Sarah: Hi Everybody, Welcome to the SCT podcast, this is episode 29 and in today’s show what we are going to talk about is “Selling Puts”, it’s kind of a strategy that everybody seems to know about or have an understanding of how to do it but it is interesting that when you actually get into trading it, is to especially why you want to trade it, everybody has all sorts of different reasons. So, we are going to explore this strategy in today’s podcast and I have TJ here with me.
Sarah: we are each going to talk a little bit about how and why did you, you will get both of our perspectives on it, so I think that should be quite helpful for everybody. So TJ can you start us off by just explaining a little bit about what is “selling a put”?
TJ: Selling a put is, your assumption is that the market is going where the stock is currently trading and hope that the stock stays at the same price or moves up by the expiration date of the option, what happens is when you sell the put, you collect the premium and if the stock price expires above the strike price of the Put, you get to keep the entire amount of the premium. Obviously if the stock price pushes down below the strike price of the put then the position begins to lose and you actually have to close out the position by buying back the Put for more than you sold it for, which creates a loss. You can also take assignment of the shares as well, if you take assignment on the short Put, you are actually long shares in your account, so there’s a few strategies there that we can use. Sarah, what market conditions do you like to sell Puts in.
Sarah: Okay, Yeah, you have actually got into strategy and just for people to summarize about what it actually is, is essentially what you are doing is trying to collect some premiums or trying to make some money by trading at a level where you don’t think that underlying is actually going to go and that’s essentially what a strategy is.
Now, people use it for all sorts of different reasons and there is some, certain times that I think is a good time to trade it and other times that I actually think is a really bad time to trade it. But I think it is really important to mention that sometimes if a strategy sounds too good to be true then you can get load into expecting a strategy like this to work a 100% of the time and it is really important that we get into this discussion about selling puts is that you, I think everyone needs to understand that this should be part of a diversified strategy in the market and if all you are ever doing is looking to just sell puts, I think that you are going to run into trades that aren’t going to work and a problem with the strategy is when it doesn’t work, it really doesn’t work and if you don’t really know how to deal with it at that point, that can really end up hurting an account.
So the first thing I guess, I want to mention is, it’s a great strategy, but it can’t be the only strategy because if all you have to do is go out and sell out puts on everything, everything will be fine until it doesn’t work out and I just want to make sure we are making that pretty clear. I think it is a nice way to collect a little bit of premium, I think what’s important though to mention because you're selling puts is it’s a small amount of money that you are taking in and you are basically taking in that amount and you really won’t make it anymore if you are just talking about purely selling a naked put. So that strategy alone when you go and look at the stock, let’s use stocks as an example, you can do it on a bunch of stuff but if you go and think ok, that underlying is going to move higher, so I just want to be able to take advantage of some premium that is sitting below the strike where it is trading and I don't really think it is going to go down there again so I am just going to trade there, then fine and certainly a stock that is trending would be a better stock to trade than naked put on rather than something that is consolidating and moving all over the place, so that will be a good time to trade it, I am assuming you follow the same kind of rule that you are going to be trading in a naked put in a trending stock.
TJ: Typically yes, yeah absolutely trading it. I also trade them in a sideways stock too, I think if you can sell naked pots outside of a consolidation range, a lot of the stocks will consolidate for a week or two or even longer and you are able to rip weekly’s, the advantage of Weekly options go in and sell that put a few times, while the stocks consolidating
Sarah: Ok yeah, that's true but why would you do a naked put on something that is consolidating instead of doing something that is a little more like an where at least at that point you are margin requirement is quite less and your risk is less. What would be the advantage of doing a naked put on something that’s moving sideways?
TJ: Well typically if a stock is moving sideways, the volatility at that point has decreased, you are not getting as much credit, so the naked put allows you to move a little bit further away from the prices currently trading, giving you and little bit of an extra buffer on one side of the trade so you can go out and you can go, maybe two or three strikes further away than if you were to do iron Condor at that then you need to get closer.
Sarah: Yeah that is true and I guess it also has to do with the account size you are trading with too because the reality is some of these naked puts are going to have pretty high margin requirement, Are they not?
TJ: That is true, but there is also, if you sort stocks by price as well, for example your radar screen and you watch list, you notice that there is an awful lot of stocks that trade below $100 and if you are trading a stock that’s $18 or $20 or $30, to sell naked puts on it the margin requirement is not that high. Absolutely, I don't sell naked puts on PCL on a $2,000 stock or on Google or on Amazon having to trading up around $1,000 right no. So yeah absolutely the margin requirement is higher. It also has to do with the volatility, so a lot of times we have to keep in perspective to that a lot of these strategies that involve selling put you sell them so and you are literally collecting pennies and for a lot of traders they are barely covering their commissions every time they sell these puts. In short enough 98% of the time, they work out what is that 2 times out of 10 or 2 times out of 20 even were it doesn't work, that ends up eating up all of your profits on those trade, so on the service I think there is a lure of easy money. But we have to look at the price of the stock and the credit you are collecting and lot of the times it’s pennies, it's pennies that you are collecting during that but trade for 3, 4 weeks maybe 5 or 6 weeks with a lot of these strategies.
Sarah: Yeah and that is exactly why I don't love selling puts and I would sometimes pick different strategies, you have actually identified it right there, is because once you get in that trade there is no possibility of making more and to me why would you sit in a trade when you are open to risk and you can’t make any more money and all you really have to do is sit there and it is almost like a pile on in the market and say "here I am I really hope you don't notice me, I can't really do anything about it but I am just going to sit here", so to me that kind of bothers me about the strategy, so certainly that’s why, I guess I will stick to trading it when there is something that has a trend because at least then I have that direction to hopefully keep price away from me because I am worried about being that pile on that's huge and everybody is going to see it and I don't really want anyone to see the trade I am in.
TJ: Absolutely, everybody thinks that, oh, the put that I have sold is far enough away, price might go through 50 Cent or $1, I will be OK but a lot of times people are trading the strategy around the wrong times. For example, earnings, so they will trade thinking that the stock might move $8, it moves 16, $8 against you and now you are way outside on this put and I think the other thing as well is that the people that sell it successfully or selling way out of the money and are adjusting there, they are adjusting a 15 Cent credit where it goes down the 12 cents they were adjusting, a very finite adjustments and I think that a lot of traders don't see that there is like the grey area that makes them work and the other thing towards the lure of profits and I think that what happens is that a lot of traders start selling them and the first bunch work out great, and then you say, well, you know what, if I am getting 15 sent successfully well here is 30 or 40 cents and now we are trying to collect 30 or 40 cents or 50 or 60 Cents on trades and it just drops the probability of success and that is going to be on one those trades where you end up getting hurt on the trade and at that point you are kind of bruised and you don't want to trade them again where it is not necessarily the strategy that didn't work but just kind of the greediness or the application of it.
Sarah: Yeah and so true to mention that when you are trading, learning textbook of what a strategy is and then actually going out and putting it on in the market can be two very different things because the theory of the strategies sounds fantastic and I think that's why a lot of people say they trade it because it’s kind of easy to get and in terms of options with all of these multi like strategies, it is pretty simple you go and look for an area where you don't think it is going and you just sell the put and hope it doesn't go down there. I mean it is a pretty simple concept in a book, but applying this and making it actually work over a long term in the market isn't as easy and I can't tell you how many times we both have had them. We had emails and discussions with people say that this is the strategy they use, this is the only one they use, this is all they do it and then you just say OK great and then what happens a couple of weeks a couple of months later is we get a horrible email from them later on, it says, Oh Man, probably I should've listened to you because the strategy isn't working for me anymore and I have taken the strategy that worked really well say 10 times, but these last couple of really wiped out all those profits in all those other ones because I was taking such small profit, I don’t know, just a word of caution. I do want to come back to something you said earlier as well which was about trading cheaper stocks, so was curious about what your opinion was. So with cheaper stock, is really selling a naked put kind of the only thing you can really do in cheaper stocks if you want to sell something.
TJ: I think it is a good strategy if you want credit. I think it is one of the few credit strategies that you could use on an inexpensive stock and I guess when I am speaking about in expensive stocks, really anything kind of under $50 I think is pretty inexpensive. Obviously other strategies that work are the tried and true but long puts, long calls debit spreads as well where you are buying but on the credit side I agree with you that it is the selling of the puts that really allows you to a little bit more flexibility.
Sarah: Yeah, as I said like it is a good strategy and there's lots of reasons and ways to place it, but it doesn't have to be the only one, so let's talk about getting out of them. So another popular way, obviously everybody just wants to sell the naked put and the trade works that you don’t have to do anything, that’s fantastic. So let's talk a little bit about when you are in the trade and you either made some profit what you do, or you are losing because it has come down to the strike you sold, what do you do, do you want to talk about some of the things you do first or do you want me to go first?
TJ: Yeah if I am trading naked puts, really the expiration is either same week, so 2 or 3 days later, trading on a Tuesday or Wednesday for Friday expiration or maybe a Thursday or Friday for the following week, I am typically not adjusting or rolling the trades there is typically not a lot a time to do that, they either work or they don't. I will just end up exiting the trade if it comes down into or close to the strike, obviously depending on, each trade is different when it comes back down into the support, support levels that I previously identified, I am most likely looking to potentially exit trade at that time and just taking a loss and moving on. I think a lot of time if you start adding and changing things, it really changes the dynamic and doesn't necessarily always work out better at the end.
And like you said in the previous podcast, most people wish they had the stock option adjustment, the redo button for adjustments that gone down this path. By the time they get to the end of this windy road, half of the time forgotten why they trade in the first place and are losing more money than they realize that they are losing. The other thing that I do frequently do, I mostly trade in selling puts because I want to own the stock, so for me if it pushes through this strike and it still again hasn’t gone through major levels of support, it still looks like a great trade something that I want to own, I will just take an assignment on this stock because it is intended into a covered call strategy or just own the stock if I want to, so for me it is really why do I get into it, most of the time I am showing that because I want to own a stock, I want to take assignment, so I am either getting it for a loss that really breaks below but if it breaks below a little bit I just pick up the stock.
Sarah: Yeah, I think that’s a good way to do it and it is a nice backup. It is always nice to have a plan B without having to adjust our role and that’s really what it is, so the same thing, when I am looking to do that, I want to take the trade and a stock that I don't mind owning the stock, sorry, does that make sense, I want to trade the option by selling and then if it doesn't work for me so if we end up having an option that has some value at that point then, I just take the stock instead and then of course you can roll out into all sorts of different trades there and you can keep making money on that. So I think that's something that’s really important and that’s absolutely kind of a great way especially when you are talking about the stock there are 50 dollars and under with that plan in mind to be able to pick up the stock, there is more room for you to deal with in terms of what account size you are trading with. So that is also something really good.
So I also just wanted to talk about, I just got out of HD today and I know that by the time you guys hear this, it will have moved on from that trade but I did just sell naked put in HD and I originally have sold it for 60 Cents and then today I got out of it and I made about half, so I think it was about $30 profit that I got out of the trade and that was only really after a couple of days and I want to mention that as well in terms of the positive side of that, so by taking it in something like 60 Cents and I can sell that back at 30 cents that is a really great return and I think it is important that we look at the percentage of return on a trade in order to decide when to get out, when it is working for me. So just because I took 60 cents, it doesn't mean I am going to hold this trade to the very end to make 60 cents. If there is a nice golden opportunity for me to get out of the trade and make $30 in a couple of days to me that makes way more sense to take the trade off and cash out and put the money in my pocket than it is to sit in it for another 2 weeks until the trade expires even if the stock are fine and I didn't really need to get out of it but to me that was just easy money to take off. So do you always hold your naked puts way till the end or do you get out of them quickly for profit I mean?
TJ: Typically I am selling them in stocks that I want to own, so the premium I am collecting, it may not at the time be enough to really make sense of selling it so I will hold them till the end. I am collecting 30 cents of premium or 40 cents right after that and I am making 7 or 8 or 12 cents on it that’s probably not enough, that is not going to be enough for me, so I will wait into expiration but absolutely if you are selling if you are able to sell that put for a 80 cents or a dollar and you can make 30 or 40 cents on it in a week or 10 days, yeah I absolutely agree and that is the thing we were talking, we did a course on Cover calls and actually a lot of it is the misconception of and I think it is the same thing with selling options is that paper profit, so for example your HD, you had 30 cents or 40 cents of potential profit in it, that's what you have today as you mentioned in 10 days who knows, that paper profit may have turned into a loss, so the only way to profit is to absolutely realize the cash out of the trade to turn that paper into paper money, like you said, I completely agree the only real profit is when you sell, so taking that 30 or 40 cents absolutely, like you said 50% profit on the trade is absolutely fantastic and it is much better to take 30 cents on the trade then in 8 days oh well you know at one time I had this paper profit, it is nice to talk about but until it's in your account it is not real.
Sarah: Absolutely, unrealized PNL is not the real thing, you want the hard cash you want that profit in your account that's really what we are all after here and that's really what we do I think really well and I think we both can give ourselves a nod here in the trading, I think we do a really great job of cashing it on the trades and profiting really nicely on the trades that we have got. So, I don't know I do think in summary that it is a good strategy I think anyone that's doing it kind of has to have the reason why and again you want to be able to build that case about why that strategy is good to trade v/s another one I think we have outlined a few of them specially in terms of determining the price of the underlying whether or not that's a strategy for you, picking whether or not you like to do it when it is trending market or consolidating. Everyone is going to have a different flavor and a different spin on it but it is the strategy that you and I both use and it can be really great.
Of course I do just wanted to throw out that the margin requirement on those are going to be different and some people depending on what kind of accounts they are trading, you might not be able to sell to do that strategy too. So, just to make sure for everybody who is listening today that you go and do that research on it as well. I don't want people getting into something without them really understanding the whole bit.
So I hope you guys found this really helpful, I think it was a good discussion, it is actually quite interesting to hear us each explain. I found it very helpful to hear TJ's perspective and how to trade the strategy. And hey, if you want to actually see us trade live in the training room, because we go through everything all the time and was another good week of trades, so I look forward to see you guys next week, please review the podcast and email podcast at shecantrade.com if you have any future ideas that you want to hear us to discuss. Happy trading, everybody.