An Airbag For Tesla Longs

Tesla PG&E RecessionContinental at IAA 2015 Tesla S 1 01 from NewsMarket with permission

When Puts Are Too Expensive

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) offers an example of a stock that’s too expensive to hedge now with optimal, or least expensive puts, but isn’t too expensive to hedge with an optimal collar.

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Taking Advantage Of Tesla's Bounce

In early February, when Tesla hit an all-time high, I suggested longs consider hedging. That turned out to be timely, as the stock dropped by nearly 60% over the next several weeks.

20% decline in tesla

Tesla shares have doubled since that March bottom...

20% decline in tesla

Which offers a reminder that it takes a significantly higher percentage increase to make up for a steep decline. In the case of a 60% decline, a 100% bounce back isn't enough: you'd need a 150% bounce to get back to even. As it is, Tesla was still down 18% from February 4th's close as of Wednesday's close.

20% decline in tesla

Nevertheless, Tesla shareholders might want to consider hedging again here, given the possibility that the climb since March has been a bear rally, and given the slight dip we're seeing in global auto sales this year...

Tesla Longs

And the drop in gasoline prices, which, all else equal, one would think would further lower demand for electric vehicles in particular.

20% decline in tesla

With that in mind, let's look at a couple of attempts to hedge Tesla as of Wednesday's close

Hedging Against A >20% Decline In Tesla Stock

With Optimal Put Options

Let's say you owned 200 shares of Tesla and could tolerate a 20% drop in your shares over the next several months, but not one larger than that. If you used Portfolio Armor to scan for the optimal, or least expensive, put options to hedge against a >20% decline out to mid-October (our default expiration date is about 6 months out), you would have gotten this error message:

20% decline in tesla

The reason you would have gotten that error message is that the cost of hedging against a >20% decline in Tesla using puts was itself greater than 20% of position value.

With An Optimal Collar

If you were willing to cap your possible upside in Tesla at 20% over the next 6 months, you could have scanned for an optimal collar hedging against a >20% decline in the stock over the same time frame. If you did, you would have been presented with this hedge:

TSLA

TSLA

 

Here the net cost was negative, meaning you would have collected a net credit of $6,190, or 4.24% of position value, when opening this hedge, assuming, conservatively, that you bought the puts and sold the calls at the worst ends of their respective spreads. That worked out to an annualized cost as a percentage of position value of -8.46%.

Wrapping Up - Other Options

If you wanted to hedge Tesla against the same, >20% decline without capping your upside, it was possible, albeit expensive, to do so using put options with shorter times to expiration, for example those expiring in June.

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About the Author

David Pinsen
David Pinsen is the founder of Portfolio Armor.

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