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Here is a Bull Put Spread (Linn Energy:LINE) a Credit Spread:

Sell October 2009 $20 Put on LINE (QGJVD) for     $2.05

Buy October 2009 $17.50 Put on LINE for                 $0.95

Net                         +$1.10 (less trading costs)

Max. Gain               $1.10 (less trading costs)

Max. Loss               $1.40 (+ trading costs)

Linn Energy is trading for $19.66 at the close of trading today June 15, 2009.

If Linn Energy is trading for $20.00 or more on October 17, 2009 both puts will expire worthless, we get to keep the $1.10 (less trading costs) premium.  If Linn Energy is trading for less than $17.50 we will suffer the maximum loss.  In between $17.50 and $20.00 we will have to make a calculation for the gain or loss.  I feel this is a great trade because Linn Energy is paying a +12% dividend and their earnings should be very solid as they have hedged their product for the next three years, at favorable prices.  I do not believe that Linn Energy will decline from here.

We are risking $1.40 (+ trading costs) and the return that I am looking for is about 78% in 4 months or 235% APR.

The Bull Put Spread is set up by buying a LOWER strike Put while simultaneously selling a HIGHER strike Put, both with the SAME expiration date.  This trade is also known as a Vertical Spread, because the expiration months are the SAME.  The Bull Put Spread is a Credit Spread, meaning you will receive a higher price for the Put that you sell than you wil pay for the Put that you purchase.

In order to enter this position the investor will have some beliefs.

          1)  She believes that the underlying security will stay the same or go up.  Depending on the strikes chosen, the underlying security can even go down a little and this position will still make money.  That is why this position has the word Bull in the name, it has a bullish bias.

          2)  The investor understands that IF the underlying stock moves counter to the postion, in this case, down, the position can lose 100% of the money at risk.  The good thing about a vertical spread, however, is that the options WILL retain some value, up until, expiration.  This means that a 100% loss can be avoided.

Lets look at an example:

In a recent Trading Idea I said to buy a July 2009 $12 Put while selling a July 2009 $13 Put on SLV  (IShares Silver ETF).  Here is the Risk/Reward graph for this position. 

Bull Put Spread - SLV (IShares Silver ETF)

The Maximum Loss is $0.60 ($1.00 difference in stikes – $.040 premium), and this will occur if SLV is trading below $12 at expiration, July 18, 2009.

The Maximum Gain is $0.40 (Premium recieved for position), and this will occur if SRS is trading above $13 at expiration, April 18, 2009.

The breakeven is if SLV is trading at $12.60 at expiration, July 18,2009.  The breakeven for this postition can be calculated by taking the strike price for the option sold (the $13 Put) – the premium received ($0.40).  If SLV is trading below $12.60, this position will have a loss.   If SLV is trading above $12.60 this position will have a gain.

Today SLV is trading for $13.68.  This means that SLV can lose 5% ($0.68)between now and July 18th and this position will still have the Maximum Gain.  SLV can lose 7.9% ($1.08) in that time frame and this position will Breakeven (not including trading costs).  SLV has to lose more than 12% in this time frame to incur the Maximum Loss.

The Bull Call Spread is set up by buying a LOWER strike Call while simultaneously selling a HIGHER strike Call, both with the SAME expiration date.  The Bull Call Spread is a Debit Spread, meaning you will pay a higher price for the Call that you purchase than the price of the Call that you sell.

In order to enter this position the investor will have some beliefs.

          1)  She believes that the underlying security will stay the same or go up.  Depending on the strikes chosen, the underlying security can go down a little and this position will still make money.  That is why this position has the word Bull in the name, it has a bullish bias.

          2)  The investor understands that IF the underlying stock moves counter to the postion, in this case, down, the position can lose 100% of the money invested.  The good thing about a vertical spread, however, is that the options WILL retain some value, up until, expiration.  This means that a 100% loss can be avoided. 

Lets look at an example:

In a previous Trade Idea I suggested a Vertical Spread.  I said to buy a July 2009 $35 Call while selling a July 2009 $55 Call on SRS  (Proshares Ultrashort Real Estate Fund).  Here is the Risk/Reward graph for this position.

SRS - Bull Call Spread

The Maximum Loss is $7.80 (+ Trading Costs), and this will occur if SRS is below $35 at the expiration, July 18, 2009.

The Maximum Gain is $12.20 ($20-$7.80) (- Trading Costs), and this will occur if SRS is above $55 at the expiration, July 18, 2009.

If SRS is between $35 and $55 at expiration, July 18, 2009, then the gain/loss will be -$7.80 (the cost of the spread) – $35 (the price that you can buy (call) SRS) + the price of SRS.  Therefore the breakeven point for this position is $42.80 (-$7.80 – $35 + $42.80 = $0) (not including trading costs).

This trade was entered when SRS was trading for $59.44.  This means that if SRS stays the same or goes up OR goes down $4.44 (7.5%) this position will still make the maximum gain.  SRS has to drop to $42.80, a loss of $16.64 (or 28%), for this position to start to lose money.  The 52 week low for this ETF is $48.00.

This position cost us $7.80/share and has an upside potential profit of $12.20/share.  That would be a 256% gain in approximately 6 months.  Which is an approximate 500% APR (Annual Percentage Rate).

One other note on this example:  This position is called a Bull Call Spread, that means that I was “bullish” on SRS.  However, SRS is an “Ultrashort” ETF, which means that it moves up when some index, in this case the real estate fund, goes down.  In essence, this position was a “bearish” position.  I hope I have not confused the situation.