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  • Goldman Sachs has formulated a strategy for earnings
    season that has provided outsized returns for the past two
    decades.
  • It involves the purchase of options straddles that are
    cheap relative to history, and capture a company’s earnings
    period.
  • The firm provides a list of 20 well-positioned
    companies, including Netflix, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble
    and Wells Fargo.

Earnings season is upon us,
and if Wall Street forecasts are to be believed, it should be a
joyous occasion for stock investors.

But if you really want to crush it, Goldman Sachs has a strategy for you
— one that’s been a true money-maker for more than two decades.

It centers around buying options straddles, which involves the purchase
of both call and put contracts. If a company’s stock price moves
up dramatically, a trader can use the call option to buy shares
at a big discount, while if the price drops far enough, the put
option will instead turn a profit.

And that’s just part of it. Goldman isn’t recommending any old
straddles — it’s only interested in those that both capture an
earnings period, and are also cheap relative to past moves.

The strategy goes as follows: if the closest listed at-the-money
straddle for a stock is less expensive than it has been
historically, buying it five days before earnings and closing it
the day after has produced an average return on premium of 24%.
That dwarfs the 2% return for the entire universe of stocks.

As the chart below shows, the price of cheap straddles is even
lower than usual heading into this earnings season:

Screen Shot 2018 01 11 at 2.54.10 PMGoldman
Sachs

With that established, Goldman has gone a step further and
identified 20 stocks whose straddles are attractively priced for
their upcoming earnings reports. Here are two specific options
trades Goldman recommends, followed by a list of the other 18
companies:

1) Buy IBM (IBM)
January $165 straddles
— It captures the company’s
upcoming earnings report and an additional six trading days, but
costs 20 basis points less than the amount the stock has moved
over the past eight quarters.

2) Buy Microsoft (MSFT)
weekly $88 straddles expiring on February 2 
— This
allows an investor to position for a possible spike in earnings
volatility expectations. It also costs just 0.2% more than the
average over the past eight quarters, despite capturing 16 extra
days.

And the 18 other stocks for which Goldman Sachs says it’s worth
pursuing similar straddle strategies:

  • Wynn Resources (WYNN)
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL)
  • Edwards Lifesciences (EW)
  • Yelp (YELP)
  • eBay (EBAY)
  • Bank of New York Mellon (BK)
  • Kinder Morgan (KMI)
  • Akamai Technologies (AKAM)
  • Netflix (NFLX)
  • Hasbro (HAS)
  • FireEye (FEYE)
  • Corning (GLW)
  • Xilinx (XLNX)
  • CSX (CSX)
  • Procter & Gamble (PG)
  • Wells Fargo (WFC)
  • TransDigm (TDG)
  • Las Vegas Sands (LVS)

Get the latest Goldman Sachs stock price here.

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