Sarah: Hi everybody, this is Sarah Potter here for the SCT podcast, we are at episode 31 and I have TJ here.
TJ: Good morning
Sarah: And today we are going to talk about Theta, all about time and the option and how that influences it, how do we use that to our advantage and what are some things we can look for when we are trading. So, to start us off here TJ, do you want to explain to everybody just couple of sentences what is Theta.
TJ: Theta is the time value in the price of an option, so when you look at the price of an option there are two components, the intrinsic value based on the price of the stock and time value which is based on the time to expiration, so the longer an option has to expiry, the greater the percentage of time value in the price of the option, obviously the shorter the expiry, the less time value there is. So as you are holding an option, if the price of the stock doesn’t change, the price of the option will go down every day till expiry and theta is the reason the price is going down because that time value that chunk of money in the option that is based on the amount of time to expiry is decreasing. So if you have an option and price doesn’t move, that option price will go down.
Sarah: Right, yeah, remember when you are trading options, we have to deal with time as an options trader or somebody who, let’s say is buying a stock, doesn’t really have to pay as much attention to it. So certainly time is going to influence the value of that option. So there is also different ways that you can deal with it and to take advantage of it depending on what strategy you are trading. When you look at Theta, obviously you can put that on your options chain, you want to use it, at least I want to use it not necessarily to pick the strategy that I am going to use because I am generally going to make that decision based on the direction of where I think the underlying is going, but it can be very helpful with how long you want to hold an option for, so do you have any specific rules about Theta in terms of how it influences the expiries that you are trading?
TJ: Yes, absolutely. I think that we want to make a distinction about it, I really found this interesting when I first started trading options is that when you look at a textbook or when you look at an options payoff diagram, it shows that Theta expires in a nice consistent way all the way to expiry, but what I found is that the through implied volatility, the price of the options still remains high into expiration a lot of times and that will affect the premium, the time value that’s elapsed, so it’s not necessarily a linear line or a straight line of expiration, I find that, let’s talk about weekly options, that generally in time value comes out fastest usually in the last three or four days of the options life and the same thing with, if you look at monthly option, that time value is going to decrease most rapidly in really the last week or last week and a half of that option’s life. So I really like to trade weeklies, weekly options in the same week that they expire. If I am going out maybe two or three weeks, I usually like to keep it within a month, I find that if you keep it within the last month of expiry, usually the last three weeks, three or four weeks, you get the biggest bank for your buck in terms of time value expiration. If you trade an option that expires in six months, you are really not going to see a lot of time value come out of that option for the first really long time. I think that’s important to know because a lot of people try and sell options or credits spreads that are 4,5,6 months old hoping that they are going to hold this for the first three weeks and they are going to see all this time value come out, but it really doesn’t work like that.
Sarah: Yeah, I know, tell me about it, I feel like that’s pretty common that people, and sure that can work sometimes but I think the influence there if you sold a spread or you done where you have collected credit and you are just sitting on because the expiry is way far out month or two out, you have either traded something and you got the direction right but it really isn’t the difference in the option value that is changed in those periods of time when you are so far away from expiry. So I actually think that sometimes you really just become a pile on out there in the market, you really are just saying, hey guys, hey everybody, hey market makers, I am just going to stay at this stagger right here and take whatever premium and I really hope that, I hope you guys don’t know this because I am here because you just become a sitting tuck. With credit spreads once you place the trade there is isn’t any more value to that trade, so you are not making any more for holding it any longer, so sometimes they can look to really great, the whole idea of I have just taken more credit and go further out in terms of expiry but then you are just sitting there, so your money essentially isn’t working for you, you have just kind of tied it up and it’s sitting there, hoping that price doesn’t come to you. I think also, when you think about Theta decay in terms of time, its different for weekly options but then also even in terms of buying, how far out is too far out, I guess, what do you think?
TJ: It really depends, that’s a difficult question to answer, how far out is too far out, I think it really depends on your philosophy, I think it’s same as the saying, how far in the money is too far in the money, I think there is a sweet spot there as well, so for me personally I think three to four weeks what I am buying an option. I know people will buy 3,4,6 months out, I mean they offer leaps, I mean people will buy options two years out, three years out in a longer holding strategy and I have never really come to a good conclusion as to whether that is profitable on long run, what works for me is keeping it short, keeping it tight, staying within the bounds of what the market is doing right now, because as we know, in three or six months from now it could be a whole different market.
Sarah: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. So when we are looking at multiple time frames which we both do when we are trading, it’s easier to get a kind of feel for what cycle of the market is in now, so if you think about the market moving within a year, there is going to be time where it’s going to trending really nicely, there will be other times where things are transitioning and there will be other times when the market is just not moving at all and throughout, let’s say one calendar year, you are going to have different periods of time in the market moving that way, so the further out you go in terms of the expiry or not having to deal with Theta case, let’s say you buy a call or a put, you have to keep in mind that the history that you are looking at to decide for how the market is moving now, we can gather that information, we can use the weekly charts but once you start getting out in two months out, it becomes a lot more difficult to get a feel for what cycle that market is in at that time and so, actually, I think really what you are doing is using less information with higher risk, the further out you are going because you don’t have anything, you don’t have as reliable tools to get a sense of how the market is moving.
TJ: Yeah, exactly. We spoke about that in the previous podcast as well, the illusion of credits of few months out and you get a lot more credit, but really if you look at the probability of success, it’s no more than, it could even be less than trading the current week or the next week, so it was a lot of illusion out there and you really need to understand the data or the options chain and look into, what the numbers are really, what the data is really saying, I think deltas are really quick and easy way to do that or a lot of platforms have probability of success programed in and I think those are couple of measures that people can look at to give themselves a good benchmark of yes, I am getting all those credits or yeah, the trade looks really good, I can make $20 on this option but the chances of probability of it actually working might be very low.
Sarah: And so that’s even more true, especially the closure we guess, so we both like to trade weekly options granted but let’s talk about options in terms of day trading and how Theta then becomes very important because that’s really going to influence the success of your trade and a lot of times why you might buy something and think well, this is really cheap, I am just going to buy something in the morning, I am going to try to get out of it by the end of the day and sometimes the direction might be correct but you don’t really end up with a lot of money and that really has to do with how much data is influencing the value of that option because at that time, it’s going to be much more influential. So in that respect, if you think about just Theta in terms of day trading, do you think the data hurts it too much, is there still possibilities of day trading options?
TJ: Absolutely, I think you need to look at Theta when you day trading option, you will be trading the Theta trade, so you need to be selling on a day trade, you need to be taking advantage of that rapid time decay, there is a lot of the time on Fridays the higher price stocks, virtually the entire premium that you are getting at a certain strike is time value, it’s an order the money protocol that you can sell and it’s all time value which means that, within that day the price doesn’t really move all that much, you got to collect the entire credit. I think we also have to look too is we have to look at a lot of cheaper stocks too and we have to be careful at our trading less expensive stocks and that, if you are looking at say, you may have to actually buy a put or buy a call, if you are looking at something right at the money or just slightly out of the money, that entire premium can be time decay on a lot of inexpensive options. And that can disappear very quickly with a slight change in price that’s not favorable, so we have to remember that too that if your option has a lot of time premium in it, the price moves slightly against your trade, that time value will come out very quickly.
Sarah: Yeah and so in that respect as well, theta can actually be very helpful than when you are managing trades because if you have done something like sole deed and let’s say it’s pretty close to your strike, theta can be more influential because you want to see how much time is actually embedded in the option, we are looking for that to decrease quickly, so that can be helpful tool if you are day trading, use your theta to help remembering that premium decay will go away like premium is going to happen and disappear a lot faster obviously as we get closer and closer to expiry, so that can also be very helpful with management. Are there specific numbers and levels for theta, like I don’t think I have a number that I am looking specifically for those strikes, what about you?
TJ: No, not at all, I am not looking at specific number, it’s not like delta where for example, I want to buy a put or call, you are doing to 60s or 70s, I am really not looking at theta in terms of percentage, I am just looking at it in terms of what is the price of the stock, what’s the strike price of the option and how much of the option’s price is time value, so I am looking at it kind of in a general sense and not for any specific levels.
Sarah: yeah, me too, I think it’s a good guide and remember it’s just like a slide, sliding wheel, almost like it’s going to go back and forth, then we are just looking to see how influential is it at that time, is it moving, is it changing all the time or is it pretty steady and consistent, so those numbers can be helpful when you are trying to figure out whether you are in enter trades, stay and trades or look to exit trades as well. But it is a really important thing, I think it’s kind of an underdog element to trading options it’s not always discussed but it is at the root of all of your trades because the value of what you are paying or looking for to sell is ultimately what we are doing with trading, so theta is a very important element in trading options.
TJ: That’s true, absolutely. Another thing too, that I think we can leave on this note and may be this is a great feature of podcast is option pricing models and I think we have to keep in mind too that option’s theoretical price based on model such as like black shelves or binomial pricing or any of the calculations can be different than what we are actually paying for in the market, what it’s trading for and I think a lot of times we have to understand that the price that the option is trading for in the market is based on supply demand, it’s based on market makers and traders who are going to take the other side of the trade, so sometimes the price can be different than what we think it should be.
Sarah: That is a very good point, remember, to everybody. Whatever is text book and theoretical isn’t necessarily what’s actually going on in the market. And when you are actually trading, your expertise is very valuable because actually having your money there, actually getting filled, actually exiting, actually profiting , those are the things that are really important when you trade, it doesn’t matter what it says in the textbook, it matters what you can do in the market every single day. That is an excellent theme and let’s talks about that next time. Have a great week of trading everybody and take care.