Arcángel de Jesús Montoya
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Arcángel de Jesús Montoya in Money Trafficking,

eHealth's Options Are Overvalued But Too Risky For Selling Before Earnings

eHealth, Inc. (EHTH), a company that provides a private online source of health insurance for individuals, families and small businesses and is the parent company of eHealthInsurance, a private health insurance exchange where individuals, families and small businesses can compare health insurance products from various insurers side-by-side, is reporting earnings on Thursday, July 28, after market close:

(Source: TD Waterhouse)

As evident from the above, the company beat earnings estimates in 88% of time in the last eight quarters, underperforming in 12% of time, and has seen substantial volatility in the market price of its stock over the last three months (mostly Brexit-related):

The market participants expect the following numbers over the next few quarters, including the upcoming one:

(Source: TD Waterhouse)

On the other hand, market data show that the August options are relatively cheap:

(Source: TD Waterhouse)

The monthly straddles (options with a strike price of $12.50) are worth around 16.1% of the current market price of the stock. Historically, the stock has been less volatile than that on a monthly basis over the last year:

(Source: Google Finance. Calculations by author)

As you can see, the stock has had a monthly standard deviation of 13.7% over the last 52 weeks, while the straddle expiring in a bit less than a month has an implied monthly volatility of around 12.1% (calculated based on 16 business days remaining until expiration), also including volatility from the earnings event this week. I therefore see signs of modest overvaluation in these options. However, given the historical volatility on earnings dates and shortly after, selling straddles is not a good idea. If you really want to sell premium, hedge your exposure with strangles.

Investors can also be interested in selling out-of-money options to partially finance the straddles. On the one hand, this will limit expected returns. On the other hand, this action will minimize losses in the event the stock does not move swiftly over the next three weeks.

What do you think of this trade?