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Credit Spreads or Debit Spreads (12:07)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 12, No. 7 on April 10, 2003. 

A subscriber recently asked the question, “If the market is breaking down and options are expensive, would a call credit spread be the best low risk spreading strategy to use?” It’s a good question, and the answer gets into a dichotomy of sorts – in that a credit spread might not be the best strategy even when options are expensive.

It is sort of a “knee-jerk” assumption that a credit spread will do better than a debit spread if volatility collapses. In reality, that’s not true. If they both employ the same strikes, they will perform the same (otherwise, risk-free arbitrage would be available).

Condors and Credit Spreads: “Trouble?” or “Worth The Trouble?” (16:07)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 16, No. 7 on April 12, 2007. 

This article reflects some new research (or, more appropriately, backtesting) that we have done regarding credit spread strategies. These strategies are very popular at the current time with a large number of web sites and advisory services. However, it seems that most people don’t really understand the risk that they’re taking in this strategy. Many stories are now surfacing about condor spread accounts with losses of 50%, 60% and more. Most of these were caused by being heavily invested in a month when the underlying made a maximum move.

For completeness, let’s start at the beginning. A credit spread involves buying one option and (simultaneously) selling another option – where the two options expire in the same month, but have different strikes. If the option that is sold is trading at a higher price than the option that is bought, a credit is taken in when the spread is established. Hence it is a credit spread.

Earnings-Based Strategies (20:08)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 20, No. 8 on April 29, 2011. 

Once again, as we enter another earnings reporting season, we are seeing some large moves by individual stocks and perhaps even larger anticipation of moves by the option markets in advance of the earnings announcement. This was a topic of much discussion at the just-concluded 3 Gurus Webinar over the past two days. Because of that interest, we thought the subject is apropos as the feature article this week. In this article, we’re going to review the strategies that are often recommended in this newsletter.

The Strategy of Selling Naked Options (07:03)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 7, No. 3 on February 12, 1998. 

The attraction of selling something that may waste away to nothing leads many option traders to the strategy of naked option writing. However, the strategy is definitely not for everyone. Even for a suitable account, the strategy can “blow up” if not handled properly. Since volatility is so high these days – especially in index options – as compared to the levels of 1995 and earlier, it seems that the strategy is becoming more popular. Therefore, this article will outline some of the ways that naked writing – if undertaken at all – should be approached.

Put-Call Ratios on Stocks (07:22)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 7, No. 22 on November 25, 1998. 

Using options as a contrary indicator to aid in predicting the forthcoming path of the underlying instrument is one of our favorite technical tools. When option speculators agree en masse about something, they are generally wrong. So, as astute traders we should do the opposite (the exception, of course, is in stock options where someone might be acting on inside information, in which case we would want to go along with them).

The Expiration Of $VIX Futures and Options (16:20)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 16, No. 20 on October 25, 2007. 

We have seen a renewed interest in how the $VIX settlement price is computed, as it pertains to expiring $VIX futures and $VIX options. Most of this interest has come from people who feel that they may have been “duped” by a somewhat biased settlement of $VIX. This is a false notion, fostered by the fact that $VIX has often “jumped” or “gapped” from its close on the last trading day (a Tuesday) to the morning settlement price (on Wednesday morning).

Is The $VIX/SPY Hedged Trade Just A Straddle in “Sheep’s Clothing?” (18:09)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 18, No. 9 on May 14, 2009. 

The October Seasonal Trade (08:19)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 8, No. 19 on October 14, 1999. 

There is a seasonal strategy that we use each year, and the time is drawing nigh to implement it once again. The strategy is a simple one, and it is this: buy the S&P 500 Index at the close of trading on October 27th of any year (or on the preceding Friday if Oct 27th falls on a weekend). Sell your purchase at the close of trading on November 2nd (or on the following Monday if Nov 2nd falls on a weekend). This year, both of those days are days on which the market is open.

Covered Writing vs. Put Selling (02:09)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 2, No. 9 on May 13, 1993. 

Covered call writing is not one of our normally recommended strategies, because we prefer ratio writing or the equivalent, since it is a more neutral strategy. However, covered writing is a strategy practiced by many option investors and therefore is a topic worthy of discussion. In this article, we will approach this subject from a slightly different, more sophisticated viewpoint: we will compare the covered call write with the sale of a naked put. In addition, we'll see how this comparison leads us to conclusions regarding neutral strategies such as ratio call writing or straddle and combination selling.

Preparing for Volatility Trading (13:04)

By Lawrence G. McMillan

This article was originally published in The Option Strategist Newsletter Volume 13, No. 4 on February 26, 2004. 

As we’ve mentioned before, the CBOE is about to offer us the ability to trade volatility. We expect this to be a very successful product – perhaps the most successful new listed derivative product since the introduction of index options over 20 years ago. We want you, our readers, to be prepared for this event. Hence, we will run a series of short articles prior to their introduction, to ensure that everyone knows the facts and understands the basic strategies.

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