Trade Update – Zillow (Z): Closing May Put Fly For A Loss

by CC May 15, 2014 11:50 am • Commentary

Since buying a May 100/80/60 put fly in Zillow prior to last week’s Q1 results, the stock has been a tad volatile to say the least, both threatening a breakdown at its 50 day moving average and a break above technical resistance to its previous highs. Neither has happened (yet) , but with expiration tomorrow we don’t have the luxury of waiting for the stock to go lower (which we think it will eventually).

We’ll look to revisit the name as we think the only thing holding it up vs its peers is the high short interest (approx 37% of the float).   We are going to close the position, but with a twist, we are going to sell to close the May 100 puts that we are long, but roll down the put strike and buy the May 90 puts (expire tomorrow) to open which would leave us long the May 90/80/60 broken wing put fly.  This way we lock in a loss, but still have a lotto ticket between now and tomorrow’s close to maybe make back that 1.00 loss and then some if the stock were to crater.  We are managing a loser, ensuring that we don’t take a total loss on the position.

Action: Z ($98) Sold May 100/90 Put Spread at 2.50  (selling May 100 Put to close and buying May 90 put to open) Locking in 1.00 loss
New Position: Z ($98) Long May 90/80/60 Put Fly for 1.00 that is my max loss

This trade was obviously a bit disappointing, we had almost an immediate double into earnings, chose to let it ride as we liked the risk reward of the trade given the potential range of profitability to the downside with a defined event.  The stock continues to trade as if someone “knows something”.  We will close most of the risk and place on our “banned list”.



Original Post May 6th, 2014: New Trade – Zillow (Z): This Aggression WIll Not Stand, Man

At this point, regular readers are familiar with our views on these Web 2.0 services stocks that trade at multiples of sales that they can never ever grow into. We have noted on more than one occasion that Zillow has shown remarkable relative strength relative to many peers despite sporting similar valuation concerns. The stock recently made a new all time higher after its brief sell off in late March early April.  The company reports Q1 earnings tomorrow after the bell, and the options market is implying about a 12% one day move on Thursday which is well in advance of the 4 qtr avg of about 5.25%.  The take-away, options prices are very expensive heading into the print and those looking to make directional bets with long premium will find it hard to make money.

But I am going to keep this short and simple, I obviously have no idea what sort of results and guidance they will give tomorrow after the close, but if there is a hint of less than stellar news this stock could give back all of that relative out-performance and then some.  To be frank the stock acts like someone knows something, so you would have to be crazy to short the stock, but I will look to create a short biased trade structure where I define my risk and target potential pull back levels.

The one year chart below shows $100 as a very near term support level with little support until $90, where it was trading just last week, and then $80 as a fairly important longer term support level (green line):

Zillow 1yr chart from Bloomberg
Zillow 1yr chart from Bloomberg

So what’s the trade?:

In an effort to reduce my premium outlay to make a directional bet into Zillow’s Q1 print I am going to use a put butterfly so that I can be selling some fairly meaty options at my desired near term target.  As many readers have heard us say before, directional bets with expensive options are risky, you need to get a lot of things right, direction, duration and magnitude, not to mention crossing bid ask on the way in and out on a multi-leg trade like this, so you really should only risk what you are willing to lose on an event trade.  I am going to follow my own advice and trade this small.

Trade: Z ($105) Bought to open May 100/80/60 Put Fly for 3.50

-Bought 1 May 100 Put for 4.90

-Sold 2 May 80 Puts at .77 each or 1.54 total

-Bought 1 May 60 Put for .14

Break-Even on May Expiration:

Profits: btwn 96.50 and 63.50 make up to 16.50 with max gain at 80 of 16.50

Losses: btwn 60 & 63.50 and 96.50 and 100 lose up to 3.50 with max loss of 3.50 below 60 and above 100