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How to Use LEAPS as Stock Replacement

Some investors are getting started with a small account.  However, these investors want to make some extra cash to pay some bills or to build up their capital.  They can sell calls on lower priced stocks as it takes less capital to purchase 100 shares of stock.  This is not the only way to achieve income on a smaller portfolio.  They can use LEAPS (long-term equity anticipation securities) as a stock replacement in covered call trades.

Just like a covered call trade, LEAPS (yes it always has an “S” which stands for security) can be purchased instead of the underlying stock which a call can be sold against to provide income.  LEAPS are similar to options except they have a longer time to expiration.  LEAPS usually expire from 1 to 3 years from the time of purchase.  The tradeoff is that you can purchase a LEAPS with 1-3 years of time at a lower cost than purchasing the stock.

The risk profile is very similar between a stock purchase or a LEAPS.  If you buy a stock for $50 then your risk is $50.  The same is true for a LEAPS.  If you buy a LEAPS contract for $20 then your risk is $20.  In both cases, your total investment amount is at risk.  The big difference is that LEAPS have an expiration date while stocks do not.  Since LEAPS have an expiration date, they can be purchased at a lower price than the underlying stock.

When you purchase a LEAPS contract, you control 100 shares of the underlying stock.  Just like a option call, LEAPS give you the right, but not an obligation, to purchase the stock at any time before expiration at the strike price you purchased.

For example, Pepsi (PEP) is trading at around $69.00 at this time.  Your cost to purchase 100 shares of UA will be $6,900.  You can purchase a Jan 2013 call at the $70 strike price for $4.35 per contract. This LEAPS will cost a total of $435.00.  This is a significant difference in the initial investment that is at risk.  The January 2013 call has 556 days until expiration.  You now have the right to purchase 100 shares of Pepsi stock at $70.00 anytime over the next 556 days.

To complete a covered call on PEP, you can sell one August 2011, 38 days til expiration, call at $0.84 per contract.  This is $84.00 in income for a total investment of $435.00.  This is a static return of 19.31% over 38 days.  This is extreme leverage that LEAPS offer to the investor.  If you purchased the stock instead of a LEAPS, your return would be 1.22% because your investment would be $6,900.  Also, your risk would be $6,900 for the stock versus just $435.00 for the LEAPS.

The bottom line: LEAPS lower your total investment compared to the underlying stock and leverage your total return potential.  This is great for those wanting income when investing with a small portfolio or those wanting to leverage their return.

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