Intel is in talks to buy Altera. Deal would be largest in Intel's
history. Scoop w/ @danacimilluca coming to http://WSJ.com
$ALTR 2:32 PM - Mar 27, 2015
在此之前，道琼斯新闻电讯宣布英特尔公司正在与 Altera 公司洽商，拟
落实 Intel 史上最大规模（ 167亿美元 ）并购计划。该新闻网上公布仅
仅一秒钟（！！）之后 （ 请列位细细品读原文报道，验明正身：消息公
当日下午15:40左右，ALTR 开盘，跳涨 28%，从$34 跳至收盘时近
$44.50; 该股票期权价格则从 US$0.35 涨至 US$8.50 ( 24.29倍 ！）,
净利润 240 多万美元！
The Beauty of Trading / Speculating Stock / Index Options:
而 Stock Option 的一买一卖，竟将他的净利润放大至 2,439,470 美元，
不要忘记： 其成本 / 本金则仅仅为 $110,530 美元。
你若身处现场，赶上这么一笔 Windfall 进项，呵呵，可以从此洗洗睡
美元，还差得 不 是一星半点儿 ......
How one trader made $2.4 million in 28 minutes
By STEPHEN GANDEL April 1, 2015
Update, 5/7/2015: On April 6, Reuters reported that, according to its data, a tweet about a potential deal between Intel and Altera appears not to have been the impetus for timely options trades that netted $2.4 million in 28 minutes. That tweet, sent by a Wall Street Journal reporter, came 19 seconds after the trades occurred. Intel and Altera have reportedly since called off any talks, and no deal appears to be in the works. Fortune’s story has been updated to reflect these facts.
A few years ago, a London hedge fund created something that quickly became known as the Twitter fund. A computer system it operated “read” 100 million tweets a week and determined whether they reflected a positive or negative outlook on the world.
If the sentiment was positive, the fund would buy stocks. If it was negative, it would place a bet that stocks would go down.
It was a horrible idea. The fund crashed and burned within two years.
But here’s perhaps what the fund should have done: On Friday an options trader made more than $2.4 million based on a single news wire in just 28 minutes. Nice work if you can get it, which you probably can’t.
The trade had to do with reports that Intel (INTC, -1.19%) is in talks to buy Altera (ALTR, -1.62%). News of the merger discussions between the two chipmakers surfaced on Dow Jones Newswires on Friday afternoon, but no deal has been officially announced. Nonetheless, one second after the news hit, a trader bought options for around 300,000 shares of Altera. The options had a strike price of $36, and the stock at the time traded for $34. So they were so-called out of the money options, because anyone exercising them would end up having to pay $36 for a $34 stock. And the options were set to expire in mid-April. They didn’t cost very much, around $0.35 each, or around $110,000 for whole trade.
Less than 20 seconds later, Altera’s stock was halted on the Intel merger news, according to data from Nasdaq. Two seconds after that, a Wall Street Journal reporter tweeted the news, according to Dow Jones. When the stock reopened at around 3:40, the shares had jumped 28%. The stock closed at nearly $44.50. That meant the options that had been bought for $0.35 were now worth nearly $8.50, or collectively just over $2.4 million more that they were 28 minutes before.
Options traders say they see shady trades all the time. And the Securities and Exchange Commission regularly investigates questionable trades, and does sometimes bring insider trading cases against the investors behind them.
Experts say a swift fingered options trader could have executed a trade in nearly a minute, but there was some skepticism in an options trader chat room as to whether that was possible. A much better explanation: The trade was done by a computer. A few years ago, high-frequency trading was relatively rare in options markets. But today, traders say it is increasingly common.
And perhaps it’s not all that surprising a computer would be able to pick up something like a news wire hit or a tweet tipping readers off about the potential deal.
The question, like with all debates about high-frequency trading, is whether it’s fair, or, rather, whether it’s any fairer than a trader using insider information. Generally, the theory behind making trading on insider information illegal is that it gives some people an unfair advantage over others. Other investors didn’t have access to the same insider information.
But it’s also true that most investors don’t have access to a high-frequency trading computer that could make a 300,000 share options trade in less than a minute. So isn’t it just as unfair to allow high frequency trading, in at least this instance, as well?
Quicker than any human seemingly could have done it, someone—or rather something—bought $110,530 worth of cheap options on Altera, a company that makes digital circuits.* Over the next several minutes and until the end of the day, as humans digested Mattioli’s takeover rumor at human speed, Altera’s stock price rose. When all was said and done, those cheap options had resulted in a $2.4 million profit. Speculation immediately centered on the idea that an automated program (a “bot”) had scanned the tweet, interpreted its meaning, and instantly bought those options based on an algorithm. The robot had read the tweet and made a killing on it before anyone knew what was going on.
Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.
On April 6, a Reuters report disproved the initial hypothesis. In fact, Reuters reported, the trade occurred 19 seconds before the tweet, and one second after a headline appeared on the Dow Jones Newswire.
I know a guy—a human guy—who was on the other side of that trade. And he says this wasn’t the first time it happened to him. He’s convinced someone’s figured out an algorithm that’s faster than anything he’s ever seen before. So fast, he fears, that it might eventually put him out of a job.
My friend is a stock options market maker on Wall Street. You can buy an option from him that gives you the right to purchase a stock at some point in the future for a price you agree upon now. Let’s say a stock is right this second selling at $30 per share. You buy a truckload of options that grant you the right to buy the stock at $35 per share any time within the next hour. Those options are worth peanuts at the moment—they’re “out of the money” and thus cost very little to buy—but if the stock somehow zoomed up past $40 in the next 10 minutes, they’d suddenly be worth a fortune.
Explaining exactly how my friend’s job works in the real world gets really complicated really quickly, but you can think of him as a bookie. He makes it possible for you to place bets that a stock will go up or down. Like a bookie, he’s essentially playing defense while the bettors are playing offense. He wants to set a betting line that reflects realistic odds. But if one bettor knows something everybody else doesn’t (say, that the team’s star quarterback won’t be playing on Sunday, or that Intel is about to buy the team), then my friend can get slammed.
On the afternoon of Friday, March 13, my friend noticed something strange. A rumor exploded that (as news outlets later reported) Exxon might buy a company called Whiting Petroleum, and in an instant—before any human could have possibly acted on it—someone had “lit up the options market.” Trading was halted, but by the time it reopened, the damage had been done. “I personally lost $100,000 in one second,” says my friend. His firm lost more. As for whoever or whatever it was that bought the options? “I’d guess they made between $1 and $2 million. Which is not bad for one second.”
Some news outlets have designed news feeds that are meant to be read by computers instead of by humans.
Next came the famous $2.4 million Altera windfall on March 27. And then on Wednesday, April 1, when the drugmaker Receptos was involved in takeover rumors, it happened again. Shares in Receptos leaped, but not before somebody had already bought a slew of options at lightning speed, banking another tidy sum. (My friend’s firm escaped dramatic damage in these instances, losing less than $30,000 between the two. Others were surely less lucky.) In each of these cases, the buyer appears to have responded within moments to a tweet, or possibly to a phrase posted in some other online venue—nailing down the precise trigger is difficult.
Could it be a human and not a bot making these trades? My friend doesn’t think so. The complexity of the orders would slow a person down too much to be feasible. “It would be impossible for me to do. By the time you could read the news, process it, and press the ‘buy everything’ button, it would take too long. The speed is unbelievable. They’re buying everything within like 3 seconds of it coming out, which is not possible for a human.”
Could there be more than one single outfit behind these three trades? Again, my friend thinks no. He says that a firm called Lime Brokerage was named on all three trades. Lime wouldn’t have placed these trades directly; it facilitated them for someone else. But my friend is confident that whoever’s using Lime to place these trades is the same person. “My job is basically being a pattern reader,” my friend says, “and on these three trades the pattern was identical. It’s the same guy.”
When I spoke to Lime’s chief operating officer, Tony Huck, he said he thought it was unlikely one of Lime’s clients had made the trades. While he acknowledged it was possible, he said that options trading is a small part of Lime’s business
I recently had the pleasure of having dinner with an OEX trader, Floyd, from OEXOPTIONS. com, whose on-line advisory service has been rated in the top five by Stocks and Commodities Magazine for two years running. Floyd flew in from Florida to have dinner with my friend Johnny and his wife. A trading friend and I were happy to tag along. During our conversation Floyd mentioned to me that his most popular article is about his losing $250,000 in the stock market over a 6 month period. He certainly got my attention. I suggest you read the article in its entirety for it may just offer some important clues about how to make $250,000 in the stock market. What follows is an amended version.
I lost 250k trading options in a 6-month period. 250k! That’s a lot of money.
Here’s the sad story, and please…it’s worth your reading, as it could have been or could be you.
For many years I traded stocks very successfully, and built a strong nest egg.
My methodology was simple. I bought what made sense, and had no loyalty, selling on big moves up. I trained in the Wyckoff Method, was a student of CANSLIM (Investors Business Daily), and used the point and figure charting philosophy. They served me well, and I became a success story for investing. Mind you, not a yacht and 9 cars success story, but a middle-aged man with a sizeable nest egg.
I for years had been reading about option trading, and had tried numerous times to play options around my stock investing. Sometimes with success, and sometimes with losses. If I ran a tape to what I did with options within this time period, including subscribing to many services and buying many books, I’m sure I made a bit of money, but not enough.
At that time I began studying the new ETF’s and index funds, and reading the logic of using index options as an investment tool. Every part of it made sense, and still does. Off I went to become a “trader” in index options.
I started with the S and P 500 (SPY) and the Nasdaq (QQQ) and began trading index options, simple puts, calls, and straddles. Self employed, I made sure I took time each day to study, and work the various subscription services I’d paid for, and I began trading daily. My successes mounted, and confidence built.
During the upswing markets I first traded in I began to actually DO WELL, and make money. My option time increased, and my profits at first mounted, then fell. Again, if I took a tape to it, at that time I was making money, but not as much as I thought I was making.
As I forayed into the OEX, the most stable of the index options, I began thinking I understood patterns, charts, and that this could be my “way to riches”. My trading time became more fevered, with more emotional time buying the ups and downs, and increasing the size of my investments.
I began subscribing to a number of services and systems, and saw that I could become a full-time trader, making real money at this. Unfortunately, I was deceiving myself, and things were taking a serious turn for the worse.
You’ve read that 80-90% of all option traders lose money. You’ve probably even been to websites and explored services that selling options is the way to go…sell to the idiots like me that buy them, right? And you’ve read many claims of foolproof systems, mechanical trades….ways to learn to consistently make 50 to 150% returns on options.
What happened to me over one year of trading was making money, sometimes big money and losing money, and finally….putting more money into the market to make back money. It really doesn’t matter the amount I lost, but it was $250,000. It could have been $50,000. It could have been a retirement account.
What it was, and I’m being honest here, is multiplying mistake upon mistake, continuing patterns that I thought were working, and they weren’t.
It took me some time to really figure this out, obvious as it seems. I continued to try again, to “hone approaches”, to read different OEX subscription alerts, or “trade tips”, or call spreads, etc. Good at none, doing all.
All the time I continued to read about the great successes in options, and just knew that I could make money, too.
I figured out the problem finally, $250, 000 poorer. It was me.
Not the OEX. Not the charts. Not the subscription services (though most had bad advice and confusing “lies” on how they really performed.)
It was how I traded, and what I didn’t do. Pure and simple. It was me trying to act natural in an unnatural environment.
So what changed? What did I do?
If you’re patient, and you really read this and really do what is going to be suggested, you’ll learn, and you’ll know what it takes to be a successful trader, someone who times investments.
But, if you’re typical you’ll just scan this article, note a few things, and promptly do nothing with it.
And, in the end, whenever that is, you’ll lose money trading options, or stocks, or any investment vehicle.
You know all about FEAR AND GREED, right? It’s the trader’s lament. But it’s really only a small part of why a trader can do poorly.
As I “bottomed out” in trading, realizing the losses, I suffered from classic pessimism. (“It’s bad now, and it will only get worse”) to even more classic arrogance (“I get it!” “Look what I just did…okay, it will get better now.”)
Does any of this seem familiar to you so far?
I began keeping a journal. This took a lot of time and was hard to do. My journal tracked the trades I made, how I did, and “what happened”, and had a column for the “events and emotions” that took place as I traded.
Here’s what I learned about me:
Euphoric, when successful.
Irrational with despair, when not.
Consistently repeated the same losing strategy over and over again.
On downdrafts “tripled or quadrupled the bet” to get the price right, with no structure.
When a bad month or week occurred, took money from other good investments to add to my option bank, only to lose more.
Read a lot of books, studied charts, but only enough to get “half information”.
Subscribed to lots of option services, but never really read all the instructions, or did any of the real research.
Unbelievable, but true, never really perfectly analyzed just how many options I lost money on. Pretended I did, but didn’t.
Created opportunities to “buy”, even when none existed.
Huge despair when I lost, usually then tried to “read something” else and do that, but never really did change my lack of method.
I learned that to trade successfully I needed to TRADE AGAINST HUMAN NATURE
The emotional trader lives in peaks and valleys of “pufferfish” (over confidence), fear, and “sorry Charlie” (regret). This is where online instant trading, with instant news, fuels the drug of the emotional trader. Trading plans, if one even has them, evaporate. I found that both experienced and inexperienced traders have “emotional outbursts”, fueled by input, and react without reason.
As I began working with a journal that tracked my trades, and my emotional patterns, I found, in studies, that a number of other methods helped me control my emotions:
Music. I use headphones and listen to alpha/beta/theta sounds (left and right brain equalizing music. This music is a type of biofeedback, and extensive research has been done proving it’s equalizing and calming effects.
After I place an order to buy or sell, I take a break. From the computer, from myself. I set “calm” and stop the input.
My journal identified to me the “triggers” where I made mistakes…I took an actual inventory of my errors, and noted the times of the day, excitements that caused me to become fearful, greedy, pessimistic, and arrogant. I wrote these triggers down, and made sure, as I traded, that NONE of them were present.
Identified what is most embarrassing…where I self-sabotaged myself. This, I found, is a typical issue with many traders…I kept repeating what wasn’t working, over and over again. I actually had patterns and rituals for failure.
I began analyzing my consistency in preparation, order size, sell prices, and stop losses and found I had no real “rules of engagement” even though I told myself I did….I HAD NO PLAN.
Began to see trading as a business. Options are just inventory. Some inventory doesn’t sell, and you sell at a loss, and other inventory sells well. You learn what sells. Just as a sport, it is the GAME of finding the right inventory. I wasn’t seeing it this way and expected all my inventory to sell profitably. Business doesn’t work that way.
I quit focusing on what I was doing wrong, and started focusing on what I was doing right. I found out what I was doing when problems were not occurring.
I eliminated too much study. I found in my journals that I was studying many approaches, subscribing to services, studying charts…and really was on many different paths.
I had always said “I’ll do things differently”, but before the journal and the analysis of my personality type, I never really knew what I did wrong. Once I identified my emotions, and what I repeated over and over again in error, I set rules of engagement.
The journal showed me I had patterns to my emotions. The way I broke these was by “talking out loud”, almost acting as a commentator or newscaster recanting out loud what I was doing.
“Busy bees” tend to be calm pre and post market, and crazed during the market.
Many traders are “busy bees” with good methodologies and structures, until they trade.
Patterns emerged from my journal that when I was “steady and reliable” in my thinking I made money, and when excited became irrational, falsely exuberant, or pessimistic.
Being a “busy bee” I never took time to process the market; that is, learn to read the shifts and momentum that occur…the actual flow of the market. By slowing down and stepping out of myself I began to actually “feel the flow”.
In all of this self-examination, I began to set real rules of engagement. And stuck to them, and began making money.
THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
How much I was willing to lose on a trade, and setting “mental” stop losses exactly at that point.
How much I wanted to profit, and setting “limit orders” to sell at that point, and NOT canceling out to HOPE for more, only to see the price deteriorate.
Setting my charts up with just the indicators that mattered to me (see No Noise Charting on our website). Once I began watching the charts, I talked out loud and NEVER let myself vary.
Setting time limits. On all trades I set rules of how long I’ll hold the option, and unless special conditions exist (our Alerts detail this) I NEVER VARY.
Invoke The Silent Witness. Going outside yourself and watching your behavior. It’s like sitting in a room and watching another person without their knowing it, except the person is you. See what you are doing as if you are not doing it. WHEW. This simple technique took me time, took deep breathing and learning how to gain calm, but crazy as it sounds….THIS REALLY WORKS!!
Don’t be like the typical trader reading this and nodding your head, but then do nothing with it. Otherwise, you’ll lose your ass, as 90% of option traders do. It’s so sad.
Option trading is no different than owning a business in which you buy and sell inventory.
You go broke if you buy wrong, sell wrong, or have the wrong inventory. It’s easier with inventory, or so it seems, as you LEARN what sells. With option trading, however, the emotion takes over and you soon forget that it’s just this inventory.
So, I lost 250k. It really hurt. Actually it traumatized me. But, I got serious, and I researched, thought, and began following rules. But before I began setting the rules of engagement I learned about ME, and what I did.
Emotion is good. I did best when I got outside myself and watched my behavior, the “silent witness”. I saw patterns to what I did wrong, over and over again. Taking a simple psychological test helped me understand my emotional style, so I could see what I had to work from. Learning how to break those emotional patterns, acting unnaturally, and controlling the input helped me succeed.
What stands out to me is Floyd’s emphasis on rules and simplicity, while ignoring all the none-sense and “noise” in the markets. Check out his site and sign up to receive his free blog posts. You may just learn something or find reinforcement in what you already know to be the truth.
Disclaimer: I am in no way paid or reimbursed to discuss Floyd and/or his site. He did not ask me to share this article. This is unsolicited for informational purposes only. I simply welcome his market studies and the opportunity to share it with others who may benefit from his years of market wisdom. Email him and let him know that you appreciate his honesty for it is not easy to admit your mistakes. Floyd has done so without disgrace or regret. We should all benefit and be like-minded.
How a trader made 1,300% of their money in minutes
Amanda Diaz Published 11:19 AM ET Fri, 26 June 2015