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20%/10% Guidelines: “Hitting a Double” in the Same Day: A Real-Life Example with Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSE: XLP)

After entering our covered call writing trades, we immediately enter our 20%/10% BTC (buy-to-close), GTC (good-until-cancelled) limit orders. If and when these thresholds are reached (resulting from share price decline) are short calls will be closed (bought back). At that point, we can plan our next steps to mitigate losses or turn losses into gains. This article will highlight a hitting a double trade I executed with XLP where the short call was bought back in the morning and the same option was re-sold later that afternoon. This result could not have been achieved without our 20% guideline.


What are the 20%/10% guidelines for covered call writing?

After entering our covered call trades, we immediately enter BTC GTC limit orders based on the premium received from the initial trade. We instruct our broker to close the short call if option value declines to 20% or less of the original premium in the first half of a monthly contract or 10% or less in the last 2 weeks of a monthly contract. These trades will be executed automatically if the stated thresholds are reached.


Initial trade with XLP

  • 4/18/2022: Buy 300 shares of XLP at $78.59
  • 4/18/2022: STO 3 x 5/20/2022 $80.00 calls at$0.84
  • 4/18/2022: Place 3 x BTC GTC limit orders at $0.17 (20% guideline)
  • 5/4/2022: BTC 3 x 5/20/2022 $80.00 calls at $0.17
  • 5/4/2022: STO 3 x 5/20/2022 $80.00 calls at $0.46
  • 5/4/2022: Place 3 x BTC GTC limit orders at $0.05 (10% guideline)


May 4, 2022

The market had been reeling from inflation and interest rate concerns as well as the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Fed was to make an announcement at 2 PM ET regarding an interest rate hike and many investors were expecting a 50-basis point increase but feared a 75-basis point rise. The Fed announced a 50-basis point increase and stated that there was no consideration for a 75-point increase. The market loved the statement and rose by nearly 3%.


Price chart of XLP on 5/4/2022

XLP: “Hitting a Double” on 5-4-2022


Broker transactions on 5-4-2022

XLP: Broker Transactions



By having the 20% guideline in place, along with the market volatility created by the Fed announcement, an additional $87.00 of premium was added to our account [($46.00 – $17.00) x 3]. Since we were approaching the final 2 weeks of the May contracts, I used the 10% guideline for the new $0.46 premium. Generating additional time-value premium in our option-selling trades is not luck. It is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.


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Thursday February 16,2023

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A real-life example with a $100k ETF Select Sector SPDR portfolio
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About Alan Ellman

Alan Ellman loves options trading so much he has written four top selling books on the topic of selling covered calls, one about put-selling and a sixth book about long-term investing. Alan is a national speaker for The Money Show, The Stock Traders Expo and the American Association of Individual Investors. He also writes financial columns for both US and International publications along with his own award-winning blog.. He is a retired dentist, a personal fitness trainer, successful real estate investor, but he is known mostly for his practical and successful stock option strategies.

21 Responses to “20%/10% Guidelines: “Hitting a Double” in the Same Day: A Real-Life Example with Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSE: XLP)”

  1. Eileen November 12, 2022 3:02 am


    In your new book on exit strategies, you discuss the 3% guideline for puts. I sell mostly weekly options. Should I use 3% or another percentage?

    Thank you,

    • Alan Ellman November 12, 2022 6:51 am


      The 3% guideline is based on monthly options that generate 2% – 4% as our initial time-value return goal range. Another way to view this and make the formula more universally applied to different time-frames and expirations is to close the short put when the underlying’s price drops below the breakeven price point.

      Let’s use an example with NKE from an option chain as of market close on 11/11/2022.

      -NKE trading at $105.71
      -Annualized initial time-value return goal 26%
      -For weekly options, the goal is 1/2% per week
      -Premium goal for NKE is about $0.53 (1/2% of $105.71)
      -This is a guideline premium as initial results will be higher than 26% since the cash required to secure the put will be lower than the OTM strike

      The screenshot below shows the following based on current market value of $105.71:

      Red arrow: BE price point of 97.46. This is a reasonable price point threshold to close the short weekly put and use the freed- up cash to secure a different put trade with a new underlying to mitigate the loss from this first trade.

      Blue arrows: An initial weekly time-value return of 0.55%, 28.89% annualized.

      Green arrow: If the put is exercised, we will have purchased NKE at a 7.80% discount from the price when the put sale was initiated.



  2. Bob November 12, 2022 1:12 pm

    Hello Alan,

    Curious question; we have conversed earlier regarding ex-divi dates and stocks called away.

    Following are details:

    Own 300 shares XOM; price as of yesterday’s close 113.95

    sold (3) 106 CC expiration date 11/25, option price as of yesterday’s close 7.75 bid, 8.1 ask

    Ex divi date of 11/14

    .91 dividend/share

    Wondering why with another 2 weeks to expire it was called.

    Can you educate me please?

    Much appreciated as always.


    • Alan Ellman November 13, 2022 7:18 am


      This is an interesting scenario.

      Let’s start with this: Most of the time, when a call option is exercised to capture a dividend, it is the result of investor error.

      The investor would be better off, selling the option and buying the stock to capture the dividend and enjoy the additional benefit of the time-value component of that sold option.

      That said, let’s look at the published bid-ask stats that you accurately quoted, specifically the bid price of $7.75, the amount the option could have been sold for if the holder went in that direction rather than exercise.

      With XOM trading at $113.95, the $106.00 call is in-the-money by $7.95. We would anticipate the bid price to be $7.95 of intrinsic-value + 2 weeks of time-value. In this case, the published bid ($7.75) is lower than the intrinsic-value and no time-value component. I believe the option-chain data was different at the time of the exercise.

      I am confident that the option holder could have sold the option for a price closer to the “ask” of $8.10. The “last” price listed is $8.08. Let’s use that. The time-value would be $0.13 per-share. If the option buyer sold the option at $8.08 and bought the stock for $113.95 prior to the ex-date (Monday), an additional $13.00 per-contract could have been generated (commissions should balance out).

      From your perspective, you maximized your option trade but won’t capture the dividend. That’s okay because on Monday, share price will decline by the dividend amount (other factors will ultimately determine the final price but -$0.91 will be part of the equation). You did just fine and now you have the cash from the sold shares to start another covered call trade and a second income stream. It’s all good.

      Bottom line: The early exercise of the option was, most likely, the result of investor error.


      • Bob November 13, 2022 8:47 am


        Thanks for the detailed response. I thought it was an error as well.

        This sudden “up” market is keeping me very busy. I have many call options that are itm and must analyze roll ups vs letting the stocks get taken. Losing a bit of capital gains in the process.


        • Alan Ellman November 14, 2022 5:49 am


          Another way to view this situation (“losing capital”) is to say that we’ve maximized our returns as the trade was initially established and have downside protection of that max profit down to the (now) ITM strike.

          Champagne or Kleenex? I vote for champagne.

          Keep up the good work.


  3. Malcolm November 12, 2022 5:08 pm


    I’ve been tending to have the strike price lower than the market price, i.e. ITM, but I see that I miss out if the stock goes up and I let it expire. (Because the broker sells the item at the strike price on expiry).

    But the trouble with setting the strike price OTM is that the premium you can get on selling is low. And then if I want to buy it out, the amount I have to pay can exceed the premium I have received !! Is there a happy in-between ?!!

    Thanks very much for your help. Much appreciated.


    • Alan Ellman November 13, 2022 7:48 am


      When measuring our actual profit returns, use the time-value component of the premium only.

      ATM and OTM strikes are 100% time-value. ITM strikes consist of intrinsic-value (not profit) + time-value.

      When we establish our covered call writing trades, we have a stated initial time-value return goal range. Let’s say 2% – 4% per-month. We must adhere to this range whether we use ITM or OTM strikes. We will favor ITM strikes in bear and volatile markets and OTM strikes in normal to bull markets.

      Let’s set up a hypothetical example:

      BCI trading at $48.00

      The 1-month OTM $50.00 call has a bid price of $1.50

      The 1-month ITM $45.00 strike has a bid price of $4.50

      We enter this information into the BCI Trade Management Calculator (see screenshot below):

      The brown cells show similar time-value returns. The calculator will deduct the intrinsic-value component from the total premium to generate an accurate initial time-value return.

      The yellow cells show the BE price points noting that ITM strikes provide the greatest protection to the downside (this is why we favor ITM in bear and volatile markets).

      The purple cell shows the additional upside potential provided by OTM strikes (this is why we favor OTM in normal to bull markets).

      The pink cell reflects the downside protection provided by ITM strikes. With the $45.00 ITM strike, we are guaranteed a 3.13% 36-day return as long as share price does not decline by more than 6.25% by expiration Friday.

      Understanding time-value versus intrinsic-value will assist us in crafting our trades. The TMC spreadsheet will do all the mathematical legwork for us.



  4. Alan Ellman November 13, 2022 9:55 am

    Premium members,

    Just a reminder that this week’s stock report is slightly delayed as Barry returns from a cruise.

    My expectation is that the report will be posted on the member site Sunday evening.


  5. Barry B November 13, 2022 1:10 pm

    Premium Members,

    This week’s Weekly Stock Screen And Watch List has been uploaded to The Blue Collar Investor Premium Member site and is available for download in the “Reports” section. Look for the report dated 11/11/22…our 700th consecutive report!

    Also, be sure to check out the latest BCI Training Videos and “Ask Alan” segments. You can view them on The Blue Collar YouTube Channel. For your convenience, the link to the BCI YouTube Channel is:

    Reminder: Premium members are grandfathered into your current rate and will never see a rate increase as long as the membership remains active.


    Barry and The Blue Collar Investor Team

  6. Jim November 13, 2022 7:55 pm

    Hello Alan –

    With respect to your 20%-10% guidelines involving XLP, I noticed XLP continued to decline after hitting a double. Therefore, my understanding is you made money on the options you sold but didn’t the decline in stock value more than offset any option premium making this a losing trade? Thanks.


    • Alan Ellman November 14, 2022 6:02 am


      Your question and comment are valid and also gives me the opportunity to state an important fact.

      Our BCI exit strategy arsenal covers all possible scenarios regarding managing our trades if and when those opportunities present.

      In May of this year (as well as much of 2022), the market was volatile due to inflation and interest rate concerns. This article highlighted 1 of our go-to strategies … “Hitting a double” I found it particularly interesting because I was able to use it in the same day, fairly rare.

      As you accurately pointed out, the market volatility continued, and the entire market headed south. On May 12th, the 10% BTC limit order was breached at $0.05 and I rolled-down 3 contracts. Once we execute an exit strategy, our commitment to the strategy does not end. We must be ready to execute another, as I did in this case.

      Exit strategies have multiple purposes: They can mitigate losses (as in this case), enhance gains and, in some scenarios, turn losses into gains.

      Not all our trades will be winners. However, if we take advantage of our entire exit strategy arsenal, we will achieve the highest results possible and become elite-covered call writers and sellers of cash-secured puts.


  7. Alan Ellman November 14, 2022 11:30 am

    Portfolio Overwriting Presentation Part II:

    For those who missed my Money Show webinar last week, the Money Show will highlight the recording this Thursday at 2:10 PM ET at The Accredited Investors Virtual Expo.

    Here’s the link to register:


  8. Alan Ellman November 14, 2022 3:04 pm

    Thursday’s Money Show event image below.


  9. Graham November 15, 2022 1:55 pm


    For underlyings we do not want to get called away…..

    If the way OTM call becomes way ITM, is their utility in rolling up and out prior to expiration Friday? Or would you recommend always waiting until expiration Friday?


    • Alan Ellman November 16, 2022 6:32 am


      If we roll out-and-up, the cost-to-close the current month strike is the intrinsic-value component of the premium (amount the strike is lower than current market value) + a time-value component.

      That time-value amount is subject to Theta or time-value erosion. This means the lowest amount of time-value we will pay is as close to 4 PM ET on expiration Friday as possible.

      If we wait, we may end up paying more in intrinsic-value, but that will be negated by share appreciation. We could also end up paying less in intrinsic-value, if share price declines but not below the original strike.

      I start rolling my options on expiration Friday between 1 PM and 2 PM ET. If I’m traveling on Friday, I execute these trade adjustments on Thursday afternoon.


  10. Sjoerd November 16, 2022 11:01 am

    Hi Alan,

    Attached your PMCC calc, with an in my opinion a normal trade. But it gives a ’No’. Why?



    • Alan Ellman November 16, 2022 2:38 pm


      The glaring error is that the short call strike is entered incorrectly. It should be higher than the current market value of AAPL.

      Let me give you a general answer to this issue:

      The spreadsheet tells us “NO” because the trade does not meet our required trade initialization formula:

      [(Difference between the 2 strikes) + short call premium] > Cost of LEAPS

      This will allow us to conclude a PMCC trade with a profit if we are forced to close both legs of the trade due to significant share price acceleration after entering the trade. The above formula is inherent in the spreadsheet.

      For more information on this topic, see our online PMCC course:

      Also, see Chapter 16 in my book, “Covered Call Writing Alternative Strategies”, pages 117 – 133:

      Now, here are suggestions on how to convert this trade to an acceptable entry:

      1- Use deeper ITM LEAPS strikes

      2- Use 1-month options with a greater time-value component.

      By doing so, you will find several “YES” opportunities.


  11. Alan Ellman November 16, 2022 5:25 pm

    Premium members:

    This week’s 5-page report of top-performing ETFs and analysis of ALL Select Sector Components has been uploaded to your premium site. The report also lists Top-performing ETFs with Weekly options, mid-week market tone as well as the implied volatility of all eligible candidates.

    New members check out our ongoing and never-ending training videos (“Ask Alan” and Blue Hour webinars). We add at least one new video each month. Only premium members have access to the entire library of these training tools.

    For your convenience, here is the link to login to the premium site:

    NOT A PREMIUM MEMBER? Check out this link:

    Alan and the BCI team

  12. Alan Ellman November 17, 2022 12:07 pm

    New Blue Chip Report:

    Premium members,

    The latest Blue Chip Report of the best-performing Dow 30 stocks for the December 2022 contracts has been uploaded to your member site.

    Look on the right side in the “resources/downloads” section and scroll down to “B”

    Alan & the BCI team

  13. Alan Ellman November 17, 2022 1:03 pm
    # interview: