How A $10,000 Portfolio Became A $20,000 Portfolio In Just Over A Month

by: SA Editor Rocco Pendola

If I actually had an office with people in it, it's safe to say that they would have been high-fiving one another on Tuesday. In fact, I probably would have sent everybody home early, given them Wednesday off and instructed them to meet me tonight at a Seaside bar for several pints.

It's official: The $10,000 portfolio that I started with high hopes back on August 16th hit $20,337 during Tuesday's trading session. It got there with a -$600 loss in Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) puts and -$75 loss in Research in Motion (RIMM) puts offset by respective +$1,890, +$557, +$833 and +$161 gains in Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) puts and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), (NASDAQ:AMZN) and PowerShares QQQ ETF Trust (NASDAQ:QQQ) calls.

I tallied those figures, by the way, at around 7:15 a.m., Pacific Tuesday. Throughout the day the total surpassed $20,337, ultimately dropping below $20,000. The $10,000 portfolio closed trading on Tuesday with a value of $19,822.

Split the middle and here's a quick recap of the winners and losers that brought things to a double:

Winners (over the life of the portfolio)

Apple (AAPL) (AMZN)
Netflix (NFLX)
Research in Motion (RIMM)
Sirius XM (SIRI)
PowerShares QQQ ETF Trust (QQQ)

Losers (ditto)

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY)
Ford (NYSE:F)
Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU)

But, as promised, I'm sticking with each of the six trades I have on right now through each company's earnings reports. For example, once Apple reports, I can deal with the position, but not before. As of Tuesday's close, here's how the six active trades stand from a profit/loss standpoint:

  • AAPL April 2012 $450 call. + $520.
  • AMZN April 2012 $220 call. +$960.
  • NFLX March 2012 $80 puts. +1,182.
  • RIMM March 2012 $20 puts. - $60.
  • SIRI March 2012 $3 puts. - $525.
  • QQQ March 2012 $50 call. + $188.

I'm actually quite a bit more confident in each of these trades than I was when I made them. It's nice to have achieved the double, of course, but I think the prospects of going much higher are real.

Consider Apple. People baffle me sometimes. The company got ripped for releasing iPhone 4s and not iPhone 5. Of course, had Apple just called the stupid thing iPhone 5, nobody would have said a word. The Siri voice recognition technology would have been lauded for the game-changing development that it is. In any event, it was all noise; pre-orders for iPhone 4s immediately went through the roof.

While I do not necessarily expect one, a relatively soft Q3 for Apple would not surprise me. That said, the company will absolutely blow the Q4 holiday shopping quarter out of the water. Once that happens, the stock will not see below $400 for most, if not all, of 2012.

Readers asked why I bought options with expirations into next year for this portfolio. Simple answer - I wanted to give myself some time to ride any waves. I did not want time decay to play as big of a role as it would with an October or even January expiration.

Ditto for Amazon. I could get dinged on an entirely possible sluggish Q3, but, like Apple, Amazon will own the holidays and Q4 will reflect this. I expect $220 calls to expire way deep in the money.

And, of course, the Qs often take a cue from index leaders such as Apple and Amazon.

As for the bearish plays, Netflix is a dead man walking. When Len Brecken predicted bankruptcy for the company, he almost got laughed off computer screens across the globe. But, lo and behold, barring some extraordinary development, bankruptcy no longer sounds so crazy. Whether the company goes bankrupt or not is really neither here nor there, as $100 will be a distant memory after the Q3 earnings report. Even Netflix won't be able to craft its is it live or is it Memorex conference call to make things look better.

Meantime, RIM and Sirius XM are both dead cats bouncing. It's an attractive trap to get caught in. While I think RIM will implode again come earnings, I expect SIRI to retrace to below $1.50 regardless of what happens on its call. It could very well surge toward $2.00 (though I do not expect it), but it has been known to retrace and the tepid growth it will report, along with a less-than-exciting roll-out of the thus far underwhelming satellite radio 2.0, will only make a post-earnings swoon all the more likely.

And, a quick aside, on RIM. I made a connection between RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie's failure to bring an NHL franchise to Hamilton, Ontario, with his mismanagement of the company he helped build and subsequently brought down. I felt like Balsille's attitude in relation to NHL owners says a lot about the stubborn attitude he brings to the table with regard to the RIM woes he helped create. Fantastic Yahoo Sports hockey writer Greg Wyshynski summarizes a different view - that Balsillie's attempt to secure a franchise for Southern Ontario preoccupied him, taking his eye off of the ball at RIM. Interesting.

In summary, I'm well-positioned in my calls and puts to ride earnings. If the trades go against me on any of the reports, there's a good chance that longer-term sentiment will end up taking hold, bucking any short-term moves in unfavorable directions. Or maybe not. Either way, I am happy to have hit a double, even if only a symbolic one. And I look forward to what should be one of the more exciting - and telling - earnings' seasons we've had in a while.

Disclosure: I am short RIMM.