Name That Trade: $YHOO Edition

by Dan February 1, 2013 3:14 pm • Commentary

Here is a summary of what I will be discussing on Options Action tonight on CNBC at 5pm:

Just to get this out of the way, I REALLY hate equities here, I hate the amazingly bullish sentiment shift in the last month, the euphoric headlines of new all time highs in the Dow, and I hate the complacency as evidenced by the VIX below 13 and Sept futures down 4 points to 19.50 in the last month.  All of this can continue for the near future as investors remain convinced that the Fed will continue to keep their pedal on the medal as long as we continue to get data like the GDP reading we got earlier in the week.

Last year at this time I was convinced that it was AAPL alone propelling the broad market higher, and in some ways it was, the rally in Q1 2012 was fairly narrow, but that is not the case so far in 2013, there is fairly broad participation, and bullishly, despite AAPL’s 14.5% ytd decline.  Things seem fairly rosy to say the least, but I am not buying it.  That said, I am not THAT short, as I fear a little blow-off top situation in the making.

But, I am willing to get my short list of names that I would like to Buy and have thought out some of the structures I want to use to express that view.  My sense is that the next leg of the rally (that hopefully comes after a 5% sell off) will be a bit more of a stock pickers market, and in that situation I want to find under-appreciated stocks that have identifiable catalysts.


YHOO could be one of these companies/stocks.  I had a bullish trade on the stock back in Sept, right before the stock broke out (read here),  and not much has changed on the story, aside from the 20% rally in the shares.  The stock has taken a pause since the company released their Q4 earnings earlier in the week, but my sense would be the stock will once again rally into a handful of potential catalysts in the months to come.  My cyber-friend Eric Jackson, of IronFire Capital, is the main with the plan on the stock, and I find his insight on the company very helpful.  The other day he updated some thoughts post the results on Forbes (here), but the most compelling reasons to own the stock are:

1. Paying very little for core business (sum of the parts $5 in cash, Asian Assets worth maybe $11-15)

2. New CEO Mayer will lay out plan in the coming months at Tech conferences, speaking at GS in a couple weeks, and hopefully a May/June analyst meeting.

3. Continue share buybacks, company bought 7.5% of float back in Q4 and continue cost cuts

4. Articulate plan to fix core business, search, display ads and mobile, and then show ways to grow.

5. Full  monetize their stake in Alibaba in China through rumored IPO and possibly sell stake in YHOO Japan.

Communication on the above topics to the Street and investors should help sentiment and any incremental improvement in their core business or a bullish economic backdrop should help the shares.

ALL THAT SAID, I AM NOT STEPPING IN HERE.  But on a pull back to $18 or so I want to put on the following structure for no cost (this likely means adjusting strikes down a bit)

Theoretical Trade Structure:

YHOO ($19.65) Sell July 18 Put to Buy July 20/22 Call Spread for Even Money
-Sell 1 July 18 Put at .65
-Buy 1 July 20 Call for 1.25
-Sell 1 July 22 call at .60

Break-Even on July Expiration:
-Profits of up to 2.00 btwn 20 and 22, max gain of 2 above 22,
-Neutral btwn 18 and 19.65*
-Losses below 18, you will be put the stock.

*As the stock moves closer to the Put that I am short I will have mark to market losses on the structure

Trade Rationale: I want to sell puts on stocks when implied vol ticks up and I am being adequately being rewarded for taking such risks.  IV is in a fairly neutral spot right now which does not scream to be net short options, but this structure is net short premium and will carry well if the stock sits where it is for a while, but offers a great risk reward on a rally, while giving you a buffer to the downside and putting time on your side.