In my last post, I updated many of the changes that had occurred in my positions due to options expiration last Friday. Well because of those changes, it has been a busy week and I have had a lot of additional adjustments happening so I thought I would make a few comments.
As you know, my position in Silver Wheaton (SLW) was sold due to the exercise of the April $30 put options. I bought back one-third of that position at $28.50 plus a few more shares at $28 snagging a significant discount. Now I went ahead and sold some May $29 calls for $1.25 per share meaning that I will have made the $1.50 discount on the repurchase, $1.25 on the premium, but lost $1 for selling at a lower strike. However, the net will be $1.75 per share profit provided that the stock gets called away.
Yesterday, I was able to buy back the next third for $29.90. I still have the stock uncommitted so I could sell some additional calls. Gold and silver are up a little this morning. I suspect the weak GDP number means that traders are thinking the Fed might have to get more active in trying to stimulate the economy and inflation expectations down the road have been heightened. Who really knows? I will keep trading my system month to month. Right now, I am working on decreasing the basis in SLW so any shares that I add will do just that.
Do to the discount that I got in the repurchase and cash from selling calls, I think I might be able to add some shares to be ready for the next upswing. As I work out my position in AKS over the next few months, I want to use those funds as well to add additional shares of SDRL and SLW.
This has been a big week in Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX). Buyout rumors caused the stock to pop over 8% on Wednesday. I ended up buying back some May $40 calls that I had sold as well as some May $42 calls. I then sold some May $45 calls and plan on selling some $47 calls when I can. Unfortunately, yesterday was sideways and today is looking somewhat weak to start out. I may just buy some put options to protect some of the gains and see what happens. I would hate to not be able to take advantage of a nice little spike, but if the rumors dissipate then the stock will languish for sure.
Other Calls That Were Sold on Strength
I also managed to sell some SDRL May $38 calls, STX May $30 calls, and INTC May $28 calls on strength yesterday. I had simply placed some good-til-cancelled (GTC) limit orders earlier in the week and they happened to all hit yesterday. It was definitely a good thing with STX since it looks to drop about 8% today. Let me tell you, volatility can be crazy sometimes which is why I have many protective puts since it is impossible to know how the market will react.
I have lost plenty of money in the stock market over the years and have discovered that I really don’t care for it. I have also discovered that I am not a good stock picker. Therefore, I have been using stock collars to hedge my selections since 2007. This turned out to be a good thing in 2008. As others were watching portfolios fall 50%, I only lost 18%. I could have done even better, but I did make a few mistakes as I was still in the process of ironing out my system.
Now I spend about 5 minutes researching a stock before I buy it. I don’t look at a balance sheet or statement of cash flows. I simply look at the option chain. So when I read an article about Seadrill last year, I took a glance at the options and figured that I could make money on this stock with the dividend. It is a little more difficult using collars when trading a stock with a dividend since the call premiums are reduced. You might want to check out my articles on options pricing:
- Selling Covered Calls and Time Value
- More on Covered Calls and Time Value
- More Factors Affecting Covered Call Premiums
But before we get too far, let’s explain what a collar is. A collar involves owning a stock, owning a protective put on the stock, and then selling a covered call against the stock to help offset the cost of the put option.
Example Using Seadrill
So when I look at the current option chain for Seadrill (SDRL) and want to set up my initial purchase, I find that with SDRL trading at $38.37, it is near the top of its 52-week range which it hit on March 1st of 2011. This makes me a little nervous knowing that this will serve as a point of resistance. I may end up being a little cautious as a result.
Lets say that I want to buy 100 shares of SDRL because I like the dividend yield of over 7% and think that oil prices will stay high. What I would be doing is purchasing a put option with a March expiration and a strike price of $35 per share for 45 cents per share. Then I would purchase the stock at $38.37 and sell a covered call with March expiration and a strike price of $39 at 55 cents per share. So what have I done.
First, I have gotten a slight discount in the price of the stock since I made more money (10 cents) on the sale of the call than it cost me to buy the put. Now commissions would probably wipe that out, but trading for free is not bad either. If SDRL continues to increase in price and is above $39 on the third Saturday in March when options expire, then my stock would be sold at $39. I would essentially make about 63 cents per share on a $38.37 investment in 6 weeks. That is a 1.64% return which works out to just over 14% annually. Not bad for a few minutes of work.
But the problem is what happens if SDRL doesn’t increase in price. It is easy to make money in a bull market. The trick is not to lose your shirt when everyone else is so that you can live to trade another day. Well, if SDRL drops in price to $30 per share by March expiration, I am not worried. I sleep just fine thank you very much. Why? The protective put will be exercised and the stock would be sold at $35.
But you lost money, I can hear you cry! Over 8%! So what?! The stock lost 21%. My loss is less than a third what the market lost. And guess what I do. On Monday right after SDRL sold for $35 and I have $3500 in my account, I purchase back the stock to average down my cost. And better yet, I can buy 116 shares instead of 100 for the same cost.
The Biggest Problem
The most difficult situation comes when SDRL commences a slow slide to $36 per share by expiration day. Both options expire, and I am looking at a $2.37 per share loss. The$35 strike April put is more expensive than the premium I can get for the $39 strike call option. To stay in the trade, it will either cost me money or I have to roll downward to a $33 strike put and a $37 strike call. This will lower my basis in the stock a little, but would result in a loss if called out at $37.
With this situation, I will end up adding to my position slowly over time to decrease the overall cost of the stock. It takes patience, sometimes up to 2 years. But it is possible to turn a loss into a gain using stock collars.
For example, I recently closed a position in AKAM. I purchased the stock at $40.26 on February 22, 2011 and sold when it was $32.04 on January 20, 2012 which normally would mean a loss of just over 20% in eleven months. By using collars and averaging down, I ended up making 13.36% on the trade over those 11 months which is not a bad return
For the 27 trades that I have closed since 2007, I have made money on 26. The losing trade was simply because I wanted out of the stock to try something a slight adjustment I was making to the system back in 2008. I am still holding on to my big loser just to see if it is possible to turn a profit on a near-death experience. I purchased in 2007 when I was still figuring this all out.
The trick comes from knowing what adjustments to make once the downward movement occurs and having the patience to massage the trading and put yourself in a position to profit from a rebound while waiting for it to occur. But as illustrated with AKAM, the rebound can even be a partial one.
Ultimately, I think that it would be fun to manage money using a system such as the one I describe. It isn’t hard but little errors here and there can trip you up. I feel that I have ironed those out in my own system but need to deal with a few other priorities first. Feeding the family is priority number one. In the meantime, I will continue to work with my retirement accounts and see what results I can achieve using dividend paying stocks. I am thankful for the experience that I have gained since 2007 especially with the difficult market conditions.
Feel free to ask some questions.