Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Paper Trade: AAL

Update 3/28/2015: The position on paper expired in the money for maximum profit. Shares lost -2.7% over the nine-day lifespan of the position, or a -110% annual rate. The paper options position produced a 100% yield on debit,  for a 4,056% annual rate

AAL broke above its 20-day price channel on Tuesday and confirmed the bull signal on Wednesday.

This is a paper trade testing whether my volatility strategy can be applied to non-earnings situations. See my post "Testing: Expanding the volatility strategy"

AAL has Weeklys among its options inventories, and I shall paper-trade the MAR4 series of options, which trades for the last time on March 27, eight days hence.


The goal of my paper 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.


Implied volatility stands at 40%, in the 16th percentile of the most recent rise.

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

The Trade

I'll first try an iron condor. The pattern of implied volatility limits my upper short strike to $56, which provides coverage for the chart range but leaves a significant portion of the one standard deviation range outside the range of profitability. This is a problem, since AAL gave a bull signal and I want profit skewed to the upside.

I set the lower bound according to the probability of expiring out of the money for maximum profit, looking to about a two-third chance.

Iron condor short the $56 calls and long the $56 calls,
short the $52.50 puts and long the $51.50 puts
sold for a credit and expiring March 28
Probability of expiring out-of-the-money


The risk/reward ratio stands at 13:10, meaning the risk is slightly more than the reward. The paper premium is 43 cents, or $43 per contract.

I also looked at a similar bull put spread, short the $52.50 put and long the $51.50 put, which a 69.8% probability of expiring out of the money. However, the risk/reward ratio is 3:1 and the premium is only 13 cents, or $13 per contract.

Decision for My Account

I'll take the paper trade. Going forward, I'll be looking to see where it stands at expiration.

-- Tim Bovee, Portland, Oregon, March 18, 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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