Over the last several weeks, I published a series of articles that wax bullishly on the stock market's high flyers. I have not advocated opening direct long positions on any of the stocks mentioned; rather, I suggested selling puts or opening bull put spreads to take advantage of what I believe are the blue chips of the 21st Century. The gains produced by these strategies of late would match up with or outperform any index or professional money manager you can find.
In one article where I touted stocks with relatively high P/E ratios, I wrote:
After the dot-com bust of 2000, plenty of investors remain shell-shocked or, at the very least, way too cautious. There's a difference between learning from the past and letting it scare the heck out of you. When the latter emotion (and it's a very emotional process) takes over, you run the risk of missing out on the blue chips of tomorrow simply on the basis of unfounded fear.
Simply put, people who keep running around warning investors about a "bubble" have an undiagnosed case of entrepreneur envy. This is not 2000. And the stocks I am about to suggest do not collectively comprise a bubble. Instead, they represent companies with strong businesses, relatively reliable customers and innovative management teams that stand atop the industries they dominate.
For each of the following stocks, I offer an aggressive idea (selling puts outright) and a less aggressive idea (the bull put spread). While it might be best to wait for a pull back to execute the trade, there's no time like the present. If available, you can opt to use weekly options or just stick with October expirations. Of course, you can adjust the months and strikes you select on the basis of your risk tolerance, account equity, bullishness and the price you would be comfortable going long the underlying stock (if you sell a put outright).
*All prices are midpoints, as of the final hour of trading, Monday, September 19th, 2011
- Sell October $400 put for $10.20. Collect $1,020.
- Sell October $400 put for $10.20/Buy October $380 put for $5.02. Collect $518.
- Sell October $220 put for $5.08. Collect $508.
- Sell October $220 put for $5.08/Buy October $200 for $2.08. Collect $300.
AAPL and AMZN represent the best in breed. No matter what kind of holiday season retail has as a whole, both companies will dominate. If somebody has a tablet under their tree, it is likely to be iPad or Amazon's widely-awaited offering. And, of course, Amazon boxes will be ubiquitous heading into December. Sort of like that random red envelope.
One thing to keep in mind. Apple reports earnings on October 17th, at least that's the date Briefing.com lists. Briefing has Amazon at October 25th. In any case, options expiration day for October falls on the 22nd. You don't want to get caught in a bad spot on a weak report. As such, if you're conservative or concerned that the rally ends with earnings (or sooner), you can also buy to close on an outright put or close the spread out and bank a smaller profit, assuming the trades go your way over the next several days and weeks.
You get the picture. The other stocks I would consider executing these strategies on are Chipotle (CMG), Ralph Lauren (RL) and Lululemon (LULU). CMG reports on October 20th. RL reports on November 9th. LULU reports on December 8th. Again, earnings dates, for the most part, are not confirmed and come from Briefing.com.
A quick aside on LULU. I cut it loose in the $10,000 portfolio. Given the position I am in there, I don't regret the move, but obviously, had I waited a day, I would be that much closer, if not sitting on, a double.
Each of these stocks either blew through, touched or is close to hitting a 52-week high. That said, a pullback would not shock me. As noted, you can wait for a bump in the premiums, but given the strength each equity exhibited today, the momentum might continue to push them higher.
In any event, select lower strike prices to give yourself more cushion against pullbacks in exchange for less income now. Just remember, while you could get exercised early, chances are what matters is the price on options expiration day. If you're selling straight puts and intend to keep the position open to expiration, always make sure you're okay being long the stock at the strike price you select.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.