What You Need to Know Before You Make an Earnings Season Trade

What You Need to Know Before You Make an Earnings Season Trade

Posted On January 15, 2020 2:09 pm

It’s that time of year again; earnings season.  Things kicked off this week with the big banks such as “JPM Morgan (JPM – Get Rating)”, “Bank America (BAC)” and “Goldman Sachs (GS).

Next week tech will start taking center stage with “Netflix (NFLX)” and “IBM (IBM)” two of the notable names reporting.

After a few months of being waffled and swayed by trade talk, geo-political events and Central Bank interventions it will be nice to hear directly from the corporate leaders how their companies are doing and what their expectations are for 2020.

Earnings can be very tricky to trade as there are many moving and unknown parts; will the company miss or beat expectations, what will be the guidance, will traders ‘sell the news’ in profit-taking and will the recent overall market volatility override the results.

The banks I mentioned all beat estimates by a healthy amount, yet the stocks are all a bit lower than prior to the reports. Given they had all run-up in the weeks heading into the event this seems to an example of sell the news.

It highlights that even I told you the numbers beforehand you still not be able to profit. But there is one predictable pricing behavior that savvy options trader use to produce steady profits.

The biggest mistake novices make is purchasing puts or calls outright as a means of directional “bet.”   They are usually disappointed with the results as even if the stock moves in the predicted direction the value of the option can actually decline and result in a loss despite being “right.”

Don’t Get Post Earnings Premium Crushed

The problem is that they failed to account for the Post Earnings Premium Crush (PEPC), which is my label for how the implied volatility contracts sharply, immediately following the report no matter what the stock does.

You can see the repeating pattern of implied volatility of Netflix’s options spiking and retreating on the quarterly reports.

Source: iVolatlity.com

You’ll often hear traders cite what percentage move options are “pricing in” on the earnings.  The quick back-of-the-envelope calculation for gauging the magnitude of the expected move is to add up the at-the-money straddle.

This article does a great job of explaining how to use the straddle to both assess expectations and potentially profit.

Once option traders are armed with this bit of knowledge, they to advance to use spreads to mitigate the impact of PEPC when looking to make a directional bet.  Some will graduate to getting this predictable pricing behavior in their favor by selling premium via strangles or the more sensible limited risk iron condors.  But these strategies still carry the risk of trying to predict if not the direction, than the magnitude of the move.

Here’s a list of … Continue reading at StockNews.com

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About author

Steve Smith
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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