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November 8, 2012

Thoughts on AAPL Risk

Hurricane Sandy and the recent decline in Apple Inc. (AAPL) stock is a reminder of how “black swan” events can impact our lives in unforeseen and unforeseeable ways. Yogi Berra summed it up succinctly in his aphorism that “the future isn’t what it used to be.” It never is.

One helpful organizational concept of financial risk is to consider that risk comes in two categories. The usual type of risk is analyzed by the bell shaped curve of a Gaussian (log normal) distribution that most traders are familiar with. The other general category of risk is

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characterized by the unforeseen events that result in major alterations of the financial landscape. It is this category of risk to which Nassim Taleb has drawn attention in his books regarding the lack of predictability of consequential rare events.

How does this impact the world of the trader and the usefulness of options? The fact is that all funds invested in the market are totally at risk at all times and the comfort that stop losses may give can give a trader can be a false sense of security. From this concept, the ability to control stock with far less invested capital becomes inescapably attractive.

Such is one core function of options; control of stock with commitment of far less capital than outright purchase. To take a straightforward example, shares of AAPL which has taken center-stage on many traders and investors radars, currently trades around $560 after a major decline. The stock may now look attractive to buyers after its fall from around $700. To control 100 shares by outright stock purchase would require $56,000. A substantially delta equivalent position using deep in-the-money calls, the December 400 strike, could be purchased for approximately $16,200. As is characteristic of a deep in-the-money option, there is very little eroding time premium for which the trader is paying. In this example, there is substantially less risk buying the call option than purchasing the stock outright.

Should Armageddon arrive unannounced again and it might, which position is better: the total loss of the value of the stock position or the vaporization of the money paid for the option?

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring Inc.

October 18, 2012

Weekly Options Impact and AAPL

Options have traditionally traded in 12 cycles per year. Since there are 52 weeks per year, most monthly cycles have had a life span of 4 weeks with the occasional 5 week cycle in order to make the math work out. In these multi-week cycles, each week tends to have its own personality and the tempo of price change would often accelerate as expiration approached. This effect was at least in part the result of the non linear nature of the decay curve of extrinsic premium. It is as if the option cycle began with a decay curve akin to an easy green ski trail and ends on a double black diamond slope.

If you are just learning to trade options, strategies that include a component of being short premium, the maximum potential total profit or loss is only achieved at expiration. This effect is easily seen in the case of vertical spreads which only reach their maximum potential gain or loss at expiration or when the spread goes deep in-the-money or out-of-the-money.

CBOE introduced weekly options in 2005 on several broad indices and the launch was met with a tepid reception. However, trading volume in weekly options contracts has recently exploded, additional indices and ETF underlyings have been added, and a number of actively traded equities have joined the family of weekly options. An updated list of the rapidly increasing available weeklies can be found at this CBOE site: http://www.cboe.com/micro/weeklys/introduction.aspx

Weekly options are a rapidly evolving and changing part of the options world. The new week’s options are offered on the Thursday of the week prior to expiration rather than the Friday.

The availability of weekly options has undoubtedly had a significant impact on a variety of strategies. Their acceptance and increase in trading volume has been nothing short of stunning. For example, the 635 and 640 call strikes in AAPL that were offered this morning and will expire next Friday, October 26, each

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have a volume of around 3,000 contracts today alone.

Are weekly options something that you can incorporate into your trading plan? You will have to decide for yourself.

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

December 22, 2011

Weekly Options Impact

Options have traditionally traded in 12 cycles per year.  Since there are 52 weeks per year, most monthly cycles have had a life span of 4 weeks with the occasional 5 week cycle in order to make the math work out. In these multi-week cycles, each week tends to have its own personality and the tempo of price change would often accelerate as expiration approached.  This effect was at least in part the result of the non linear nature of the decay curve of extrinsic premium.  It is as if the option cycle began with a decay curve akin to an easy green ski trail and ends on a double black diamond slope.

For strategies that include a component of being short premium, the maximum potential total profit or loss is only achieved at expiration.  This effect is easily seen in the case of vertical spreads which only reach their maximum potential gain or loss at expiration or when the spread goes deep in-the-money or out-of-the-money.

CBOE introduced weekly options in 2005 on several broad indices and the launch was met with a tepid reception.  However, trading volume in weekly options contracts has recently exploded, additional indices and ETF underlyings have been added, and a number of actively traded equities have joined the family of weekly options.  An updated list of the rapidly increasing available weeklies can be found at this CBOE site: http://www.cboe.com/micro/weeklys/introduction.aspx

Weekly options are a rapidly evolving and changing part of the options world.  As an example of this rapid evolution, the new week’s options have begun to be offered on the Thursday of the week prior to expiration rather than the Friday as had been the case previously effective July 1, 2010.

The availability of weekly options has undoubtedly had a significant impact on a variety of strategies.  Their acceptance and increase in trading volume has been nothing short of stunning.  For example, the 390 and 395 call strikes in AAPL that will expire tomorrow, December 23, each have an open interest of around 10,000 contracts.

Are weekly options something that you can incorporate into your trading plan? You will have to decide for yourself.

Edited by John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring