Triple-witch, what a great time to do nothing. Big volume. Lots of pair-offs. Lots of noise. Lots of fireworks. And not a lot of money to be made.
As I have said on many occasions, I do next to nothing on these expiration days after spending 10 years trying to game the heck out of them. Even five years ago, I would furiously be trading
calls that expire today, selling them, buying them back, etc. I would be gaming strikes, trying to sell call or common, betting which stocks would go out at the strike. (Example here, betting that
goes out at 120 so selling the June 120 calls short for pocket change, betting I would not have to buy them back.)
But I am a human laboratory. I have played every expiration since the invention of stock indices and I can tell you, it ain't worth it. It can't be gamed.
Instead, what I try to do is figure out what the market might look like Monday and take advantage of any expiration-related weakness I can find.
Again, IBM is the operative example. This morning,
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
raised its price target for IBM, and I keep hearing that business is excellent there. I believe that if this were not option expiration day, the stock would not be hugging this strike, as 120 call- and put-sellers converge to drive the stock to 120. So I am buying that one because I think it is artificially down vs. where it will be next week.
But I am not going to get into battles over the OEX June 680 calls or the
June 35s, or anything else that edgeless. And edgeless is the right term.
Some people ask why we charge for
. I always answer it the same way: because thousands of you have emailed me and told me you would pay much, much more for the kind of information we and I provide.
This no-play-on-the-witch info is one of those insights that is worth the price of a subscription and 10 times more than that. Because I have done hundreds upon hundreds of trades for naught on these days -- with the help of the best derivative players in the world.
If, 10 years ago, someone only allowed me to pay them $10 for that info!
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long IBM and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes 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 at