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TheStreet Open House

Will Apple Miss Earnings Estimates?

You always risk getting your face handed to you if you bet against AAPL ahead of earnings. In between reports, it's not quite as hard to pick spots to go long or short, but even then, you have to be nimble. AAPL can turn on a dime. It's up, for example, about 7% in the last couple weeks after moving lower from its April highs.

In this environment, cautious AAPL bulls might consider using options to approach the stock ahead of a relatively uncertain quarterly report. While another blowout or even record quarter would not surprise me, there's no question that investors should, at the very least, pause ahead of that thought. No clear catalyst exists to drive such powerful numbers from Apple this time around.

Even if you're bullish, a pullback can provide an attractive opportunity. And you don't necessarily have to just directly "buy the dips" like the message board trolls often suggest.

If you have the capital to back the trade, selling cash-secured AAPL puts ahead of earnings could make sense.

Wait for a down day between now and earnings. Look for a strike price that represents two things: One, the vicinity where you think AAPL would settle on considerable weakness and two, a price you would be more than happy to get long at, even if the stock moves lower.

For example, as of Monday's close, you could sell an AAPL August $570 put and collect the bid of $9.95. That's $995 in your pocket (options use a multiplier of 100), no matter what happens with the stock.

If AAPL breaches $570 (the put goes "in-the-money") between now and option expiration day in August, you will likely get put (be obligated to buy) 100 shares of AAPL at $570 apiece regardless of the stock's market price. At expiration, it's almost a guarantee you will get put shares on an in-the-money put.

To put the trade on in the first place, you need $57,000 in your account to cover the purchase of 100 shares of AAPL at $570 per share in the case of assignment. If you do not have the cash, you would need sufficient account equity to back the trade. I prefer cash-secured puts as opposed to dealing with margin and naked puts.

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