Hungry for Returns, But Have No Appetite for Risk?

by Stutland Volatility Group | November 29, 2011 9:00 am

Debt concerns in the Eurozone have caused extreme global risk aversion these past few weeks. But if you don’t have an appetite for risk, you can still satisfy your hunger for short-term returns in the options market.

One sector that’s been hit especially hard by fears of an Italian bankruptcy is the insurance sector. A name in this industry we at Stutland Volatility Group particularly like is Lincoln National Corp. (NYSE:LNC[1]).

Lincoln National sells a wide range of products including institutional and/or retail fixed and indexed annuities, variable annuities, universal life insurance, variable universal life insurance, term life insurance, mutual funds, and managed accounts.

Currently LNC trades at 4.67 times forward earnings and has recently increased its dividend by 60%. In the third quarter of 2011, the company repurchased 2% of all outstanding shares.

Using a conservative 2012 EPS of $3.90 and a multiple of 7.3, which is below peers, the intrinsic value of the stock is approximately $28.47, making this stock (which is currently trading at $18.50) a great value buy.

However, Lincoln National is highly volatile (with a beta, or volatility in relation to the broader market’s performance, of 2.58), especially in the current market environment. Therefore, we do not recommend buying the stock outright, but rather buying a fixed-risk LNC December 20-22 call spread.

Should conditions continue to deteriorate in Europe, exposure in the stock is limited to $0.35. Should LNC rise above $22 by December expiration, the trade makes a profit of $1.65.

Here’s a quick breakdown of this trade:

Stock/Index: LNC

Stock Price: $18.50

Option Play: Bull-Call Spread

Buy: 1 Dec 20 Call @ $0.50

Sell: 1 Dec 22 Call @ $0.15

Net Cost: $0.35 (= $0.50 – $0.15)

Breakeven: $20.35 (= $20 + $0.35)

Max Profit: $1.65 (= [$22 – $20] – $0.35)

Max Loss: $0.35 (= Net Cost)

  1. LNC:

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