In recent days Apple stock(AAPL) has touched upon its 52 weeks high of over $275 a share largely due the huge demand for its new 4G Iphone. I have been bullish on AAPL for some time now along with many others. I think it still has fuel to even higher, but buying more AAPL at these levels is a problem for many investors. First at $270 a share its too expensive for many investors. When they say too expensive it often means two things. First, the stock price has gone up too far and too fast meaning it could just as easily fall very quickly to “correct” itself. The second barrier investors have to buying at these levels is the price of the stock. Investors often look at the number of shares they can buy rather than the price. At these levels they cannot buy many shares. Just a hundred shares would cost an investor $27,000. But what if you could buy AAPL for $11.50 instead of $270. Now AAPL is a bargain instead of expensive. Can you buy AAPL for $11.50? Yes you can using an option strategy called the LEAP Bull spread.
First some definitions. An option is a contract to buy but not an obligation to purchase or sell a stock at a certain price within a certain time. This strategy involves the buying and selling of options contact. A LEAPS option are just longer term options. Regular option contracts have a short time frame of a few months but LEAP options can go out over several years giving the investor the advantage of having more time to be right on the trade. An option spread means you are buying and selling two different call options. You buy one option at a lower strike price and at the same time sell the other option at a higher strike price to lower your cost.
To illustrate how this trade would work, I will show you a paper trade I made in April on AAPL. Its a paper trade because I did not actually make the trade with my money, only on paper. I now wish I did, but once you understand it you can use it on any expensive priced stock that you are bullish on such as AAPL or Google.
In April 2010 AAPL was trading at $242 the 52 week high at the time. All the buzz was on Ipad sales. I was bullish on AAPL and thought it could go much higher based upon its existing product sales and the release of the 4G Iphone. I continue to believe that $300 by the end of the year is possible.
Instead of buying a few shares at $242 I wanted to buy AAPL at a much cheaper price. I looked to the January options thinking that with strong Iphone sales and holiday sales, the 4th quarter would be particularly strong for AAPL. If so I believe AAPL stock could go much higher by January 2011.
Based upon that belief here is the trade that I could have made to buy AAPl for $11.50 in April of 2010 when the stock was trading at $242.
- Buy the January call for Apple 2011 $260 calls for $21 per contract.
- Sell the January call For Apple 2011 $300 calls for $9.50 per contract.
- Net Cost: $11.50(excluding commissions)
Each option contract is for 100 shares. The end result is that you risk much less money upfront than you would have by buying the shares outright. If the stock continues to rise as I believe you could make three times or more on your investment while risking just 5% of the current share price.
The downside of such a trade is that your option contract could expire worthless if they are out of the money when the contract expires in January 2011. You could lose your entire $11.50. LEAP options gives more time than regular options, in this case 9 months, but you do not have the luxury of holding on for several years if AAPL tanks. In reality you will probably not lose your entire $11.50. If conditions change for AAPL and it looks like you will not be profitable on this trade you can bail out and sell your contract at any time before the expiration date and cut your losses. The most you can lose on this trade is $11.50 but likely less than that.
If we were to close our position today(6/25/10) on this trade by selling our January 2011 $260 call here is what our profit would be.
- Sell the January $260 call for $36
- Less cost of $11.50
- Profit = $24.50 or 313% in 3 months
Not a bad profit for 3 months and it could even be more profitable, but as I said it was only a paper trade for me. AAPL rose from $242 but it is a very volatile stock and it gave me several chance to make this trade over the last 3 months. Sadly I passed upon it each time. I am still bullish on AAPL at $270 just as I was at $242. You can use this strategy to buy AAPL for a fraction of its current stock price. You just need to create an option spread at different price levels and the time frame you are comfortable with. I also believe that the stock price will give you an opportunity to enter at a more favorable price.
This post is for educational and entertainment purposes only. The above information is not to be taken as an actual stock recommendation.