In this post we’ll take a look at the backtest results of opening one SPY short call 0 DTE position each trading day from Feb 1 2018 through Jul 15 2020 and see if there are any discernible trends. We’ll also explore the profitable strategies to see if any outperform buy-and-hold SPY.
There are 10 backtests in this study evaluating over 5,900 SPY short call 0 DTE trades.
Let’s dive in!
Systematically opening SPY short call 0 DTE positions was profitable across all strategies except 30D.
None of the option strategies outperformed SPY with regard to total return.
- Symbol: SPY
- Strategy: Short Call
- Days Till Expiration: 0 DTE +/- 3, closest to 0
- Start Date: 2018-02-01
- End Date: 2020-07-15
- Positions opened per day: 1
- Entry Days: daily
- Entry Signal: N/A
- Timing: 3:46pm ET
- Strike Selection
- 5 delta +/- 4.5 delta, closest to 5
- 10 delta +/- 5 delta, closest to 10
- 16 delta +/- 6 delta, closest to 16
- 30 delta +/- 8 delta, closest to 30
- 50 delta +/- 8 delta, closest to 50
- Trade Entry
- 5D short call
- 10D short call
- 16D short call
- 30D short call
- 50D short call
- Trade Exit
- 50% max profit or expiration, whichever occurs first
- Hold till expiration
- Max Margin Utilization Target (short option strats only): 100% | 5x leverage
- Max Drawdown Target: 99% | account value shall not go negative
- Margin requirement for short CALL and PUT positions is 20% of notional
- Margin requirement for short STRADDLE and STRANGLE positions is 20% of the larger strike
- Margin requirement for short VERTICAL SPREAD positions is the difference between the strikes
- Margin requirement for short CALENDAR SPREAD positions, where the short option expires after the long option, is 20% of the short option
- Margin requirement for long CALENDAR SPREAD positions, where the short option expires before the long option, is the net cost of the spread
- Margin requirement for short IRON CONDOR positions is the difference between the call-side strikes if both sides are the same width, otherwise margin requirement is the width of the wider side
- Early assignment never occurs
- There is ample liquidity at all times
- Margin calls never occur (starting capital is set using hindsight bias so that max margin utilization never exceeds 100%)
- Apply a 20% discount to displayed results. For example, if a strat depicts a CAGR of 10%, assume that it’ll yield 8% in practice.
- Prices are in USD
- Prices are nominal (not adjusted for inflation)
- All statistics are pre-tax, where applicable
- Margin collateral is invested in 3mo US treasuries and earns interest daily
- Option positions are opened at 3:46pm ET
- Option positions are closed at 3:46pm ET (4:00pm if closed on the date of expiration)
- Commission to open, close early, or expire ITM is 1.00 USD per non-index underlying (eg: SPY, IWM, AAPL, etc.) contract
- Commission to open, close early, or expire ITM is 1.32 USD per index underlying (eg: SPX, RUT, etc.) contract
- Commission to expire worthless is 0.00 USD per contract (non-index and index)
- Commission to open or close non-option positions, if applicable, is 0.00 USD
- Slippage is calculated according to the slippage table
- Starting capital for short option backtests is adjusted in $1000 increments such that max margin utilization is between 80-100%, closest to 100%, of max margin utilization target
- Starting capital for long option backtests is adjusted in $1000 increments such that max drawdown is between 80-100%, closest to 100%, of max drawdown target
- Positions that have an exit date beyond the backtest end date are excluded
- For comprehensive details, visit the methodology page
Hindsight bias was used to maximize Reg-T margin utilization for each strategy. This allows a “best case” scenario for the option strategy to outperform the benchmark.
Max Drawdown Duration
Average Trade Duration
Compound Annual Growth Rate
Profit Spent on Commission
My hypothesis walking into this study was that performance would be similar to the 45-DTE version – slightly profitable to unprofitable in virtually all scenarios.
It turns out my hypothesis was wrong. All strategies, except 30-delta, were profitable.
This is likely due to the distribution of IV overstatement across deltas being more uniform at 0-DTE vs 45-DTE. It appears some underpricing of 30D positions is occurring. Said another way: the spread between implied vol (IV) and realized vol (RV) on the 30D positions is narrower than that of the other delta targets.
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