Seeking Alpha

David Pinsen's  Instablog

David Pinsen
Send Message
I founded Launching Innovation, LLC, to bring together developers, designers, and academic finance experts to create easy-to-use tools to solve complex problems for investors.
My company:
Portfolio Armor
My blog:
Steam Catapult
  • Two Ways To Hedge AAPL And RIMM 2 comments
    Jan 19, 2013 9:36 PM | about stocks: AAPL, BBRY

    Back in November, when Apple was about 40 points higher than it is now, hedge fund manager and market technician Tim Knight wrote what now looks like a prescient post about how its stock's best days were behind it ("How Apple Became Japan"). Here's how Tim concluded that post:

    As for the stock price, I suspect it'll resemble the Nikkei chart found way above, although perhaps not as dramatically. I imagine AAPL will be in the low 400s next year and will meander around relatively trendlessly for years to come. Its multi-thousand percent gain will be a part of financial history, just like similar gains enjoyed many years ago by RIMM, CSCO, and YHOO.

    Although Apple has slid since then, surprisingly, shares of its smart phone maker competitor Research In Motion (RIMM) have nearly doubled.

    AAPL RIMM Chart

    Hedging AAPL With Optimal Puts In August

    Back in August, I tweeted from the Portfolio Armor twitter account the optimal put* to hedge Apple against a greater-than-20% drop over the next six months:

    As $AAPL hits a new high, the cost of hedging it against a >20% drop between now and February. twitter.com/PortfolioArmor…

    - Portfolio Armor (@PortfolioArmor) August 17, 2012

    That put is getting a little long in the tooth now, but since AAPL has dropped 22.9% since then, it has done its job: if an AAPL long who purchased that put on August 17th were to exercise it now, his loss would be limited to 20%, taking into account the initial cost of the put. Since the put still has some time value left (see the screen cap of the Yahoo quote page for it below), he'd have a smaller loss if he sold the put and his AAPL shares now -- in that case, his loss would be limited to 17.7%.

    AAPL Feb Put
    Hedging AAPL And RIMM With Optimal Puts Now

    If an AAPL long wanted to hedge against another 20%+ drop in his shares from here, he'd be able to find optimal puts to do that now -- and for a fairly low cost, considering Apple's recent slide. But despite RIMM's recent rise, it is currently too expensive to hedge against a greater-than-20% drop from here:

    AAPL RIMM Puts

    Since the cost of hedging RIMM against a greater-than-20% drop was itself greater than 20% on Friday, Portfolio Armor indicated there were no optimal puts available for it (there was an optimal put available to hedge RIMM against a >21% drop, but the cost of it, as a percentage of position value, was 20.15%). This is a case where -- for longs willing to cap their potential upside -- being able to scan for an optimal collar** would come in handy.

    That capability is now live on the website, and coming soon to the iOS app (where it will be available as an in-app subscription). It has been generating some interesting results, including a number of instances where the optimal collars are zero cost, or even have negative net costs (i.e., the income from the calls you sell as part of the collar is greater than the cost of the puts you buy, so you are getting paid to hedge). Below we'll take a look at the optimal collars to hedge $50,000 positions in AAPL and RIMM against greater-than-20% declines from here, for investors willing to cap their potential upsides from here at 15%.

    Hedging AAPL and RIMM With Optimal Collars Now

    As you can see in the screen captures below, for longs willing to cap their potential upsides at 15% while limiting their potential downside risk to drops of no more than 20%, the optimal collars are negative cost collars in both cases: the investors would get paid to hedge.

    AAPL RIMM Collars

    *Optimal puts are the ones that will give you the level of protection you want at the lowest possible cost. Portfolio Armor (available on the web and as an Apple iOS app), uses an algorithm developed by a finance Ph.D to sort through and analyze all of the available puts for your stocks and ETFs, scanning for the optimal ones.

    **Optimal collars are the ones that will give you the level of protection you want at the lowest net cost, while not limiting your potential upside by more than you specify. The extension to the Portfolio Armor algorithm to find optimal collars was developed by a post-doctoral fellow in the financial engineering department at Princeton University.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Back To David Pinsen's Instablog HomePage »

Instablogs are blogs which are instantly set up and networked within the Seeking Alpha community. Instablog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors, in contrast to contributors' articles.

Comments (2)
Track new comments
  • In&Out
    , contributor
    Comments (76) | Send Message
     
    Why would anyone want to cap profits at such low percentages when 100% plus gains are common for anyone bullish $RIMM during the last month or two & into the foreseeable future. I did get a little nervous last week and cashed in 60 Jan25th 14.50 Calls purchased Jan 10th for .10 each. Should have purchased @ least a 1000 units and still be holding them..Oh well. I sold them for $1.00 each on Jan16th. That's about a 900% gain..yep turned $660 dollars into $5,570.54. Held for 6 days. No tricky Iron condors..or collars needed trading $RIMM these days. Jump in the water is very warm!!
    20 Jan 2013, 09:16 PM Reply Like
  • David Pinsen
    , contributor
    Comments (1075) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » In&Out,

     

    Thanks for the comment.

     

    Clearly, if you think 100% plus gains are likely in a security, you wouldn't want to cap your potential upside at 15%. You would cap it at 15% if you thought the stock probably wasn't going to appreciate more than that over the next several months. I don't know what RIMM's future prospects are; I included it as an example of a stock too expensive to hedge against a >20% drop over the time frame in question with optimal puts, but not too expensive to hedge with n optimal collar.

     

    Congrats on your success trading RIMM options so far.
    21 Jan 2013, 01:58 PM Reply Like
Full index of posts »
Latest Followers

StockTalks

More »

Latest Comments


Posts by Themes
Instablogs are Seeking Alpha's free blogging platform customized for finance, with instant set up and exposure to millions of readers interested in the financial markets. Publish your own instablog in minutes.