A call option is an option contract in which the holder (buyer) has the right (but not the obligation) to buy a specified quantity of a security at a specified price (strike price) within a fixed period of time (until its expiration).
For the writer (seller) of a call option, it represents an obligation to sell the underlying security at the strike price if the option is exercised. The call option writer is paid a premium for taking on the risk associated with the obligation.
For stock options, each contract covers 100 shares.
Call buying is the simplest way of trading call options. Novice traders often start off trading options by buying calls, not only because of its simplicity but also due to the large ROI generated from successful trades.
Suppose the stock of XYZ company is trading at $40. A call option contract with a strike price of $40 expiring in a month's time is being priced at $2. You strongly believe that XYZ stock will rise sharply in the coming weeks after their earnings report. So you paid $200 to purchase a single $40 XYZ call option covering 100 shares.
Say you were spot on and the price of XYZ stock rallies to $50 after the company reported strong earnings and raised its earnings guidance for the next quarter. With this sharp rise in the underlying stock price, your call buying strategy will net you a profit of $800.
Let us take a look at how we obtain this figure.
If you were to exercise your call option after the earnings report, you invoke your right to buy 100 shares of XYZ stock at $40 each and can sell them immediately in the open market for $50 a share. This gives you a profit of $10 per share. As each call option contract covers 100 shares, the total amount you will receive from the exercise is $1000.
Since you had paid $200 to purchase the call option, your net profit for the entire trade is $800. It is also interesting to note that in this scenario, the call buying strategy's ROI of 400% is very much higher than the 25% ROI achieved if you were to purchase the stock itself.
This strategy of trading call options is known as the long call strategy. See our long call strategy article for a more detailed explanation as well as formulae for calculating maximum profit, maximum loss and breakeven points.
Instead of purchasing call options, one can also sell (write) them for a profit. Call option writers, also known as sellers, sell call options with the hope that they expire worthless so that they can pocket the premiums. Selling calls, or short call, involves more risk but can also be very profitable when done properly. One can sell covered calls or naked (uncovered) calls.
The short call is covered if the call option writer owns the obligated quantity of the underlying security. The covered call is a popular option strategy that enables the stockowner to generate additional income from their stock holdings thru periodic selling of call options. See our covered call strategy article for more details.
When the option trader write calls without owning the obligated holding of the underlying security, he is shorting the calls naked. Naked short selling of calls is a highly risky option strategy and is not recommended for the novice trader. See our naked call article to learn more about this strategy.
A call spread is an options strategy in which equal number of call option contracts are bought and sold simultaneously on the same underlying security but with different strike prices and/or expiration dates. Call spreads limit the option trader's maximum loss at the expense of capping his potential profit at the same time.
Your new trading account is immediately funded with $5,000 of virtual money which you can use to test out your trading strategies using OptionHouse's virtual trading platform without risking hard-earned money.
Once you start trading for real, your first 100 trades will be commission-free! (Make sure you click thru the link below and quote the promo code '60FREE' during sign-up)Click here to open a trading account at OptionsHouse.com now!
Buying straddles is a great way to play earnings. Many a times, stock price gap up or down following the quarterly earnings report but often, the direction of the movement can be unpredictable. For instance, a sell off can occur even though the earnings report is good if investors had expected great results....[Read on...]
If you are very bullish on a particular stock for the long term and is looking to purchase the stock but feels that it is slightly overvalued at the moment, then you may want to consider writing put options on the stock as a means to acquire it at a discount....[Read on...]
Also known as digital options, binary options belong to a special class of exotic options in which the option trader speculate purely on the direction of the underlying within a relatively short period of time.....[Read on...]
If you are investing the Peter Lynch style, trying to predict the next multi-bagger, then you would want to find out more about LEAPSÂ® and why I consider them to be a great option for investing in the next MicrosoftÂ®.... [Read on...]
Cash dividends issued by stocks have big impact on their option prices. This is because the underlying stock price is expected to drop by the dividend amount on the ex-dividend date....[Read on...]
As an alternative to writing covered calls, one can enter a bull call spread for a similar profit potential but with significantly less capital requirement. In place of holding the underlying stock in the covered call strategy, the alternative....[Read on...]
Some stocks pay generous dividends every quarter. You qualify for the dividend if you are holding on the shares before the ex-dividend date....[Read on...]
To achieve higher returns in the stock market, besides doing more homework on the companies you wish to buy, it is often necessary to take on higher risk. A most common way to do that is to buy stocks on margin....[Read on...]
Day trading options can be a successful, profitable strategy but there are a couple of things you need to know before you use start using options for day trading.... [Read on...]
Learn about the put call ratio, the way it is derived and how it can be used as a contrarian indicator.... [Read on...]
Put-call parity is an important principle in options pricing first identified by Hans Stoll in his paper, The Relation Between Put and Call Prices, in 1969. It states that the premium of a call option implies a certain fair price for the corresponding put option having the same strike price and expiration date, and vice versa.... [Read on...]
In options trading, you may notice the use of certain greek alphabets like delta or gamma when describing risks associated with various positions. They are known as "the greeks".... [Read on...]
Since the value of stock options depends on the price of the underlying stock, it is useful to calculate the fair value of the stock by using a technique known as discounted cash flow.... [Read on...]
Risk Warning: Stocks, futures and binary options trading discussed on this website can be considered High-Risk Trading Operations and their execution can be very risky and may result in significant losses or even in a total loss of all funds on your account. You should not risk more than you afford to lose. Before deciding to trade, you need to ensure that you understand the risks involved taking into account your investment objectives and level of experience. Information on this website is provided strictly for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as a trading recommendation service. TheOptionsGuide.com shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.