I must confess that the more I dig, the more I am intrigued by this index put-write approach. Since there has been considerable discussion about the differences in return between the PUT and the closely related CBOE BuyWrite (BXM) Index, I will start by showing a table that has a year-by-year comparison of the PUT and the BXM. Just for fun I threw in the average VIX for each year, the change in the average VIX from year to year, the VIX range for the year and a ratio of that range divided by the average VIX. While none of these additional data points provides a smoking gun, each offers up a piece of the overall performance puzzle.
The second graphic is a simple matrix of monthly returns for the PUT since 1986. Not surprisingly, the two worst monthly returns were during the volatility peaks in October 1987 and October 2008. In a related note, several of the most profitable months for the PUT came just after high volatility events.
[Source: CBOE, VIX and More]
For those looking to dig deeper into this issue, consider that put-write absolute and relative returns are largely a function of implied volatility, the trending characteristics of the SPX and interest rates. Note also that that upper chart only goes back to June 1st, 1988 because that is when Standard & Poor’s began reporting daily dividends for the S&P 500 Total Return Index.