The story you are about to read is true is one of those “Only me” stories. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an Irish Catholic kid from Queens, NY. You can go ahead, and put the emphasis on Catholic. I practice the faith. I’m working all day today, and I’m having a good day, a really good day. Almost as good as yesterday. This market has made good days easy to come by of late. That is where the story makes an unexpected turn.
My wife (nice lass that she is) reminds me that today is a Holy Day of Obligation. Well, she’s right… it’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I check the nearby church’s website, and I see that there is a 12:10 Mass, so I place a few bids and offers well away from the market in some names that I either am involved in, or am willing to be involved in. Then I hold my breath for about an hour and a half. One of those orders was a $73 bid for Express Scripts (ESRX). At the time, the last sale was around 74.25, so I wasn’t extremely worried about it. You can probably figure out the rest. I had an errand to run after church, and got back to the office at 13:20. I sit down at my desk. Poof… the first thing I notice is that while my P/L for the day is still quite respectable, it’s not what it should be. No position of mine had moved all that much. Then I saw it. I had indeed paid 73 for ESRX. Citron Research had been tweeting while I was at Mass. Andrew Left was apparently going to lay the hurt on this stock, and do it after today’s close on CNBC. The stock was trading at $68. What do I do?
Do I buy more to lower my average price? Do I sell the shares, and chalk it up to a lesson learned? (Don’t go to church ?? … Don’t take your eye off the ball ??) Do I go the expense of buying puts, and rest easy that I have at least controlled my potential for loss? Maybe I close my eyes, and hope the problem goes away? I actually tried that last one. Doesn’t work. Having an otherwise decent day/week does allow one to properly think through a course of action. So think I did.
With Citron Research tweeting about a $45 target, and knowing that the greatest potential for risk in either direction would occur between tonight’s close, and tomorrow’s opening bell, I took the best course of action I could come up with. I got long Dec 9 (tomorrow) 70 straddles for a net debit of 2.50. That’s lost money, but it’s also peace of mind. If ESRX gets hit by a Tsunami, I’m out at an effective price of 67.50. A kick in the pants for sure, but worse things have and will continue to happen. On the other hand, if the public rejects this negativity, and we see an overnight move higher, however unlikely…. I can load up for an effective cost of 72.50. Either way, I will be flat this name by tomorrow (Friday) night’s closing bell. I also have the option, should the stock go higher today, of taking a profit on the calls, knowing that I have downside protection due to my holding of the corresponding puts.
Stupid? Not really. Careless? Probably. Survivable? Definitely.