Summary and Info
In his book, Dennis Eisen describes exactly one way to trade options: Selling Puts, namely LEAPS (Long-term Equity Anticipation Securities). What makes this book so interesting to read is that Eisen starts with a general overview and then goes into a level of useful detail which I have not seen in any other book on options yet. He explains how options are taxed, how the margin requirement is calculated, and what actually happens when options are exercised/assigned. This knowledge you normally have to acquire in years of practice but Eisen just spreads it out in front of the reader. Despite the level of detail the book is easy to follow, and I finished it in two days.
What makes the author very likable is that he writes in the "I" form, i.e. he writes from his experience, and not with the claim to know the absolute truth.
The book is divided in three main parts: Part one covers the basics, part two takes a quantitative look at the risk and reward of an actual system, and how you can improve your odds, and part three lists formulas and computer codes. There is also a big appendix with over a hundred tables of put premiums calculated with the Black-Scholes-Formula. The book is rounded off by a bibliography and Eisen's favorite web sites (some of them are outdated).
The main reason why Eisen prefers long-term puts (and long-term meaning up to 30 months) is that they are less risky. Due to inflation and the fact that good companies increase their earnings over time thus driving their share price up, he feels that long-term options are less likely to be assigned. For this, he is willing to sacrifice quite some put premium as the following example shows: For an American Option (stock price = strike price, volatility 0.3, dividend rate 3%) the premium for a 15 months-put is $11.46 yet for the 30 months-put it is only $15.06. In other words, although the time is twice as long until expiration, the premium increases by only 31%. In proportion, the premium for a 6-months-put is even higher, at $7.71. This is because options lose most of their value in the last months before expiration.
Here I would deviate from the author's system, I would always prefer to sell two consecutive 15-months-puts for $22.92 or even five consecutive 6-months-puts for $38.53 rather than one 30-months-put for $15.06. By rolling them out and down I would try to prevent being assigned too many stocks.
Are there any downsides to this book? Not really. One thing I did not understand is how Eisen can put the premium which he earns into a cash market account at 6% interest rate. (This contributes an important part to the profitability of his system). In chapter 4 he explains how much margin is required: The whole put premium plus 10 or 20% of the underlying stock price. So how can he put the premium into a cash market account when he has to keep it as a margin? My online broker will give me less than 1% on my margin account.
And one thing I would be looking forward to: Since this book was written in 2000, it could use an update. Then Eisen could test his strategy with a longer history and real data (he had to calculate backdated data because LEAPS had only been existing for seven years at the time this book was written), and update some of the web sites and bibliographic data.
But altogether this is a great book, and it deserves five stars.
More About the Author
WBZ-TV, channel 4, is a CBS-owned-and-operated television station located in Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
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