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Boy, it's hard to be a stock and options trader (1 Viewer)

Brian Perry

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While it's not my main job, I like to dabble in the financial markets, whether it's stocks, options, or commodities. What happened to me this last weekend is enough to remind me that it's a very strange world out there and I might be better off sticking with safer investments.

As most of you know, American Airlines has been on a path to bankruptcy over the past several months, and was threatening to file for bankruptcy last Tuesday if all three of its unions didn't accept stiff wage concessions of $1.8 billion per year. (American lost $5.3 billion over the last two years, so I'm not sure that the $1.8 billion in savings would even help them enough.) With the stock trading around $3.80, I bought some April 5 Puts on Tuesday, which gave me the right to sell AA stock for $5. I was predicting the flight attendants would reject the concessions and AA would immediately file for bankruptcy as promised.

Well, I was right...kind of. The flight attendants rejected the plan but then (to my dismay) were allowed one extra day to change their votes, thanks to some technical issues with the voting system and also because AA sweetened the deal at the last minute. The votes were recounted and the union narrowly accepted the proposal. The stock surged over $5 on Thursday, which is when my options expired--due to Good Friday. I decided not to exercise my Put options and thus my entire investment was wiped out.

If that weren't bad enough, yesterday we learned that American had a "secret" bonus plan for its top executives that was disclosed just after the final union voting. The flight attendants union, understandabley livid, said it was rescinding its acceptance of the pay cuts and will now conduct a re-vote. Basically it sounds like American is now screwed and is very likely to file for bankruptcy next week. Unfortunately my options are worthless now, thanks to incredibly bad timing and a scumbag executive team at American.

Anyone else have any investing horror stories? (But don't get me started on my Phillip Morris position!)
 

Don Black

Screenwriter
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Frankly, I don't find a salary of $500k-$1M unreasonale for a CEO of a company with tens of thousands of employees. I know investment bankers in their 20s making that much with not even 1% of the responsibility. It's not like they deliberately created these programs to screw the unions. The pension plan was in place for 17 years.
 

Todd Hochard

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Lucent. Thank you, drive through.:)

Actually, I am my own worst enemy at times. I've proven to be a horrible investor, but a great trader. In other words, my quick buck turnarounds have mostly worked out pretty well (>25% each year, total return for the past four years running), but my long-term stuff is killing me. I seem to lack the courage to admit defeat and take a loss, at least until it becomes a huge loss.:angry:

Todd
 

Evan S

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I'm in the middle of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) examinations (level II).

Everyone knows puts and calls are HEDGING instruments used to insure a portfolio long (short) in the underlying security(s) for which the puts and calls are bought. They're instruments that are suppose to LIMIT the riskiness of the holdings. The trade off is that your upside gains are limited.

The definition of using puts and calls in isolation as an investment in their own right is SPECULATION, and for a reason...they are extremely volatile.

I admire your balls...for investing in puts and calls on their own is just that...ballsy.
 

Philip_G

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I had a response about the unions but then it dawned on me that I can't post it here.
 

Edwin-S

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I had a response about scumbag management not creating programs to screw the unions, but it dawned on me I cannot post it either.
 

Ryan Wright

Screenwriter
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Brian,

Damn. :frowning: Doesn't sound like fun.

Edit: Nevermind, found the answer to my questions.
 

LewB

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If you are going to gamble on stuff like puts and calls, I'll offer some advice that my father used to give me. "You're better off going to Vegas, at least there you get comp'ed"

No rants about management and their perks ?
 

Brian Perry

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Just as I thought, AMR stock plunged to around $3.50. Oh well.

As far as management vs. union, I wasn't trying to say one side was better than the other. In this case, I was pointing out that management apparently was deceptive by waiting until the voting was over to disclose the executive perks. The perks in and of themselves may not have been out of line--it was just the way they were hidden that was unfortunate. (And CEO Donald Carty has been apologizing profusely the last few days as an attempt at damage control.)
 

Ashley Seymour

Supporting Actor
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Jun 29, 2000
Messages
938
With the stock trading around $3.80, I bought some April 5 Puts on Tuesday, which gave me the right to sell AA stock for $5. I was predicting the flight attendants would reject the concessions and AA would immediately file for bankruptcy as promised.

Your investment in puts and calls may be "balsey" as Evan S says, but your loss goes beyond your gamble that the union would reject the contract.

I am guessing your puts would have cost about $150 each. The real speculation is that you only had a couple of days to exercise. Had the airline filed for bankruptcy then what would have happened to the options? If trading on the stock was stopped, how would you be able to buy the stock to put to the option seller?

If the stock priced dropped to $1, then you would have made $250 on each option costing $150. A nice return, but you can see the risk. Also, even in bankruptcy, the company would have some liquidation value and may have kept it's price for some time.

Really, two days for an option contract is way risky.
 

Brian Perry

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If the stock priced dropped to $1, then you would have made $250 on each option costing $150. A nice return, but you can see the risk. Also, even in bankruptcy, the company would have some liquidation value and may have kept it's price for some time.

Really, two days for an option contract is way risky.
I agree, but the point was that the timing of everything was so amazingly poor. The flight attendants did reject the contract (initially) and I should have been able to get out of the options on Wednesday for a decent profit. But then there was the re-vote, which ended up going the other way. I had accepted that I gambled and lost--it just made it even harder to swallow when the news came out that the vote was severely tainted by AMR's concealment of the execuive bonuses and bankruptcy-proof pensions.

I certainly would not advise someone to "invest" money in this fashion. It's was definitely more akin to gambling, but like many gamblers who get screwed by a meaningless free throw at the end of the game, I think I got hosed a bit thanks to Mr. Carty.
 

Edwin-S

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I think management giving itself perks is completely out of line when a company is facing bankruptcy and the management is demanding concessions from workers in order to save it.
These fuckers were demanding that their employees sacrifice to save the company, but they were unwilling to put their own money where their mouths were. It makes me sick. It makes me even sicker that some people (not you) would actually think that these management pricks would be justified in giving themselves perks at at time when the survival of the company is at stake.

What ever happened to lead by example? If these assholes were unwilling to give up anything to save the company......don't expect anyone else to be the sacrificial lambs either.

The management, with their deceptive practices, ended up costing you money...speculation or no speculation. If I had taken the risk, I would have been muyo pissed off. It is one thing to gamble and lose on an educated guess, but to lose out because the managers are nothing but lowlife scumbags is another thing all together.
 

Edwin-S

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I think management giving itself perks is completely out of line when a company is facing bankruptcy and the management is demanding concessions from workers in order to save it.
These fuckers were demanding that their employees sacrifice to save the company, but they were unwilling to put their own money where their mouths were. It makes me sick. It makes me even sicker that some people (not you) would actually think that these management pricks would be justified in giving themselves perks at a time when the survival of the company is at stake.

What ever happened to lead by example? If these assholes were unwilling to give up anything to save the company, then don't expect anyone else to be the sacrificial lambs either.

The management, with their deceptive practices, ended up costing you money...speculation or no speculation. If I had taken the risk, I would have been muyo pissed off. It is one thing to gamble and lose on an educated guess, but to lose out because the managers are nothing but lowlife scumbags is another thing all together.
 

Ashley Seymour

Supporting Actor
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I think management giving itself perks is completely out of line when a company is facing bankruptcy and the management is demanding concessions from workers in order to save it.

This not only screws the employees, but the stockholders. There can be all the regulations and criminal penalties in place, but when you have the chance to make multi-millions of dollars by lining up management and the directors then something has to change in these corporations. At the least a class action suite should be implemented.

Japanese managment earns far less than their American counterparts. How do top executives ever deserve high cash bonuses. At least if you give reasonable amounts of stock, the managers have a vested interest in making the company profitable.

The management, with their deceptive practices, ended up costing you money...speculation or no speculation.

Yes, and I have gotten money back as the result of class action suits on a stock I once owned - and lost money on.
 

Stevan Lay

Second Unit
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Jan 5, 2000
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I had accepted that I gambled and lost--it just made it even harder to swallow when the news came out that the vote was severely tainted by AMR's concealment of the execuive bonuses and bankruptcy-proof pensions.
Given the above assertion, it seems that you were extremely bearish on the stock when a put option was purchased (I take it that you were in the game to scalp for a profit and not to protect your portfolio of AMR shares) but did you also consider on purchasing a call option to create a ‘Long Straddle’ options trade to insure against your directional bet? I know that hindsight is a wonderful thing and can make anyone seem like an expert but the beauty of options is that if you do make a wrong judgment in a directional move you still can be rewarded by employing an appropriate (or most adaptable) options strategy placed on the underlying security.
 

Brian Perry

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Stevan,

I had briefly considered buying the straddle but felt that a "yes" vote by the unions was factored in to the stock price already and that it wouldn't surge $1.50. Of course, I was wrong...

Do you trade options a lot? I don't usually buy stuff outright as I did here--I'm more of a covered-calls kind of guy. (Though once in a while I like to step out.)
 

Stevan Lay

Second Unit
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Jan 5, 2000
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I had briefly considered buying the straddle but felt that a "yes" vote by the unions was factored in to the stock price already and that it wouldn't surge $1.50. Of course, I was wrong...
Brian,
I don't think that your analysis (fundamental) was at fault here but perhaps the lack of design on your execution was what had cost you your premium(s). With all that had been happening with AMR and the airline industry worldwide, you could not have been blamed to taking a grim/bearish view on the stock. However, as I'm told, a good options trader will always take an objective view to limit their risk exposure, which is the cornerstone to successful options trading (become conditioned to understanding the risk profile of all your options trading selections). So do check out 'Delta Neutral' trading; a window of opportunities (IMO) and a whole new world of options trading ;)

Do I trade options a lot? I'm trying to. With all my workload and preoccupations I haven't the time or commitment (and comfortable capital) at this stage to trade full-time. But for the meanwhile, I'm learning a lot on the world of Delta Neutral trading and paper trading various strategies and concepts in development.
 

Michael_Victor

Stunt Coordinator
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Feb 20, 2002
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110
should have gone out a month further. Currently a June 5 put is 1 to 1.05 last trade is 1. fifty cents time value and fifty cents intrinsic.
 

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