Covered call writers can be good at what they do or great at it. They can generate decent returns or the highest possible returns. One of the mission statements of The Blue Collar Investor is to assist each other in achieving the greatest levels of success. The implementation of exit strategies when indicated is critical to this end. Most covered call writers buy the stock, sell the option and then hope for the best. Not us! A few weeks ago I wrote an article highlighting the “mid-contract unwind” exit strategy where a covered call position is closed when the stock price rises and the time value of the option premium approaches zero (trades near “parity”). I referenced a trade I executed in one of my covered call portfolios (commissions not included):
Buy 300 x TPX @ $73.73 = $22,119
Sell 3 x March $70 calls @ $5.82
ROO (time value or profit) = $5.82 – $3.73 = $2.09 = 3% = $627
Intrinsic value of premium ($3.73) is used to “buy down” the cost basis from $73.73 to $70 (strike price) = $21,000
With TPX trading @ $78.05 and the March $70 call trading near parity @ $8.40, I executed the mid-contract unwind exit strategy:
Buy-to-close 3 x March $70 calls @ $8.40 = $2520
Additional value of shares by closing option = $78.05 – $70 = $8.05 x 300 = 2415
Cost to close = $0.35 ($8.40 – $8.05) x 300 = (-) $105
Sell 300 x TPX @ $78.05 = $23,415
Cash generated from stock sale: $23,415
Next I will show you the steps I took after unwinding the original TPX trade.
February 24th (cont):
I checked the stocks on my premium watch list
Buy 400 x RAX @ $53.42 = $21,368 (slightly less than my original investment of $22,119; slightly higher than the “bought down” cost basis of $21,000))
Sell 4 x March $55 calls @ $1.10 = 2% = $440
Deducting the $105 from the $440 my additional income for utilizing this exit strategy is $335
Thus far I executed the mid-contract unwind exit strategy generating an additional $335 or 1.6% into my account. I also generated unrealized profit from the share appreciation of RAX from $53.42 to the strike sold ($55) = $1.58 x 400 = $632. Here is the 1-month realized and unrealized profit to date (see bold figures):
$627 + $335 + $632 = $1594
1-month return = $1594/$22,119 = 7.2%
Let’s now move forward to the day I am writing this article, Thursday March 15th, the day prior to expiration Friday.
March 15th: Rolling out exit strategy:
- RAX trading @ $56.55
- Buy-to-close 4 x March $55 calls @ $1.70
- Sell-to-open 4 x April $55 calls @ $3.45
- Initial profit = $3.45 – $1.70 = $1.75 x 400 = $700
- This represents a 3.2%, 1-month return with 2.7% downside protection of that profit
Once I executed this rolling out exit strategy I went from attack mode (aka generating cash!) to management mode where I look for exit strategy opportunities.
Using our arsenal of exit strategies will elevate our profits from decent to fabulous returns. It’s one of the critical factors that make Blue Collar Investors different from all the others. Not all trades work to perfection like the ones above but many do. In either case, being prepared to implement exit strategies will absolutely increase our bottom line results even if it is simply mitigating losses. There will always be some losses but our objective is to have many more winning trades than losing ones. In this week’s article, I demonstrated the use of the “mid-contract unwind” and “rolling out” exit strategies that resulted in a 2-month return of 10.4% as long as RAX does not decline below $55. If it does, I am prepared to act.
A note to our new members:
In the beginning it may appear that using these exit strategies is a daunting task. It did to me as well when I first started teaching myself this great strategy. I want to assure you that it will not take long to MASTER these strategies when they will become second nature to you. Learning these strategies will be time very well spent and cash very well received.
Register for my Atlanta Presentation:
I have been invited to be the focus speaker for the Atlanta Chapter of the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) on Saturday April 14th @ 10AM. The venue is the beautiful Cobb Galleria Centre. The link to register ($10) has just been posted:
As has been the case the past few months, last week’s economic reports reflect a strengthening recovery:
- The core Consumer Price Index (CPI) which excludes volatile food and energy prices rose only 0.1% in February, a positive for those concerned about inflation
- Overall industrial production for February remained unchanged while manufacturing output was up 0.3%
- February retail sales rose 1.1%, the best showing since September, 2011
- The Fed made no change to monetary policy with short-term interest rates near zero through 2014
- The Fed expects “moderate ” growth in 2012, a bullish comment
- Initial jobless claims for the week ended March 10th came in at 351,000 less than the 359,000 expected
For the week, the S&P 500 was up 2.4% for a year-to-date return of 12.2%.
A review of a 6-month price chart of the S&P 500 shows an uptrending 50-d simple moving average and a bullish moving average crossover in early February:
IBD: Confirmed uptrend
BCI: Moderately bullish, laddering strikes but favoring out-of-the-money strikes as the overall recovery seems to be gaining momentum.
Wishing you the best in investing,
Alan ([email protected])