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New Trade Alert February 5th – Marathon Oil Cash Secured Puts

New Trade Alert for (MRO)


Sell February MRO $8.00 Put @$0.40 or more to open


Risk Rating: 3     (1 = lowest   5 = highest)

Above Break Even Probability: 70%

Let expire or get long shares at $7.60


HIGH PROBABILITY 5% potential return in three weeks  

BUY Marathon Oil 10% Lower, or Get Paid Not To…

Volatility is OPPORTUNITY…

The crucial measure of payoff for an investment is RETURN on RISK.

Controlling and quantifying risk is the primary job of an investor.  Once the worst case scenario is determined downside exposure to ANY possible event is calculated in dollar terms and financial impact on the portfolio only then can participation be weighed.

Risk and Probability are the factors that can be controlled using options as the most positive attributes.  The super leverage benefit is secondary to the ability to know the maximum cost of any potential catastrophic stock move.

Oil has stabilized holding above the $30 level on a weekly basis for three consecutive Friday’s.  The Dollar stumble has provided relief for long suffering assets that have had an extreme sell off.

The near decade Oil low January 20th U-Turned to push higher and marked a KEY REVERSAL bottom on a weekly basis.  That low has held for now…

Marathon Oil has been drilled down 70% in the last year and 33% in 2016 alone.

A $20 to $14 trading range for four months held the stock sideways.  The downside break down measured move target $8.  An oversold bottom was put in at $7.08 January 20th as the lowest level in MRO since 2002.


The option volatility at the 95% level makes the option expensive in relative value compared to the market itself.  Option selling strategies take advantage of the increased premiums.

The potential return on risk is 5% is attractive with a $7.60 breakeven at the option expiration.    The decade plus low is $7.08.

Buying at an 11% discount price if assigned is a way to position for a long term recovery in a single digit stock…. Or to get paid not to buy it at these extreme low levels.

The high implied volatility makes option selling strategies attractive as pure probability trades that utilize time decay acceleration.  The February options have less than a month until expiration.

One tactic to buy at a lower price, or get paid not to, is used by money managers to buy stocks they WANT for long term portfolio positioning.  Use others fears for your benefit by selling a CASH SECURED PUT to enter the stock at a major discount.

Option tactics can be employed to make money in Up, Down and Sideways action to take advantage of other variables or time and volatility.

The fear and uncertainty can be used to get in another 9% lower for those who are at worst are comfortable holding on to an inexpensive stock to wait for a potential recovery.


Portfolio Strategy

The straightforward Price Order to buy a stock at a lower level is common if it can be determined where it is comfortable to get in below current prices.  Put in the trade at “X” and wait for the dip to enter.

Professional money managers have certain points at which they would buy a desirable stock but an option strategy lets them get in at discount or get paid not to.

Selling a CASH SECURED put, has the same mathematical risk profile as a covered call, would assign the stock long at the option strike price.  The true entry basis is actually even lower with the subtraction of the premium.

With the Put sale there is an OBLIGATION to buy at the strike price if it is assigned.

However, if the stock is not below the strike at expiration the premium received is all profit.  Get in the stock at a discount or get paid not to…

As of this writing MRO is trading around $8.50.

There are two rules that Cash Secured Puts traders need to follow to be successful.


Have the funds in the account to buy the stock at a discount if a selloff continues.

The intention is to be assigned the stock, each option represents 100 shares, as a long-term investment.  Paying in full ensures that no additional money is needed to hold for potentially many, many months or even years until price recovery.

Rule Two: Sell either of the front two option expiration months to take advantage of time decay.

Collect premium every month on put sales until assigned shares at a cost reduced basis.  Every month that you keep the premium is money subtracted from the entry price.

Trade Setup:  Sell the MRO February $8.00 Puts to open at $0.40 or better.  The cash secured Put sale would assign long shares at $7.60 if it is put to you costing $7.60 per option sold.


The combination of time decay and 70% probability of MRO finishing above the $7.60 break even make the option sale attractive with 15 days until expiration.

Be Aware this is a mathematical probability play to buy the stock lower or get paid not to with earnings released February 17th just before the February 19th option expiration.

If assigned shares, a March covered call can be sold against the stock to lower the cost basis again when you own it.

If MRO stock does move lower, buy the shares for 11% cheaper than the current share price.  Otherwise, you get paid not to… and get a 5% return on risk in just three weeks.

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