The trouble with even the best stocks like AAPL, FB, etc. was there was usually not enough bang for the buck in a single day.
Then along came TSLA.
It didn’t take to discover TSLA weekly options were as good as it gets for day trading short strangles, lots of premium, a big range of movement and enough liquidity to fairly easy to put on the trade and, most importantly, to get out of the trade.
In a short strangle, one is playing time decay (theta) every day on the strikes both above and below the stock’s price at the start of the trade.
And one has to keep in mind that shorting options naked (without owning the stock) requires considerable margin buying power – one ends up needing to put up $30K to $50K to maybe make $500 on some days. That might not seem worth it, but the ringer in a day trade is it’s the same margin every day and stays the same as the daily profits pile up all week long. Oftentimes, the day by day ends up making double-digit on the margin requirement for the week (see the green cells in the table below).
Using a tight stop (like $200 per contract) and selecting the right spread of strikes prices, significant returns can be had in a month.
For August, the TSLA short strangles yielded $18,800 per contract on a maximum margin requirement of $50,521 per contract (as prescribed by the CBOE MARGIN CALCULATOR, a 37.4% return for the month (see the yellow cells in the table below).
That’s without having to know what TSLA was going to do on any given day in any volatile month of wild price swings.
(click on the table for a larger view)