Two very popular options to trade are in the SPX S&P500 cash settled index and the SPY S&P500 ETF. Each offers unique benefits for options traders. Listen to this week's podcast to hear about the key differences between the SPX and SPY and some strategies for trading each.
Sarah: Hi everybody, this is Sarah Potter welcome to the SCT podcast. We are in episode 36 and while I completely understand that when we do podcasts everybody is listening to podcasts at different times. TJ and I definitely wanted to highlight and have a discussion about something that's very relevant for this week. Now certainly our topic is going to be good for any of the weeks that are trading but it's especially important this week. So this week if you look at the market there's a lot going on. We have a lot of news, a lot of earnings, we have FOMC does a lot. So if you are even if you're not even an options trader, if you just trade stock, if you're just investing in the market this is a big week and we want to expect or anticipate that we will have relative moves to that. So what that means then is we're going to have many perhaps many of the stocks or trading instruments that you look at might look a little different. So what we decided to do is talk about some different opportunities to trade or different instruments to look at. So we're going to talk today about the differences between a cash-settled index versus ETFs. Now you guys know that we both like to trade those and certainly those are different instruments and they have different characteristics so we thought let's get into that so that people understand what they are like to trade and perhaps those are things you might want to go look at when you have a week on deck that has a lot of different news. So hi TJ.
TJ: Good afternoon.
Sarah: You like to trade the SPX a lot and I know that that's something that you do in the trading room and I would definitely say that you're really good at that. So could you start us off by explaining a little bit about what is a cash settle index and its characteristics?
TJ: Okay, sure. I guess let's compare how to trade indexes. So the two basic ways our cash settle index like the SPX and any TF like the SPY so the major difference between the two is the SPX is cash settled. So that means you will never be assigned shares of the SPX, there are no shares to be assign. The SPX you can only trade options on the index. So at settlement if you are in the money, you either have money put in your cash, put in your account or cash taken out of your trading account instead of a typical option where you would have shares assigned to you. The SPY is an ETF so you can buy shares in the SPY so if an expiration day you are assigned you actually get the shares so that is the main difference between the two. The other differences is just the size of the contract the SPX is about ten times the value of the SPY so that comes into position sizing as well and we can talk a little bit more about that maybe later in the podcast. And the other major difference is how they expire and we'll about that a little bit I guess later or we can get into that right now, what do you think Sarah?
Sarah: Sure, I mean I think expiry is a really important piece because that's something that when we get questions about when we're trading these instruments people don't sometimes realize that things can expire at different times especially in the SPX. So let's get to that. So this is a week that has a lot of earnings and new so especially Wednesday's FOMC and then SPX has expired on Wednesday. So in particular you like to trade SPX. Would you ever trade an SPX trade and have it expire on the same day that you have an FOMC announcement?
TJ: You could, that would be a lot like an earnings trade you know the market has expectations and obviously you're expecting a big move so you can definitely set it up. Is that my strategy? No, that's typically not my strategy. The two strategies I really like are overnight trade in the SPX so basically holding it, buying at the day before expiration, setting up the trade holding it overnight and letting it expire the next day. The other trade that I really like is also today trade. So to look for you know potential credit spreads on a Friday. However we do have to look at and we can talk about this as well that those two trades primarily work best when there's higher implied volatility in the market and right now if anyone's paying attention to the SPX, I mean we know that I mean IV was you know a couple weeks ago even if the last week was 8, 9 which is extremely-extremely low. So the credit is just not necessarily there for those types of trades but definitely those are the two setups that I prefer when I do trade it.
Sarah: But when the implied volatility be going up this week like perhaps this is a week that you want to pay attention to SPX because of all the news?
TJ: Yeah, you would you would think that that FOMC would actually you know really make a difference in it, but it's actually it's not, it's not changing implied volatility, we're just even if we look at the VIX it's just pegged it right at the lows I mean we were talking about it in the trading room a couple weeks ago how you know we were down in the low 9s on the VIX and you know we had to look back 11 years, we had to look back you know almost 11 years back to 2007 before we really saw levels below 9 and I think it was a VIX with eight and a half, 8.5 I think was approximately the number that we saw and that was back in 2007 and we know what happened. You know I have you know six months to a year later we had the big crash of 2008 and no I'm not saying that what we're seeing now is it all the same, I'm just trying to say that you know we're at really-really low levels and you know the VIX doesn't really want to go lower but it doesn't want to go higher either because the market does keep going up. So you know it's kind of stuck in a range and Daphne you know events that we would typically see an increase in volatility a little bit but not enough to really make a difference in trading.
Sarah: Okay. So those kind of change gears and start talking about ETF. So I know that in the trading room I get asked about SPY a lot it seems to be very popular instrument to trade and I want to specifically talk about it, obviously you guys all know that we both look at the ES which is the futures contract but they all represent the same thing, right? So this is the SNP and SPY in particular it is ETF so it's cheaper. So I think a lot of people really like to trade it because it doesn't cost as much to trade but I don't know about you but sometimes I find if I place trades or if I even look for trades and SPY it can be actually difficult to be able to actually get filled on a tray that you really like the charts can look really nice but when we move into the options chain sometimes to just things don't really line up. So a lot of times I'm not actually going to follow through on that trade because we can't see stuff except for weeks like this when you now have more news, more events that might potentially move the market if you are fearful of placing a trade, a futures trade in the ES or the SPX business setting up SPY can actually be a really good instrument right now.
TJ: Yeah, I mean absolutely. I think that we have to keep in mind too what you brought up is absolutely right. So I mean we think about if we're getting say we're doing a credit spread in SPX and we're getting 30 cents you know we're potentially looking at 3 cents of credit in the SPY so it really doesn't make sense to almost trade for that 3 cents. So I think you know we may differ in that opinion is, I really rarely look at the SPY and I don't I don't really see the advantage to it.
Sarah: Really? I can buy a call and SPY and have so much less risk because I don't have to put up as much in the trade and still be able to take advantage of the moves that can happen in the broader markets obviously the ETF is a representation of that. So I don't know, I like that, so to me looking out it this week and seeing, oh yeah, I expect the market to move quite a bit I think SPY is actually a really great trading instrument that I do want to be involved in because I don't have to put the risk up. Now you're probably talking about spreads, right? And trying to place a spread trade in SPYs almost impossible sometimes.
TJ: Exactly and I think too that. Yeah, I guess if you're looking to buy puts and calls I do agree that we’re, yeah so it's a little bit cost prohibitive in the SPX. I mean you can be 20 points out on a put or a call you know risking two thousand dollars on per contract whereas you could do that risk two hundred dollars per contract in the SPX which is probably more in alignment. So I guess if you think about it that way, yeah I guess they're useful for different reasons.
Sarah: Yeah, so a piece about SPY that I definitely want to mention is that, just because those are cheaper calls and puts to buy again they don't necessarily mean that they're going to turn into crazy profits, right? So if you're buying something and you see risked a dollar and you make thirty to fifty dollars on that trade that is a huge return on investment and so I think where people get wrong, go down the wrong way there with SPY is they start saying well I'm not risking that much but I still want to make a huge amount so I'm just going to let that run, run and run and you need to keep that all relative to how that instrument likes to move. So remember that SPY is cheaper than the other ones for a reason and that also is going to mean at that range that you're looking for needs to all be aligned with what is realistic. So realistic set realistic profit targets in SPY and I think that can be a really great trading instrument especially for just buying straight calls and puts. But you don't ever do SPY you do SPX so if we were to ask you like of the ES the SPX and SPY, which one is your favorite and why?
TJ: That’s a really good question. I think I'm tied between the S&P, the ES contract, the options on futures, and the SPX depending on how I feel in terms of position sizing on that day, the ES contract is about half the size of the SPX give or take. So you can kind of fine-tune position sizing that way as well. So I'm kind of tied between the kind of between the two of them. One thing I do want to mention as well is that the cash settle index is like the SPX you have to remember that on monthly expiration, you have to trade a different contract. So every third week is a month if you want the contract that expires on Friday, you do need to trade the SPX p.m. contract because the SPX contract expires Thursday at the close but the pricing is based on Friday's open. So there's been quite a few traders who have been locked in, stuck in positions on you know overnight Thursday as the market gaps up Friday morning and a max profit goes into a loss and because the option stops trading on Thursday at the close but is still pricing Friday so you still see it in your account, the price is changing but you can't trade it. So it's really an odd situation if anyone's ever traded the SPX the third week and not realized that it expired the Thursday. Well that it stops trading the Thursday but again it's still pricing based on Friday's open and it's not even the open, it's the open of all 500 stocks in the S&P 500. So that doesn't even give you satisfaction when the market opens, it could be 5 or 10 minutes before they or 15 minutes before they figure out an actual settlement price. So just a little wrinkle there.
Sarah: A little wrinkle. I think that's why a lot of people are afraid to trade SPX because of the expire reason and all the rules and trying to keep that in mind. So I mean if it was what you just heard TJ described was too stressful for you just to keep that in mind I mean remember you can still trade SPY or you can do the ES and sometimes even though with the size of the ES if you're doing a futures contract you might think, oh gosh, remember it's still an auction too, right? You're still doing an option on the futures contract, it does the same thing as the options and everything else it's just a different underlying a different trading instrument. So you know if SPX and understanding all of its different expiries is not something you're interested in then don't forget that you can also do options on futures on the ES. However I also want to mention with the SPX because it does have the different expiry, there's times during the week where the Friday expiry doesn't look good on the options chain but the Wednesdays do. So it really just depends of that week, what actually looks to be setting up and don't forget that I went like, it’s almost like double the trade opportunities there so you can be pickier about the ones that you really want and when they do setup definitely pick the one that's tailored for you.
TJ: Exactly and one other thing too is I think that you know if we draw a line and we've got premium on one end and no premium on the other, you've got a stock like PCLN where there's ton of premium, there's a ton of people with different ideas, the index is like the SPX used by a lot of institutions for various reasons and they're priced pretty fairly in the market, there's not a lot of arbitrage, there's not a lot of you know a lot of profits, you know the sneaky profits if you want to call that to be had, it's pretty well traded, there's a lot of volume, a lot of institutions, a lot of big trading in the SPX, so if you see a lot of premium at a strike that you think is way out of the money and it'll never ever get there by Friday you know chances are there may be a good chance that it does, you know you don't get a lot of those opportunities to get that bonus premium like you might in a in a PCLN
Sarah: Yeah, I mean I think that's good. Remember, they all have different characteristics but there's always going to be times when each of those are good to trade. So if you're afraid of the market swinging too much then adjust to the contract size that you like but make sure you remember that within each of those contracts that your profit targets need to be relative to how those individual stocks move. I think that's a good discussion this week. Don't be afraid this week if the market don't be afraid of news just make sure you're tailoring your trades to make to remember that we do have news and that volatility will change things. So happy trading everybody.
Sarah: Hi everybody, this is Sarah Potter from “She Can Trade” and this is the SCT podcast, we are at episode 35, I have TJ here
TJ: Good Morning
Sarah: And today we are going to talk a little bit about how the market shapes in the summer and what to do through the summer months particularly in the market, so we are really in the middle of the summer now, we are moving into mid end of July and then especially as we roll into August, sometimes we can get questions about whether it’s worthwhile to actually trade in the summer or whether we should just avoid it and move back in the fall. And obviously since TJ and I are both trading, we would obviously suggest that yes, there are still great trades to be had in the market, it’s just about being aware of what’s happening in the market and adjusting your trade strategies according to what you are seeing as opposed to may be being too determined and focused in only looking for the same set up over and over again in the summer, so I will suggest the biggest thing that you need to think about summer is you need to be flexible, flexible with your mindset of what you see in the market and then what strategies can work accordingly as opposed to saying, I don’t have a trade calls, I do really well in calls, so you only look for is calls. So I don’t know how is your summer been so far TJ?
TJ: So far it’s been great, trading has been still really great, I don’t know when to really step away from trading in this summer, I think there’s still lots of opportunity obviously, I think I agree with what you say, you do have to match your strategies and market conditions but I think that’s any time of the year, we really have to pay attention to what the markets are doing. I think it was two years ago, memory service we woke up two or three mornings in a row in August and I remember distinctly one morning, the S&P was down over a hundred points premarket and that was in August, that was supposed to be a slow summer time to trade and we were still seeing lots of volatility. Governments don’t shut down, countries don’t stop bickering over the summer, you know there is definitely presidential issues that will continue in September, they are not taking a back seat or a vacation, so I think there’s tons of events that can move the market and that we can trade, we are in earning season right now and it’s the summer that’s creating the volatility for a lot of stocks, so you know, I do agree that, we do need to pick some time to kind of step away and recharge and if that’s the slow week in the summer to recharge your batteries and come back and focus, then absolutely, but I think just a step away from the market because it’s summer, I don’t know, I think things have changed lately, I think with the retail trading and more and more online trading, the more retail traders that are out there trading the market, trading all it around, there is no real season now to it, what do you think?
Sarah: yeah, especially, It’s to know that retail trading and we should mention that, right, we are professional retail traders, you are all retail traders by being involved in the market with someone who is not managing other people’s millions of dollars, you are basically trading for yourself, so that makes you retail trader. Remember, you are basically most likely trading with other retail traders as well and in fact, lot of people might be on vacation so they actually might be bumping up their trading more than ever because a lot of retail traders might have more time through December to actually focus on this, perhaps things are lighter for you at work and so you have more time to really focus on finding stocks or getting better at trading, finding more trades, all of those things can happen in the summer. They can actually be a really great time to test strategies too and I don’t know if it’s just about, depending on where you guys live, just having more sunshine, generally more people are happy through summer, may be if they are getting more because they are on vacation, I don’t know. But I think that means that, there’s lot more people interested in looking at the market and paying attention to it and sometimes when you are not as busy, you can still find trading opportunities as well. So certainly there’s a lots that we have in summer and just because the weather is warm outside, it doesn’t mean you can’t take your laptop outside and trading too right.
TJ: Yeah, that’s absolutely right, I think you make a good point there, how many people have taken some vacation in the summer up at their cottage or the way they pull up their laptop at the dark right on the deck and actually spend time trading or in the markets where, they normally have that 9 to 5 job where they don’t have that time. So, definitely some advantages there, I do think that we need to discuss kind of few pointers and a few things that we kind of should look for in summer trading because, yes, we will have those weeks where, it is just, the volume is just so low and the markets really don’t move. So I think that’s the key point, it’s we need to look for volume, look for those low days, look for those sideways weeks and when we get into those weeks or those days of trading then absolutely those are days to maybe go and improve your golf game. I think we do need to pick and choose when we trade but there is still with 3000 stocks in the NYSE, there is still ample opportunity every week to find your four, five, six trades.
Sarah: so on top of that, my tip would also be in terms of summer is, if you normally trade, let’s say six or eight trades every week, don’t go out to the market and say, I need to find my six or eight trades this week, it has to be six or eight and that’s what I mean by flexibility, this week you might find three because things are slow but next week you might have 14 on, so just be flexible with the numbers, don’t get too caught up in looking for a certain amounts of trades every week, you want to look for good quality trades. Another tip I think I would suggest is being flexible with the industries you are trading as well. Just because, say, you can’t find something in one industry and you love to let’s say only trade technology stocks but things are a little slow in that or they are just not as accountable as they usually are, then look through different industries. Summer can be a great time to try different areas and to try different stocks as well. Certainly the evidence you are looking for still looks the same, so I am still going to look for stocks that have a history to them, I am going to look for something that has a long term trend that I could take advantage of and I am going to mirror that with some other shorter terms charts to find nice entries and exits, I am going to look for a mixture of trades that have momentum as well as the mixture of trades that are pretty well standing still but I might do that in some new stocks that may be I don’t normally look at other times of the year.
TJ: Yeah, absolutely, that makes sense and I think that’s the way I look at it as well, maybe I have been trading Amazon every week through the spring, may be Amazon is a stock that starts to slow down in the summer and July or August, may be it doesn’t, but if it does, I will just move to something else. I think it’s more about, we need to pay attention to and I think be aware of when, which stocks are slowing down and when they are slowing down and just having that flexibility to trade and not be stuck in one strategy or one stock and just keep doing the same trade over and over again for six weeks and when or why it stop working or why price isn’t moving as much as it did three weeks ago.
Sarah: One thing though, I definitely want to mention in the summertime is, for people that look for trade set ups where you are looking for the whole of the market to change directions completely, sometimes because the volume is lower, those kinds of trades at the time is going to eat out a little bit, so what I mean by that is over the last few weeks, we have had a lot of stocks that have started to trend lower, so there’s a lot of people out there who I think are looking for everything to reverse and to start moving up higher again and what they are spending time is buying calls on dips and suggesting, ok, well this has to go up, this has to go up and I would just throw it out there in the summer because we are going to have some weeks that are going to move sideways, if that stock price has a lot of resistance specially on a weekly chart as a result of the last couple of weeks that are sold off, I would suggest it’s actually better to wait for those positions to get through that resistance first and then by the calls, so that traditional philosophy of buying on dips, it still good but I would suggest you really need to look at something like a weekly chart and just make sure that when the stock did sell off that there isn’t some established resistance there, because there is nothing worse than sitting in something like a call, so the assumption that’s going to move higher, but price just moves sideways through the summer because there is not enough volume to get that through that resistance. So may be waiting an extra week before you place trades like that, you could put them down on your short list but don’t buy, don’t get into calls and expect things to pop up right away when it’s moving into resistance through the summer especially.
TJ: Right and I would like to ask you questions well, and we can discuss, this is about expiration and I think that we do, that’s another point that we have to, that trader should look for in the summer is expiration Fridays because it is a Friday, people are leaving work early, they are stopping trading, they have got other things to do on Fridays, that we will see, there is a tendency for a little bit of kind of a slow Friday where we are not getting the moves on Friday that we would see on a normal expiration day, but we can also see what happens is, we get a move and then it kind of just drifts sideways on low volume and then we will see at the end of the day where there is a counter trend move to that, so I think we do have to pay attention to on low volume Fridays to expiration and just keeping an eye on how things are moving and with low volume may be support and resistance that would have held, had there been a lot of traders trading at that levels, you may not hold as well, so depending that we see on a high volume day during the year might not happen in that low volume just because there is nobody trading, not enough people trading those levels to keep price above or below those key areas of support or resistance.
Sarah: Yeah, that’s a good point, expiration can act a little differently in the summer, especially with long weekends too, that’s something to be aware of, but I think most people know that anyways those Fridays can be tricky days in particular, so if you are looking at trades and was thinking about now, we move into August and even into the end of August, and September, when you are setting up your trades also keep in mind of when that long weekend is, may be you want to take the week before or the week after as well and not even deal with that Friday because those don’t characteristically work as well as they would any other Friday throughout the year just because of volume things will now, that can be good or bad but if you want to increase the probability of what generally happens, then I would suggest taking the trade out to expire not on the long weekend, the Friday of the long weekend but take it out another week.
TJ: yeah, that makes sense, absolutely that makes sense, so I guess leave that with one or two trade take aways that our listeners can use over the next few months, so for me, I think it would be watch volume, watch the ATR as well, how much is the stock per moving, is it in a quiet period, is it not in a quiet period and just make that you are trading according to what the stock’s dealing, not what the stock has done three or four months ago, what it’s actually doing right now this week, today.
Sarah: Well, on that and I might may be just agree a little bit, is that I want to definitely be trading only stocks that have lots of history, so that is also very helpful because I do want to know what it has done in the past, I do want to use the but I also need to be setting up my trades to be realistic about what’s going on and you are right, like if it hasn’t happened, may be things to happen the fall, you see things move more than you do in the summer, you don’t expect that the price is going to move like it does in the fall, but we can still expect that it will move as it normally does through the summer time, so you can go back in history and see that stocks do still move in the summer and we still can trade those ones, but I would definitely stay away from newer stocks, I want to take stocks that are trending nicely and then I think my biggest step is looking for trades that are already moving in that direction as opposed to looking for trades that are going to switch directions, you are going to have much more probability of success in the summer because we don’t really know which week or day is going to be slow, we can’t anticipate but that will happen though because it is summer time, so generally trading in the same direction that it’s already moving in is helpful without having to do with any resistance, save the trades for pops and momentums into the fall and into the winter. Alright, another great podcast, I look forward to see you all, remember you can see us trading live in the live trading room at Shecantrade.com and all of your reviews are really helpful up on iTunes and anywhere you can post them. Happy trading everybody.
Sarah: Hi everybody this is Sarah Potter from she can trade. And this is SCT podcast. We are at episode 34. Today's discussion is going to be focused around earnings and specifically how do you adjust and trade sorry how do you adjust and focus on your trades through that earning season. Obviously we'll talk a little bit about actually placing trades for earnings as a result of those. But also what do you do with all your other trades what to expect in the market when we have to go through an earnings season. So I have T.J. here.
Sarah: And we're going to discuss this together. I think it'll be interesting also to hear our various perspectives on these kinds of things. So let's start off with a little kind of a definition of a basically an idea of what is earnings and how do you basically think the market moves through earnings season versus when we're not in earnings.
T.J: All right. So earnings we're talking about corporate earnings so every quarter financials companies release their financials and there's a lot of anticipation and a lot of excitement around the numbers or are sales up or sales down. Our earnings up earnings down how’s the company doing and obviously how does that link the stock price. Well, if you're a fundamental investor obviously the more the company's earnings and the better their financial ratios the higher the stock price. So people look for those numbers they look. They read through them they look for a lot of details to see whether the stock price is accurate. If it's a fair representation of where the stock should be trading and if not obviously do they think the stock price should be higher or lower? And the reason we need to watch for earnings is because it's a high volatility event. It's a pretty binary event. So the day before the earnings are announced or the day of there's excitement earnings are announced and as soon as the numbers come out you generally see a decent a big move in the in the stock's price either up or down. So what we need to do is options traders are we need to look for two things coming into earnings. One is we need to look for increased volatility. So we will see on our options chain that the week of earnings and especially coming into the day of earnings the implied volatility of that stock will increase. The other thing we need to watch out for is obviously if we're holding options positions through earnings so if we have put or a call or a spread or any trade that expires after the earnings date that that earnings date can significantly influence the price of the stock. And we just need to be aware of of those potential kind of potential influences when we go through earnings. So Sarah are there any websites or how do you find out, what do you look for where do you look to see when companies are going to have earnings.
Sarah: Yes, so I'm going to SCT up my trades differently through the earnings season than I will other times. And I do think that it's very important to always be paying attention to looking for when those earnings announcements are going to be because it's really going to change the flavor of how that stock is moving. So you guys know when we're trading in the trading room you'll often see us looking at the history of price how it's moving in relation to the broad market and those are really ways that we can identify opportunities to trade. But when we have earnings and earnings season that that announcement is going to change things. It's gonna do it also leading up to it. So you'll notice that I will still trade stocks a couple weeks before their earnings but we're gonna have to deal with higher implied volatility and if I'm buying a collar put I'm gonna have to deal with paying more than what I usually would in anticipation of that. And now a lot of times I can trade really well earnings actually before their earnings announcements so there's some good trades there when we look at how that stock has been behaving moving up to his announcement. We might have an expiry after the earnings but we can definitely take an opportunity to take advantage of a move prior to earnings. So generally stocks especially the more and more there in the media will have a nice move prior to its earnings announcement so we could definitely capitalize on that. So I mean it's tough to find them though right it's not about just okay well it's the next quarter. So all the stocks are gonna be moving because they have earnings announcements, there's going to be times when those stocks actually don't move they're gonna have less of a reaction than what market makers had anticipated would be in that option. And so that's also something to be paying attention to but when we're first looking for trades you can look at something like Yahoo Finance or a market watch or I think actually even some trading brokerage platforms have earnings announcements in them if I am correct on that. Did that do they have earnings announcements right in the platform?
T.J: A lot of platforms do. Definitely they do have the earnings dates. Obviously the other one too is nasdaq.com. They list the earnings dates you do have to generally current earnings date. If I'm going to be trading the earnings and I really need to make sure that it is that exact date whether it's before the market or after the close. I generally check two different sources because you'll find out as well if you look comb through earnings dates that different websites list may have a day earlier a couple days later. It may not always be that accurate. So I do like to double check there the one thing I do like about earnings I guess we can real really get into some strategies is what happens at earnings? There's two things there's the actual result of what happens and there's a move based on the result of what happens but there's also a move based on the expectations and that's how most stocks move. So if Nike moves up say they've got 75 cents per share of earnings and Nike so if the expectation was only 50 then that look great stocks gonna move up. If expectations were say 85 or 90 cents then the stock could move down as well so we can't look at just the absolute number. It has to be we have to look at expectations we have to look at was it sales was it revenue how do those compare?
And I think that's really what makes kind of earnings such an exciting time because there's so many variables involved. So with so many variables, so many inputs, so many unknowns what are some strategies that we can look at to give us kind of a shot at the best outcome because obviously saying hey I think let me guess I think the stocks gonna go up after earnings that's really a 50-50 trade at best guessing in the direction and we'll probably most likely guess in the wrong direction. So what can we do obviously out of the money credit spreads those are that's a great way to trade earnings you can limit your downside on that by keeping this spread nice and tight so maybe you don't want to do a five or ten dollar spread maybe you want to do a dollar or 250 wide spread. Keep your risk reasonable look for something out of the money as standard and a hat 1.5 standard deviation away staying wait far away from where the expected move is on that earnings announcement. Same thing with iron condors those work really well as well you can also just I mean you can also sell straddles. You can sell a strangle they work out really well again you're playing to the fact that the market thinks there's gonna be a bigger move and then really what's priced in and that's usually what happens. The trouble is they're unlimited loss. So we do have to be careful with that and if we are trading strategies where there is no stop-loss on them or where there is no limitation on what you can lose, we do need to be very careful because nine times out of 10 you're fine but those one or two trades where the earnings is two or three times the expected move. You might see yourself in a loss situation but I do think that there is a lot of opportunity out there to trade earnings. We just have to come at it with kind of a from a standpoint of this is these are some fun extra trades that we're doing. This isn't bread and butter meat and potatoes this isn't how I generate my reliable weekly income.
Sarah: Yeah, I wanted to mention that so when you're trading earnings I think the biggest tip is that you don't want to expect that all of your earnings trades are going to work and I think you need to kind of account for that. So when you're SCTting up trade strategies through earnings let's say you're placing one earnings trade a week through the earnings season that if you look at the collective of all of those at the end you can't have a goal of making eighty percent of those work. Because they won't because those trades at the end of the day are really more 50-50 trades. So as long as you're realistic about that and if you test the strategy over different quarters through the year and let's say you're coming out ahead sixty-five percent of your trades are right through earnings then that is a time that that you want to be adding all more contracts but you certainly want to test that through more than one quarter. So trading earnings is fun because yes it's pretty hyped up everyone talks about it. There's all this great opportunity, absolutely but remember many people don't talk they're losing trades. They only talk about their winning trades and it's with earnings you're gonna have winners and losers to betting regardless of what strategy you pick. But you can still make it work as long as you're very aware of what your percentage is as you move through each earning season. And so perhaps a goal closer to about 65% so you're getting more winners than losers so that overall you're still coming out with profit is important you don't want to just put trades on. And just pay commissions or come out at zero no your opportunity cost is important as well you've spent time looking for those trades and that's really relevant as well.
T.J: Yeah, exactly and I think that is I think that's the key to trading is everybody tries to do the same thing. And I think if you have to find something that works for how you feel comfortable trading and if earnings is a strategy that you can make money at that's fantastic I mean that that's great that's what you need to be focusing on. For somebody else doing the exact same trades they might not look at it the same way or be able to enter or exit at the same time and they may not, they may do the same trades but not but end up losing money on that series of trades. So it's really something that's very personalized and if you can make it work fantastic you just need to realize that with earnings there is a ton of anticipated and unanticipated things that are happening. And it makes it really exciting and there's that potential to make to make some really quick money. As you make that money you place the trade five minutes before earnings are released at five minutes after four and it's usually either max loss or max profit. There's usually not a lot of difference in between and if that's how you like to trade. Then yeah, what earnings is something that you can dip your toe into.
Sarah: Yeah, I think that's a good point let's end on that so we're moving into earnings season now so there's lots of opportunity and I think TJ's got some good examples here on how to kind of keep that risk a little tighter and I do like the idea of still trading but trading out of the money. And keeping that spread a little tighter so that if you some of those trades work great, if they don't that's fine. You're not blowing up any accounts. So look forward to you guys remember we do have our live trading room which is the opportunity for you to see both of us trade live all the time showing our real accounts real, trades, real money. Look forward to seeing you there and happy trading everybody.
Sarah: Hi Everybody and welcome to the SCT podcast, this is episode 33 and we are going to have a nice little conversation today about what to do with the stocks that are trading around $1000 and TJ and I are each going to explain a little bit about how, what are approaches and how to get the most out of these very expensive stocks, so I have TJ here.
TJ: Good afternoon.
Sarah: Now TJ, as we all know especially if you follow in the trading room he is very good at a particular stock and that name is PCLN and he has been doing day trade in this PCLN stock for years, so I think we should kick it off there with your perspective and this stock has actually been sitting around $1,000 for a long time too. Can you tell us a little bit about why you like to trade PCLN which is so expensive and why you like to trade it as a day trade?
TJ: Yeah absolutely, you are absolutely right, I mean PCLN is almost $2,000 now and we have been day trading it since it was under $1000, it was $800 or $900. The reason I really like PCLN as a day trade and that's I guess we should be needing backup and talk about a little bit of how we do it. So, the setup is a Friday trade looking to cash in on the tremendous amount of premium that is still left in NPCLN because it's a really expensive stock on Friday. So the day of expiration placing the trade either in the morning or early afternoon and holding the trade a couple of hours into the close. Primarily, what I will do it either a call credit spread or a put credit spread. Just looking to capitalize on the available premium on Fridays and the reason it works is because the stock is so expensive
Sarah: You have really been trading PCLN since it was below $1,000 and now it is up to $2,000, my gosh time flies.
TJ: It's been a long time. Well the PCLN over the last little bit, it’s really, really ramped out it's been on fire lately.
Sarah: Ok so just curious then, if you think back when you just started day trading the PCLN and today, do you do it any differently like is something changed now that it's almost $2,000?
TJ: No, not at all spreads very expensive anything over $1,000, it just needs to get expensive enough that the time value of that remains on Friday is 20 to 40 cents. Obviously a stock that’s trading at $100 like IBM or Apple. On Friday, we will not have 30 cents or 40 cents of time value in a credit spread, that’s way out of the money, so obviously you need that high price and the higher it goes actually the easier it is to get more and more premium in it.
Sarah: Ok, so I think this is, to me it’s an obvious question but I want to articulate it anyways, is there reason why you are only day trading this as opposed to doing this further out, because it is so expensive and there is a bit of a sweet spot in that day trade.
TJ: There is, the reason we don’t tend to trade PCLN early in the week is that, it doesn’t trend necessarily all that well during the week, it will trend on expiration nicely but what we found is that, you kind of get website in and out of trades during the week, it will be up one day, down the next, up the next, down the next. It’s not a very consistent stock and with it being so expensive, it has really large dollar moves, so we have just found that for efficiency and profitability sake, it’s better to focus on it as a day trade.
Sarah: so, I find that quite interesting because I think what’s also relevant in the market today is we have Google and Amazon that have also crept up close to this $1000 mark and let’s just kind of focus on Amazon here for a second, what’s interesting about it is, it’s characteristics about how price moves in this stock, I think is changed as it has moved up to a $1000 and I find it interesting that you are mentioning that in PCLN, it can rip around quite a bit during the week, it doesn’t trend as much. If we look at how Amazon has been moving and we think about it really over the last, at least couple of months it hasn’t been trending as well either. And do you think, that’s a result of it getting up to about $1000?
TJ: I do think so, I think that $1000 mark is a big number. I think it does have some, I don’t want to necessarily use the word psychological but I think it does weigh on investor’s minds when it gets that expensive and I think that most investors buy stocks are foolishly concerned about the price of the stock, obviously investing you need to be concerned about the relative price of the stock compared to its financials obviously with, looking at it to be a value, compared to itself. Most traders will look at those $1000 stocks and say that they are too expensive and that they are way overpriced, when based on fundamental ratios, at $1000, it may not be overpriced, so I think there is a policy that we can kind of explore but I do think the $1000 mark does keep price, does keep traders and investors away from it and I think because of that, prices have hard time getting through it and stocks have a hard time through that hurdle.
Sarah: Yeah, Looking at Amazon for Call credit spreads now is a great idea and it will be interesting to start up applying your trades that I have seen PCLN to Amazon and Google, now that they are moving into that, that category and I would want to mention something here, I think you brought up something which is important to highlight and that is just because price in Amazon has come up to $1000, I don’t think you want to assume that, that’s just going to go and continue to move higher without any kind of resistance, that is a big marker and not a lot of stocks get up here in terms of price, so absolutely, I think to expect some resistance there is important. Now, the other piece I think also changes for the average traders is when the stock price is getting up to about $1000, that is certainly changing their risk profile for that trade, which means that because it’s going to move back and forth, you obviously have opportunities for gains and record, but there is going to be risk involved there too, because you can get really whipped out of that trade quite quickly. Do you think there is still a case for Calls and Puts in stocks like Amazon, Google or PCLN?
TJ: For me not as much, I would like to trade in the money, Puts and Calls and if I am looking at any in the money Put or Call in Amazon, I mean we could be looking at it being worth $20, $30, $40 per contract, so per contract you are looking dollar risk, anywhere between $2000-$4000, so it becomes a big trade and it does become one of those kind of limiting factors where you really have to think about, is your capital best used for that risk reward profile or is it better utilized in may be trading in two or three moderately priced stocks.
Sarah: Ok, so I kind of have to disagree a little bit because I do think that there is some opportunities in these larger stocks to still trade directionally but yeah, I agree just buying the Call and Put, it becomes too expensive and I would rather be able to spread some of that risk out, but what I can do is do a debit spread, so we can basically look at those stocks, have the assumption that it’s going to move, trade with the same strategy but have far less risk and of course the reward is cap 2 in debit spreads and certainly there is an argument there for debit spreads but it’s a great way for me to be able to take advantage of some of that volatility and still wait for those opportunities to pop, so I can buy debit spreads may be with a little bit larger or longer term expiry date and still have some nice money in debit spreads.
TJ: yeah absolutely, I think debit spreads are a great way of looking at the higher price stock and as well, you have got to think about that too is people look at debit spreads and don’t want to trade them because their profits are limited but honestly, if you look at the last protocol that you bought, did you make $2 or $3 or $4 or $5 on that per contract? Probably not, so if you limit yourself to say $2 $2.50 max profit in a debit spread, you are not even really looking for that anyway but people just tend to seem, oh I can only make $2, so they decide not to do the debit spread, hoping to buy the Put or a Call and making two or three times of that, but how often do they actually make that money, I don’t know, what do you think about that?
Sarah: Well, that’s why, like I said, I like debit spread, it’s because you still have the opportunity. I don’t understand why people will give away the idea of saying well $2 isn’t enough in this trade but if you traded at smaller or cheaper stock or call, you would be ecstatic with that amount of money, so debit spreads provide you a lot of risk and they do think that it gives you also the opportunity to hold a trade a little bit longer as well, right. So, I can still take a debit spread out a few months or weeks, whichever time line you want and still be able to make money, so I actually prefer these days, I have been doing more debit spreads in these larger stocks as opposed to anything else because I just think it has a really nice risk free profile.
TJ: Yeah, opposite there, I don’t do very many debit spreads, I am more of a quick in and out credit spread, overnight Thursday and a Friday or day trade Friday, and we were talking about Amazon and actually Amazon, we have done the last couple of weeks in the trading room on Friday and those trades have actually worked out really well for us, we managed to get 25, 30 cents of credit day of and that expiring for max profit being able to keep that for trade that last in may be 5 or 6 hours at the most. I do still like the credit spreads, credit spreads out of the money definitely, if you look at the chart of the Amazon right now, do you want to be in that stock for a long time, do you want to hold that for 2 weeks in a credit spread, probably not. I mean, it makes highs, it makes drops down, it makes comes back up all-time highs, drops right back down again, one day it’s an uptrend, one day it’s a down trend. So again really changed my focus in shorter time frame with the expensive stocks, so that’s how I trade them, it seems like we kind of approach it in a different way.
Sarah: yeah and I would say that, yeah, with the debit spread because you have protected yourself with the amount of risk, you can hold it through a day that it is moving down because the next day can pop right back again and ask me to take tradeoff for profit and we can end up with the same results, so I mean that’s interesting that we both are approaching these $1000 stock a little differently, both have good success rates in them and I think that’s also a really great reminder to everybody when we are trading, is there isn’t just one way to do it, there’s a lot of different ways to look at the market and it’s all about collecting the evidence and the reasons as to why you want to trade one versus another. Every trade is going to be a little different and it should be tailored based on what you like and so, you and I can look at these stocks and think, ok, yeah, it’s going up, it’s going down. But our approach, our strategy to be involved in the market is different.
TJ: Absolutely and I think that there’s many strategies, whether it’s debit spreads or credit spreads, day trades, long term trades, there is ways, definitely ways to effect the trade that mark expensive stocks with options and that’s the beauty of trading options is, you have choice and you are able to trade a $1000 stock and limit your risk and really make it still a stock that can stay on your watch list.
Sarah: Awesome, great stuff everybody, this was a great talk today about how to be involved in these more expensive stocks and remember that is, the best thing about auctions is we can still trade these regardless of how expensive the underlying gets, there’s still lots of ways to really take advantage of the trade, the movement in auctions even if you do it differently. So I appreciate all of your time coming to the podcast today. I would really appreciate it if you can post a review and honest reviews are the best reviews and it really does help the podcast moving forward and also please share it with your friends. This is something that TJ and I, both enjoy doing and spreading the word about trading. So we will see you in Amazon, Google and PCLN this week, right TJ?
Sarah: Happy trading.