# Category Archives: Neutral Income Strategies

## Special Dividends and Option Contract Adjustments

There are times when option contracts are adjusted for corporate events like stock splits or special dividends. In the case of a 2-1 stock split for example, the option contract strike price is adjusted in half and the number of contracts doubled.

There is no contract adjustment for ordinary dividends. Regular dividends that are paid on a quarterly basis are factored into the option’s price. When a stock goes ex-dividend the stock’s price is adjusted by the amount of the dividend. The call and put option’s price reflects the amount of the dividend.

Due to the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations, many companies are opting to pay out special dividends this year before the anticipated increase in the dividend tax rate. Currently dividends get a special tax rate of 15%. That rate could go as high as 39.6% in 2013 depending on the outcome of the fiscal cliff negotiations. Campbell soup became the last major company to declare a special dividend. Over 100 companies with a market cap greater than $240 million have declared special dividends this year. The total value of all the dividends is almost $23 billion.

If you’re using a covered call or a collar strategy to collect dividends, remember that with these special dividends, the strike price will be adjusted downward to reflect the special dividend unlike the ordinary dividend.

## Earnings Dual Calendar Spread

Earnings Dual Calendar

The dual calendar spread consists of a put calendar spread and a call calendar spread. It can be put on for a net credit or a net debit. A debit dual calendar spread can be an effective strategy around earnings time. We’ll call it an earnings dual calendar and here’s how it works. We want to be long the options that are in the reporting month because we are forecasting a rise in implied volatility in the option price until the report comes out, and then the implied volatility will fall rapidly. We’ll be short the contracts that will expire before the earnings release because we know that their implied volatility will drop with their expiration date. He’s an actual example from the time of this writing. This is not a trade recommendation. STI, Sun Trust Bank will report earnings on Monday October 22^{nd}, 2012. We anticipate that the implied volatility of the November options will remain elevated until the earnings announcement. We forecast that the implied volatility of the October options that expire on October 20^{th}, before the earnings announcement will collapse by the expiration date. We can put this trade on in the first week of October and plan to hold it until the October expiration on October 20^{th}. Here are some of the key data points;

Size Exp Strike Put/Call Price IV Theta Delta

+1 Nov 17 28 Put 0.93 31.27% -1.34 -39.72

+1 Nov 17 29 Call 1.00 29.45% -1.32 47.22

-1 Oct 20 28 Put -0.39 27.75% +1.85 34.31

-1 Oct 20 29 Call -0.46 25.52% +1.85 -41.91

So, the net debit is $108 which is also the maximum risk. For a ten contract position that would be $1080. The theta is $1.01 which means that for each contract you’ll earn the decay of $1.01 per day, for a ten contract position that amounts to just over $10 per day in option decay. The net delta is -0.10 which is essentially delta neutral. The plan is to close the position on the day of the first expiration before the earnings come out for a net debit greater than $1.08. If the underlying makes a substantial price movement the position will take on some delta and some form of a gamma scalping strategy can be applied to make the position delta neutral again.

## Reverse Gamma Scalping

In a prior post I wrote about gamma scalping around a long straddle. Reverse gamma scalping is a defensive strategy that can be used for short straddles, strangles and other credit spread positions like the popular iron condor or short iron butterfly.

The way it works is really simple. Say for example that you initiate one of the short positions above, at the time you establish the position you’re delta neutral. You hope that the underlying security remains motionless during your holding period. However, that is rarely the case and price movement will work against you. Positions that have high positive theta will also have high negative gamma. What that means is that if you’re the seller of a credit position and want to profit from option decay, you’ll be at risk for large price movement.

So how do you manage your position against adverse price movement? One way is through reverse gamma scalping. You start out in a delta neutral position. Say you have sold an iron condor, as the price of the underlying moves you’ll begin to take on some delta. If the underlying moves up, you’ll become short deltas, once your position hits -100 deltas, you can buy 100 shares of the underlying and become delta neutral once again. If the underlying declines in price you’ll become long deltas and can short some shares to offset.

Remember, reverse gamma scalping is a defensive move that can help to limit losses. It is not meant to produce additional profits to a position like gamma scalping can do to a long straddle or strangle.

## Option Greeks ~ Delta and Gamma

To determine the theoretical price of an option, an option pricing model is used. Buyers and sellers on the marketplace determine the actual price constantly throughout the trading day. The most commonly used pricing model is the Black Scholes Model. From the Black Scholes Model we can derive some calculations used to determine how an option price will react to market variables, known as the Greeks because letters from the Greek alphabet are used to designate them. The Delta is the rate of change of option price with a corresponding one point move in the underlying instrument. A one hundred share position in the underlying instrument will always have a delta of 100. I like to express the delta in terms of the number of shares of the underlying that you hold. If you are long 100 shares of XYZ then you are a positive 100 delta position. If you are short 100 shares of XYZ then you have a negative -100 delta position. When you combine complex option and stock positions you’ll have to keep track of the deltas which are additive. At the money options will have a delta of about 50. So, if you own 100 XYZ and decide to sell an at the money call with a delta of 50, your net position delta will now be 50, 100-50 = 50. Which means that as long as the delta of the short call remains at 50 your combined position will behave like 50 shares of the underlying, not 100 shares, so the risk of ownership in the underlying is reduced by a 50 share equivalent. As call options move in the money, the delta will increase, as they move out of the money, the delta will decrease. The delta is also roughly equivalent to the probability of the option being in or out of the money at expiration. An at the money option will have a delta of about 50, which means that it will move half of what the underlying moves, but also has a 50/50 chance of being in the money at expiration. A long call with have a positive delta and a long put will have a negative delta. Conversely the short call will have negative delta and the short put will be a positive delta position. If you hold a 100 share position and are concerned about risk you could sell an at the money call and use the proceeds to buy an at the money put. If the short call has a -50 delta and the long put also has a -50 delta you now have a delta neutral position, 100-50-50=0. As long as the position stays delta neutral you do not have market risk. The deltas, however are not fixed but are variable so they change when the price of the underlying stock changes and adjustments have to be made if the investor wishes to maintain a delta neutral position. The rate at which the delta changes is known as the Gamma, the gamma is the rate of change of the delta with a corresponding one point underlying move.

Option income investors who use short straddles, short strangles, iron condors, iron butterflies, etc. will have delta neutral positions with short gamma, meaning that they don’t want the underlying to move, if the underlying moves the delta will change and the position will take on a directional bias. So they have to adjust to maintain a delta neutral position.

To determine the theoretical price of an option, an option pricing model is used. Buyers and sellers on the marketplace determine the actual price constantly throughout the trading day. The most commonly used pricing model is the Black Scholes Model. From the Black Scholes Model we can derive some calculations used to determine how an option price will react to market variables, known as the Greeks because letters from the Greek alphabet are used to designate them. The Delta is the rate of change of option price with a corresponding one point move in the underlying instrument. A one hundred share position in the underlying instrument will always have a delta of 100. I like to express the delta in terms of the number of shares of the underlying that you hold. If you are long 100 shares of XYZ then you are a positive 100 delta position. If you are short 100 shares of XYZ then you have a negative -100 delta position. When you combine complex option and stock positions you’ll have to keep track of the deltas which are additive. At the money options will have a delta of about 50. So, if you own 100 XYZ and decide to sell an at the money call with a delta of 50, your net position delta will now be 50, 100-50 = 50. Which means that as long as the delta of the short call remains at 50 your combined position will behave like 50 shares of the underlying, not 100 shares, so the risk of ownership in the underlying is reduced by a 50 share equivalent. As call options move in the money, the delta will increase, as they move out of the money, the delta will decrease. The delta is also roughly equivalent to the probability of the option being in or out of the money at expiration. An at the money option will have a delta of about 50, which means that it will move half of what the underlying moves, but also has a 50/50 chance of being in the money at expiration. A long call with have a positive delta and a long put will have a negative delta. Conversely the short call will have negative delta and the short put will be a positive delta position. If you hold a 100 share position and are concerned about risk you could sell an at the money call and use the proceeds to buy an at the money put. If the short call has a -50 delta and the long put also has a -50 delta you now have a delta neutral position, 100-50-50=0. As long as the position stays delta neutral you do not have market risk. The deltas, however are not fixed but are variable so they change when the price of the underlying stock changes and adjustments have to be made if the investor wishes to maintain a delta neutral position. The rate at which the delta changes is known as the Gamma, the gamma is the rate of change of the delta with a corresponding one point underlying move.

Option income investors who use short straddles, short strangles, iron condors, iron butterflies, etc. will have delta neutral positions with short gamma, meaning that they don’t want the underlying to move, if the underlying moves the delta will change and the position will take on a directional bias. So they have to adjust to maintain a delta neutral position.