Covered call writers receive option premiums for undertaking the obligation to sell our shares to the option holder if that holder decides to exercise that right. Understanding when and why exercise will take place is critical to the implementation of appropriate exit strategies and therefore maximizing our option and stock profits.
Let’s first look at our covered call trade from the perspective of the option buyer. As the holder of the call option the buyer’s goal is to make the most money possible. This can be accomplished by exercising the option and buying the stock below market (when the strike price is in-the-money) or by selling the option prior to expiration. If the strike price is in-the-money will the options be exercised early (prior to 4 PM EST on expiration Friday), will they be exercised after expiration Friday or will they never be exercised? To get an understanding of how this works we must first look at the premium of the call option and the equation that defines what the premium consists of:
Option premium = Intrinsic Value + Time Value
The intrinsic value is the amount that the option strike price is in-the-money and time value is the amount above the intrinsic value. If the option buyer exercises the option, the intrinsic value is captured but the time value is forfeited. This means that it is highly unlikely that the option will be exercised early. A rare exception to this rule is when a dividend is about to be distributed prior to expiration and the dividend amount is greater than the time value remaining on the premium. Let’s look at a real-life example to make all this come alive:
On August 24th, I published an article on this site showing a trade I made using KORS as my underlying. KORS was purchased for $72.36 and slightly out-of-the-money $72.50 calls were sold. As of September 1st, the share price rose to $74.09, leaving the $72.50 calls now in-the-money. The question now is will early exercise occur and my shares be sold? To get an answer, we look to a current options chain:
Amount option holder will receive if early exercise is invoked and shares are sold:
Amount generated = $74.09 – $72.50 = $1.59 or $159 per contract
Amount option holder will receive if option is sold rather than exercised:
Amount generated = $2.95 or $295 per contract
The breakdown of the option premium is as follows:
$2.95 = $1.59 (intrinsic value) + $1.36 (time value)
It is apparent that if the holder chooses the path of early exercise, time value will be lost and that makes no financial sense. Now if there is a dividend distribution prior to expiration Friday in an amount greater than $1.36, early exercise would be much more likely but not guaranteed (many retail investors do not know about dividends and ex-dates).
Are we assured that early exercise will not occur if there is no dividend to consider?
NO. Some investors want to own the stock and will exercise (rarely) even if selling the option will make more sense. We cannot account for other investors making poor financial decisions. These investors should sell the option and then buy the shares at market thereby capturing the time value that early exercise would deprive them of. In these unusual instances, The Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) randomly assigns exercise notices to brokerage firms, which then assigns these notices to their customers (could be you or me!). Our covered call writing decisions should not be based on rare and unusual circumstances but rather on the most likely scenario which is that our in-the-money strikes will not be exercised (barring a dividend issue) prior to 4 PM on expiration Friday. Therefore, if we wanted to hold onto our shares, we would need to buy back or roll the option prior to expiration.
To determine the likelihood of early exercise we need to look at the option premium of an in-the-money strike. Early exercise will result in loss of time value for the option holder and therefore makes no financial sense. Early assignment is possible when there is a dividend distribution or when the holder incorrectly decides to exercise early and the assignment randomly falls to our account.
Upcoming live seminars:
September 24, 2013
Philadelphia Chapter of the American Association of Individual Investors
6:30 PM Registration and 7 PM start.
The charge is $15 for pre-registration and $17 at the door.
Details are available on the above website.
Reservations can be made through Andrew Street at 261 Gypsy Road in King of Prussia, PA 19406
|Start:||September 24, 2013 6:30 pm|
|End:||September 24, 2013 9:00 pm|
|Address:||540 Fountain , Plymouth Meeting, PA, United States|
October 19, 2013
American Association of Individual Investors Los Angeles Chapter
Alan will be one of two speakers at this event.
Skirball Center 9AM to 12PM
Details to follow.
As events in Syria and investor fear of the Fed decreasing its expansionary monetary policy, the market remains nervous and unpredictable. This week’s economic reports were a mixed bag but the disappointing jobs report seems to encourage many investors that the current monetary policies will remain in effect at least short-term (bad news viewed as good news…go figure!):
- The ISM manufacturing index showed strong growth @ 55.7, higher than the 54.5 anticipated. This was the 3rd increase in a row and a sign of expansion
- The ISM service-sector index rose to 58.6, the highest level since its inception in 2008, up from 56.0 (57 was expected)
- The August jobs report disappointed with 169,000 jobs added, lower than the 175,000 predicted
- June and July payrolls were revised downward by a total of 74,000 jobs
- The unemployment rate for August dropped to 7.3% from 7.4% but mainly because less people were looking for jobs
- The economy expanded at a “modest to moderate pace” according to the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book (a summary of economic conditions in each of the 12 Federal Reserve regional districts (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco. It provides anecdotal information on topics such as labor conditions, consumer spending, and business activity. Formally called the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District, it is known as the
Beige Book because of its plain beige cover)
- New orders for manufactured goods fell by 2.4% in July (more than the 1.6% expected) after 3 months of increases. Excluding the unpredictable transportation sector, new orders rose by 1.2%
- The nation’s productivity pace (efficiency of producing goods and services) rose in the 2nd quarter at an annual rate of 2.3%, better than the 1.8% anticipated
- The trade deficit for July was wider than expected ($39.1 billion compared to $38.6 billion)
- Construction spending was up 0.6%, more than the 0.4% predicted
For the week, the S&P 500 was up 1.4%, for a year-to-date return of 17.8%, including dividends.
IBD: Market in correction
BCI: Cautiously bullish favoring in-the-money strikes 3-to-2
Thanks one and all for your continued support.
Alan ([email protected])