Consistently, one of the more popular stocks people enter into their stock options watchlist at Stock Options Channel is UnitedHealth Group Inc (Symbol: UNH). So this week we highlight one interesting put contract, and one interesting call contract, from the January 2018 expiration for UNH. The put contract our YieldBoost algorithm identified as particularly interesting, is at the $95 strike, which has a bid at the time of this writing of $1.82. Collecting that bid as the premium represents a 1.9% return against the $95 commitment, or a 1.9% annualized rate of return (at Stock Options Channel we call this the YieldBoost ).
Selling a put does not give an investor access to UNH's upside potential the way owning shares would, because the put seller only ends up owning shares in the scenario where the contract is exercised. So unless UnitedHealth Group Inc sees its shares decline 39.7% and the contract is exercised (resulting in a cost basis of $93.18 per share before broker commissions, subtracting the $1.82 from $95), the only upside to the put seller is from collecting that premium for the 1.9% annualized rate of return.
Interestingly, that annualized 1.9% figure actually exceeds the 1.6% annualized dividend paid by UnitedHealth Group Inc, based on the current share price of $157.34. And yet, if an investor was to buy the stock at the going market price in order to collect the dividend, there is greater downside because the stock would have to fall 39.69% to reach the $95 strike price.
Always important when discussing dividends is the fact that, in general, dividend amounts are not always predictable and tend to follow the ups and downs of profitability at each company. In the case of UnitedHealth Group Inc, looking at the dividend history chart for UNH below can help in judging whether the most recent dividend is likely to continue, and in turn whether it is a reasonable expectation to expect a 1.6% annualized dividend yield.
Turning to the other side of the option chain, we highlight one call contract of particular interest for the January 2018 expiration, for shareholders of UnitedHealth Group Inc (Symbol: UNH) looking to boost their income beyond the stock's 1.6% annualized dividend yield. Selling the covered call at the $170 strike and collecting the premium based on the $8.00 bid, annualizes to an additional 5.1% rate of return against the current stock price (this is what we at Stock Options Channel refer to as the YieldBoost ), for a total of 6.7% annualized rate in the scenario where the stock is not called away. Any upside above $170 would be lost if the stock rises there and is called away, but UNH shares would have to climb 7.9% from current levels for that to happen, meaning that in the scenario where the stock is called, the shareholder has earned a 13% return from this trading level, in addition to any dividends collected before the stock was called.
The chart below shows the trailing twelve month trading history for UnitedHealth Group Inc, highlighting in green where the $95 strike is located relative to that history, and highlighting the $170 strike in red:
The chart above, and the stock's historical volatility, can be a helpful guide in combination with fundamental analysis to judge whether selling the January 2018 put or call options highlighted in this article deliver a rate of return that represents good reward for the risks. We calculate the trailing twelve month volatility for UnitedHealth Group Inc (considering the last 251 trading day UNH historical stock prices using closing values, as well as today's price of $157.34) to be 18%.
In mid-afternoon trading on Monday, the put volume among S&P 500 components was 1.12M contracts, with call volume at 1.12M, for a put:call ratio of 0.72 so far for the day, which is above normal compared to the long-term median put:call ratio of .65. In other words, if we look at the number of call buyers and then use the long-term median to project the number of put buyers we'd expect to see, we're actually seeing more put buyers than expected out there in options trading so far today. Find out which 15 call and put options traders are talking about today .
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.