It’s hard to ignore Tesla’s stock performance. Shares are already up 28% so far this year, and barely a day passes without them exhibiting locomotive powers.
Tesla (ticker: TSLA) recently delivered electric cars that were made in its Shanghai factory. The news drove the stock sharply higher, and the momentum has not left the stock, although it’s a good bet the short sellers have.
Even as analysts are paradoxically lowering their investment ratings on Tesla shares while increasing their target price, it remains one of the best-performing stocks in the market. Shares rose 100% last year, or about triple the return of the S&P 500 index. The year-to-date performance is similarly incredible.
Investors who want to ride the Tesla dragon without making a full commitment can harness the stock’s momentum with two options strategies. One strategy is extremely aggressive, and the other is more disciplined.
Aggressive investors can consider a June “risk reversal” strategy to potentially buy the stock at $470 and to participate in rallies above $550. With the stock now at $537.80, investors can sell the June $470 put option at $41 and buy the June $550 call option for $58. The net cost is $17. (Puts increase in value when the underlying security price declines, while calls increase in value when the underlying security price increases.)
Make no mistake: The risk of this strategy is profound.
If the stock is below the $470 put strike price at expiration, investors are obligated to cover the put at a higher price, or to buy the stock at the strike price. If the stock is at $176.99, which represents the 52-week low, investors must buy the stock or buy back the put. Should that happen, they will feel very unsatisfied.
Of course, if Tesla’s stock keeps rising, shaming all doubters and critics who stand in the company’s way, the upside call could prove incredibly lucrative. If the stock is at $600 at expiration, the call is worth $50. At $650, the call is worth $100.
Is this short-put and long-call trade a fancy way to gamble? Let’s just say that you shouldn’t even consider the risk reversal if you do not have the wherewithal to cover losses and handle almost six months of exposure in a margin account to one of the market’s most controversial stocks.
If you want a more tempered approach to Tesla, consider a July $530 and July $600 call spread. The strategy entails buying the $530 strike and selling the $600 strike. The spread costs $26. If the stock is at $600 at expiration, investors will realize a maximum profit of $44.
The risk of the call spread is much more defined than that of the risk reversal, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that there is no risk. While the spread is a preferred way to try to harness bullish momentum, Tesla’s stock could decline just as dramatically as it has advanced. If that happens, and the stock is below the $520 strike price, the trade fails and money will be lost.
Without doubt, these suggested trades will generate some nasty-grams to yours truly. I will be accused of encouraging gambling, and worse. Some way say it is reckless to wager on a stock that is so wildly outperforming the S&P 500. Such criticisms may be valid, but these strategies are offered only in the interest of showing ways that aggressive investors can harness a hot stock without actually owning shares.