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Feature Articles

Which Option to Buy (08:05)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 8, No. 5 on March 11, 1999. 

From questions asked at seminars and personal appearances, it seems that most people have some difficulty in determining which option to buy once the decision to buy something has been made. This topic is perhaps more elementary than some of the rather high-powered volatility discussions of the past few issues, but it is a very important one. The option speculator must be able to make the “correct” decisions about which option to own, lest the research that was done in order to predict the forthcoming direction of the underlying instrument be wasted by the purchase of the “wrong” call (or put).

Selling Naked Options (11:16)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 11, No. 16 on August 22, 2002. 

The sale of naked options is a strategy that is probably over-used, in general. However, at the current time, with options remaining expensive, but with the skews lessening, volatility traders’ thoughts should turn more towards selling options these days. This is one of the riskiest option strategies, since losses could be large – even theoretically unlimited. However, the probabilities of such losses occurring might be lessened and the overall profitability turned in favor of the option seller. In this article, we’ll look at the specifics behind writing naked options successfully.

The Volatility of Volatility (09:18)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 9, No. 18 on September 28, 2000. 

While the title may look like a typo, it’s what we want to talk about. In order to discuss the implied volatility of a particular entity – stock, index, or futures contract – we generally refer to the implied volatility of individual options or perhaps the composite implied volatility of the entire option series.

Time Value Premium is a Misnomer (08:22)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 8, No. 22 on November 24, 1999. 

At a recent seminar or conference (don’t ask which one – there have been too many to distinguish one from another!), the subject was raised regarding the effect of time decay on an option. As the discussion progressed, it dawned on me that many (perhaps novice) option traders seem to think of time as the main antagonist to an option buyer. However, when one really thinks about it, he should realize that the portion of an option that is not intrinsic value is really much more related to stock price movement and/or volatility than anything else – at least in the short term.

The Basics: Review and Explanation of Concepts Debit Spreads (04:20)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 4, No. 20 on October 26, 1995. 

Any spread that creates a debit in one's account, when it is established, is technically a debit spread. However, when the term "debit spread" is used, it generally connotes either a bull spread with calls or a bear spread with puts. These are types of vertical spreads, since all the options have the same expiration date but have different striking prices (credit spreads are vertical spreads also).

James Dines: Some personal comments

By Lawrence G. McMillan

I was saddened to hear that James Dines has died. I first heard of him in 1972, as I was beginning to trade in my own account. Due to some previous losses, I had given up on fundamental analysis; it was useless as a predictor of short-term moves (and maybe even long-term ones). In addition, I realized that the mainstream analysts of the brokerage firms were not putting out any useful information.

The Option Strategist Newsletter 2020 Profit/Loss Summary

By Lawrence G. McMillan

We have completed the Profit and Loss and Rate Of Return calculations for 2020. The following table sums up one of the best years in our history – the best since the 1990's in percentage terms (+42.2%), and the best ever in terms of total profits (+$146,830). We will soon be sending out a detailed article discussing the various facets of these rather broad categories.

Dispersion Strategy (10:23)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 10, No. 23 on December 13, 2001. 

This strategy was mentioned in the “Striking Price” column in Barron’s last Sunday, and we have received several questions from subscribers asking about the strategy. The strategy has been around for a long time – since the inception of index options, actually – but it is something of a professional strategy, so it’s not widely know. However, it is gaining more popularity lately, so it is the subject of this week’s feature article.

The Put-Call Ratio (02:10)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 2, No. 10 on May 27, 1993. 

We often refer to the put-call ratio in our Sentiment Indicators section. However, judging by questions we have received from subscribers, it might be beneficial to expand on the concept. We will cover the subject both generally and then specifically, in regard to the way we prefer to interpret the ratio. The put-call ratio is simply the number of puts traded, divided by the number of calls traded. It can be computed daily, weekly, or over any other time period. It can be computed for stock options, index options, or futures options.

Protection for Stock Owners (09:13)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 9, No. 13 on July 13, 2000. 

Most option traders – even fairly novice ones – understand that options can be used to protect a stock holding against loss. However, when one delves into the specifics of establishing such protection, he usually forsakes the protection, often due to apparently high costs. In this article, we’re going to re-visit a subject that we’ve discussed before (protection), but try to bring some facts to light that might not be understood by many stock owners. The reason that we think this might be an apropos topic now is that it’s July, and July has marked a peak for the market in each of the last two years. There is some evidence (page 5) that a similar scenario might be unfolding again this year.

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