To loosely paraphrase Robert Burns, the best-laid plans of mice and stock traders sometimes go awry.
But with some creative use of weekly options, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to take your losses.
Here's an example of what I mean.
Just under two weeks ago, we suggested a "short iron condor" as a possible short-term strategy for playing the release of first-quarter earnings reports for some of the leading financial stocks, using J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) as a specific example.
As it turned out, JPM's earnings handily topped the estimates - coming in at $1.31 per share versus a projected $1.14, on revenues of $26.7 billion ($24.4 billion had been predicted).
That should have sent the stock nicely higher, giving us a quick gain on our condor - and JPM did indeed try to rally - but then our best-laid plans took a wrong turn.
The broad market turned sharply lower that Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrials dropping 136.99 points and the S&P 500 losing 17.31, dragging J.P. Morgan along with it.
Long story short, over the next five days JPM see-sawed higher and lower - but save for a few moments on Thursday, it never moved out of our $43-$45 maximum-loss range. The trade went south.
But had you been on your toes, you would have noticed this about JPM: In spite of the pressure from a weak overall market, the stock demonstrated strong technical support at the $43-a-share level. Both times it tested $43, it bounced quickly back - a pattern it repeated Monday, when it ignored the broad market sell-off and rapidly rebounded from a lower gap opening near $42.
The rest of this week, it's again traded solidly above $43 a share. In fact, a quick look at the long-term chart shows that - with the exception of Monday - JPM hasn't closed below $43 since March 12th. And, given the healthy earnings and a "powerful buy" rating last Thursday from Zacks Investment Research, it probably won't close below that level again.
At least not in the next week or two...