Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thinking about the SBUX bull position

In the Watchlist I noted a new signal on SBUX contrary to my bull position, and then said I didn't intend to act at this time.

I am breaking my own rules, and fully expect you to shake an angry finger in my face while accusing me of gross trading hypocrisy. "Dash it all, Man," I can hear you say with fiery disappointment. "Art thou mad?"

So why am I behaving in such a reckless fashion?

Firstly, there are the holiday doldrums. Trading volume is down (i.e., the market is illiquid) because so many players are off the field to be with family and friends, or to prepare for a lonely New Year's Eve of solitary drinking at their local brew pub. I distrust signals given in low volume markets, and hate to trade in such markets. It's hard to get the price I think is fair because there are fewer working traders who can take the other side of the transaction. This is the Sargasso Sea of the market year, where traders lie becalmed and helpless.

Secondly, there is my location two weeks out from expiration of this January bull put spread (p22.5/-p24). This was a credit spread -- I made money when I opened it -- and I want to hang on to the position as long as possible for maximum profit as the long, 22.5-strike puts disappear due to time decay.

Thirdly, there is the structure of the position as it relates to price supports on the underlying stock. This vertical spread is profitable at expiration from about 23.38 and up, and at about the same price point if I were to close it now. The sideways movement of the past six trading days shows 23.15 or thereabouts as its lowest point. If there's a bounce off of very near term support, as often happens, then I'm very close to being minimally profitable. And with a bigger bounce, maximally, given that upside resistance is 59.45.

Fourthly, SBUX earnings will be announced after market close on Jan. 20. The stock has every reason to show increasing volatility in the next few weeks. That could work in my favor.

So, all things considered, it seems like a reasonable risk to wait until the first trading day after the holiday, Jan. 3, to see what happens. Besides, rules are made to be broken, no?

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