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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

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

Why Calendar Spreads Are So Much Better Than Buying Stock

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 . . .

April 14, 2015

$20 Spread Investment Idea – a Bet on Oil

This week I would like to share an option spread idea which will cost you only $20 to try (plus commission). Of course, it you like the idea, you could buy a hundred or more of them like I did, or you could just get your options toe wet at a cost of a decent lunch (skip lunch and take a walk instead – it could improve both your physical and financial health).

The bet requires you to take a stab at what the price of oil might do in the next few weeks. Your odds of winning are surely better than placing a bet on a fantasy baseball team, and it could be as much fun. Read on.

Terry

$20 Spread Investment Idea – a Bet on Oil

I continue to investigate investment opportunities in USO, both . . .

April 3, 2015

Update on Oil Play Designed to Make 25% in One Month

About a month ago I sent out a strategy we were using to capitalize on the price of oil falling further (as many analysts, including those at Goldman, Citi, and Barclays, were predicting). We set up a small demonstration portfolio which had $2910 to start, and bought calendar spreads at the 18, 17, and 16 strikes when USO was trading at $18.45.

When the price of oil did retreat further, USO fell to about $17, and we sold our calendar spreads at the 17 and 18 strikes and replaced them with calendar spreads at the 15 and 14 strikes. Since the strike prices of calendar spreads is what determines whether you are bullish or bearish on the stock, when we had all our calendar spreads at strikes below the stock price, we were extremely bearish.

Then the stock turned around and headed higher, taking away the gains we had made, and we were right back to where we started. Today we made a new start, and I would like to share our thinking at this time.

Terry

Update on Oil Play Designed to Make 25% in One Month

USO is an Exchange Traded Product (ETP) which is highly . . .

Making 36%

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