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With the rising popularity of weekly option contracts, many investors are choosing to trade weekly bull call spread option strategies as opposed to simply going long stock. The thought process is that by trading the weekly contracts you are able to more quickly adjust and profit from moves in the overall market. On today’s show, we use our backtesting software to analyze the results of a weekly bull call spread in DIA and its performance compared to a monthly bull call spread in DIA. Naturally, this options buying case study will be very interesting for those investors who feel they have some sort of directional edge when markets are trending higher.

Key Points from Today’s Show:

  • The concern with weekly options is that people are not using them the right away.
  • With option buying, you are still paying the premium that requires that the market makes a huge move in the right direction, all the time. 
  • Weekly options start to lose their value very quickly — the gamma risk becomes really high. 
  • The rapid move in weekly options gives you no time to adjust to current market environments. 

Case Study: Bull call spread for DIA (Major Dow Component ETF)

Trade 1: 

  • 10 days to go until expiration.
  • No IV rank minimum.
  • Trade frequency was weekly.
  • Overall allocation of 30%.
  • Tested a profit exit of 50%, and no stop-loss level.

Spreads were made $5 wide to create a spread around where the current price of DIA was trading. Buying options, used a long strike of 60 Delta. Our long strike was a little bit in the money and on average our short strike was 5 strikes away so it was a little bit further out of the money. We were trying to mimic a long stock position with frequent adjustments using option buying.

Results:

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  • Over the 10 year period, the entire strategy blew up early in the cycle. 
  • During this time period, the market experienced a crash.
  • The strategy had a -99.74% return. 
  • Annualized CAGR of -50% and -0.85 Sharpe ratio.
  • The overall win rate was 52%. 
  • Average time in the trade was about 9 days.

Trade 2: Tweaking the strategy by 1 factor
If you have to buy options, you want to buy them a bit further out in time to give yourself the opportunity for the market to come back around. you also want to have time decay have a smaller impact on your option position. This is minimized by buying contracts further out in time. 

  • Changed the days until expiration that we targeted.
  • Still entered trades every week. 
  • Instead of targeting the weekly contracts, we targeted trades about 60 days to expiration.
  • Everything else was kept the same.

Results:

  • After the 10-year period, only lost 42%. 
  • Annualized CAGR was 10% and Sharpe ratio was -0.18.
  • Overall win rate was 61%.
  • Average days in the trade were about 50 days.
  • Experienced multiple drawdowns of more than 20%.

The strategy started to fail because IV failed as we got to 2015 and 2016 because the gamma risk became too great and the market wasn’t going as high. It was slowly going higher, so the position just continued to lose money. 

Conclusion:

  • Running these back-tests can make a huge difference in your account.
  • Just as it can show you when a strategy will be a loser, it can also show you which strategies will be winners. 

Option Alpha Podcast Show Notes[FREE Download] Podcast Show Notes & Transcript PDF: No time to read the show notes right now? We’ve made it incredibly easy for you to save time by giving you instant access to the complete digital version of today’s show. Click Here to Download Your FREE Copy

Free Options Trading Courses:

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  • Options Basics [20 Videos]: Whether you’re a completely new trader or an experienced trader, you’ll still need to master the basics. The goal of this section is to help lay the groundwork for your education with some simple, yet important lessons surrounding options.
  • Finding & Placing Trades [26 Videos]: Successful options trading is 100% dependent on your ability to find and enter trades that give you an “edge” in the market. This module helps teach you how to scan properly for and select the best strategies to execute smarter option trades each day.
  • Pricing & Volatility [12 Videos]: This module includes lessons on mastering implied volatility and premium pricing for specific strategies. We’ll also look at IV relativeness and percentiles which help you determine the best strategy to use for each and every possible market setup.
  • Neutral Options Strategies [7 Videos]: The beauty of options is that you can trade the market within a neutral range either up or down. You’ll learn to love sideways and range bound markets because of the opportunity to build non-directional strategies that profit if the stock goes up, down or nowhere at all.
  • Bullish Options Strategies [12 Videos]: Naturally everyone wants to make money when the market is heading higher. In this module, we’ll show you how to create specific strategies that profit from up trending markets including low IV strategies like calendars, diagonals, covered calls and direction debit spreads.
  • Options Expiration & Assignment [11 Videos]: Our goal is to make sure you understand the logistics of how each process works and the parties involved. If you don’t feel confident in the expiration processes or have questions that you just can’t seem to get answered, then this section will help you.
  • Portfolio Management [16 Videos]: When I say “portfolio management” some people automatically assume you need a Masters from MIT to understand the concept and strategies – that is NOT the case. And in this module, you’ll see why managing your risk trading options is actually quite simple.
  • Trade Adjustments/Hedges [15 Videos]: In this popular module, we’ll give you concrete examples of how you can hedge different options strategies to both reduce potential losses and give yourself an opportunity to profit if things turn around. Plus, we’ll help you create an alert system to save time and make it more automatic.
  • Professional Trading [14 Videos]: Honestly, this module isn’t just for professional traders; it’s for anyone who wants to have eventually options replace some (or all) of their monthly income. Because the reality is that mindset is everything if you truly want to earn a living trading options.

Option Trader Q&A w/ Randy

Trader Q&A is our favorite segment of the show because we get to hear from one of our community members and help answer their questions live on the air. Today’s question comes from Randy, who asks:

When we ladder into multiple positions as the stock moves up or down, is it better to look at each individual trade or the position as a whole? Which way do you think is most profitable or less risky, and why?

Remember, if you’d like to get your question answered here on the podcast or LIVE on Facebook & Periscope, head over to OptionAlpha.com/ASK and click the big red record button in the middle of the screen and leave me a private voicemail. There’s no software to download or install and it’s incredibly easy.

PDF Guides & Checklists:

  • The Ultimate Options Strategy Guide [90 Pages]: Our most popular PDF workbook with detailed options strategy pages categorized by market direction. Read the whole guide in less than 15 mins and have it forever to reference.
  • Earnings Trading Guide [33 Pages]: The ultimate guide to earnings trades including the top things to look for when playing these one-day volatility events, expected move calculations, best strategies to use, adjustments, etc.
  • Implied Volatility (IV) Percentile Rank [3 Pages]: A cool, simple visual tool to help you understand how we should be trading based on the current IV rank of any particular stock and the best strategies for each blocked section of IV.
  • Guide to Trade Size & Allocation [8 Pages]: Helping you figure out exactly how to calculate new position size as well as how much you should be allocating to your each position based on your overall portfolio balance.
  • When to Exit/Manage Trades [7 Pages]: Broken down by option strategy we’ll give you concrete guidelines on the best exit points and prices for each trade type to maximize your win rate and profits long-term.
  • 7-Step Trade Entry Checklist [10 Pages]: Our top 7 things you should be double-checking before you enter your next trading. This quick checklist will help keep you out of harms way by making sure you make smarter entries.

Real-Money, LIVE Trading:

  • EWZ Iron Butterfly (Closing Trade): After nearly pinning the stock at our short strikes, and thanks to the volatility drop, we netted a $600 profit on this iron butterfly trade.
  • VXX Short Call (Closing Trade): One of the most consistent and profitable options trades we can make is shorting pure volatility with VXX and today we closed this naked short call in VXX after a couple days for a $420 profit.
  • DIA Iron Condor (Adjusting Trade): This neutral iron condor in DIA is need of a quick adjustment early this week as the market continues to rally. In this video, we’ll discuss why I’m adding an additional put credit spread while also choosing NOT to close out of our current put credit spread due to pricing reasons.
  • COP Short Put (Closing Trade): These single short puts in COP acted as a great hedge for our other bearish bets in oil this month and helped smooth out our returns after we closed them for a nice big profit.
  • TSLA Put Debit Spread (Closing Trade): Although many people thought we were crazy for getting bearish in TSLA this pre-earnings put debit spread trade made us $200 today. After the huge run up from $140 to $260 and getting some technical sell signals, we were pretty sure this stock would pull back.
  • MON Iron Condor (Closing Trade): Following a huge drop in implied volatility we worked hard to close this MON iron condor trade adjusting the order multiple times to fill before the end of the day.
  • IBB Call Debit Spread (Opening Trade): We’ll show you how I started searching for a new bullish trade and eventually found a low volatility trade in IBB looking for a move higher to hedge our portfolio.
  • TLT Iron Butterfly (Closing Trade): Following the Brexit vote TLT and bonds traded in a nearly $8 range really quickly – even still the drop in implied volatility helped generate a $330 profit for us.
  • XBI Call Debit Spread (Closing Trade): Got lucky picking the exact bottom for our entry in this call debit spread for the XBI biotech ETF which ultimately was closed for a profit of $165 today on the rally higher.
  • COH Iron Butterfly (Earnings Trade): Shortly after the market open we close out of our COH earnings trade for about a $160 profit, leaving just 1 leg on to expire worthless.
  • EWW Debit Spread (Closing Trade): Using some of the technical analysis signals we discovered in our backtesting research, we were able to make a quick $130 profit on this bearish EWW debit spread trade.
  • IBM Iron Condor (Earnings Trade): Shortly after the market opened you’ll follow along with me as we watch volatility drop and liquidity come into the market before closing out the position for $250 profit.
  • SLV Short Straddle (Opening Trade): Using our watch list software we decided to continue to add to our existing SLV short straddle position with a new set of strike prices reflective of the move lower in the ETF recently.

Thank You for Listening!

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