Option trades, like any othermarket trade, involve a buyer and
seller in order to complete the transaction.
The buyer of acall option has the right to buy the underlying
security at thestrike price before theexpiration date. The option
seller, or writer, is granting thecall buyer that right and must
deliver the underlying security if the call option is exercised by
If the option writer already owns the underlying security when
the call trade is opened, then the call is said to be covered. That
means the options writer has covered their position in theoptions
contract with a long position in the underlying security.
If a trader owns 100shares of
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)
, then they could write onecovered call contract against those
shares. If Apple rises above the strike price before the exercise
date, then the buyer could exercise the option and the shares would
be sold from the option writer's account at the strike price. The
covered call position would lead to a small premium collected and a
sale of Apple at a price the writer agreed to accept.
How Traders Use It
Covered call writing is usually considered to be a low-risk, income
generating strategy. Traders who own astock can sell deep
out-of-the-money calls to receive small premiums while they
continue to benefit fromappreciation in the underlying
For example, a trader owning 100 shares of Apple could sell a
call with a strike price that is $50 more than the currentmarket
price and expires in 30 days. They would immediately receive a
small premium of maybe $5 a share.
If Apple goes up by less than $50 or falls during the next 30
days, selling a covered call increases the trader's profits by an
additional $5 per share. If this strategy is repeated over time,
then it can deliver a significant amount of income to the trader.
If Apple rises, then the traderwill be able to sell at aprofit
Some traders will sell a security by using a covered call to get
a slightly higher price on the transaction if the call isovervalued
relative to the underlying. If the trader with 100 shares of Apple
wanted to sell at the market and anat-the-money call was selling
for $5 on theexpiration date , then they could sell the call and
make an additional small profit on the trade when the call is
These opportunities are rare, but they are possible in
fast-moving markets where volatility is relatively overpriced.
Volatility is a critical factor in determining the options price,
and if the level of volatility changes abruptly, then market
opportunities like this can exist for brief periods.
Why It Matters To Traders
Covered call writing can allow a trader to increase their income
and limit the risk in some trades. This strategy is often used
withstocks that pay adividend to generate additional income.
Action to Take -->
In addition to the dividend, the trader could generate returns of
several percentage points on the covered calls, and if the stock
appreciates, then the trader gains from that as well. If the strike
price is greater than their initial purchase price, then the trader
will be able to sell their position with a gain and reinvest the
profits into another covered call position. By repeating this
process over time, large profits are possible.
This article originally appeared on ProfitableTrading.com:
Covered Calls: A Simple Way to Generate Income
on the Stocks You Own