# SPY Short Put 7 DTE Leveraged Options Backtest

In this post we’ll take a look at the backtest results of opening one SPY short put 7 DTE leveraged position each trading day from Jan 10 2007 through Jun 3 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 28,300 SPY short put 7 DTE leveraged trades.

Also, be sure to check out my guest post over on BigERN’s blog where I backtest his options strategy that mitigates sequence of returns risk.

Let’s dive in!

Contents

## Prior Research

**Basics**

How to Trade Options Efficiently Mini-Series

**Backtesting Concepts**

Building a Research Framework

### AAPL – Apple Inc.

- AAPL Short Put 0 DTE Cash-Secured
- AAPL Short Put 45 DTE Cash-Secured
- AAPL Short Put 45 DTE Leveraged
- AAPL Long Day Trade

### AMZN – Amazon.com, Inc.

### BTC – Bitcoin

### C – Citigroup Inc.

### DIA – SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average

- DIA Short Put 7 DTE Cash-Secured (coming soon)
- DIA Short Put 7 DTE Leveraged (coming soon)
- DIA Short Put 45 DTE Cash-Secured (coming soon)
- DIA Short Put 45 DTE Leveraged (coming soon)

### DIS – Walt Disney Co

### EEM – MSCI Emerging Markets Index

### GE – General Electric Company

### GLD – SPDR Gold Trust

### IWM – Russel 2000 Index

- IWM Short Put 7 DTE Cash-Secured
- IWM Short Put 7 DTE Leveraged
- IWM Short Put 45 DTE Cash-Secured
- IWM Short Put 45 DTE Leveraged
- IWM Long Day Trade

### MU – Micron Technology, Inc.

### QQQ – Nasdaq 100 Index

- QQQ Short Put 7 DTE Cash-Secured (coming soon)
- QQQ Short Put 7 DTE Leveraged (coming soon)
- QQQ Short Put 45 DTE Cash-Secured
- QQQ Short Put 45 DTE Leveraged

### SLV – iShares Silver Trust

- SLV Short Put 45 DTE Cash-Secured
- SLV Short Put 45 DTE Leveraged (coming soon)

### SPY – S&P 500 Index

- SPY Long Put 45 DTE Optimal Hedging
- SPY Long Call 45 DTE
- SPY Long Call 730 DTE LEAPS
- SPY Short Put 0 DTE Cash-Secured
- SPY Short Put 0 DTE Leveraged
- SPY Short Put 0, 7, 45 DTE Leveraged Comparison
- SPY Short Put 2-3 DTE M,W,F “BigERN Strategy” (guest post)
- SPY Short Put 7 DTE Cash-Secured (coming soon)
- SPY Short Put 7 DTE Leveraged
- SPY Short Put 45 DTE Cash-Secured
- SPY Short Put 45 DTE Leveraged
- SPY Short Put 45 DTE Leveraged binned by IVR (coming soon)
- SPY Short Vertical Put Spread 0 DTE (coming soon)
- SPY Short Vertical Put Spread 45 DTE
- SPY Short Call 0 DTE Cash-Secured
- SPY Short Call 0 DTE Leveraged
- SPY Short Call 45 DTE Cash-Secured
- SPY Short Call 45 DTE Leveraged
- SPY Short Straddle 45 DTE
- SPY Short Strangle 45 DTE
- SPY Short Iron Condor 45 DTE
- SPY Wheel 45DTE
- Making Money in Your Sleep: A Look at Overnight Returns
- A Bad Case of the Fridays: A Look at Daily Market Returns

### T – AT&T Inc.

### TLT – Barclays 20+ Yr Treasury Bond

### TSLA – Tesla, Inc.

### USO – United States Oil Fund

### VXX – S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures

- VXX Short Call 45 DTE Cash-Secured
- VXX Short Call 45 DTE Leveraged
- VXX Short Vertical Call Spread 45 DTE

### VZ – Verizon Communications Inc.

### Other

## Methodology

### Core Strategy

- Symbol SPY
- Strategy Short Put
- Start Date 2007-01-10
- End Date 2020-06-03
- Positions opened 1
- Entry Days every trading day in which entry criteria is satisfied
- 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 put
- 10D short put
- 16D short put
- 30D short put
- 50D short put

- Trade Exit
- 50% max profit or expiration, whichever occurs first

- Hold till expiration

### Days Till Expiration

Some studies look at ultra-short-duration option strategies while others explore longer durations. The nuances and range for each approach are summarized below.

#### 0 DTE Strategies

Between 0 and 3, closest to 0.

The range is up to 3 days from expiration for two reasons: to allow opening positions on Friday that have a Monday expiration and to allow more opportunities for occurrences of strategies focused in the 10-40 delta range. As expiration nears, it becomes increasingly difficult to open positions in this range.

This visual from Options Playbook does a great job illustrating the concept. Notice how at 1 DTE delta jumps from .50 to .10 with a single dollar change in the underlying. Compare this to the 60 DTE scenario where the change in delta for a $1 change in underlying is much smaller. By allowing positions to be opened as far out as 3 DTE, delta sensitivity to $1 differences in strikes becomes muted.

#### 7 DTE Strategies

Between 3 and 11, closest to 7.

The range is 4 days either side of 7 to ensure a position can be opened each trading day while remaining true to the duration target. For example, opening a position Wednesday will have either a 2 DTE horizon (next Friday) or a 9-DTE horizon (the Friday after next). In this scenario the 9-DTE position would be selected.

#### 45 DTE Strategies

Between 28 and 62, closest to 45.

The range is 17 days either side of 45 to account for quadruple witching. As the end of each calendar quarter approaches, namely during the last 7-10 days of Mar, Jun, Sep and Dec, the expiration dates of option contracts widen significantly.

#### 730 DTE Strategies (LEAPS)

Between 550 and 910, closest to 730.

The range is 180 days either side of 730 to account for underlying that have LEAPS expirations in 6-month increments.

### Calculating Returns

Returns are calculated by recording the profit or loss as positions are closed, if any, each day.

### Margin Collateral

Portfolio capital is held in cash and earns daily interest at the prevailing **3-month treasury bill **rate each day throughout the backtest. The Daily Treasury Yield Curve Rates at the US Department of The Treasury website lists the daily interest rates used in the backtest.

Days for which there are no interest rates available, such as weekends and bank holidays, utilize the last published interest rate. For example, Saturday January 6 2007 and Sunday January 7 2007 do not have interest rates published. The backtest utilizes the rates published on Friday January 5 2007 for both these days.

### Calculating Margin Utilization

A running total of the P/L is measured each day and tracks the portfolio performance. Meanwhile, a running total of the notional exposure is measured each trading day and tracks the daily margin utilization.

Margin utilization is estimated as 20% of notional. For example, if there is $100,000 of notional exposure the margin requirement would be $20,000.

### Determining Starting Capital

#### Short Option Strategies

Backtests are run using an arbitrary amount of starting capital to generate a *max margin utilization* value. Starting capital is then adjusted in $100 increments such that max margin utilization is between 99% and 100%.

To compare the option strategy against the benchmark, an equal starting capital is allocated to a hypothetical buy-and-hold total-return portfolio.

#### Long Option Strategies

Backtests are run using an arbitrary amount of starting capital to generate a *max drawdown* value. Starting capital is then adjusted in $100 increments such that max drawdown is between -99% and -100%

To compare the option strategy against the benchmark, an equal starting capital is allocated to a hypothetical buy-and-hold total-return portfolio.

### Monthly and Annual Returns

To identify the monthly and/or annual returns for an option strategy, the respective daily returns are summed.

### Graphing Underlying and Option Curves

The underlying position derives its monthly performance values from Portfolio Visualizer. Portfolio returns are calculated in a compound fashion using this monthly data.

Option strategies derive monthly performance values from the backtesting tool by summing the respective daily returns. Portfolio returns are calculated in a compound fashion using the monthly values.

### Margin

Margin requirements and margin calls are assumed to always be satisfied and never occur, respectively.

In practice the option strategy may experience varied performance, particularly during high-volatility periods, than what’s depicted. Margin requirements may prevent the portfolio from sustaining the number of concurrent open positions the strategy demands.

### Moneyness

Positions that become ITM during the life of the trade are assumed to never experience early assignment.

In practice early assignment may impact performance positively (assigned then position experiences greater losses) or negatively (assigned then position recovers).

### Commission

The following commission structure is used throughout the backtest:

- 1 USD, all in, per contract:
- to open
- to close early
- expired ITM

- 0 USD, all in, per contract expired OTM / worthless

While these costs are competitive at the time of writing, trade commissions were significantly more expensive in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

In practice strategy performance may be lower than what’s depicted due to elevated trading fees in the earlier years of the backtest.

### Slippage

Slippage is factored into all trade execution prices accordingly:

- Buy: Bid + (Ask – Bid) * slippage%
- Sell: Ask – (Ask – Bid) * slippage%

The following table outlines the slippage values used and example calculations:

- A slippage % of .50 = midpoint
- A slippage % of 1.00 = market maker’s price

### Inflation

All values depicted are in nominal dollars. In other words, values shown are not adjusted for inflation.

In practice this may influence calculations that are anchored to a particular value in time such as the last “peak” when calculating drawdown days.

### Calculating Strategy Statistics

Automated backtesters are generally great tools for generating trade logs but dismal tools to generate statistics. Therefore, I build all strategy performance statistics directly from the trade logs. Below is a breakdown on how I calculate each stat and the associated formula behind the calculation.

#### Starting Capital

This specifies the minimum portfolio size necessary to successfully execute the trading strategy from the beginning of the backtest.

#### Average Margin Utilization

Margin utilization ebbs and flows throughout the backtest. This averages the daily margin utilization values.

`AVERAGE(daily margin utilization)`

#### Max Margin Utilization

This is the highest recorded daily margin utilization value throughout the backtest. Starting capital is specified to ensure this value resides between 99-100%.

`MAX( daily margin utilization )`

#### Max Margin Utilization Date

This is the date in which the highest margin utilization occurs. The formula is an index-match statement to lookup and return the date value associated with the max margin utilization value.

`INDEX( all trade dates, MATCH( max daily margin utilization ) )`

#### Premium Capture

This is the percent of premium captured throughout the strategy.

`SUM( premium received ) - SUM( options bought back ) - SUM ( losses from immediately selling assigned shares )`

#### Win Rate

Trades that were closed at management targets (profit, DTE) as winners but became unprofitable due to commissions are still considered winning trades. This phenomenon is typically observed when managing 2.5D and 5D trades early.

`( count of trades with positive P/L before commissions > 0 ) / count of all trades`

#### Annual Volatility

The standard deviation of all the *monthly* returns are calculated then multiplied the by the square root of 12.

`STDEV.S( monthly return values ) * SQRT( 12 )`

#### Average Monthly Return

Identify the average monthly returns.

`AVERAGE( monthly return values )`

#### Best Monthly Return

Identify the largest value among the monthly returns.

`MAX( monthly return values )`

#### Worst Monthly Return

Identify the smallest value among the monthly returns.

`MIN( monthly return values )`

#### Max Drawdown

This measures the greatest peak to trough decline.

`MIN( daily drawdown values )`

#### Drawdown Days

This measures, using nominal (non-inflation adjusted) dollars, the duration in days from the max drawdown trough to previous high.

If portfolio never returns to the high before the max drawdown, “No Recover” is displayed.

`ABS( Date of Max Drawdown - Date of Recovery ) `

#### Average Trade Duration

This measures the average number of days each position remains open, rounded to the nearest whole day.

`ROUND ( AVERAGE ( trade duration values ) , 0 )`

#### Compound Annual Growth Rate

This measures the compounded annual rate of return, sometimes referred to as the geometric return. The following formula is used:

#### Sharpe Ratio

Total P/L alone is not enough to determine whether a strategy outperforms. To get the complete picture, volatility must be taken into account. By dividing the compound annual growth rate by the volatility we identify the risk-adjusted return, known as the Sharpe ratio.

`strategy CAGR / strategy volatility`

#### Profit Spent on Commission

The following formula is used to calculate the percent of profits spent on commissions:

If a strategy is depicted as having percent greater than 100, this means the strategy is unprofitable due to commissions but would have been profitable if trades were commission free throughout the duration of the backtest.

If a strategy is depicted as “unprofitable” this means the strategy lost money even if trades were commission free throughout the duration of the backtest.

#### Total P/L

How much money is in the portfolio after the study? This stat answers that question and depicts it as a %

`( portfolio end value / portfolio start value ) - 1`

## Scope

This study seeks to measure the performance of opening option positions and will interpret the results from the lens of income generation relative to buy-and-hold.

The utility or effectiveness of options as a hedging tool or other use will not be discussed and is out of scope.

## Results

### Starting Capital

Early management has minimal impact since positions are held for, on average, 3 days.

### Margin Utilization

Early management yielded a lower average margin utilization across all strategies when compared to holding till expiration.

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.

Also displayed is the date in which each strategy experienced maximum margin utilization.

### Premium Capture

Early management had lower rates of premium capture vs holding till expiration.

The higher the delta the lower the premium capture.

### Win Rate

Managing trades early outperformed holding till expiration with regard to win rate.

The higher the delta the lower the win rate.

### Annual Volatility

Early management yielded mixed results with regard to volatility vs holding till expiration.

The higher the delta the higher the volatility.

### Monthly Returns

Early management underperformed holding till expiration with regard to average monthly return.

The higher the delta the higher the average monthly return.

Also displayed is the best and worst monthly returns for each strategy.

### Max Drawdown

Early management had mixed results vs holding till expiration with regard to max drawdown.

The higher the delta the greater the max drawdown.

### Max Drawdown Duration

The date of the max drawdown was March 23 2020. None of the strategies recovered from the max drawdown as of the end of the backtest.

### Average Trade Duration

Managing trades at 50% max profit yielded trade durations roughly half the duration of hold-till-expiration.

### Compound Annual Growth Rate

Managing trades early underperformed holding till expiration with regard to compound annual growth rate.

The higher the delta the higher the CAGR.

### Sharpe Ratio

Early management underperformed holding till expiration with regard to sharpe ratio.

The higher the delta the lower the sharpe ratio.

The 5D hold-till-expiration strategy had the greatest risk-adjusted return among the option strategies.

### Profit Spent on Commission

13.27% – the blended average percent of profits spent on commission across all option strategies.

### Total P/L

Early management underperformed holding till expiration with regard to total P/L.

Higher delta strategies yielded greater total P/L than lower delta strategies.

### Overall

All option strategies were profitable.

All 30D and 50D strategies as well as 16D hold-till-expiration outperformed buy-and-hold SPY with regard to both risk-adjusted and total return.

## Discussion

At face value it appears there may be some opportunities with 7 DTE options to outperform buy-and-hold SPY. Let me debunk those initial thoughts.

### Timing Luck

I’ve referenced timing luck – P/L variance associated with sheer luck – on several occasions. A material risk and P/L variance can be observed by simply changing the day in which a position is opened, closed or rolled.

For example, a single 45 DTE short put can have the following outcomes:

A popular backtest approach is to open a position then roll (close then reopen a new position). One can get very lucky or unlucky based on when the strategy was started. In fact, it’s possible to have 30 different return profiles – one for each day of the month in which the backtest was started. If you’re pushing a narrative, simply select the return profile that best matches your message and no one’s the wiser.

To mitigate this potential “lying with data” opportunity, two approaches exist: open a position daily which essentially eliminates timing luck or publish a portfolio variance statistic that provides a +/- standard deviation against reported performance. I do the former.

Great, so what does any of this have to do with the backtest results? Glad you asked. Let’s take a look at the number of occurrences by year.

### Time in the Market

Looking at the 50D strategy, there were only 91 trades in 2007; monthlies was the only option product that existed at this time for SPY. Consequently, the backtest avoided most of the 2007 global financial crisis. By “luckily” not participating in the market during this time the strategy had a great leg up on the buy-and-hold approach.

The options strategy experienced more occurrences as new options products came to market. On June 4 2010 CBOE released Friday-expiring weekly options on SPY.

Due to the lack of product availability during the first few years of the study and thus the inability to execute the option strategy (daily trades of short DTE positions) for more than 5 trading days per month during and after the GFC, we are forced to accept a material amount of timing luck in the performance results; take these numbers with a grain of salt.

### Potential Workaround

What if we start the study at a time when timing luck isn’t a material factor – i.e. after June 4 2010?

We end up with the following P/L curves:

It could be argued that this is an unfair backtest since it both skips the largest SPY drawdown in recent history and compares a limited-upside strategy (short puts) against the longest bull market in history.

This also doesn’t take into effect the differences in margin utilization associated with skipping the GFC.

What is a researcher to do?

I intend to measure from late Feb 2018 through June 2020. This captures the Dec 2018 vol spike, 2019 strong +30% rally, and the March 2020 COVID-19 drop which resulted in a VIX value greater than what was observed during the GFC. Also, late Feb 2018 is when CBOE released Monday-expiring weekly options on SPY (see SEC release 34-82733). This product release is what allows the strategy to ensure a position is opened each trading day while remaining true to the duration target.

Stay tuned for a study that compares ultra-short (0 DTE), short (7 DTE), and standard (45 DTE) SPY short put strategies against a buy/hold total-return portfolio of SPY.

Update: the comparison study is now live!

## Summary

Systematically opening SPY short put 7 DTE leveraged positions was profitable no matter which strategy was selected.

The “5D hold-till-expiration” strategy had the greatest risk-adjusted return among the option strategies.

All 30D and 50D strategies as well as 16D hold-till-expiration outperformed buy-and-hold SPY on both a risk-adjusted and total return basis.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Thoughts? Feedback? Dedications? Shoutouts? Leave a message in the comments below!

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MG

June 29, 2020 @ 4:57 pm

So per prior comments from you here and on BigERN’s site, you mention you’ve just stuck to buy-and-hold the index as it’s so easy yet tough to beat. However, this study appears to be the holy grail of them all; something that isn’t tied to a single stock, yet beats the SPX both in absolute and risk-adjusted terms.

I get your point about time selection and the upcoming study based on a more limited time period; but if that study comes out agreeing with this one, wouldn’t we all be stupid not to just adopt this strategy?

Also, huge props on another great study, and on your site in general.

spintwig.com

June 30, 2020 @ 10:19 am

Thats a good question. On paper, yes, if the data suggests short (7 DTE) and ultrashort (0-3 DTE) short puts outperform buy/hold SPY then we’re all better off adopting the strategy.

Two caveats come to mind: tax implications and

whythese option strategies outperform.I intentionally don’t speak to tax drag since everyone’s scenario is unique and thus generalizations aren’t terribly helpful. For me personally, the ability to defer capital gains is substantial. Combine this with the ability to use margin loans as a form of tax arbitrage (https://spintwig.com/fire-taxes/#Margin_Loans) and there’s a material “intangible” advantage to the buy/hold approach.

As for why short-duration strategies outperform, my first thought is that these options are simply miss-priced. There’s very little [public] data on these strategies. Now that this info has been publicized, any edge on the strategy may fade away as retail and institutional players do their own due diligence and implement.

The counter argument is that market dynamics will work themselves out such that the strategy will almost always outperform, similar to how indexing almost always outperforms despite the massive shift to the strategy over recent years.

A happy medium might be to allocate 50% of one’s portfolio to the put writing strategy the other 50% to buy/hold.

Thanks! Happy to hear it’s helpful. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any ideas / suggestions for future studies.

Wes

July 3, 2020 @ 9:10 am

Thanks for the post. One question Ive got is when you are measuring the return on buy/hold SPY, are you accounting for dividends re-invested? On the compounded annual growth rate bar chart based on the SPY bar it looks like the return is around 8%. If this hasnt been accounted for over this same timeframe, how does this change the comparison between buy/hold vs the 50D, 7DTE, hold to expiration?

Thanks!

spintwig.com

July 3, 2020 @ 10:18 am

Welcome! Yes, the buy/hold SPY numbers assume all dividends are promptly reinvested (total return).

TFJ

July 27, 2020 @ 12:23 am

I’m having a lot of trouble following your curves. The summary here states All 30D and 50D strategies as well as 16D hold-till-expiration outperformed SPY, but it looks like only the dark green and light blue (50D) beat SPY based on the last P/L curve chart. Am I misinterpreting? Thank you.

spintwig.com

July 29, 2020 @ 5:16 pm

The summary is based on the data in the section titled “Results.” This includes the overall P/L chart.

The P/L chart in the “Discussion” section is based on a crude review of changing the start date of the study so as to avoid timing luck.

Edwin Jose Palathinkal

November 24, 2020 @ 1:13 am

When you calculate the losses from immediately selling assigned shares, do you use the opening price of the next day?

This is because according to the The Options Clearing Corporation’s Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options, Page 51, Section named “Assignment”:

“Assignments are ordinarily made prior to the commencement of trading on the business day following receipt by OCC of the exercise instruction”.

and

“It is possible that an option writer will not receive notification from its brokerage firm that an exercise has been assigned to him until one or more days following the date of the initial assignment to the Clearing Member by OCC”

I haven’t been assigned, I just need to know if the backtest accounts for it.

spintwig.com

November 25, 2020 @ 8:30 pm

Great question! Losses are calculated on the day in which an option position expires ITM, not the day in which OCC logs an assignment event. Since price snapshots are taken only once daily at 3:46pm ET, the value of the option at 3:46pm is what’s used to calculate P/L. Price action of the underlying after 3:46pm ET the day of expiration is not accounted for and is an acknowledged gap in the methodology.

In other words, assignment events are calculated as a buy back of an ITM option 14 min before the option expires. If we ignore the 14 minutes of time value and subsequent price action of the underlying between 3:46pm and when OCC determines assignment price, the P/L is the same.

Rule of thumb: one can plan to realize ~80% of a backtest’s results in practice (not just mine, but anyone’s).