How to Choose Stocks and ETF’s for Covered Calls

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by Gavin in Blog, covered calls
August 28, 2016 2 comments

The first step in choosing which stocks and ETF’s on which to sell covered calls is to exclude those which are not appropriate.

For example, you should avoid leveraged ETF’s, small biotechs, start-ups and thinly traded stocks.

Next you can count out any stock that have a very illiquid options market. Look at the option strikes you will be trading, if the open interest is less than 500, then move on. Also keep an eye on the bid-ask spread of the options, if the spread is more than about $0.30 then you can also ignore those stocks.

how to chose stocks and ETF's for covered calls

Given the above, that significantly reduces the available universe of stocks on which to sell covered calls.

Stocks that you do want to look at for covered calls are quality, blue chip stocks that you would be happy to own in your retirement account. Dow stocks are a good place to start and all of the 30 stocks within that index would be appropriate for covered call writing.

Also, stocks in the consumer staples sector are generally low risk, low volatility that can be appropriate. The only downside with those is that low risk means low premiums so the return potential will be lower. Still, covered call writing is not meant to be exciting!

Here is my list of 62 stocks and ETF’s that I believe are appropriate for covered call writing.

AAPL     Apple Inc
AMGN   Amgen, Inc.
AXP       American Express Co
BA          Boeing Co
BAC        Bank of America
BUD       Anheuser Busch
C             Citigroup
CAT        Caterpillar Inc
CSCO     Cisco Systems Inc
CVS        CVS Health Corp
CVX        Chevron Corp
DD          E I du Pont de Nemours and Co
DIS         Walt Disney Co
EEM       iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ETF
EWZ       iShares MSCI Brazil Index ETF
FXI         iShares FTSE/Xinhua Chine 25 Index ETF
GE          General Electric Co
GOOG    Alphabet Inc
GS           Goldman Sachs Group Inc
GSK        GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR)
HD          Home Depot Inc
IBM        International Business Machines Corp
INTC      Intel Corp
IWM       iShares Russell 2000 Index
IYR         iShares Dow Jones US Real Estate ETF
JNJ         Johnson & Johnson
JPM        JPMorgan Chase and Co
KHC        Kraft Heinz Co
KMB       Kimberly Clark Corp
KO           Coca-Cola Co
MA          Mastercard
MCD       McDonald’s Corp
MMM     3M Co
MO          Altria Group Inc
MRK       Merck & Co Inc
MSFT      Microsoft Corp
NKE        Nike Inc
PEP         PepsiCo, Inc.
PFE         Pfizer Inc
PG           Procter & Gamble Co
QQQ       PowerShares QQQ Trust, Series 1 ETF
SBUX     Starbucks Corporation
SPY         SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust
TRV        Travelers Companies Inc
UNH       UnitedHealth Group Inc
UTX        United Technologies Corp
V              Visa Inc
VZ           Verizon Communications Inc
WFC       Wells Fargo & Company
WMT      Wal Mart Stores Inc
XLB         Materials Select Sector SPDR
XLE         Energy Select Sector SPDR
XLF         Financial Select Sector SPDR
XLFS       Financial Services Select Sector SPDR
XLI          Industrial Select Sector SPDR
XLK        Technology SPDR
XLP        Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR
XLU       Utilities SPDR
XLV        Healthcare SPDR
XLY        Materials Select Sector SPDR
XOM      Exxon Mobil Corp

  1. Brian Shepherd says:

    Why avoid leveraged ETF’s at all costs?

    1. Gavin says:

      Hi Brian,

      They are fine for trading short-term but you don’t want to hold them for too long so covered calls on leveraged ETF’s are not a great idea. This article gives more detail:

      Hope it helps.

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