Options Trading: Earnings Power Bull Markets

Posted On April 16, 2018 2:07 pm

As mentioned last week, my options trading service that harnesses the post earnings premium crush (PEPC) will be making its first trades for this season starting tomorrow.

You can watch my Earnings360 training video here.

A recent article from Bloomberg highlights how Earnings Season Usually Means the Biggest Stock Gains and accounts for an important and disproportionate amount of profits.

How important are profits? A cool 80 percent of S&P 500 gains have come during earnings seasons since 2013. Over that period, stocks had a perfect streak of rising whenever results were being reported.

Indisputably, this will be another big quarter for profit growth. After President Donald Trump’s tax cuts, the expected gain in S&P 500 income stands at 17 percent for the January-March period, the fastest in seven years. It’s less clear whether it’s enough to restore order in the market. An identical improvement was under way last quarter when rising bond yields and signs of a trade war sent stocks into a correction.

“If we were to see another negative reaction to very healthy year-over-year growth, that’d definitely be a red flag,” said Charlie Smith, who helps oversee $2.5 billion as chief investment officer at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh. “It’s the old saying, ‘It’s not the news, it’s how the market reacts to the news that matters.”

Bulls can find comfort in nearly unprecedented optimism among U.S. chief executive officers. Over 20 days through Monday, companies saying profits will beat analyst estimates exceeded those saying they’ll trail by 1.2-to-1. That’s the third-highest reading prior to the start of any earnings season in Bloomberg data since 1999.

Strategists from JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank have expressed confidence, citing everything from a weaker dollar to stronger global growth and buybacks as reasons S&P 500 earnings will surpass estimates by as much as 5 percent. That would be higher than the average margin of 3.1 percent over the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Earnings have been a key catalyst,” said Binky Chadha, chief global strategist at Deutsche Bank. “The fact that much of the rise occurred during earnings season suggests ‘seeing is believing’ remains the norm.”

Others are less sanguine. After falling 6.2 percent in the month before this week, the S&P 500 just posted the worst pre-earnings performance since the financial crisis. At 17 times forecast profits, stocks traded at the lowest valuations since early 2016, a sign that investors are reluctant to pay more for future income.

“There is a horrible aspect to the Street that we’re greedy and we want more and more, better and better,” Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup’s chief U.S. equity strategist, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “As soon as we don’t get it, we’re like spoiled brats and throw a tantrum.”

Another troubling development from last quarter: when companies beat estimates, their stocks saw muted rewards. They outpaced the market by less than 1 percentage point in first-day reactions, according to data compiled by Bank of America Corp. The punishment for falling short was more than twice as big.

Related: Here’s How You Should Handle Earnings Reports

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About author

Steve Smith

Steve Smith have been involved in all facets of the investment industry in a variety of roles ranging from speculator, educator, manager and advisor. This has taken him from the trading floors of Chicago to hedge funds on Wall Street to the world online. From 1987 to 1996, he served as a market maker at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE) and Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). From 1997 to 2007, he was a Senior Columnist and Managing Editor for TheStreet.com, handling their Option Alert and Short Report newsletters. The Option Alert was awarded the MIN “best business newsletter” in 2006. From 2009 to 2013, Smith was a Senior Columnist and Managing Editor for Minyanville’s OptionSmith newsletter, as well as a Risk Manager Consultant for New Vernon Capital LLC. Smith acted as an advisor to build models and option strategies to reduce portfolio exposure and enhance returns for the four main funds. Since 2015, he has worked for Adam Mesh Trading Group. There, he has managed Options360 and Earning 360, been co-leader of Option Academy, and contributed to The Option Specialist website.

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