Saturday, May 12, 2007

Option Trading – Calendar Spreads & Time Decay

When traders speak of putting on calendar spreads, they normally refer to buying the further month options and selling the closer month option. While I can not argue with this, it is not best for all options.
I am going to be general in this article because prices change and I don’t want to cause confusion.
For out of the money options, you might want to consider doing the opposite. Buy the close month and sell the further month. This is because the theta is advantageous to you if you are buying the front month. The further the months are from each other, the more you have an advantage. Also, figure out the price per day of the option. Which option costs more and which is cheaper per day. You can find options that are equal distance away in strike from the futures but one option is 3 times cheaper per day than the other.
For the at the money options, the regular calendar spreads are the way to go. For strike prices that are far out of the money, the reverse calendar spread is better. One reason is the theta advantage. Another is the price per day.
So keep your eyes open for out of the money options and check their price per day and theta and compare them to different months. If you are looking at different months, make sure that the month you are thinking of selling, is the same amount of strike prices away or more from the underlying, as the one you sell. Meaning, if you buy an option that is 5 strikes away from the underlying, the one you sell, should be at least 5 strike prices away from the underlying. This is so if there is a big move, both options will be in the money at roughly the same time.

David Rivera has traded commodities and options for one of the largest cash trading firms in the world. He has written a course on futures options
techniques. Click here to go to his website.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Update of GE's Chart

GE's PRICE does look set for a slight bounce. Question here would be at which point will the pullback fail?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

What Option Would One Buy for General Electric's Chart Pattern?

What Option would one choose to buy, in the case of General Electric's breakdown form the above Chart Pattern?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Futures Option Spreads - Delta Neutral Trading

by David Rivera

There are many ways to trade futures option spreads. One way is to trade spreads that can profit from time decay. You can sell options which you believe will lose more time value than the options you buy.
Another way is to buy and sell options based on their deltas. Some of these trades are called delta neutral trades. Delta neutral trades are option trades in which the total delta of all the options is Zero. At the money options have a delta of 50.
If you buy an at the money call, you will have a delta of +50.If you sell an at the money call, you will have a delta of -50.
If you buy an at the money put, you will have a delta of -50.If you sell an at the money put, you will have a delta of +50.
Basically, the deltas will be determined by where you want the market to go. Think of it this way: If you sold an at the money call option, where would you want the market to move to? You would like it to go lower. So, you would have a delta of -50.
If you look at most at the money options, you will find that they are usually not at 50. That is because they are not exactly at the money. We still refer to these as the at the money options because they are the ones that are the closest to being there. It might have a delta of 47 or 53.
If you purchased one at the money call and one at the money put, you would be delta neutral. The call will have +50 deltas and the put will have -50 deltas. The total is zero. This is a very simple delta neutral trade.
Another delta neutral trade is a ratio back spread. An example of this trade would be to sell an option that is at the money and buy a greater number of out of the money options. You might sell one call option at the money (delta -50) and buy 2 call options out of the money (delta +25 each). You would be delta neutral. You would want to put this on for a credit or at even. You can also put it on for a debit but then you would care a little about market direction.
If you put it on for a credit or even money and the market was lower at expiration of the options, you would break even or earn a small credit. If you put it on for a debit, you would lose the debit amount if the market was lower at expiration of the options. In either case, if the market went sharply higher, you have a chance for unlimited profit, because you have purchased more options than you sold.
Most traders teach that ratio back spreads should be done in the far months only. This is because you have more time to be correct with a big move. The problem that I have found is that you are giving up too much for the time advantage. The options you buy out of the money are not priced at an advantage compared to the ones at the money. You can look at the theta to see how much each option will lose per day or per week.
You can also see that in order to have a lot of time left in the trade, the difference in strike prices between the option you sell and the options you buy are too much. It will take a bigger move before you have unlimited profit potential.
If you are expecting a big move, think differently than the norm and start to look at options that have 20 -40 days left. The options you buy compared to the options you sell, should be priced better. Everything is in relation to something else.
So the next time you hear someone recommending the same old ratio back spreads, take a look at the difference months to see where the real advantage is.

For more information on these non-directional option techniques, click here:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Option Trading - Thinking "Outside The Box"

By David Rivera

Wouldn't it be great if we could buy an option with five months left until expiration and sell an option with 2 months left until expiration for the same price? You couldn't lose. Well we can't. I love options spreads so much I realized something very important.
We can buy a spread that has a lot of time value left at almost the same price as we can sell one with less time value left. The reason really opened my eyes and gave me new insight into options. Here is what I came to realize.
I started comparing how expensive options were in relation to the other strike prices in the same month and to the other months. I wanted to know based on the price per day which options were more expensive.
The first 1 or 2 option months, as everyone knows loses time value quickly. The at the money strike prices are very expensive compared to the out of the money strike prices. Since there is not that much time left, how much can they charge for an out of the money option? Not much.
The next several months, the opposite is true. Compared to each other, the strikes that are closer to the money are cheaper in terms of price per day than the options further out of the money. Let me explain it another way using the S&P market.
6 days left at the money option cost 12 points 6 days left out of the money option cost 2 points
70 days left at the money option cost 43 points 70 days left out of the money option cost 29 points
There is more than 10X the time left but the 70 day at the money option (43 points) is only less than 4X the price than the 6 day at the money option (12 points).
The 70 day out of the money option (29 points) is almost 15X the cost of the 6 day out of the money option (2 points) but only has 10X the time value. We will buy the cheaper per day options and sell the more expensive per day ones.
Sell 6 day at the money and sell 70 day out of the money. Buy 6day out of the money and buy 70 day at the money. This will be done for a 4 point debit. We are now buying a spread that has10X more time value than the one we are selling and are only paying 4 points for it.
When the 6 day options expire we can sell the next month to take in more premium, still keeping the 70 day option spread.
What goes up, must come down! We have all heard this before in reference to the laws of Gravity. We have laws in the commodity markets as well. What comes down, must go up! The greatest traders of our time like Warren Buffet know this. He is perhaps the greatest Stock trader ever. He had never traded commodities until a few years ago. He bought silver in the futures market.When the market went even lower he bought more.
The “smart money”, commercials will not be scared into selling when a market they have purchased drops even further. They know better than anyone that a commodity has real value and will always be worth something.
There is a famous book, “You Can't Lose Trading Commodities”.The author buys commodities and then just waits for the market to go higher. He would purchase more as the market fell.
You need a big bankroll for this. Personally I know corn won't go to $1.00 but what if it did? I want to minimize the risk in case I want to end the trade.
I started trading the Soy Complex this way several years ago.Not with options. Strictly futures. I bought what was similar to a crush spread. I increased the contracts as the market went against me until the spread rebounded a little. Since I increased the contracts I didn't need the market to come back to where I started. It only had to rebound to the next level.
Black Jack players did this until Casinos caught on and put limits on bets. It is a known fact that futures traders make good gamblers and professional gamblers make good futures traders. I am against gambling but even gambling done with a system is not really gambling.
These card players would bet something like this: $5 lose, $10lose, $20 lose, $40 lose, $80 win. The losses add up to $75.They would win $80, so the profit is $5. Not a lot, but they would do this all day. Black Jack is just under 50% probability for the player.
The problem is there is a slight chance that you could lose 40times in a row. Now with Commodities we have a 50% probability and we won't lose 50 times in a row because the market can't go below zero.
Now before I go any further, I need to tell you that I am not recommending you double down on your trades. What you can find are markets that are near their lows where you can do a small scale trade. Spreads offer even better opportunities. They have a closer range (high to low).
By now you can see we only use this to go long a market since we can never be sure how much a market can go higher. First we need to find a market that is low already so we won't have to wait that long and also so there will be less capital needed.
I prefer to trade this using options. There are many ways to do this. You could buy an option in a market like soybeans and choose how many cents the market will drop before you buy more.The problem is, an option is a wasting asset. The Theta (time decay) would cause you to lose money.
I use spreads so I am not paying for time decay. I will probably sell more Theta than I buy, so if the market does nothing I will make money just on time decay.

About the Author: David Rivera has traded commodities and options for one of the largest cash trading firms in the world.He has written a course on futures options which contains 2 specific trading techniques. You can find the above 2 techniques in depth here