I wrote previously about how I'm playing Apple (AAPL) ahead of Wednesday afternoon's dog-and-pony show of new-product unveilings. I threw a few ideas for shorting put options ahead of the event, and those are all off to a very nice start, mainly because Apple ran up 2.5% Tuesday.
The big news behind Tuesday's run-up was that UBS increased its target price for Apple to $250 from a previous $215, citing growth in AAPL's services business. UBS thinks that segment could grow 20% per year over two years' time.
But the biggest news will be Apple's product launches themselves, particularly the expected unveiling of new iPhones. After all, the iPhone drives roughly two-thirds of the firm's revenue, so Apple has to keep this flagship product exciting.
The iPhone also serves as the firm's gateway to everything else, including the subscription-revenue streams that UBS referred to. A recurring-revenue model would give Apple a higher market multiple, and that's what we really want to see.
Here's what analysts expect Apple to unveil on Wednesday (click here for TheStreet's live blog of the event):
- Three New iPhones. Expect new phone with larger screens -- and higher price tags. For you kids who like bells and whistles, there will be plenty of them. Personally, I leave my house without my phone half of the time, so as a consumer, I don't give a rat's tail about this. I'm just here to profit on the stock.
- A New Apple Watch. This one will likely not have to be tethered in any way to an iPhone, but again, I'm just here to profit. I still wear a $10 plastic Casio watch with a face and moving hands for hours, minutes and seconds.
- A Third-Generation iPad. Rumors are that we'll see a device with a faster processor, a facial-recognition feature and no "Home" button. Yeah, because that Home button was such a nuisance and facial ID is so necessary. What on Earth have we become? I really was born in the wrong century.
- Other Products. There could potentially be an array of other products launched, including new MacBooks, new AirPods, and perhaps finally the new AirPower charging mat. A charging mat might actually be something of interest to this old dog, but expensive wireless ear buds? No, thanks -- I'll take the cheapo wired version off of the discount rack.
Sell the News?
Markets can get pretty gnarly for Apple shareholders on days like this, and the fact that the stock has rallied significantly since April (and also rallied back from last week's sell-off) could indicate danger ahead.
Bear in mind that AAPL historically tends to sell off on launch days. Investor's Business Daily did that math and found that Apple has fallen on eight of the past 10 launch days for an average -0.4% performance. IBD also discovered that Apple has declined 1.8% on average for the full week surrounding those same 10 events.
Of course, as we've all seen repeatedly, Apple's stock also tends to get on track and stay on track for lengthy periods of time. That's why my method of selling Apple put options does provide my book with a regular infusion of cash.
But you'd also be well ahead -- particularly this year -- if you just owned Apple shares and held them. AAPL has sharply rewarded the "buy-and-hold" crowd this year, rising some 32.3% vs. only 8% for the S&P 500.
You know what Jim Cramer says about this one: "Own it, don't trade it." He's been right.
Still, my time-tested set of disciplines prevents me from chasing a stock that appears to be on a constantly upward march, as Apple does. The same goes for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) .
I've owned both of these names at times, but I'm currently short multiple series of cascading puts for both. The intent is to buy the shares at a discount while providing some options revenue along the way. And then, I sit and watch as names like these go on seriously prolonged runs to the point where my "discount" entry price becomes a significant premium.
This, my friends is how a trader stays in motion while biding his or her time. It's also how a trader continues to drive some revenue while avoiding the temptation of impulse shopping.
Is there risk with such a strategy? Yes, but it's well-managed -- and less than you'd have with just a straight equity purchase.
The bottom line: This trader is fine if Apple goes higher, forcing my options play down to zero. But I'm also fine buying Apple shares at a discount price -- less premiums realized -- if forced to because of my options trades.
(This column has been updated. A longer version of the piece also appeared at 7:33 a.m. ET on Real Money, our premium site for active traders. Click here to get great columns like this from Stephen "Sarge" Guilfoyle, Jim Cramer and other experts throughout the market day.)