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IVolatility Trading Digest™

Volume 17 Issue 39
Volatility Kings 3Q 2017

Volatility Kings 3Q 2017 - IVolatility Trading Digest™

Trade selection using volatility as the primary criteria. Different trades for different volatility opportunities.
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To add comments or to ask questions please click here (or use the blog "COMMENTS" link at the very bottom of the blog page).

Oil RigSince the third quarter ended and earnings reporting will start soon it is time once again to update our Volatility Kings ™ list of companies having a regular tendency to experience increasing option implied volatility as their quarterly reporting dates approach. First a brief market comment.

S&P 500 Index (SPX) 2519.36 advanced another 17.14 points or +.68% for the week making new closing highs Thursday and Friday disappointing those anticipating a typical September seasonal decline. For the month the gain was 47.71 points or +1.93%. At the start of the week it looked like both cyclical and seasonal forces would push it a pull back toward the 50-day Moving Average due to rotation out of large capitalization tech favorites, but talk about the proposed tax plan boosted small capitalization stocks quickly ending the pullback as market breadth improved all week much to the delight of the stampeding bulls.

As for the Volatility Kings ™ the degree of uncertainty for upcoming reports may not be comparable to previous quarters. Indeed, some companies are on the list one quarter and not the next while others seem to remain on our list quarter after quarter. Since the focus is on earnings, others with high-implied volatility due to takeover speculation or FDA announcements do not appear along with those lacking sufficient liquidity due to low option volume.

Crude OilThe list was made after whacking through the weeds looking for stocks with prices greater than 5, since when prices are too low there are usually not enough strike prices or liquidity for spreads or other strategies.

Volatility Kings™ 3Q 2017


In order to focus on those with the best options volume and liquidity, both the weekly and month average volume requirement is greater than 20K contracts and may result in inclusion one quarter but not the next. However, the objective is to find those stocks with sufficient options liquidity and therefore reasonable bid/ask spreads to use for various multiple leg strategies, such as Calendar Spreads, Butterflies, Iron Condors and others.

The volume search begins at the “Top 200 stocks by volume / open interest” link on the left side of the “Rankers and Scanner” section about two-thirds of the way down our home page where we feature a complimentary ranker sample of the top 200 stocks and ETFs by Options volume and Options open interest displaying weekly averages.

Then the Implied Volatility differential from last quarters’ earnings announcement high to the subsequent after reporting low needs to be greater than 10%, occurring regularly with some flexibility on the regularly occurring requirement as it may vary due to market conditions and special situations like including Sprint (S).

For the data table above, descriptions and details for the column headings follow.

Price in column 3, are closing stock prices as of September 29, 2017.

Next Rpt in column 4 is the next expected earnings report date. They require checking often as these are only estimates and companies routinely change the dates. Time in column 5 is the time during the day to expect the report, where B is before the open, A is after close.

Est or Estimate in column 6 is the current consensus earnings estimate per share, also subject to change before the report date. Some may also have higher “whisper” estimates. In addition, stock prices move on forward guidance as much, or perhaps more than on reported revenues and earnings.

Last Q IV in column 7 is the Implied Volatility Index Mean (IVXM) of the puts and calls reached just before the last quarterly report, but may not necessarily be relevant this quarter.

IV Min Ex in column 8 shows the Implied Volatility Index Mean (IVXM) low after the last earnings report making it easier to compare the pre-report high to the subsequent low.

IV Now in column 9 is the Implied Volatility Index Mean, (IVXM) as of September 29, 2017. The implied volatility of some, depending upon the last report date, may still be declining from their recent report such as Micron (MU), Nike (NKE) and Oracle (ORCL).

IV Est/Now in column 10 is the ratio of the estimated implied volatility to the current implied volatility based primarily on the high reached the previous quarter. Those with higher ratios have a potentially greater opportunity to increase going into their next report date and those with lower ratios may have already started increasing anticipating the next report such as Amazon (AMZN) and Chipotle (CMG).

Once again, the charts below use Netflix (NFLX) to illustrate the pattern as the implied volatility advances before the expected October 16 report date.


On the reporting dates the orange IV Index Mean implied volatility drops and the blue 30D HV (Historical Volatility) advances as shown on the top chart.

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Comments and Observations

The typical pattern is for implied volatility to decline for 4-6 weeks after the reporting date followed by a subsequent rise for about 3-4 weeks before the next report, but vary with each having its own somewhat unique pattern.

Events unrelated to earnings reports can also affect implied volatility, such as the S&P 500 Index implied volatility as reflected by the VIX below at 9.51 or our similar IVolatility Implied Volatility Index Mean, IVXM, at 6.75 that uses four at-the-money options for each expiration period along with our proprietary technique that includes the delta and vega of each option. This VIX chart tells the story.


To help identify implied volatility highs, lows, and forecast where they may go along with other details, make sure to check the volatility charts at either our complimentary Basic Options or our more detailed Advanced Historical Data pages on our website.

Here is how to find "The best volatility charts in the business."

Some Strategy Ideas

Frequently calendar spreads, also called time spreads are used for quarterly reporting by selling the near term option with higher implied volatility and buying the same strike price in the deferred month with a lower implied volatility. However, since this position will have short gamma or the rate of change of delta, any large move of the underlying stock on the report date will result in a loss. For example, those with IV/HV ratios greater than 2.00 using the range method for historical volatility imply large moves.

The alternative approach, distinguished by the expiration date of the short option relative to the earnings report date has quite different characteristics.

When the short option expires before the report date, the short option implied volatility is less likely to advance while the implied volatility of the deferred long option, expiring after the report is more likely to advance into the earnings report. In addition, the risk of a harmful stock price gap diminishes by closing the spread before the earnings report release. This strategy depends on closing the position one or two days before the short option expires and is thus, truly a time spread designed to capture time decay of the short front option relative to the long option while any implied volatility advance of the deferred option is a bonus.

Option prices continuously change in response to changing expectations. The higher the uncertainty the more valuable the option, implying there is a much wider distribution of possible outcomes. When they become more predictable, the implied volatilities no longer increase dramatically before the reporting dates, option volume usually declines and they disappear from Volatility Kings™.

Individual investors relying upon the earnings forecasts and playing the expectations game wondering if they may be too high or too low are disadvantaged when anticipating the direction the stock will move after reporting. However, if the implied volatility has risen enough into the report date it may offer an opportunity for a volatility strategy and not rely upon getting the direction right. In addition, since earnings reports reoccur every quarter there may be more than one opportunity, especially the "reliable" ones that have a regular pattern of rising into the report dates.

We welcome your comments and suggestions, please send them to us at Support@IVolatility.com.

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From both cyclical and seasonal perspectives , the S&P 500 Index seems extended but the bulls remain in charge reflected by the indicators, especially breadth as it continues to improve. Perhaps news of the proposed tax plan that boosted small capitalization stocks just delayed an overdue pullback, so beware of any weakness for the next two weeks until 3Q earnings reports really get rolling.

Twitter Follow us on twitter for more ideas from our scanners and other developments.

Actionable Options™
We now offer daily trading ideas from our RT Options Scanner before the close in the IVolatility News section of our home page based upon active calls and puts with increasing implied volatility and volume.

Next week will feature an updated market review along with WTI crude oil from the Commitment of Traders report.

Finding Previous Issues and Our Reader Response Request

PreviousIssuesAll previous issues of the Digest can be found by using the small calendar at the top right of the first page of any Digest Issue. Click on any underlined date to see the selected issue. Another source is the Table of Contents link found in the lower right side of the IVolatility Trading Digest section on the home page of our website.

CommentAs usual, we encourage you to let us know what you think about how we are doing and what you would like to see in future issues. Send us your questions or comments, or if you would like us to look at a specific stock, ETF or futures contract, let us know at Support@IVolatility.com or use the blog response at the bottom of the IVolatility Trading Digest™ page on the IVolatility.com website. To receive the Digest by e-mail let us know at Support@IVolatility.com



thanks for your list of volatility kings but it is too late since most of the stocks listed have already high vol and we can not use strategies to benefit from an increase in volatility.
Could you give us this list at least 3 or 4 weeks earlier?
Christian morio

Posted by christian morio on October 06, 2017 at 05:01 PM EDT


Thanks for your comment. If you check the next report date, those that are reporting in mid to late October are already increasing as you noted. However, they will likely continue higher until the day before the report. These are the ones to consider selling the near term and buying the longer date. However, if the stock makes a large move on the report date it will result in a loss. For example, when the IV/HV ratio is greater than 2 it suggests a large possible move.

Also note those with report dates later in December, such as MU, NKE, ORCL, these are still declining and not subject to large price moves due to earnings. Normally they will decline for about three weeks before turning higher in anticipation of the next report. When they reach the pivot consider a calendar where the first month expires before the report date and close it one or two days before the report.

Regardless when the Volatility Kings report is prepared some will be advancing in anticipation of the next report while others are declining having recently reported.

Volatility Kings is a template to use in conjunction with volatility charts to identify top and bottoms in both implied volatility and historical volatility, also called realized volatility along with the ratio between implied volatility and historical volatility.


Posted by Jack ( on October 09, 2017 at 02:15 PM EDT

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IVolatility Trading DigestTM Disclaimer
IVolatility.com is not a registered investment adviser and does not offer personalized advice specific to the needs and risk profiles of its readers.Nothing contained in this letter constitutes a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Before entering a position check to see how prices compare to those used in the digest, as the prices are likely to change on the next trading day. Our personnel or independent contractors may own positions and/or trade in the securities mentioned. We are not compensated in any way for publishing information about companies in the digest. Make sure to due your fundamental and technical analysis homework along with a realistic evaluation of position size before considering a commitment.

Our purpose is to offer some ideas that will help you make money using IVolatility. We will also use some other tools that are easily available with an Internet connection. Not a lot of complicated math formulas but good trade management. In addition to Volatility we use fundamental and technical analysis tools to increase the probability of success and reduce risk. We prepare a written trade plan defining why the trade is being made, what we call the "DR" (determining rationale) and the Stop/unwind, called the "SU".