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Option Basics – Option Premium

The premium is the price paid or received for an option.  Options are traded much like stocks with the bid and ask prices as shown:

  • Seller receives the bid price;
  • Buyer receives the ask price;
  • The marker marker keeps the spread between bid and ask prices.

The premium refers to the total amount received for selling the option contract not the option price.  The premium means the option’s contract price on a per share basis.  For example, if the option contract price is shown as $1.25, this means you receive $1.25 per share or $125.00 per contract ($1.25 * 100 shares).  

The premium can be intrinsic and time value.  Intrinsic value is the portion of premium that is in-the-money.   Time value is the portion of premium that is not in-the-money which is also known as “extrinsic value.”  Time value is the amount upon which the return is calculated in covered call writing.  The equation is:

Total Premium = Intrinsic Value + Time Value

Calculating time value and intrinsic value is simple.  You calculate the intrinsic value portion of the option premium, then the remainder is time value.  The entire premium of an ATM or OTM call option will to 100% time value.  The real value of option premium for sellers is the time value portion of premium.  The profit in covered call returns lies solely in time value.  

Parity simply means that the option is trading at intrinsic value which occurs to ITM options.  Options seldom trade at a few pennies below parity.  ITM options then to trade at parity when they are close to expiration or there is no expected volatility in the underlying stock.

Time decay means that the time value portion of the option premium will decay or shrink as time runs out.  The intrinsic value never decays due to the passing of time.  Time decay increases as the option nears expiration as time decay accelerates in the last 30 days of the options life.  people who write covered calls in the current expiration month are seeking income from time decay.  Remember, time value is on the side of the option seller not the buyer as time destroys the option premium of the buyers investment.

Theta is the expected change in an option premium for a single day’s passage of time.  If all other factors are the same, then option premium will be lower the next trading day by the theta value of the option.  Theta expresses time decay as an options time value.

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