Implied Volatility (IV) gets high when a company has some impending event that can move the stock price. The impending event sometimes refers to the stock as being a special situation stock. The impending event causes the option IV to change based on the likely stock price move. Here are some causes that increase IV:
- There is a pending event such as an earnings report, FDA ruling, etc.
- A significant news event is pending on another company in the same industry
- The company’s industry is more volatile due to expected changes
- The stock has a higher level of volatility so its options are more expensive
- An aberration occurs as there is no apparent reason for more expensive options.
When a stock is already moving its price, option premium will be high. IV will simply reflect that volatility and potentially more volatility. Options are also more expensive when a stock is in a confirmed trend.
Time value that is inflated due to spiking IV will collapse when the event causing the spike arrives. You do not want to be long an option when IV collapse as you can lose money even if the stock price doesn’t fall. In general, you want to buy low volatility and sell high volatility.
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To use high volatility to your advantage when you are Bullish:
- Buy stock as options are expensive;
- Write covered calls to collect higher premium;
- Sell naked or cash-covered puts for higher premiums;
- Write bull put spreads for higher credits.
If you are bearish with high volatility:
- Short the stock since puts are expensive;
- Sell naked calls;
- Write bear call spreads for credit.