Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ugly Day

Yikes, ugly day for me. Looks like tomorrow won't be much better (see Cisco). The market was rough all day, and I probably should have realized that I could use some more short exposure.

(a) TTWO - Despite very solid earnings, the stock was up rather mildly. That should have tipped me off that the market is getting weak. ATVI's disappointing results after the bell could drag down TTWO (along with my calls). I will be looking to liquidate at the right time.

(b) OPEN - turned into a royal mess. The stock meandered up and down, with no conviction in either direction. A more nimble trader could have made money, but I did not. I am still holding the puts, but they are pretty far OTM.

(c) AKAM - well, the best I can say is that I did not add to my position, so my losses will be small. Trading just looked too ugly today. Obviously, some puts would have helped. Lesson learned.

(d) EXPE - reports tomorrow morning. My guess is that, whatever the earnings, it will be difficult to buck the downtrend.

Lesson? Market conditions change quickly. The all-out bullishness of just a few days ago no longer exists. There were signs of trouble, which I did not react to with sufficient attention and concern. It seems that my gains from trading naked long in JDSU, CIEN, XIDE, and TTWO (until today) blinded me to dangers ahead.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TTWO - Updated Position

I booked my gains on my fifteen TTWO Feb 13 calls.

I sold them for a total of about $2215, yielding a profit of $1590 (on an initial purchase of $625, about a 250% gain).

I have now just bought thirty TTWO Feb 15 calls at a total price of about $1300.

The way I see it, I booked a definite $300 gain and now have a "free roll" on earnings this afternoon. We'll see how it works out.

Earning Plays (Announcements Later Today/This Week)

I am currently positioned for earnings announcements in the following four companies:

(1) Take-Two (TTWO) [naked long] - The company seems somewhat undervalued. In addition to being a ripe takeover candidate, it also has had a lot of positive developments independent of its Grand Theft Auto (GTA) franchise - specifically, with the release of two massively popular and profitable games: NBA 2K11 and Red Dead Redemption. TTWO also has a number of other promising projects in the pipeline and will likely soon announce a release date for the latest version of GTA.

I purchased fifteen February $13 calls (on 1/31), at a total cost of $625.75. (I am already sitting on a gain of 250% on this trade. I might sell a few contracts before the close/earnings today).

(2) Open Table (OPEN) [somewhat hedged, with a long bias] - This is the most volatile earnings play I am in right now. I won't get into all the numbers, but I opened this play as a straddle - long Feb $80 calls and long Feb $70 puts. I cashed in those calls, bought other calls, and still have the puts.

So, going into today's earnings (having booked about a $450 [80%] profit), I am now long:

- three Feb $85 calls, at a total cost of $1451.5
- three Feb $70 puts, at a total cost of $580.75

(3) Akami (AKAM) [naked long] - Right now, I have a very small position, looking for a further taste of the ongoing bandwidth party (see JDSU and CIEN).

I purchased two February $50 calls (on 2/8), at a total cost of $309 . I will likely add to or change this position before earnings tomorrow.

(4) Expedia (EXPE) [naked long] - a play on renewed air traffic in a slowly improving economy.

I purchased ten February $25 calls (on 2/4), at a total cost of $889.50. Earnings Thursday.

As should be evident, I have shifted somewhat towards a bullish bias in my earnings plays. I shifted both because of general market conditions, which have been decidedly (irrationally?) bullish, and because I have experienced some losses (or limited gains) in recent weeks because I hedged positions in companies that produced very good (but not spectacular) earnings. Given the favorable conditions, the prudent move at present seems to be to maximize gains for as long as such conditions apply.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Two-fer Thursday

This morning, I opened two more straddle positions in companies that report earnings tomorrow, Monsanto (MON) and Global Payments (GPN).

My investments were as follows:

(a) Monsanto (MON). I bought:

- 9 Jan 70.00 calls @ 1.37 = $1251.25
- 8 Jan 67.50 puts @ 1.68 = $1361
Total Investment: $2612.25

(b) Global Payments (GPN). I bought:

- 4 Jan 45.00 calls @ 2.00 = $812
- 8 Jan 45.00 puts @ .95 = $777
Total Investment: $1589

Monsanto reports tomorrow before the market opens, and GPN reports after the close. Stay tuned, I suppose, if you're interested.

Hi. Decent Start with FDO

No long introductions. On this blog, I will keep a diary of the investments I make (usually, in real time) using option straddles on equities, usually in the run-up to earnings announcements. I've been using this strategy for a few months, with some modest success, in companies like CRM, LULU, OPEN, and CIEN.

I hope this blog will keep me motivated to make good decisions, but I guess I'll see how it goes.

The first trade I'll record here materialized over the last few days in Family Dollar (FDO).

On 1/3, I purchased:
- 8 FDO 50.00 Jan calls calls for $872.50
- 6 FDO 50.00 Jan puts for $1489.00
- Total investment: $2361.50

Earnings were announced this morning, and FDO tanked pretty badly, closing down about 8.75% at $44.99. I am still holding my (basically worthless) calls, and I sold:
- 6 FDO puts for $2660
- Total profit, $298.50 (about 12.6% of my initial investment)

Overall, I will take the gain happily, but a couple of factors would have allowed me to earn a bit more. (1) I intended to buy 8 puts as well as 8 calls, but I did not have enough money in my account to do so (I tend to have fairly risky holdings, so my margin requirements are pretty high); (2) I was pretty itchy on the trigger finger in order to lock in my gain. . In retrospect, I probably could have held on to a put or two to see how things go. However, I try not to second-guess successful trades, so I will happily book the gain and I would love to face a similarly happy dilemma often (perhaps tomorrow?).