COVID-19 - Capitalizing On Opportunities

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the markets, Ray Dalio was recklessly dismissive of cash positions, stating "cash is trash." Even Goldman Sachs proclaimed that the economy was recession-proof via "Great Moderation," characterized by low volatility, sustainable growth, and muted inflation. Not only were these assessments incorrect, but they were ill-advised in what was an already frothy market with stretched valuations prior to COVID-19 hitting the markets. The COVID-19 pandemic was a true back swan event that no one saw coming as far as its abruptness, scale, and impact. This COVID-19 induced sell-off was the worst since the Great Depression in terms of breadth and velocity of the sell-off.

The S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow Jones shed a third or more of their market capitalization through late March 2020. Some individual stocks lost over 80% of their market capitalization. Other stocks were hit due to the market-wide meltdown, and many opportunities were presented as a result. Investors were presented with a unique opportunity to start buying stocks and take long positions in high-quality companies. Throughout this market sell-off, I took long positions in individual stocks, particularly in the technology sector and broad market ETFs that mirror the S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow Jones. It was important to put this black swan into perspective and see through this event on a long term basis. Viewing the COVID-19 sell-off as an opportunity to buy stocks that only comes along on the scale of decades has proven to be fruitful. When using past recessions as a barometer, I started buying stocks when the sell-off reached 15% and continued buying into further weakness to improve cost basis.

Most Extreme and Rare Sell-Off Ever

Out of the 12 recessions that have occurred since May of 1937, the average sell-off for the S&P 500 was -31.6% with a range of -57% (2008 Financial Crisis) to -14% (1960-1961). The COVID-19 pandemic has crushed stocks beyond the average recession sell-off of -31.6%. The markets didn't reach the most severe sell-off levels by historical standards despite the possibility for more downside potential. Regardless, at initial recession levels of 15% declines, I began putting cash to work as that was the prudent action for any long-term minded investor. Continue reading "COVID-19 - Capitalizing On Opportunities"

Options Trading - Diagonal Put Spreads Part 2

Leveraging a minimal amount of capital, mitigating risk, and maximizing returns are paramount as the markets rotate out of the depths COVID-19 sell-off. Options trading offers the optimal balance between risk and reward while providing a margin of downside protection and a statistical edge. Proper portfolio construction and optimal risk management are essential when engaging in options trading as a means to drive portfolio performance. The Q4 2018 and the COVID-19 pandemic are prime examples of why maintaining liquidity, risk-defining trades, staggering options expiration dates, trading across a wide array of uncorrelated tickers, maximizing the number of trades, appropriate position allocation and selling options to collect premium income are keys to an effective long-term options strategy. A risk-defined diagonal put spread optimizes the risk management aspect of an options trade while maximizing return on investment.

Minimizing Risk and Maximizing Return

Leveraging a minimal amount of capital and maximizing returns with risk-defined trades optimizes the risk-reward profile. Whether you have a small account or a large account, a defined risk (i.e., put spreads and diagonal spreads) strategy enables you to leverage a minimal amount of capital which opens the door to trading virtually any stock on the market regardless of share price such as Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Chipotle (CMG), Facebook (FB), etc. Risk-defined options can easily yield double-digit realized gains over the course of a typical one month contract (Figures 1, 2, and 3).

Options Trading
Figure 1 – Average income per trade of $190, the average return per trade of 7.3% and 95% premium capture over 41 trades in May and June
Continue reading "Options Trading - Diagonal Put Spreads Part 2"

Options Trading - Diagonal Put Spreads

Balancing the trade-offs between risk and reward is front and center even as the markets recover from the depths COVID-19 induced sell-off. Options trading can offer the right balance between risk and reward while providing a margin of downside protection and a statistical edge. Proper portfolio construction and optimal risk management are essential when engaging in options trading as the main driver for portfolio results. One of the main pillars when building an options-based portfolio is maintaining a significant portion of cash-on-hand. This cash position provides the ability to rapidly adapt when faced with extreme market conditions such as COVID-19 and Q4 2018 sell-offs. The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of why maintaining liquidity, risk-defining trades, staggering options expiration dates, trading across a wide array of uncorrelated tickers, maximizing the number of trades, appropriate position allocation and selling options to collect premium income are keys to an effective long-term options strategy.

Minimizing Risk and Maximizing Return

Leveraging a minimal amount of capital and maximizing returns with risk-defined trades optimizes the risk-reward profile. Whether you have a small account or a large account, a defined risk (i.e., put spreads and diagonal spreads) strategy enables you to leverage a minimal amount of capital which opens the door to trading virtually any stock on the market regardless of share price such as Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Chipotle (CMG), Facebook (FB), etc. Risk-defined options can easily yield double-digit realized gains over the course of a typical one month contract (Figures 1, 2, and 3).

Options
Figure 1 – Average income per trade of $184, the average return per trade of 7.4% and 95% premium capture over 38 trades in May and June
Continue reading "Options Trading - Diagonal Put Spreads"

COVID-19 - An Agile Options Strategy - Part 2

COVID-19 was the black swan event that culminated in bringing the worldwide economy to its knees. The spread of the virus globally, along with intermittent spikes, has crushed stocks and decimated entire industries such as airlines, casinos, travel, leisure, and retail while others are battling to remain in business. COVID-19 was the linchpin for the major indices to drop over 30% over the course of 22 days. This COVID-19 induced sell-off has been the worst since the Great Depression in terms of breadth and velocity of the sell-off while inducing extreme market volatility that hasn’t been seen since the Financial Crisis.

Although options trading provides a margin of downside protection and a statistical edge, when hit with a black swan event, no portfolio is immune from the wreckage. Thus, proper portfolio construction and optimal risk management are essential when engaging in options trading to drive portfolio results. One of the main pillars when building an options-based portfolio is maintaining ample liquidity via holding ~50% of one’s portfolio in cash. This liquidity position provides the ability to adjust when faced with extreme market conditions such as COVID-19 rapidly. An agile options based portfolio is essential, and the COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of why maintaining liquidity, risk-defining trades, staggering options expiration dates, trading across a wide array of uncorrelated tickers, maximizing the number of trades and selling options to collect premium income are keys to an effective long-term options strategy.

Maximizing Return on Capital

Options can be sold with defined risk while leveraging a minimal amount of capital to maximize return on investment. Whether you have a small account or a Continue reading "COVID-19 - An Agile Options Strategy - Part 2"

Tug-of-War: Disney Streaming vs. COVID-19

Clearly, COVID-19 has been very damaging with an unquantifiable impact across Disney’s (DIS) business segments. Disney has had to shutter all of its worldwide Parks and Resorts. ESPN has been hit with the cancellation of virtually all sports worldwide. Advertising revenue coming through its media properties has been hit as companies scale back ad spending. All of its movie studio productions have been halted, and movie releases postponed. Despite these headwinds, Disney’s streaming initiatives have been major growth catalysts for the company. Disney+ has racked up over 50 million paid subscribers in just five months, Hulu has 30 million paid subscribers, and ESPN+ has 7.9 million paid subscribers. Disney+ has been wildly successful via unleashing all of its content (Marvel, Star Wars, Disney, and Pixar) in what has become a formidable competitor in the ever-expanding streaming wars domestically and internationally. Hence the tug-of-war on Wall Street between the COVID-19 induced negative impact and the success of its streaming initiatives in terms of valuation. The stock is selling at a steep discount of ~30% from its highs of $151 per share. At these reduced COVID-19 levels, Disney is a compelling buy as its legacy business segments get back on track in conjunction with these successful streaming initiatives.

COVID-19 Perspective

As economies around the world reopen and certainty washes over the COVID-19 landscape, Disney’s business segments will regain their health. Parks will reopen as seen with Disney Shanghai, movie productions will resume, movie theaters and resorts will reopen, and sports will inevitably play-on. The resumption of all of these activities will feed into Disney’s legacy businesses. Disney continues to dominate the box office year after year with a long pipeline of blockbusters in the queue. Parks and Resorts continue to be a growth avenue with tremendous pricing power. Disney is going all-in on the streaming front and acquired full ownership of Hulu, and the company is launched its Disney branded streaming service with great success. I feel Continue reading "Tug-of-War: Disney Streaming vs. COVID-19"