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How to Play Google (GOOG) Earnings

Published on October 14, 2010

How to Play Google (GOOG) Earnings

October 14, 2010

How to play Google (GOOG) earnings and how to benefit from Implied volatility crush post google earnings is on the minds on almost every option traders I have met or spoken to. But before I proceed further let me share that earnings are usually 50/50 at best i.e. in-spite of complete detailed research you may still end-up being wrong. The chances of win are 50%. If you go with that assumption and are willing to take increased risks for potential windfalls, Google (GOOG) Certainly offers great opportunities for option traders.

I have been covering Google earnings for almost 4 years. I also provided 4 different option trading strategies on how to play google earnings. For additional reference, LiveVol has done has done an excellent job on explaining past earings and Google’s move post earnings. You may want to check that out as well.

So let’s begin the current journey. Let’s first look at the IV skew; There is almost 40+% IV skew between Oct and Nov options most of which will narrow by tomorrow (Chart is from LiveVol.com). So a simple inclination will be to sell the expensive IV and buy the cheaper IVs. That’s a good conclusion except that is not without its own risk. Here are a couple of options that you might look into playing (Ref- GOOG last traded price was $543.3)

  1. Buy straight call or straight put. Based on recent past history you may conclude that Google (GOOG) tends to move say $20. So you may want to buy Straight Out of the Money (OOM) Oct 560 calls or 520 Puts. Last mid quote for 560 call was $5.00, and for 520 put, it was $3.00 either google needs to be above $565 or below $517 before you can make money if you purchased straight calls or puts. But here you are assuming a directional as well as movement risk.
  2. You may choose to buy a strangle i.e. Google (GOOG) Oct 560 call AND Oct 520 Put, thus costing $8.00 combined. In this case google needs to be above $568 or below $512 before you can make money. But at least you are not taking any directional risk.

I personally wouldn’t want to take #1 and #2 options. If I were to choose, I might then choose even further OOM and that too as lottery ticket assuming 100% capital loss upfront.

So How can one increase chances of success while still hoping for good yield from Google earnings move. Here are few more examples.

  • Sell Google (GOOG) ATM Oct 540 straddle i.e. Sell Oct 540 Call and Puts, as of the market close yesterday it was $22.65/spread i.e. you will receive $2,265 credit but need to keep about $11,000 for margins. This trade will make money if Google is in between $517.4 and $562.6. The maximum gains are equivalent to the credit you received and if GOOG is pinned at 540 on Friday. Expected yield is 2265/10,900= 21%; the risk is that you might lose all the margins if GOOG moves wildly beyond the break-even points.

  • Well you may think that you don’t like above risk reward, but you still think that Oct ATM is pricing the Google move appropriately and hence would like to keep the same break evens but with a better yield. So how about selling an Iron Condor say Google (GOOG) 560/570 Bear Call spread and 520/510 Bull Put Spread. This will generate $367 credit on a $633 margin thus yielding 58% gains assuming Google remains between 520 and 560. The Breakevens are $516.3 and $563.6. The max loss will be if google is below 510 or above 570. Certainly a better option than #1.

  • Still don’t like the yield but willing to trade-off risk for even better yield. Other ways to play is that you can choose 10 points Butterflies with the mid strike at 540, 530 or 550 depending upon your outlook. Butterflies offer fantastic yield but then Google has to settle within that zone. Here is an example of GOOG $570 Call Butterfly (You may check out past examples here).
    • Buy +1 GOOG Oct 560 call and
    • Sell -2 GOOG Oct 570 Call and
    • Buy +1 GOOG Oct 580 Call

Google Oct 570 Butterfly

This can be done for only $83. If GOOG is pinned at 570, this trade will yield $917 that’s almost 1,100% returns. This trade will still make money if google is in between ~561 and 579. The risk is, you will lose 100% of the capital if google is beyond these breakeven points.

  • A little more advance option will be to combine a butterfly with either straddle or Iron Condor. That will result in better gains assuming you are right-on for the ATM strike. But even if you are not then remaining Straddle or condor can still make money.
  • These are just some of the examples how Google earnings can be played. Others include Calendars, Double Diagonals, Backspreads and ratio spreads and many more.
  • If however, you are willing to spend time and make even more educated guess, then don’t forget to check out these articles

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Happy Googling and wish you all the best

Disclaimer– This post is for information purpose only. Please do your due diligence before investing even a single dollar based on any of the contents on this site including this article.

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