Ben Lichtenstein : We’ve got a real treat here for you this morning, traders. We’ve got the founder and head trader of OptionSellers.com. Traders, we’ve got James Cordier with us this morning. James, welcome to Futures with Lichtenstein & Hincks. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show. I want to dive right into it. When we’re talking futures versus options I kind of think of it as futures for me are kind of easy versus options. It’s sort of like driving a VW versus flying a Cessna. Talk to us about some of the benefits of trading options and why they’re appealing to you, considering what we’re seeing here in the energy markets as of recent.
James : You know, I think that’s a great question. So often, people talk about options and they kind of go like this. I understand they are puts and calls, but I think the gentleman you had on just a moment ago is just a great example as to why selling options can be a good idea for mainstream investors. The gentleman prior to me was talking about trading in currencies and he talked about close stops and you’ve got to watch your lows and watch your highs, and you need to have a close stop on all of your positions. Shorting options and selling premium is just the opposite of this. If you want to take a long-term fundamental view on gold, as you’d just been describing, or crude oil, this is the way to do it because perfect timing, I’ve been in this business for almost 30 years, I don’t know anyone who knows how to do that… not on a consistent basis; however, we’re looking at energy prices right now. The crude oil market is extremely frothy, especially with slowing global growth. Europe right now is probably what brings us to mind right now, as far as the oil price, might be at a reflection point. With PMIs going south, with consumer confidence in Germany, I was just in both Italy and Germany this past week and, while pizza sales were really good, and I can attest to that, the rest of the economies are not doing so well. $80 and $82 oil Brent is going to probably be very detrimental to European economies. We’re looking at a possible reflection point right now in crude oil. Instead of trying to pick the exact copy, because of course no one else is of course able to do that, we’re going to start looking at selling a call premium on crude oil. We’re going to go out 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, sell the $90 calls and the $95 calls and that way we don’t need perfect timing, but we simply need to be right the market eventually. A lot of the fundamentals we’re seeing in oil going forward into the 3rd and 4th quarter lead us to believe that we’re going to be right on this.
Kevin Hincks : Good morning, James. Thanks for coming on the show. It’s always a pleasure for me to talk about options when I’m on this show. I spent most of my career doing that. So, you are talking about the 90 calls above the market, right? Selling something very safely above the market here, about $18-$19. You also talk about selling the 45 put so you’re creating a short option strangle, right? Where you basically want a range-bound trade in between your strikes. Now, the question that option traders have is, “Do you think, based on the risk that you’re assuming, now you’ve given yourself a nice wide in between the navigational beacons, I call it, of your short strikes. Are you getting paid enough for the risk that you’re putting on?”
James : That is such a great question. So many of your investors, I’m sure, are familiar with selling options on stocks. I hear about this all the time. When we have a new investor they’ll say, “James, I was introduced to short options through my stock broker. We started writing covered calls and then I got a little creative and started selling options on stocks. I hear that you’re selling options 2%, 3%, 5% out-of-the-money.” In commodities, crude oil, gold, coffee, we’re selling options 50-60% out-of-the-money in some cases. When we’re identifying a strangle, the window is just absolutely enormous. The crude oil market, based on fundamentals right now, is not going to fall into the 40’s. We have, of course, Brent around 80 right now, WTI right around 70-71, but it’s not going to go above 90 and that is just a fantastic window for the market to stay in. Identifying fairly priced commodities is probably the most wonderful thing that we do for our clients. Often, an expert comes on and he talks about, “Well, the coal market’s about to go to the moon” or “Soybeans are going to go to zero.” As we all know, quite often that’s not the case. Finding a window that a market is going to stay inside is just a fabulous way to create a strong performance at the end of the year. We’re collecting $600-$700 for the $90 calls. We’re collecting $600-$700 for the 45 puts. Basically, selling a strangle, as you know, is one position babysits the other while you wait. So many investors want to get paid right now and when they’re talking about selling options on commodities they need to get in “right now”. We don’t do that. We want to sell options much further out in price and much further out in time than most people, but we get paid to do it.
Ben Lichtenstein : Yeah, James, I know that you think that 85 is a bit of a tipping point, and possibly that tipping point that would bring Europe back into a recession. Talk to us and tell us a little bit more about why you think that.
James : What’s interesting is all you have to do is look at the Euro, and you look at banking stocks in Italy and Germany right now. That tells us that the European Union cannot withstand $80 oil. OPEC right now has to have another discussion. 2 years ago, they discussed cutting production. That has worked tremendously. They need to not be too greedy right now. $80 oil, everyone is making a ton of money producing oil here in the United States and everywhere else. Pushing Europe into a possible recession could absolutely kill the golden goose, if you will. Other producing nations produce oil for $35-$40 a barrel. It’s trading at $80. The last thing they need is a recession in Europe because you know what’s going to happen after we start talking about Greek bonds and Italian bonds? Then the stock market starts to dive and $80 oil prices will be history if that happens.
Kevin Hincks : Hey James, as you know, when it comes to the oil markets that there’s a mid-June OPEC meeting coming up where they’re going to re-look at or re-investigate the production cuts. Here’s my question for you: Is the most important person coming to the June OPEC meeting a non-OPEC member, being Russia? I think that they’re chomping at the bit to up their production and get back in this game, back to their old levels. Are they the most important player in this mid-June OPEC meeting?
James : Yes, they are. Saudi Arabia and Russia have been just great partners recently. Saudi Arabia’s probably the smartest OPEC nation in the room and they are going to be siding along with Russia. We’re looking at the spigots opening up. They have to. They are very extremely great traders and they understand that throwing a slow-down in global economy is the last thing that they need right now. I think they would be very happy with a $72-$74 Brent price. I think producing more oil, especially in Russia, is going to help that happen. We do see, at least by the 3rd quarter, production cuts going away and oil prices probably settling down $5-$7 from where it is right now, at least.
Ben Lichtenstein : All right. Lastly, James, I’m curious your thoughts on Shale production because everybody’s dialed in on the increased production up about 10 million barrels per day as we’re nearing 11 million barrels per day, but, you know, not everybody’s focused on the fact that without this added production levels that we probably see crude oil at a lot higher prices. A lot of people are saying, “Why hasn’t this increased production, keep the price of crude down?” Is it your thought or opinion that without all of this added supply that we’d be up and through this at $75 level right now in the WTI. Is that production what’s actually holding us down a bit?
James : What’s holding us down right now is the production. If 11 million barrels a day were being produced in a country that is a third world nation and doesn’t have a huge population of drivers and such, that would make a big difference, but, you know, we are using basically all the oil we need. What really changed the market recently is the fact that the U.S. is now exporting oil and that has really made it more of a global market. The fact that we see such a discount to WTI versus Brent tells us that oil production in the United States is around 11, adding up to 12, and, at that point, $80 oil for Brent and $70 for WTI is not going to last very long. We really see Brent down, like I was saying, $5-$10 this year. What’s going on in the United States right now will keep oil prices from doing the super-spike and I think we’re at a reflection point pretty soon.
Ben Lichtenstein : Yeah, we’re watching that spread closely, too, right around 7 ½ right now. Traders, that’s James Cordier joining us this morning and he’s the President and Founder of OptionSellers.com. He’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Option Selling. James, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the show. Really good insightful thoughts there in terms of options and the energy markets.
OptionSellers.com’s James Cordier and/or Michael Gross have appeared in nearly every major financial media in the US and many across the world. Whether it be live television or radio interviews, print or online interviews, published articles, features for our books The Complete Guide to Option Selling series – the traders at OptionSellers.com are in demand for two rare and specialized areas of expertise – Option Selling and Commodities Market Fundamentals.
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A sampling of various appearances, interviews and articles can be found below.
CNBC – August 29, 2017
Fox Business – August 30, 2017
CNBC – November 18, 2016
CNBC – July 6, 2016
CNBC – June 8, 2016
CNBC – May 16, 2016
CNBC – December 28, 2015
CNBC – September 24, 2015
CNBC – August 19, 2015
FOX Business – May 12, 2015
CNBC – NOV 13, 2014
BNN – NOV 11, 2014
The Street – NOV 11, 2014
Fox Business – SEP 22, 2014SEE MORE
CNBC – MAY 22, 2018
CNBC – MAR 15, 2018
CNBC – JUN 30, 2017
Bloomberg – JUN 21, 2017
Bloomberg Markets – MAY 05, 2017
Bloomberg Markets – MAY 05, 2017
KITCO News – AUG 18, 2015
TD Ameritrade – MAR 05, 2015
Traders.com | Stocks & Commodities Mag – FEB 2015
Trader Planet – JUN 05, 2015
Trader Planet – JUN 01, 2015
MarketWatch – MAY 29, 2015
MarketWatch – MAY 15, 2015
Trader Planet – MAY 01, 2015
MarketWatch – APR 29, 2015
Seeking Alpha – APR 28, 2015READ MORE
August 25, 2017
March 02, 2016
DEC 05, 2014
DEC 05, 2014
NOV 11, 2014