To Take What the VIX Gives You (or Not?)

  • SumoMe

Things have gotten a little “spooky” in the stock market of late (not everyone is surprised), and the VIX Index – as I wrote about here – has spiked as is typical in these situations. But now what?  I am not good at predictions, so I will not make one.  But how to react depends on what you expect.

The original trade (adjusted to a larger lot size than in the original article) using options on ticker VXX in the article above looked like Figure 1 at the close on 8/17.

1Figure 1 – VXX Nov 12/Oct 14 Directional Calendar Spread (Courtesy

Note that there is:

a) An open profit of $1,626 or 73.8%

b) Additional unlimited profit potential (if VXX soared to $21 a share the profit would be roughly $8,000)

c) Maximum risk of -$2,202

So do you feel lucky (punk)?

*If you are playing for a severe market decline (which would almost certainly be accompanied by a sharp rise in VXX) then it might make sense to “let it ride.”

*On the other hand, if you are willing to give up some upside potential to eliminate downside risk, then a simple adjustment might make sense.

For example, a person holding the original position could:

a) Buy back 24 Oct 14 calls

b) Sell 25 Nov 12 calls

The resulting position appears in Figure 2

2Figure 2 – Adjusted position to lock in a profit (Courtesy

Note that there is:

a) Additional unlimited profit potential (if VXX soared to $21 a share the profit would be roughly $4,800. Not bad but still significantly less than the original position).

b) The worst case scenario is a profit of $276 (if the position is held until November option expiration AND VXX is at or below $12 a share are that time).

So again, it comes down to a tradeoff depending on one’s expectations:


If you are playing for “The Big One” on the downside it might make sense to just hold on.  If you are more interested in “ringing the cash register” and letting the rest ride, then an adjustment might make sense.

Jay Kaeppel

Disclaimer:  The data presented herein were obtained from various third-party sources.  While I believe the data to be reliable, no representation is made as to, and no responsibility, warranty or liability is accepted for the accuracy or completeness of such information.  The information, opinions and ideas expressed herein are for informational and educational purposes only and do not constitute and should not be construed as investment advice, an advertisement or offering of investment advisory services, or an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any security.