The Israel-Bombs-Iran Trade

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An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fighter plane (photo via the IDF).
An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fighter plane (photo via the IDF). 

Waiting For The Boom

Israeli government and military officials said this week that Israel is going to attack Iran imminently, in response to Iran’s missile strikes on Israel last weekend, but so far, market participants don’t seem to believe it. As of this writing on Wednesday afternoon, the VIX was trading at an 18-handle and crude oil was down about 3% intraday. Presumably, if Israel does strike Iran, we are going to see a spike in volatility and well as oil prices, and see share prices in a lot of affected stocks come tumbling down. This is a good time to think ahead about what trades you will want to make when that happens. A trade we exited today may be instructive here. 

The War Last Fall 

It’s worth remembering that after Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7th, and Israel’s subsequent strikes on Gaza, many observers worried about the conflict spiraling into a wider Mideast War. One of the stocks impacted by that was United Airlines Holdings (UAL), which ran a lot of flights into Israel. Despite beating Wall Street’s consensus estimates on top and bottom lines when it reported earnings in mid-October, UAL shares tanked down into the mid-30s that week, on concerns the Mideast war would cut into its revenues. The big red candle on the left side of the chart below is when that happened. 

That’s when we posted a bullish trade on UAL in our trading Substack, which was to buy the $40 strike calls expiring on June 21st of this year, for $3.50. 

You can click on this image to go to the post. 

That trade filled the next day, on October 20th, when UAL was trading at $36 and change. 

Flash forward to today. Yesterday, UAL reported earnings and beat on top and bottom lines again, and today it’s up about 16% in response–that’s the big green candle on the right side of the chart below. 

And we exited our $40 strike UAL calls at $8.40 today, for a 140% gain on the trade. 

A Similar Trade Could Work Again

If Israel attacks Iran, it’s likely we’ll see another crash in UAL, at which time a similar bullish trade can work again. In the meantime, we’re researching other potential buying opportunities that could open up following an Israeli attack on Iran. If you’d like a heads up when we place those trades, feel free to subscribe to our trading Substack/occasional email list below. 

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