Alexander Valtsev
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Earn 5% On Ebay's Stock In The Next Three Days

Ebay's (EBAY) Q1 earnings are officially out:

(Source: Seeking Alpha)

This is good news for Ebay's owners (I still feel sorry for Twitter's or Apple's shareholders). The stock is up a bit on the after-hours market:

(Source: Google Finance)

Now that the earnings are out, implied volatility on short-term options is down. In addition, the good quarterly results and the relatively modest change in the price of the underlying drive volatility down even further. Nevertheless, you can still make some quick bucks on options with a strategy like the "iron condor" (if you actually own Ebay's stock, consider selling straddles):


This strategy is great because it allows pocketing premiums with relatively little risk born by the capital employed. I specifically chose the April 29 options because they will decay faster than options from any other expiration date and there is not much time for the stock to move swiftly in either direction until their expiration (there are no important dates until April 29, except the annual shareholders' meeting, which is going to be priced in into the stock tomorrow). 

The risk-return matrix is given below:


In this particular scenario, your potential risk is greater than your return (which basically equates to the premiums received). This is so for two reasons:

(1) There is not much time left in this trade (the optimal amount of time for iron condors is one week to one month. Anything shorter results in small premiums, anything longer results in worse-than-expected premiums, due to the high cost of out-of-money options, and implies more risk). On the other hand, as you can see from the graph, the time decay is simply murderous for the buyer (and absolutely awesome to the seller, that is, great for you);

(2) Implied volatility is down because important financial information is already out on the market. Hence, there is no hesitation related to the quarterly results which kills volatility momentarily. In addition, the company has shown modestly positive results (instead of negative results or incredibly bullish numbers). This does not help volatility, either. 

The disadvantageous risk-return relationship is offset by the very short duration of the trade. You have to give credit to that. Generally, iron condors are designed to help sellers earn money. In other words, this means that you are more likely to pocket a premium here than not. Essentially, as long as the stock stays above $23.80 AND below $26.20, you will earn a return (transaction fees will make the break-even spread narrower, remember that). The maximum return here is about 4.7% (transaction fees and taxes excluded). 

This trade looks interesting to me. What about you?