I've been looking at quite a few of these setups lately, so thought I'd post a bit of what I'm looking for in these.

1. Implied Volatility . As a premium seller, high implied volatility rank and high implied volatility in an underlying are my general signals as to whether to consider a trade. This is because higher implied volatility results in richer premium, and you want to sell richer premiumed short calls in these setups to reduce your cost basis more dramatically or, at the very least, reduce it to such an extent that your breakeven for the setup is favorable to a profitable outcome.

2. Price. This is a purely subjective element in my decision-making process. The question always is: "How much do I want to devote in buying power to this trade?"

That being said, there is obviously less risk as a general matter when you put on a covered call in CHK             , for example, as compared to CMG             . If CHK             goes to "0", for example, I'm only out $445 maximum (although I do keep the premium for the short calls sold); for CMG             , I'm out $49500 (minus the value of the short call premiums collected). This is the very reason why I like to restrict these plays to underlyings that are valued $20 and less. Even if the underlying goes totally belly up, I'm not left on the street corner with a tin can ... .

3. Due Diligence. I tend to do far more due diligence with covered calls than I do with short strangle earnings plays. A lot of these covered call plays, after all, are partly attractive because the underlying has been severely battered for one reason or another, and I naturally want to know if there is risk associated with that reason such that a covered call doesn't make sense or poses more downside risk such that I could be in the trade for far longer than I consider ideal.

4. Break Even Metrics. For obvious reasons, having a setup breakeven below some significant price inflection point (52-week low, etc.) presents a more attractive setup than one that is "in the middle of things."

5. Correlation. Various sectors experience heightened volatility at various times. Don't overdo working a particular sector, even though that seems to be the profitable way to go in the short run. Look at all the possible plays and work the most potentially profitable among them.

6. Covered Call Screeners. I do use a covered call screener, but this is largely to "cull the herd" down to some kind of manageable number of plays to examine. These screeners suffer from a number of flaws, not the least of which is the usual suggestion that I go way farther out than 45 days with my short call to take in enough premium to make the play attractive.

7. Profit Taking. I look to take profit intratrade if the entire setup is in profit equal to what I would get if called away for the price of my short strike. If my short strike at some point is nearing worthless, I look to either take it off near worthless or roll it out to capture additional premium and further reduce my cost basis in my underlying position.
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