The Power of the Loophole Trade

My goal is to not only make you a wealthier investor, but a wiser one as well.  That’s why in Power Profit Trades, I will occasionally run an article of explanatory information – think of it as a basic education that will hold you in good stead not just today or this week but throughout your investing life.

This issue, I examine in granular detail a moneymaking tool called the loophole trade. Next issue of Power Profit Trades, I’ll recommend a specific loophole trade that’s coming up on my radar screen.

First, any discussion of the loophole trade must involve volatility.  Over the past few weeks, as the Greek crisis unfolds and the Chinese stock market plummets, we’ve witnessed wild intraday swings in the market.  One day it is down a couple of hundred points closing at or near its lows of the day; the next day it rallies back that 200 points or more, closing at or near its highs for the day.  It’s enough for a trader to get whiplash.

This market volatility can also cause a great deal of volatility in the pricing of options.  For traders looking to buy calls or puts, this makes it challenging in obtaining profits, if for no other reason options are more expensive than usual due to this volatility.

So how does one avoid this volatility?  One choice is to simply not trade and wait until the markets settle down – but that’s not acceptable to me.  My mission is to make you money, regardless of market conditions.  I want to play in the game, not sit on the bench.

What’s another choice?  Consider the loophole trade.  Below, I drill down and comprehensibly discuss why certain market conditions would compel me to recommend one.  Remember: through familiarity that’s gained by the proper application of financial knowledge, you can overcome fear of volatility and risk.  I want you to confidently embrace the power of the loophole trade.

The Two Reasons for a Loophole Trade

The loophole trade is a debit spread.  It can be either a call credit or a put debit trade.

Here are two reasons to consider the loophole trade:

  1. The options you are looking to buy have too much implied volatility and are deemed expensive, and/or
  2. To hedge a straight call or put option.  Creating a loophole trade reduces the cost of a straight option purchase, thereby reducing your risk in the trade.

Have you ever bought an option on a stock and had it move in the direction you anticipated and the option barely move at all?

Even if a day goes by and the stock is roughly at the same price as the day before, you should only suffer a bit of theta or time value loss.  However, if the option were too expensive to begin with, it could lose more in that situation.

Volatility 101

Volatility measures the rate and amount of change in an underlying investment (stock, ETF, future, etc.) both up or down.

If the volatility of the underlying investment is high, the option is likely to be priced higher than normal.  The volatility in the stock is considered its statistical volatility (SV) and you can enter that value into standard pricing models to calculate a fair market value for the options on it.

There are times where the actual price of the option differs from its fair market price.  This situation is due to what’s called Implied Volatility (IV).  IV is considered the expected volatility or move in the underlying investment and that IV is priced into the options.

Example: If an option that would normally cost $2.80 is priced at $3.70, that extra cost is deemed a consequence of the IV.

IV can be measured and charted on each option, as you can see in the below image.

Here is the Implied Volatility Chart on the, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) August15 440C (Call).

Look at the different colored lines that represent different time intervals prior to expiration.  I like shorter-term trades so I will highlight the red line, which is the IV with 7-30 days prior to expiration.  Its mean price, or place it mostly hangs out, is at 23%, but right now (far right of screen) it is higher than normal at 45%.

This very likely means the option could be more expensive as IV, the expected move, is getting pumped into the pricing of the option.  You see that means average IV was low at the 23% area and then it started creeping up starting June 22.

There was an anticipation of a move building on AMZN and it was reflected in the IV and likely the option pricing. Now that it is has made a breakout of its consolidation, it has done so on increasing IV.

Do you want to go buy options on AMZN right now at these higher-than-normal prices?  This is another reason one shouldn’t chase trades trying to buy call options when this type of price action is happening. The upshot: You should either wait for it to retrace a bit back to its breakout price or consider a loophole trade.

Why should a spike in IV concern you?  Well, do you want to get in the habit of overpaying for your option?  You wouldn’t want to overpay for your car or home, so why would you change that mentality when buying options?

An Example of Overpaying for an Option

Let me show you an example of paying too much for an option with an above average IV or inflated price.

Look at AMZN back on the trading days of April 24 and 27:

AMZN had a significant pop up in price post an earnings announcement.  It is the following two trading days and the pricing on an option I want to emphasize here, as a warning to investors about trading without looking at IV ahead of time.

Now, some of you are probably thinking: “Why would I buy if the stock has gapped up in price?  Don’t stocks fill their gaps and if AMZN does too, it will do so by moving down in price.”  Believe it or not, there are traders out there willing to buy for fear of missing out on more gains that could happen because of the earnings report.

I hope this education helps to at least temper the enthusiasm of those traders and teaches them to be more astute in their analysis of volatility.

Take a look at the option for an AMZN May 440C the day of the gap:

The option price reflects the mid-price, or the price between the bid/ask spread, which in this case shows $13.85 per contract.

Go forward just one day and you can see the stock ended up or closed pretty much at the same price it opened the day before – basically unchanged over the two days of trade.  AMZN opened at $439 on 4/24 and closed $438.56 4/27.  Now look at what happened to the price of that same option with hardly a change in stock price:

For the option to lose about 37% in a day seems outrageous.

The Volatility Crush

When something like this happens, it’s called a Volatility Crush.  The IV gets sucked out of the premium and even though the stock has hardly moved, the option is suffering right away.  Look at the IV chart and it will show you why it is important to keep an eye on this dynamic:

The implied volatility was surging higher going into earnings, meaning IV was getting pumped into the price of the options.  Post the earnings announcement, EVEN with the stock gapping higher, that day and the next saw the volatility crush almost to its means % range around 25%.  Earnings reports only exacerbate the moves and pricing, but that’s okay.

This is enough for you to digest right now. In the next issue of Power Profit Trades, I’ll follow this tutorial with Part 2 of “The Power of the Loophole Trade,” which will explain how a loophole trade reduces cost and risk. I’ll also recommend a specific loophole trade that’s shaping up to be a great opportunity to double your money.

Until next time…

Tom Gentile

America’s #1 Trader

18 Responses to “The Power of the Loophole Trade”

  1. Tom I a new at trading options but now have 3 trades with your advice and they are all making money. Your explanation of options is the best I have ever seen but I am having a hard time understanding spreads or loopholes at this point. This Money Calendar is so Powerful I have never seen anything even close to it.

  2. Tnx Tom for the info on IV. Was good information! Along with William Heard that posted above, I’d also like to know where I can get charts on IV for several options at one time. Recently opened account w/TDAmeritrade. The “think or swim” (TOS) trading platform is amazing. Still learning (slowly) where everything is and what it can do! Tnx again for your reports you publish, they are very informative.

Leave a Comment

View this page online: