Options-Based Portfolio: 50% Cash and Matching S&P 500 Returns

2019 shaped up to be a historic year for the stock market indices. The S&P 500 posted its fourth-best annual return in over 20 years, coming in at a ~29.5% return (my options-based portfolio has generated the same returns). Only two other years have outpaced these 2019 returns. These occurred in 1995 and 1997, posting returns of 34.1% and 31.0%, respectively. 2019 was a unique year on multiple fronts, most notably because the market returns outpaced even the most bullish forecast by any Wall Street analyst. The markets roared higher in the face of impeachment proceedings, U.S.-China trade war, Federal Reserve actions, inverted yield curve and slowing economies abroad. Furthermore, for the first time in history, the U.S. economy has started and ended a decade without a recession with the economy expanding for a record 126 consecutive months (Figure 1).

Options-Based Portfolio
Figure 1 – S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow Jones all set all-time highs as 2019 came to a close. The markets are in rarified territory with stretched valuations absent of any volatility. The Santa Claus rally capped off a euphoric market, generating the best returns in over 20 years

A data-driven, options-based portfolio is a method of selling options and collecting premium income in a high-probability manner to generate consistent income for steady portfolio appreciation. This strategy mitigates risk and circumvents drastic market moves and is done without predicting which way the markets will move. Options are a great way to generate superior returns with less volatility in both bear and bull market conditions over the long-term. Despite my 2019 performance lagging the S&P 500, when factoring in the Q4 2018 market sell-off, the options based strategy has generated the same returns. As 2019 comes to a close, my options-based portfolio returned ~19% relative to the S&P 500 return of 29.5%. Despite the epic 2019 market, when including the market sell-off of Q4 2018, my options based portfolio has returned 11.6% relative to the S&P 500 return of 11.2%. I was able to achieve the same market performance over the past 15 months with my current cash position at ~50% of my portfolio. Continue reading "Options-Based Portfolio: 50% Cash and Matching S&P 500 Returns"

Protect Your Portfolio Gains In A Euphoric Market

Impeachment proceedings, U.S.-China trade war, Federal Reserve actions, etc., dominate the headlines and move markets in lock-step. The broader indices are at all-time highs and continue to set new high after new high despite the aforementioned variables. The markets have been on a steady rise for months without much resistance, and overall volatility remains low, indicating that market participants have become overly confident and complacent. The S&P 500 has had a banner year in 2019, posting a year-to-date return of over 25% through mid-December. A “blow-off” rally may be underway at this market juncture, and locking-in portfolio gains while mitigating risk is prudent. An options-based portfolio can offer a superior method to constantly locking-in gains while mitigating risk in these frothy market conditions. Over the previous 15 months through the bear market of Q4 2018 and the bull market of 2019, an options-based portfolio has returned 11.6% compared to the S&P 500 return of 8.7%. These returns have been accomplished with an 87% win rate while having the flexibility to hold ~50% of my portfolio in cash. An options portfolio enables optimal risk mitigation and realization of profits on a continual basis, especially important during market euphoria conditions.

Protecting Market Gains

An options-based approach is much like an insurance company where you sell insurance policies and collect premium income at a level that maximizes a statistical edge to your benefit. This strategy mitigates risk and circumvents drastic market moves. Selling options and collecting premium income in a high-probability manner generates consistent income for steady portfolio appreciation in both bear and bull market conditions. This is all done without predicting which way the market will move. Primarily sticking with dividend-paying large-cap stocks across a diversity of tickers that are liquid in the options market is a great way to generate superior returns with less volatility over the long-term.

Over the past ~15 months, 349 trades have been made with a win rate of 87% and a premium capture of 58% across 70 different tickers. When stacked up against the S&P 500, the options strategy generated a return of 11.6% compared to the S&P 500 index which returned 8.7% over the same period. Options are a bet on where stocks won’t go, not where they will go, where high probability options trading thrives in both bear and bull markets (Figures 1 and 2). Continue reading "Protect Your Portfolio Gains In A Euphoric Market"

Brokers Go Commission Free - Options Paradise

TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and E-Trade are following in Robinhood's footsteps and offering commission-free trading on all stocks, ETFs, and options trading! This presents an options trader’s paradise and serves as a great time to start trading options as these commissions are no longer cutting into your profit margins. This is vital since maximizing the number of trade occurrences is one of the many reasons why options trading is so effective over the long-term. Over the past 14 months, an options-based portfolio demonstrated the effectiveness of this strategy against the traditional stock-picking approach.

Primarily sticking with dividend-paying large-cap stocks across a diversity of tickers that are liquid in the options market is a great way to generate superior returns with less volatility over the long-term. Over the past 14 months, 343 trades have been made with a win rate of 87% and premium capture of 58% across 70 different tickers. When stacked up against the S&P 500, an options strategy generated a return of 10.3% compared to the S&P 500 index which returned 8.2% over the same period. These returns demonstrate the resilience of this high probability options trading in both bear and bull markets (Figures 1 and 2).

Options Trading
Figure 1 – 14-month cumulative returns of an options-based strategy compared to the S&P 500 returns over the same time period
Continue reading "Brokers Go Commission Free - Options Paradise"

Options Trading And The Bull Market No One Saw Coming

2019 has ushered in one of the most surprising bull markets that nearly no one saw coming. The vast majority of Wall Street analysts underestimated the strength of this bull market as we enter into mid-November. Expectations for 2019 were largely muted when factoring in a slew of potentially negative economic issues such as the U.S./China trade war, Brexit, inverted yield curve, potential recession, Federal Reserve actions, and the presidential impeachment efforts. Despite all of these headwinds, the indices continue to post record highs with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 notching gains of 18% and 23%, respectively.

This market has been dubbed the “most hated bull market in history,” illustrating the point that the ability for anyone to predict market returns is a futile endeavor. Reiterating why 92% actively managed funds do not outperform their benchmark and why there’s only a 36% chance of picking a stock that will outperform the market. An options-based portfolio approach can offer a superior alternative to traditional stock picking and position your portfolio to thrive in any environment such as this surprise bull market. An option-based strategy mitigates risk and circumvents drastic market moves. Selling options and collecting premium income in a high-probability manner generates consistent income for steady portfolio appreciation in both bear and bull market conditions. This is all done without predicting which way the market will move. Options trading is a great way to generate superior returns with less volatility over the long-term regardless of market conditions such as this “most hated bull market in history.”

Options and the Most Hated Bull Market

Market headwinds aplenty coupled with coming off a tough 2018, Wall Street had a negative view of stocks for 2019, and as a result, the vast majority of analysts missed one of the best years of the longest bull market in history. This market continues to make new highs after new highs. Per CNBC, of 17 forecasters for S&P 500 price, just three have targets that are above where the broad market index traded as of November 4th, 2019 with still nearly two months left in the year. Furthermore, negative sentiment is seen in the put-call ratio (a measure of sentiment among options traders), has remained above one since mid-September, a contrarian indicator that the market could be headed higher due to overly negative sentiment. Continue reading "Options Trading And The Bull Market No One Saw Coming"

How To Trade Options In Small Accounts

How can you effectively run an options-based portfolio when trading with a small account? How can you trade options on stocks like Tesla (TSLA), Ulta Beauty (ULTA), Apple (AAPL), Disney (DIS), Facebook (FB), etc., that possess such a high price per share when account balances are limited? People often shy away from options trading due to low account balances. Limited capital doesn’t preclude you from trading, and in fact, you can run an effective options portfolio regardless of account size. Options enable you to leverage a minimal amount of capital, which opens the door to trading virtually any stock, all while defining your risk.

Over the past 13 months, ~315 trades have been made with a win rate of 86% and a premium capture of 57% across 69 different tickers. When stacked up against the S&P 500, an options strategy generated a return of 9.1% compared to the S&P 500 index which returned 3.7% over the same period. These returns demonstrate the resilience of this high probability options trading in both bear and bull markets. These results can be replicated irrespective of account size when following the fundamentals outlined below.

Myth Busting Small Account Limitations

Options can be used in a leveraged manner hence using small amounts of capital to trade what otherwise would require much greater capital requirements. How is this possible? It’s possible because options can be traded in a risk defined manner. Therefore, entering any options trade, the required capital is equal to the maximum loss while the maximum gain is equal to the option premium income received. Since the risk-defined approach has a max loss, the required capital is equivalent to the max loss. The maximum loss value only needs to be covered by the available account balance. The aggregate price of the underlying shares within an option contract (contracts trade in 100 share blocks) is irrelevant.

The overall options-based portfolio strategy is to sell options that enable you to collect premium income in a high-probability manner while generating consistent income for steady portfolio appreciation regardless of market conditions. This is all done without predicting which way the market will move since options are a bet on where stocks won’t go, not where they will go. This options-based approach provides a margin of safety, mitigates drastic market moves and contains portfolio volatility. This strategy is agnostic to account balance and applies to accounts of all sizes. Continue reading "How To Trade Options In Small Accounts"