If you’ve tried to play earnings with options though you’ve probably experienced IV crush. The stock moves in your favor but you lose money anyway. So I thought I’d give a quick rundown of what IV crush is and some simple strategies to avoid it.
Skip ahead to number 2 if you already know what IV crush is.
(Yes there have been some posts on IV crush over the past few months but as far as I can tell they’re all huge walls of text, don’t give enough clear advice, and aren’t specifically about earnings, so here you go.)
1 . What is IV crush in relation to earnings?
It’s easiest to think of it in terms of “expected move.” Implied volatility (IV) is how much of an “expected move” is implied in the current options price. Add up the price of the ATM call and ATM put, and this is how much of a move the market has priced in.
Example: $W today at close:
$134 5/8 call = 11.80
$134 5/8 put = 11.00
Expected move between now and expiration: 22.80
Naturally, after the earnings report is released there will be a much smaller expectation of movement over the remainder of the week, so the expected move will go down no matter which way the stock goes. This is another way of saying IV is going down, i.e. IV crush.
2. Strategies to play earnings without getting IV crushed:
a) Buy Deep ITM calls/puts
Deep ITM options get the majority of their price from their intrinsic value (what you’d make if you exercised the option today) as opposed to their extrinsic value (IV and theta) so there’s a lot less IV for them to lose, assuming you get a good fill. You want to pay as close to intrinsic value as possible.
Strike – Stock price = intrinsic value
Example: $160 put – $134 stock price = $26 intrinsic value
So if you’re buying the $160 put on a stock trading for $134, pay as close to $26 as possible. You’re gonna have to pay a little over but don’t just hit the ask, as the bid/ask can be wide on these.
b) Sell naked options or spreads
Get on the right side of IV crush. Personally I like to sell naked options, but spreads are good if you are a scared little baby or if your fake broker doesn’t let you sell naked options.
i) ATM vs OTM
I like ATM the best because you collect the most premium, and if the stock trades flat you still win because IV crush works in your favor.
OTM does offer extra protection from the stock moving against you. Keep in mind as you move OTM you are moving toward smaller wins and bigger losses, but also a higher win ratio. Pennies in front of the steamroller.
ii) Spread positioning
Position the outer leg (the leg you’re buying) as far OTM as possible to increase your profitability if the stock trades flat and improve your odds of winning.
Or make it a narrower spread to make it closer to a binary event. If the stock is trading at $134.50 and you sell the $134/$135 put spread for $0.50 (half the width of the strikes), that’s basically a double or nothing coin flip. If you have a high degree of confidence in which way the stock is going, that’s pretty good leverage.
c) Use options to be synthetically short/long shares
If you want to gamble on direction in a way that is more leveraged than shares but completely free of Greek headaches, this is for you.
To go long: Buy the ATM Call, sell the ATM put
To go short: Sell the ATM call, buy the ATM put
If you buy an ATM call and sell the ATM put of the same strike, your position is exactly the same as being long 100 shares. The greeks from the long and short options cancel each other out.
The same is true if you buy the ATM put and sell the ATM call. Your position is mathematically the same as being short 100 shares.
The beauty, though, is that it uses about half as much buying power as buying or selling shares on margin. Just for example, based on numbers at market close today, buying an ATM call and selling an ATM put on $W uses $3716 in buying power, as opposed to roughly $6700 to buy 100 shares on margin.
ii) If your fake broker won’t let you sell naked options
You can just buy a wide leg. So if you’re going long just buy the ATM call, Sell the ATM put, and buy a deep OTM put. If you’re going short, buy the ATM put, sell the ATM call, and buy a deep OTM call.
Disclaimer: This information is only for educational purposes. Do not make any investment decisions based on the information in this article. Do you own due diligence.