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Earnings reports are causing big moves for stocks. Here’s a way to play them with options

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A volatile earnings season is winding down, but there are still a few opportunities for investors to take advantage of big earnings-driven moves, according to Goldman Sachs. Retailers have seen big hits, with names like Walmart and Target experiencing some of their biggest one-day drops on record. On the other side, shares of Toll Brothers popped nearly 8% on Wednesday after the homebuilder beat expectations and maintained its guidance. “The sharply higher earnings-day moves have driven realized volatility above expectations, as evidenced by the 30 point premium to implied volatility. … Looking ahead, for consumer stocks yet to report earnings, normalized put-call skew has increased to its highest level since the COVID-driven sell-off in March 2020, indicating call options are relatively attractive,” Goldman analyst Vishal Vivek wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday. “We believe these two factors favor option buyers in the near-term, especially investors focused on capturing upside volatility with limited downside risk,” Vivek added. One way for investors to take advantage of volatility while minimizing risk is options trading. The most basic way is to bet on a stock rising through call options or falling through put options. Goldman sees value in combining those strategies into straddles on three stocks ahead of upcoming earnings. Straddles are a type of option contract that are effectively a call and a put option combined, with the same underlying strike price and expiration date. The stocks in question are PVH and Hewlett Packard Enterprise , which have earnings reports on June 1, and Casey’s General Store , which has an earnings report on June 7. Straddles are more expensive than one-way bets, but they give investors potential upside if there is a move in either direction. And just like calls and puts, the downside risk for investors is simply the premium paid up front to purchase the option. Here are the strike prices Goldman recommended in a May 25 note: PVH: $60 Hewlett Packard Enterprise: $15 Casey’s General: $200 This year, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Casey’s have both outperformed the broader market, but PVH has fallen more than twice as much as the S & P 500 .

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