The wonders of expiration are upon us again, and they never cease to befuddle us. Some of the March expirations in the past have led to true fireworks today and tomorrow, moves that seem totally divorced from the fundamentals.
The longer you trade, the more you will hear various strategies about how to play the expiration.
They're all nonsense. You cannot game expiration. You sure can try. If you have sophisticated modeling and 100% of the calls from 100% of the
arbitrage players, maybe you will even have a handle on things.
But you won't make money because things are too random, too out of your control -- or anyone else's, for that matter.
I know, given the magnitude of the impact of expiration, it is worth trying to figure out, say, whether the market will be up today because it was down yesterday. Or it may be worth it to try to figure out where the
index or the
index will end up and short puts and calls against a particular strike, betting the index goes out at the strike and you clean up.
All I can say is that I have tried these things so many times, with so many excellent brokers and so many good floor looks and with so much help from other pros, and I have
never made a dime
That's why the only real way to play expirations is to look for outsized imbalances and try to move fast enough to get in.
Good luck. We will be racing each other.
It's heartening to know that the only thing that's been dogging
after all is a negative Heard on the Street column. I guess that's been kicking around for the last couple of days. But the first time I got wind of it was in the paper this morning! Wow, am I out of it!
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At the time of publication, his fund was long Chase Manhattan Bank, though positions may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column by sending a letter to TheStreet.com.