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Call Options

Buying a call option gives you the right (but not the obligation) to purchase 100 shares of a company’s stock at a certain price (called the strike price) from the date you buy the call until the third Friday of a specific month (called the expiration date).

People buy calls because they hope the stock will go up, and they will make a profit, either by selling the calls at a higher price, or by exercising their option (i.e., buying the shares at the strike price when the market price is higher).

Call options are quoted in dollar terms (e.g., $3.50), but they actually cost 100 times the quoted amount (e.g., $350), plus an average of $1.50 commission (charged by my discount broker — commissions charged by other brokers may differ).

Since most stock markets go up over time, and most people invest in stock because they hope prices will rise, there is more interest and activity in call options than there is in put options.

Real World Example of Call Options

Here are some call option prices for a hypothetical XYZ company on November 1, 2010 (price of stock: $45.00):

Expiration Date
Strike Price Nov '10 Dec '10 Jan '12 Terminology of Option
(price of call option)
40 $5.50 $7.00 $18.50 "in-the-money"
(strike price is less than stock price)
45 $2.00 $4.00 $16.00 "at-the-money"
(strike price is equal to stock price)
50 $0.50 $1.00 $14.00 "out-of-the-money"
(strike price is greater than stock price)

The premium is the price a call option buyer pays for the right to be able to buy 100 shares of a stock without actually having to shell out the money the stock would cost. The greater the time period of the option, the greater the premium.

The premium (same as the price) of an in-the-money call is composed of the intrinsic value and the time premium. (I understand that this is confusing. For in-the-money options, the option price, or premium, has a component part that is called the time premium). The intrinsic value is the difference between the stock price and the strike price. Any additional value in the option price is called the time premium. In the above example, the Dec ‘10 40 call is trading at $7.00. The intrinsic value is $5 ($45 stock price less 40 strike price), and the time premium is $2.

Terry's Tips Stock Options Trading Blog

May 14, 2015

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This week I came to the conclusion that the market may be in for some trouble over the next few months (or longer). I am not expecting a crash of any sort, but I think it is highly unlikely that we will see a large upward move anytime soon.

Today, I would like to share my thinking on the market’s direction, and talk a little about how you can use calendar spreads to benefit when the market (for most stocks) doesn’t do much of anything (or goes down moderately).

Terry

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Check Out a Long-Term Bet on FaceBook (FB)

In the family charitable trust I set up many years ago, I trade options to maximize the amounts I can give away each year. In this portfolio, I prefer not to actively trade short-term options, but each year, I make selected bets on companies I feel good about and I expect they won’t tank in price over the long run. Last week, I made such a bet on FaceBook (FB) that I would like to tell you about today. The spread will make over 40% in the next 8 months even if the stock were to fall $5 over that time.

Terry

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April 22, 2015

Why Calendar Spreads Are So Much Better Than Buying Stock

One of the great mysteries in the investment world (at least to me, an admitted options nut) is why anyone would buy stock in a company they really like when they could dramatically increase their expected returns with a simple stock options strategy instead. Of course, buying options is a little more complicated and takes a little extra work, but if you could make two or three times (or more) on your investment, wouldn’t that little extra effort be more than worth it? Apparently not, since most people take the lazy way out and just buy the stock.

Today I will try to persuade you to give stock options a try. I will show you exactly what I am doing in one of my Terry’s Tips portfolios while trading one of my favorite stocks.

Terry

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I like just about everything about Costco. I like to shop there. I buy wine by the case, paying far less than my local wine store (I am not alone – Costco is the largest retailer . . .

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