NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Southwest Airlines(LUV) - Get Report is widely considered to be the best operator among the major airline carriers. The company was able to maintain profitability even during the Great Recession. Southwest sports a healthy balance sheet and just raised its dividend by 25%. 

Earnings per share have been flying high, having surged from $0.43 in 2011 to $0.56, $1.05 and $1.64 during 2012 through 2014 respectively. Lower jet fuel prices allowed first-quarter 2015 EPS to hit $0.66 vs. $0.22 a year earlier.

It always seems scary to play a stock that has gone up significantly and then started pulling back. With fundamentals this good, however, the lower price appears to be a good second chance opportunity.

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Buying Southwest shares while selling Jan. 2017, near-the-money covered calls and slightly in-the-money naked puts offered a very favorable total return potential on anything more than 3% rise over time.

Use the $35 call and put to reduce the initial cash outlay. Barring actual exercise, paid-up marginable equity can secure the put without incurring a greater than $2,238 outlay.

At the currently available option prices, however, our break-even point would be reduced to well under $29 a share. Anything less than a 16% decline would leave us with a profit if we simply liquidated right away.

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No investments in stocks or options will ever be completely riskless. Setting up trades like this one, though, can help skew the odds in your favor.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published at 11:30 a.m. on Real Money Pro on June 10, 2015.

At the time of publication, Paul Price had a short position in Southwest Air January 2017, puts.