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An Options Strategy for Believers

iPass (IPAS): I liked the $7.50 puts for 80 cents or more. Last Friday the stock was at $7.43. The puts never reached 80 cents, but just to give you a sense of how this works, even if you had sold them for 45 cents you would have made money. The puts did not expire worthless so the stock would have been put to you at $7.50. You would have lost 7 cents on the stock but made 45 cents on each share from the original sale of the puts. The net gain would be 38 cents, or about 5%, in less than four weeks.

The stock right now is at $7.38, and I believe selling the April $7.50 puts for 55 cents or more would be a good trade.

Microsoft (MSFT): I saw an opportunity to sell the $27.50 puts for $1.50 or more. The stock closed March 17 at exactly $27.50, so the puts would've expired worthless, netting you the income from the sale. Right now, with the stock at $27.01, none of the puts looks cheap enough for me, particularly given the recent volatile news on Microsoft. For example, the April $27.50s last traded at 60 cents. If the stock is still at $27.01 on option-expiration day, then you only net 11 cents per share, minus the commissions. This simply is not worth it. At this price I'd be interested in Microsoft $27.50s at $1.25 or more.

KongZhong (KONG): I wanted to sell the $12.50 puts "all day long." This would have been a huge win because the stock closed March 17 at $12.28. So the stock would be put to you at $12.50 and you would lose 22 cents. But you made $1.20 on the puts, netting you 98 cents, a gain of about 8%, in less than four weeks. Right now KongZhong is at $12.15, and the April $12.50 puts are trading at 75 cents. I think 75 cents is not enough to take on the risk of owning KongZhong for less than $11.75. However, if the puts hit $1 or more, I'm interested.

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