Tuesday, March 31, 2015

EA: Iron condor, volatility rules

The came software company Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), headquartered in Redwood City, California, broke above its 20-day price channel on Monday. Despite pulling back the next day, it remained above the breakout level, confirming the bull signal.

EA has Weeklys among its options inventories, and I shall trade the APR2 series of options, which trades for the last time 10 days hence, on April 10.

[EA in Wikipedia]


The goal of my trade is to construct a direction-neutral position with a zone of profitability at expiration covering all of the one standard deviation range implied by volatility and options pricing, or the 30-day hourly chart support and resistance range, whichever is wider.


Click on chart to enlarge.
EA at 11:00 a.m. New York time, 30 days hourly bars
Implied volatility stands at 34%, which is 2.2 times the VIX, a measure of volatility of the S&P 500 index. EA’s volatility stands at the top percentile of its most recent rise.

The chart range is significantly narrower than the one standard deviation range.

Ranges implied by options and the chart
WeekSD1 68.2%SD2 95%Chart
Implied volatility 1 and 2 standard deviations; chart support and resistanc

The Trade

EA's chart is ambiguous as to direction. True, it gave a bull signal, but the immediate retracement was significant. So I shall attempt a direction neutral structure for the position.

Iron condor short the $62 calls and long the $61 calls,
short the $55 puts and long the $54 puts
sold for a credit and expiring April 11
Probability of expiring out-of-the-money


The proposed trade above covers all of the chart range while leaving $1.42 of the one standard deviation range outside of the zone of profitability.

The risk/reward ratio stands at 3.3:1, a high level for an iron condor. Generally, the iron condor structure tends toward parity.

Decision for My Account

I dislike the high level of the risk/reward ratio and so shall pass on this trade. EA publishes earnings on May 5, so I'll have another shot at it then.

-- Tim Bovee, Portland, Oregon, March 31, 2015


My volatility trading rules can be read here. For a discussion of the rationale behind the rules, see my essay, "Rules for very short term trades".

The directional score is calculated as the sum of the following:
  • Zacks rating --The Zacks ratings are translated as follows: 1=2, 2=1, 3=0, 4=-1 and 5=-2.
  • Enthusiasm rating --: A single percentage derived from the number of analysts whose opinions are in one of five categories: Strong buy, buy, hold, sell and strong sell.
  • Strong buy share -- The percentage of all analysts who rank the stock strong buy. If the share is 60% or greater, the score is 1; if 40% or less, then the score is -1; otherwise, the score is zero.
  • Ethusiasm momentum -- The score is 1 if today’s enthusiasm rating is larger than the rating 30 days earlier; otherwise, the score is zero.
  • 30-day direction -- The trend that best describes the 30-day chart: 1 for an uptrend, -1 for a downtrend and zero for a sideways trend.
  • One-day direction -- The trend that best describes the one-day chart: 1 for an uptrend, -1 for a downtrend and zero for a sideways trend.

From time to time I use the number 68.2% in using applied volatility to calculate the expected trading range. This comes from statistics and refers to the one standard deviation boundaries, which are expected to contain 68.2% of whatever is being studied. Putting it another way, given an item (a trade or whatever), there is a 68.2% chance that it will appear within those boundaries.

Elliott wave analysis tracks patterns in price movements. The principal practitioner of Elliott wave analysis is Robert Prechter at Elliott Wave International. His book, Elliott Wave Principle, is a must-read for people interested in this form of analysis, as is his most recent publication, Visual Guide to Elliott Wave Trading

Several web sites summarize Elliott wave theory, among them, Investopedia, StockCharts and Wikipedia.


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Tim Bovee, Private Trader tracks the analysis and trades of a private trader for his own accounts. Nothing in this blog constitutes a recommendation to buy or sell stocks, options or any other financial instrument. The only purpose of this blog is to provide education and entertainment.
No trader is ever 100 percent successful in his or her trades. Trading in the stock and option markets is risky and uncertain. Each trader must make trading decisions for his or her own account, and take responsibility for the consequences.

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All content on Tim Bovee, Private Trader by Timothy K. Bovee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Based on a work at www.timbovee.com.

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