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Exit Strategies for Covered Call Writing: “Hitting a Triple” with XLU

Benefitting from exit strategies, in our and put-selling portfolios, is the result of preparation and opportunity. Our 20%/10% guidelines for protects us when share price declines and guides us as when to close the short calls. This allows us take further action including selling the stock, waiting to “hit a double” or rolling-down. During the May contracts of 2021, market volatility allowed me to go further than “hitting a double” when I actually “hit a triple”, generating 3 income streams in the same contract month, with the same stock and cash investment. This article will highlight those series of trades.


trades with Select Sector SPDR Utilities (NYSE: XLU), an exchange-traded fund (ETF)

  • 4/19/2021: Buy 400 x XLU at $67.05
  • 4/19/2021: STO 4 May 21, 2021 $68.00 calls at $0.66
  • 4/28/2021: BTC 4 x May 21, 2021 $68.00 calls at $0.15 (20% guideline)
  • 5/3/2021: STO 4 x May 21, 2021 $68.00 calls at $0.62 (that’s my “double”)
  • 5/5/2021: BTC 4 x May 21, 2021 $68.00 calls at $0.12 (20% guideline)
  • 5/10/2021: STO 4 x May 21, 2021 $68.00 calls at $0.33 (that’s my “triple”)
  • 5/10/2021: Set a BTC limit order at $0.03 (10% guideline)


Preparation and opportunity

Part of the preparation involves setting the BTC limit orders after entering our covered call trades. Opportunities are created when share price declines and then recovers. If we were to envision the chart pattern of such trades, we would see one or more V-shaped patterns which is precisely what occurred in May 2021 with XLU.


Chart of XLU highlighting the STO and BTC “hitting a triple” trades


“Hitting a Triple” with XLU



Mastering and incorporating the 3rd required skill, position management, into our option-selling trades, will assist in elevating our returns to the highest possible levels. The additional income streams created by using exit strategies are the result of the intersection of preparation and opportunity.


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Upcoming events

1.Wealth365 Summit: Free webinar

Monday October 11th at 4 PM ET

Stock Options: How to Use to Determine Strike Selection

Creating 84% probability successful trades 

This presentation will detail how to use stats, standard deviation bell curves and conversion formulas to establish projected high and low ranges for price movement of a security over the life of an option contract.

These formulas will allow us to create 84% probability of success trades where share price is highly unlikely to fall below the breakeven price point or above the out-of-the-money call strike where share retention is a critical aspect of our strategy.

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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.

20 Responses to “Exit Strategies for Covered Call Writing: “Hitting a Triple” with XLU”

  1. Ted October 2, 2021 2:51 am

    Hi Alan,

    Me again. I’m having trouble understanding this definition per Investopedia:

    • Maximum Profit = (Call option strike price – Net of Put / Call premiums) – Stock purchase price

    • Maximum Loss = Stock purchase price – (Put option strike price – Net of Put / Call premiums)

    Wouldn’t we ADD the net credit for profit calculation?

    Just having a bit of confusion.

    – Ted

  2. Alan Ellman October 2, 2021 6:46 am


    Collar trades are structured such that there is a net option credit:

    (Short call premium credit – put call debit) = a positive number.

    Therefore, when calculating maximum gain (price of stock ends at or higher than call strike) or maximum loss (stock price ends lower than put strike), we must add in the net option credit to get accurate calculations.

    In the example below (screenshot), if BCI is purchased at $83.32 and the call strike is $84.00 (credit of $3.16) while the put strike is $77.50 (debit of $1.26), the calculations are as follows:

    Max gain: Stock gain ($84.00 – $83.32) = $0.68

    Option net credit: ($3.16 – $1.26) = $1.90

    Net position ($0.68 + $1.90) = $2.58

    On a cost-basis of $83.32 = 3.10%

    Max loss: Stock loss ($83.32 – 77.50) = -$5.82

    Option net credit: $1.90

    Net position: (-$5.82 + $1.90) = -$3.92

    On a cost-basis of $83.32 = -4.70%

    Bottom line: The net option credit must be added, not substracted from our calculations.

    One caveat: It is subtracted (actually still adding, but a negative number) if there is a net option debit but then the trade was not structured properly.



    • Ted October 2, 2021 10:01 pm

      Thank you Alan for this and the other response. I really appreciate it.

      Have a great weekend.

      – Ted

  3. Barry B October 2, 2021 11:34 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 10/01/21.

    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:

    On the front page of the Weekly Stock Report, we now display the Top Performing ETFs, the Top SPDR Sector Funds, and the 4 single Inverse Index Funds. They are sorted using the 1-month performances from the Wednesday night ETF report and the prices from the weekend close.

    Please make sure that you review the new feature that we’ve added…Implied Volatility or IV. This is the At The Money (ATM) Implied Volatility for all of the stocks in the report.


    Barry and The Blue Collar Investor Team

  4. roni October 3, 2021 11:16 am


    out of twelve of my CCs, six, hit the 20% buyback limit this week.
    I am now rolling them down to mitigate the losses and changing the rest to 10%.

    I wonder why none of your 20% buy-backs did not get a fill?


    • Barry B October 3, 2021 1:08 pm


      I also had a few 20% Exits hit as well. Whether we were had to implement the “20% option Exit Strategy” depended on the stocks or ETFs that we selected, the strike prices that we selected, and our personal market outlook that we had at the time of our entry into our trades.

      In my personal case, my stocks were all solid. My stocks and ETF selections fell due to “headline risk” from the inflation reports and other negative news.

      The good news is that we have the tools to improve our trading situations.



      • Roni October 4, 2021 11:11 am

        Thank you, Barry, I understand.

        Most of my CC buy-backs were ITM and chosen from the 09/17/21 Stock Screen.

        I was hoping for a rebound today, but it seems the correction is really bad, and therefore we must wait for a more favorable moment to reduce our losses.

        Good luck – Roni

  5. joanna October 4, 2021 7:48 am

    You know, between selling cash secured puts vs. covered calls, I think I much prefer CCs because there are 2 legs of the trade where you make $$ whether the underlying is going up or down. With CSPs however, you show a profit only when the underlying is going up. I do realize that there are various alternative strategies/goals in CSPs, but I guess it’s more of a psychological thing.

    • Roni October 4, 2021 1:19 pm


      I agree with you and I am totally focused on monthly CC trades.


    • Alan Ellman October 4, 2021 3:27 pm


      Covered call writing has the advantage of offering the potential for 2 income streams per trade when using OTM strikes. Selling cash-secured puts allows us to achieve only premium unless we execute exit strategies. Both strategies have their pros & cons.


  6. Jerome October 4, 2021 1:04 pm


    I know that there are ways to calculate the beta of a portfolio and then hedging that beta by selling future Ps and Cs. Do you have any clips that describe how to do this?



    • Alan Ellman October 4, 2021 3:24 pm


      Most portfolio managers focus on Delta hedging rather than Beta hedging.

      Beta hedging is where we use securities with inversely related Betas to reduce the risk in our portfolios. If a stock has a beta of 1.2, it will move 1.2 times more than the market benchmark in either direction. To offset, we look for a security with a negative Beta. These are hard to find (some feel gold should have negative Betas), almost anomalies.

      Delta hedging is where we use options and stocks to move to a Delta-neutral portfolio. Stocks have Deltas of “1” so if we own 200 shares of stock, we can achieve a Delta-neutral position by selling 4 x 50 Delta call contracts. By the way, this concept is precisely the reason covered call writing reduces risk and gives us a leg up on beating the market on a consistent basis. In our case, it’s not Delta-neutral but rather “Delta reduction”


  7. Joanna October 5, 2021 2:01 am


    On September 27th, I entered 2 Cash secured put trades, but I want to talk about ETN here. STO the 8 OCT 21 152.5 put with a premium of 0.90.

    The underlying is underperforming, and I’m right at the cusp of buying the put back because 147.00 is 3% below my strike price.

    The thing is that even though the technicals are not so hot, I think ETN is a pretty outstanding company. I don’t know if I want to roll it, simply get assigned with an unrealized loss to sell CCs, or totally unwind it.



    • Alan Ellman October 5, 2021 6:45 am


      ETN is slightly above the 3% BTC guideline ($147.93).

      I can’t give specific advice as to which path to take but I can tell you that if the underlying is a security you would not mind owning in your portfolio, allowing assignment is a reasonable path to follow. I did that last week with 2 of my 10-Delta weekly cash-secured puts.

      Now, let’s say the strike remains ITM and we allow assignment as the shares are “put” to us. We can:

      1. Sell the shares if the price rises (I did that with ETSY several times)

      2. Write covered calls on the stock

      3. Retain the shares for the long-term

      When we enter these put trades, we should have a plan in place for every scenario… “on this stock, if share price declines below the strike price, will I allow assignment or activate the 3% BTC limit order guideline?”


  8. Alan Ellman October 6, 2021 6:34 pm

    Premium members:

    This week’s 4-page report of top-performing ETFs and analysis of the top-performing Select Sector SPDRs has been uploaded to your premium site. One and three-month analysis are included in the report. Weekly performance has also been incorporated into the report although not part of the screening process. Weekly option availability and implied volatility stats are also incorporated.

    The mid-week market tone is located on page 1 of the report.

    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

  9. Alan K October 7, 2021 2:27 am

    Hello Alan,

    I was watching your Exit Strategies DVD program for the nth time and I must say I always seem to pickup on something new or clarifying each time. On DVD #2 you mentioned that you do a weekly blog where you go through all of the financial reports. I couldn’t find it and was wondering if you still do this? The DVD program is several years old and you may have stopped this particular blog. Could you let me know where I can find this blog if you still provide it?

    Thank You,
    Alan K

    • Alan Ellman October 7, 2021 7:43 am


      The segment of the DVD could have been related to 2 areas of information we provide to our members (I’ve produced over 400 videos over the years). I’ll address both:

      1. Our team does a fundamental analysis and screening of all stocks before they are listed as “eligible” This is accomplished with a series of screens like the IBD 50 as well as our own database of stocks that we have identified over the years as potential candidates for options trades. We do not read the financial statements of these companies. All securities listed in our reports are fundamentally sound.

      2. Each week we summarize the major economic reports that were published that week. The summary is found on page 1 of our stock reports under the heading of “market tone” We also publish the major reports that will made public in the upcoming week.

      As a premium member, you have access to all this information.


    • William Miller October 7, 2021 1:43 pm

      Hi, Alan.

      I have read the same thing and think what you are asking about has been moved to the weekly reports. If you scroll to the end of this blog, for example, it says:

      “Market tone data is now located on page 1 of our premium member stock reports and page 1 of our mid-week ETF reports.”


  10. Malcolm October 7, 2021 1:57 pm

    Hi Mr. Ellman

    I just watched the presentation you gave in Chicago on Covered calls. It was very good and better than most I have reviewed.

    However, at one point you mentioned you kept going if the return was between 2%-4% for you or 1%-4% for your Mother.

    Could you tell me please how you calculate theses percentages, ie. what is the numerator and what is the denominator, and what do you mean by the premium you receive ? Is the premium the amount by selling the Call ?

    Thank you very much


    • Alan Ellman October 7, 2021 4:14 pm


      For at-the-money and out-of-the-money call strikes the initial return on the option is:

      Option premium/price-per-share

      For in-the-money call strikes:

      (total premium- intrinsic-value of premium)/call strike price

      Our calculators will do all the math for us.