NaughtyPines

THE WEEK AHEAD: ADBE, OIH, XOP, GDXJ, EWZ, VIX

NASDAQ:ADBE   ADOBE SYSTEMS INC
With the VIX             dropping hard below 15, some of the juice has poured out of the cup ... . Even so, there remain a few plays in the market.

ADBE             announces earnings on the 15th (Thursday) after market close. The volatility metrics don't quite meet my criteria for a volatility contraction play (56/32), but the March 23rd 210/323.5 short strangle is paying 3.80 at the mid with that setup's defined risk counterpart, the 205/210/232.5/237.5 iron condor, paying 1.69, just a smidge over one-third the width of the wings. These are off hours quotes, so neither of these may look as attractive during regular market hours when things tighten up. Nevertheless, worth keeping an eyeball on.

The remainder of earnings announcements on tap for next week either involve poor liquidity underlyings or have implied volatility in the lower half of their 52-week range, making them singularly unattractive for the standard play.

In the exchange-traded fund neck of the woods, OIH             and XOP             retain fairly decent background implied volatility at 31, as does the junior gold             miners fund, GDXJ             . My preference is to pull the trigger on these underlyings directionally. With GDXJ             , I would like slightly lower (sub-30 would be great). A touch of caution is warranted, however, since there is a bit of divergence between gold             spot prices and both GDX             and GDXJ             , implying that if gold             goes lower here (it's got room), the miners will weaken even further, so trade these small in the event that support terms out to be meaningless (i.e., you're dead ass wrong as to direction).

As far as "the Brazilian" ( EWZ             ) is concerned, the April 20th 43/49 (40 days until expiry) short strangle is paying 1.25 at the mid; it isn't hugely compelling, but it's a sub-$50 underlying after all. If you're going to pull the trigger on that setup, however, I'd do it soon, since we're quickly getting outside the 45-day sweet spot.

VIX             futures term structure has finally returned to a modest degree of normalcy, with contracts in contango front to back. I'm still waiting for a few UVXY             short call verts to pull off here that I put on in the hot and heavy of early Feb, so am going to hand sit until I'm able to quit sweating over those. The forecast, however, is for contango erosion/beta slippage to resume (it already has) in UVXY             and VXX             , implying that they will continue to pretty much go down from here over time (naturally, in the absence of another pop).
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