Get Rich - Stay Rich - Investing for Monthly Income

Posts Tagged ‘option trading’

What Option Open Interest Means to the Trader

Option open interest is the number of options contracts open in a specific option series.  Open interest serves as a measure of option liquidity in the underlying option series.  The higher the open interest, the tighter the bid/ask spreads will be so slippage in trades will be lower.  When looking at option series, you want to be sure open interest is at least 5,000 and that the bid/ask spreads are no larger than 20 point apart.

When net buying or selling occurs in the underlying security, the open interest will show this change in the same direction of trader moves.  Increases in call open interest indicate the underlying is advancing up while increases in put open interest indicate more selling pressure.

Here are some rules on how to interpret open interest levels for OTM calls and puts in relation to the stock’s price movement:

  • Growing OI in Calls – confirms strength of stock’s advance
  • Declining OI in Calls – bearish divergence of stock’s advance
  • Flat OI in Calls – slightly bearish as no additional support for stock advance
  • Growing OI in Puts – confirmation of stock’s decline
  • Declining OI in Puts – slightly bullish as no additional support for stock decline
  • Flat OI in Puts – slightly bullish as it is not confirming decline

The growing interest in OTM and ATM options will confirm the stocks continued movement in the same direction.  Basically, this means the traders who have
been right are still buying more options for continuing the same direction.  In comparison, when open interest falls it indicates that traders are leaving the trade so it will likely end the current movement.  Traders are taking their money off the table.

The chart below displays a put/call open interest chart for Salesforce.com (CRM).  Notice how the blue line has been declining from 1.25 down to 0.95.  This indicates the number of puts are declining while the calls are increasing.  The traders are starting to turn more bullish on CRM as its stock price (red line) has increased to $125.

Put/Call open interest chart for CRM - getrichinvestments.com

Click to enlarge

Option Basics – Option Strike Prices

Stock option strike prices are the price stated on each call or put option.  The strike prices can be classified according to their relationship with the current stock price.  There are three categories:

  • In the money (ITM) defined as calls with strike prices below stock prices and puts with strike prices above stock prices;
  • At the money (ATM) defined as the call and put strike price at or near the stock price;
  • Out of the money (OTM) defined as calls with strike prices above the stock price and puts with strike prices below the stock price.

As you know, an option will move from category to category based on its relationship with the actual stock price movement.  For example, when a stock is trading at $50 the the $50 strike prices will be at the money.  When the stock price moves above $50, calls will be ITM while puts will be OTM.  Likewise, when the stock price falls below $50, then calls will be OTM and puts will be ITM.  Therefore, the category is totally dependent on the current stock price.

OTM options expired worthless while ITM will always be exercised by the holder because they still have a value at or near the expiration date.  When a stock option is exercised, the call holder buys the stock and the put holder sells the stock.  When options are exercised, the OCC decides to which brokerage firm the option will be assigned and the brokerage decides which customer will get the assignment. When you are assigned an exercise, those shares are said to have been called away or called out.

When stock options are American style, you can be assigned an exercise anytime the option is ITM.  Of course, early exercise is affected by the time value remaining on the option.  As time value begins to decline more rapidly as expiration nears, the holder is more likely to assign an ITM option.  In general, 10% of options are exercised, 60% are traded out and 30% expire worthless.  
  

Share Some Winning Cash
Archives