What Do Amazon, Uber, And Chipotle All Have In Common?

What Do Amazon, Uber, And Chipotle All Have In Common?
Carl Hazeley

about 2 years ago3 mins

  • This earnings season, there’s an opportunity to use options to profit from certain stocks no matter what direction they move in.

  • That’s because a “straddle” options strategy allows you to profit from a dramatic move in a stock’s price, whether up or down.

  • Chipotle, Uber, and Amazon all screen as particularly susceptible to this strategy, and they’re all set to report earnings shortly.

This earnings season, there’s an opportunity to use options to profit from certain stocks no matter what direction they move in.

That’s because a “straddle” options strategy allows you to profit from a dramatic move in a stock’s price, whether up or down.

Chipotle, Uber, and Amazon all screen as particularly susceptible to this strategy, and they’re all set to report earnings shortly.

Mentioned in story

US earnings season can be an overwhelming mix of results from hundreds of companies, and it can be almost impossible to establish a method amid all the madness. But Goldman Sachs has found that three very different stocks have one significant thing in common this earnings season, and you could take advantage no matter how they perform.

What has Goldman Sachs been looking at?

Liquidity in individual US stocks has dropped to its 16th percentile relative to the last year, and that, Goldman says, is an important metric to watch.

Here’s why: single-stock liquidity historically drops after companies report earnings because market makers – short-term traders whose focus is on enabling others to trade – avoid trading against more informed fundamental investors. Goldman’s analysis shows that when a stock’s liquidity is low relative to its recent history in the days before an earnings update, its share price tends to move after that earnings update by 23% more than their recent history.

Source: Goldman Sachs, Thomson Reuters Eikon
Source: Goldman Sachs, Thomson Reuters Eikon

But what does that mean for you?

Goldman thinks it opens up an options strategy – known as a straddle – this earnings season.

If you think an illiquid stock is likely to have a big post-earnings price swing but you aren’t sure whether that swing will be up or down, you could buy both a put option and a call option on the stock (with the same strike price). That way if the stock falls dramatically, you can exercise the put and make money. At the same time, if it climbs you can exercise the call. All you’ve paid – and all you’d lose if the stock doesn’t rise or fall, but closes at your strike price – is the premium you paid for the two options.

The chart below should help you visualize the conditions under which these more complicated options trades will lead to profits or losses:

Straddle illustration

So where do Amazon, Uber, and Chipotle come in?

Goldman Sachs thinks these three stocks are the stocks to apply this straddle to this earnings season.

The investment bank is buy-rated on Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), but sees potential for near-term choppiness, driven by mixed trends on rising Covid cases at the end of December. Using the straddle strategy, Goldman recommends investors buy the Feb-22 $1370 straddles recently offered at $152.50 ahead of the company’s earnings update on February 8th.

The firm is also buy-rated on Uber Technologies (UBER) and recommends straddles ahead of its earnings update on February 9th and “analyst day” – when it’ll reveal its latest strategy and profit goals, and address investors’ concerns about growth given the pandemic – on February 10th. The 11-Feb $35 straddles recently offered at $4.97 could be an attractive play.

This strategy may also work well on tech giant Amazon this week. The stock’s liquidity has dropped to its 5th percentile over the last year. Amazon’s shares usually move an average of 5% after its earnings announcements, but with liquidity so low, the stock could be much more volatile than usual late on Thursday and when the stock market opens on Friday.

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Disclaimer: These articles are provided for information purposes only. Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided. The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.

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