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April 15, 2014

Ever Consider a Bear Put Spread?

The market has been on quite a run lower lately since the S&P 500 hit its all-time high earlier this month. Maybe the market will reverse and move higher at some point but traders need to be prepared like Boy Scouts just in case there is another move lower not only now, but for in the future as well. Options give traders a plethora of options so to speak for a trader with a bearish bias. Bearish directional option strategies are certainly an option but sometimes buying a put option can be a little bit more risky than maybe a trader wants because of potential price swings. A bearish option trader may want to be a little more cautious especially in this current volatile atmosphere.

An Alternative

A better alternative than the long put may be to buy a debit spread (bear put). A bear put spread involves buying a put option and selling a lower strike put option against it with the same expiration. The cost of buying the higher strike put option is somewhat offset by the premium received from the lower strike that was sold. The maximum gain on this spread is the difference in the strike prices minus the cost of the trade. The options trader will realize this maximum gain if the price of the stock is lower than the short put’s strike expiration. The most the options trader can lose is the cost of the spread. This maximum loss will occur if the stock is trading above the long put’s strike at expiration.

An Advantage

 An advantage of a bear put spread is that if the stock pulls back, the spread will lose less than just being long puts because of the spread typically has smaller delta and initial costs due to being long and short options. The trade’s delta is smaller because the positive larger delta of the long put option is somewhat offset by the smaller negative delta of the short put option. For example, what if XYZ stock is trading at $40 a share and an option trader purchases an ATM put option ($40 strike) with a delta of 0.50. For every dollar XYZ goes up or down, the put option should increase or decrease by $0.50. If a bear put debit spread was created by adding a short put with a lower strike price of 35 and delta of 0.20, the delta for the spread would now be 0.30 (.50 – .20). Now the spread would gain or lose $0.30 for every dollar the stock went up or down.

 Trade-Off

It is probably obvious to a great many of you how a smaller delta might be a disadvantage for the trade. If the trader is correct on the movement and the stock decreases in value, potentially a larger profit could be realized with just being long the put option because of the potential higher delta. But once again a trader needs to determine if a lower overall cost using the bear put and possibly a lower overall risk is worth the trade-off versus the long put.

Finally

Understanding current market conditions (especially now) and applying and managing the proper options strategy is crucial for success at all times. Deciding when to implement a bear put spread instead of buying puts for a bearish bias is just one example of this.

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

June 20, 2013

Trailing Stop or Stop Loss?

With several disaster films like World War Z and White House Down scheduled to be released, it’s no wonder traders may be a little nervous. But on a serious note, after this past week’s decline, there’s still a  potential for the market to move lower and it’s probably a good time to talk about stop losses. Traders may hear the terms trailing stop loss and stop loss order and wonder exactly what those terms mean and how a stop loss can potentailly enhance a trading strategy. Well, worry no more because that is exactly what we will review in this blog entry. To get more educational ideas like this, sign up for a free two-week trial of Market Taker Mentoring’s options newsletter.

Let’s start with the basics which is defining a stop loss order. Basically, a trader will tell the broker a certain price on a stock (or option) where the position will be closed; but it’s a little different than a typical closing order. For longs, the closing price is below the current market price and for shorts the stop loss closing order is above the current market. Let’s take a look.

Stop Loss Example
A trader could purchase a stock for $20.00 and set a stop-loss order at $18.50. This means that the position will be closed at the market price once the stock drops below $18.50, pretty simple right? It is called a stop loss order because it stops the trader from taking any more losses. Many traders use a set percentage of a trade for a stop loss order. If a trader wants to use a stop loss order for an option, the bid and ask prices would be monitored and then the same decisions as were made in the stock example are followed.

Trailing Stop Loss Example 
A trader  chooses a lower target price to keep losses in check and tells the broker to sell the contract once this price is violated. There is another stop loss strategy, the trailing stop loss. A trailing stop loss is either a fixed percentage or a fixed nominal increment from the current market price. Once the market price moves away from the stop, the stop moves, or trails, the market. It remains in place, though, if the market moves towards it.

Once the trailing stop loss is triggered the stock is sold, just like the regular stop loss. The benefit of the trailing stop loss is that it is flexible. If you purchase an option for $10 and set a trailing stop of 50 cents, the sell target is $9.50. Of course, as the stock increases in value, the 50-cent trailing stop will do follow (the stock trades at $10.50, the trailing stop becomes $10.00).

A trailing stop loss, then, can be used very effectively in profit taking and it is a strategy I have used often myself. Let’s revisit the $10 stock with a 50-cent stop loss. If the company reports blow-out earnings, driving the price sharply higher, it might be time to adjust the trailing stop loss. In this example, let’s say the stock jumped to $12.00. A nice profit, but there could be some more room to the upside. Maybe the trader will adjust that trailing stop a little tighter to, say, 25 cents. Doing so allows the trader to lock in a profit of at least 1.75 (12 minus 10 = 2, 2 minus 0.25 = 1.75).

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

May 9, 2013

Stock Option Picks Require Analyzing the Overall Market as Well as Individual Stock Assessment

Making stock option picks with huge profit potentials, whether the market is up or down, depends on diligent market research and a thorough understanding of stock option fundamentals.

Finding profitable trading opportunities can be tough. But you don’t have to do all the work yourself. Some professional trader services, such as Market Taker’s Group Options Coaching, make stock option picks that they share with protégés, saving individual traders time and effort.

But whether you do your own research or rely on a seasoned professional for your stock option picks, its essential to understand some basic facts about options trading.

Making stock option picks based on individual stock assessment requires an understanding of specific fundamental parameters. Traders may learn how to read an annual report and 10K stockholders report for income statements, past earnings, sales, assets, new products, and overall industry trends.

Stock option picks based on technical analysis is essential for success and requires the investor to examine the historical price movement and volume in order to determine price patterns and extrapolate future price movements. The single most important technical analysis technique is the simplest: Support and resistance lines. Specifically, horizontal support and resistance lines at the same price level in two or more time frames.

Stock option picks based on broad market analysis examines overall activity based on performance indices. Is the overall market bullish (moving up), bearish (moving down) or neutral (moving sideways)? The broad market will affect individual equities.

Stock option picks based on psychological market indicators attempts to interpret the facts and gauge whether a change from bullish to bearish (or vice versa) is in the wind. Successful options traders are frequently contrarians who buy puts in a bullish market and purchase calls in a bearish market — against convention.

Bottom line, a lot goes into stock option picks. The help of a professional with experience in “putting it all together” can make the process easier and can result in better trade ideas with greater profit potential.

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Enroll today and take a step towards better trading.

April 25, 2013

Lessons from a Flash Crash

Filed under: Options Education — Tags: , , , , , — Dan Passarelli @ 2:33 pm

On Tuesday the market had a moment of panic that resulted from the false information disseminated on the hacked AP twitter account that there were two explosions at the White House and the President was injured. Of course, this information was not true. However, as a result of the initial tweet, the market sold off sharply. Within minutes it was made known that the tweet was false and the market rose back up to where it was trading moments before as if nothing ever happened. This quick, but big, move is being called a “flash crash” by many writers in the financial media.

Tuesday’s flash crash provides five lessons for option traders.

Lesson 1: Protecting with options can be better than using a stop. Traders with bullish positions in the market who had protective stop losses on were the big losers in the flash crash. They sold their longs at a low price that existed only temporarily. It was an extreme whipsaw, that should have never happened—but it did. The whipsaw really hurt traders who thought they were being conservative by using a stop loss. If instead they had protective puts, or an otherwise limited risk option position, they would not have endured any losses.

Lesson 2: I Repeat, protecting with options can be better than using a stop. Indeed, some of the stop losses may have been filled at the absolute worst possible price. The way a stop works is that if the market either trades at or is offered below the stop price, a market sell order is triggered. Probably many of those orders executed far below the stop price. It’s not hard to imagine that many of the orders were filled at the absolute bottom price of the day. And what if the story turned out to be true and the market continued lower? For one, those stops could have been executed even worse! But traders protecting with options would have been protected the whole way down.

Lesson 3: Have your profit-taking orders in at all times. Traders with bearish positions had an excellent chance to steal a profit out of the market Tuesday—at least, those who had profit taking orders in. If you were long puts and had an order to sell those puts in the market on Tuesday, you probably would have gotten filled and locked in your profit.

Lesson 4: Don’t believe everything you hear. That one is pretty self-explanatory. In this world of electronic media, this stuff is bound to happen.

Lesson 5: Be quick! Traders who were quick on the draw could have banked some quick (and potentially big) profits on the AP’s bogus tweet. When something like that happens, whether it’s true or not, there is bound to be some immediate selling. The first guy to buy puts makes a bunch of money (presuming he’s quick on the exit too). The last guy locks in a loss.

The most important asses a trader has is knowledge. Take opportunities like this to learn from the market and make money off it with what you learn.

Dan Passarelli

CEO

Market Taker Mentoring

September 27, 2012

Stop Loss or Trailing Stop?

Some may hear the terms trailing stop loss and stop loss order and wonder exactly what these are and how a stop loss can enhance a trading strategy. Well, fret no more – that is what we will discuss in this blog entry. To get more educational ideas like this, sign up for a free two-week trial of Market Taker Mentoring’s options newsletter. Let’s start with the basics, defining a stop loss order. Basically, a trader will tell the broker a certain price on a stock (or option) where the position will be closed; but it’s a little different than a typical closing order. For longs, the closing price is below the current market price and for shorts the stop loss closing order is above the current market. Let’s take a look.

Stop Loss Example
A trader could purchase a stock for $15.00 and set a stop-loss order at $13.50. This means that the position will be closed at the market price once the stock drops below $13.50, simple right? It is called a stop loss order because it rather simply stops the investor from taking any more losses. Many investors have a set percentage of a trade for a stop loss order. If a trader wants to use a stop loss order for an option, the bid and ask prices would be monitored and then the same decisions as were made in the stock example are made.

Trailing Stop Loss Example
A trader  chooses a lower target price to keep losses in check and tells the broker to sell the contract once this price is breached. There is another stop loss strategy, the trailing stop loss. A trailing stop loss is either a fixed percentage or a fixed nominal increment from the current market price. Once the market price moves away from the stop, the stop moves, or trails, the market. It remains in place, though, if the market moves towards it.

Once the trailing stop loss is triggered the stock is sold, just like the regular stop loss. The benefit of the trailing stop loss is that it is flexible. If you purchase an option for $10 and set a trailing stop of 50 cents, the sell target is $9.50. Of course, as the stock increases in value, the 50-cent trailing stop will do follow (the stock trades at $10.50, the trailing stop becomes $10.00).

A trailing stop loss, then, can be used very effectively in profit taking. And it may sometimes require an adjustment. Let’s revisit the $10 stock with a 50-cent stop loss. If the company reports blow-out earnings, driving the price sharply higher, it might be time to adjust the trailing stop loss. In this example, let’s say the stock jumped to $12.00. A nice profit, but there could be some more room to the upside. Maybe the trader will adjust that trailing stop a little tighter to, say, 25 cents. Doing so allows the trader to lock in a profit of at least 1.75 (12 minus 10 = 2, 2 minus 0.25 = 1.75).

John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring

January 26, 2012

Stop Loss or Trailing Stop?

Some may hear the terms trailing stop loss and stop loss order and wonder exactly what these are and how a stop loss can enhance a trading strategy. Well, fret no more – that is what we will discuss in this blog entry. Let’s start with the basics, defining a stop loss order. Basically, a trader will tell the broker a certain price on a stock (or option) where the position will be closed; but it’s a little different than a typical closing order. For longs, the closing price is below the current market price and for shorts the stop loss closing order is above the current market. Let’s take a look.

Stop Loss Example
A trader could purchase a stock for $15.00 and set a stop-loss order at $13.50. This means that the position will be closed at the market price once the stock drops below $13.50, simple right? It is called a stop loss order because it rather simply stops the investor from taking any more losses. Many investors have a set percentage of a trade for a stop loss order. If a trader wants to use a stop loss order for an option, the bid and ask prices would be monitored and then the same decisions as were made in the stock example are made.

Trailing Stop Loss Example
A trader  chooses a lower target price to keep losses in check and tells the broker to sell the contract once this price is breached. There is another stop loss strategy, the trailing stop loss. A trailing stop loss is either a fixed percentage or a fixed nominal increment from the current market price. Once the market price moves away from the stop, the stop moves, or trails, the market. It remains in place, though, if the market moves towards it.

Once the trailing stop loss is triggered the stock is sold, just like the regular stop loss. The benefit of the trailing stop loss is that it is flexible. If you purchase an option for $10 and set a trailing stop of 50 cents, the sell target is $9.50. Of course, as the stock increases in value, the 50-cent trailing stop will do follow (the stock trades at $10.50, the trailing stop becomes $10.00).

A trailing stop loss, then, can be used very effectively in profit taking. And it may sometimes require an adjustment. Let’s revisit the $10 stock with a 50-cent stop loss. If the company reports blow-out earnings, driving the price sharply higher, it might be time to adjust the trailing stop loss. In this example, let’s say the stock jumped to $12.00. A nice profit, but there could be some more room to the upside. Maybe the trader will adjust that trailing stop a little tighter to, say, 25 cents. Doing so allows the trader to lock in a profit of at least 1.75 (12 minus 10 = 2, 2 minus 0.25 = 1.75).

Edited by John Kmiecik

Senior Options Instructor

Market Taker Mentoring