No matter what has been thrown at this bull market over the past few years, nothing seemingly can slow it down. After the key indices finished the month of September with unlikely gains, stocks continued their upward trajectory today even though Congress couldn’t agree on a short term budget deal to keep our government fully operating.
For the first day of October, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) finished up 62.03 points, the Nasdaq (chart) +46.50 points, the S&P 500 (chart) +13.45 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed the day up 13.64 points. Pundits are speculating that with the government in a partial shutdown, Congress will now have to address the debt ceiling and budget at the same time which a likely compromise will come forward on both issues, hence, bullish for stocks. Not sure if I fully agree with that thesis. Furthermore, the bulls make yet another case that by having this budget and possible debt ceiling impasse, this will keep the Federal Reserve in full accommodative policy mode. Now this in my opinion would be a more bullish thesis. However, lets not forget we have now entered into the fourth and final quarter of the year and third quarter earnings reporting season is on its way.
Needless to say, the markets have a ton to digest over the coming weeks including Q3 earnings reporting season and I am expecting volatility to continue to increase. From a technical standpoint, the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) stunningly hit new 52-week highs today and continue to outperform the Dow Jones Industrials (chart) and the S&P 500 (chart). The Dow and S&P did bounce off of key support levels yesterday and have resumed their uptrends, at least for now. In addition, both the tech-heavy Nasdaq (chart) and small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) are once again approaching overbought territory heading right into earnings reporting season, which could be of interest to the bear camp.
As volatility increases, one strategy that can potentially bode well is to sell option premium on select indexes or stocks in order to capitalize on the increased vol. This strategy is not for the novice and one should consult with a certified financial consultant before implementing any strategy, especially options strategies. But for the more advanced investor or trader, this type of environment is almost perfect to participate in a “selling option premium” program. Option premium is essentially income generated by an investor who sells premium to another party and hopes to keep the entire premium without having the option exercised. Let’s look at one example of a “selling premium, covered call strategy”. Let’s assume you own 1000 shares of Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) at $50 per share. You can choose to “sell” a.k.a.”write” a covered call option on the Facebook shares you own. If you take the monthly October $52.50 calls that are currently trading for $1.20 and sell/write them against your position, you would take in $1,200.00 less transactions costs. This is the premium you would receive for writing/selling this covered call. If Facebook closes below $52.50 on expiration day you keep the entire premium as well as your 1000 shares. If Facebook closes above $52.50 on expiration day you still keep the entire premium earned, however, your 1000 shares of Facebook would be called away at $52.50 because you sold your rights to the stock you own to another party for $52.50. If this is the case, you would be a not only be benefiting from the options premium income, but also a stock appreciation outcome for in this example the initial cost basis for the Facebook position is $50.00 per share. So you would gain an additional $2.50 per share in profit. Please note that a covered call strategy is typically a bullish strategy and again this is just one example of how “selling options premium” can work. In closing, this is not a recommendation just an illustration on how an investor or trader can potentially benefit with option premiums. Please remember it’s always best to consult with a certified financial planner(s) before implementing any investment strategy.
Good luck to all 🙂