Monthly Archives: May 2015

Pricing a put option – an example

This post is a continuation of the example discussed in this previous post, which gives an example to illustrate the pricing of a call option using the binomial option pricing model. This post illustrates the pricing of a put option. Links to practice problems are found at the bottom of the post.

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The example

The following gives the information about the stock:

  • The stock of XYZ company is currently selling for $50 per share. The price per share 1 year from now is expected to increase to $65 or to decrease to $40. The stock pays no dividends.

Consider a put option with the following specifics:

  • The underlying asset of the put option is the XYZ stock.
  • The strike price is $55.
  • The option will expire in one year.
  • The option is assumed to be a European option, i.e. it can be exercised only at expiration.

The annual risk-free interest rate is 2%. There is a benefit to the buyer of the option described above. If the price of the stock goes down to $40 at the end of the 1-year period, the buyer of the put option has the right to sell a share of XYZ for $55 ($15 higher than the market price). If the price of the stock goes up to $65 at the end of the 1-year period, exercising the option would mean selling a share at $55 which is $10 below the market price, but the put option owner can simply walk away. The put option owner sells the stock only when he makes money. What would be the fair price of having this privilege? What is the fair price of this put option?

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Pricing the put option

In this example, the current stock price is $50 and the stock price can be only one of the two possible values at the end of the option contract period (either $65 or $40). The following diagram shows the future state of the stock prices.

    \text{ }
    Figure 1 – Stock Price
    Future stock price
    \text{ }

The assumption of the 2-state stock prices in 1 year simplifies the analysis of the put option. The value of the put option at the end of 1 year is either zero or $15 (=55-40). Note that when the share price at the end of the 1-year contract period is higher than the strike price of $55, the put option expires worthless. The following diagram shows the value of the put option.

    \text{ }
    Figure 2 – Put Option Payoff
    put option payoff

    \text{ }

In the above diagram, the value of the put option at the end of 1-year is either $0 or $15. The value of the option at time 0 is C, which is the premium of the put option in this example. Our job here is to calculate C. The key to finding the value of the option is to compare the payoff of the put to that of a portfolio consisting of the following investments:

    Portfolio B

  • Short 0.6 shares of XYZ.
  • Lend $38.2277 at the risk-free rate.

The idea for setting up this portfolio is given below. For the time being, we take the 0.6 shares and the lending of $38.2277 as a given. Note that $38.2277 is the present value of $39 at the risk-free rate of 2%. Let’s calculate the value of Portfolio B at time 0 and at time 1 (1 year from now). The following diagram shows the calculation.

    \text{ }
    Figure 3 – Portfolio B Payoff
    replicating portfolio B payoff

    \text{ }

Note that the payoff of the put option is identical to the payoff of Portfolio B. Thus the put option in this example and Portfolio B must have the same cost. Since Portfolio B costs $8.2277, the price of the option must be $8.2277. The Portfolio B of 0.6 shares of stock in short sales and $15.683 in lending is a synthetic put since it mimics the put option described in the example. Portfolio B is called a replicating portfolio because it replicates the payoff of the put option in question.

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Arbitrage opportunities

In deriving the cost of the put option of $8.2277, we rely on the idea that if two investments have the same payoff, they must have the same cost. This idea is called the law of one price, which is a commonsensical idea and is also an important principle in derivative pricing. If the law of one price is violated, in particular if the price of the put option discussed here is not $8.2277, there would be arbitrage opportunities that can be exploited to gain risk-free profit.

What if the law of one price is violated? For example, what if the option were selling for a higher price (say $8.50)? If the price of the replicating portfolio is less than the price of the option, then we can “buy low and sell high” (i.e. buy the replicating portfolio and sell put option) and obtain a risk-free profit of $0.2723. The arbitrage is to buy the synthetic call (Portfolio B) at $8.2277 and sell the put option at $8.50. The following table shows the Year 1 cash flows of this arbitrage opportunity.

    \text{ }

    Table 1 – Arbitrage opportunity when put option is overpriced

    \left[\begin{array}{llll}      \text{Year 1 Cash Flows} & \text{ } & \text{Share Price = } \$ 40 & \text{Share Price = } \$ 65 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \text{Long synthetic put} & \text{ } & \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \ \ \ \ \text{Short 0.6 shares}  & \text{ } & - \$ 24 & - \$ 39 \\      \ \ \ \ \text{Receive the lending of } \$ 38.2277  & \text{ } & + \$ 39 & + \$ 39 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \text{Short put }  & \text{ } &  - \$ 15 & \ \ \$ 0 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\            \text{Total payoff} & \text{ } & \text{ } \ \$ 0  & \ \ \$ 0    \end{array}\right]

    \text{ }

The above table shows that buying a synthetic put (shorting 0.6 shares and lending $38.2277) and selling a put will have no loss at the end of 1 year. Yet, the time 0 cash flow is $0.2723 (=8.50 – 8.2277), and is thus a risk-less profit.

If the option is underpriced, then we can still buy low and sell high (in this case, buy put option and sell the replicating portfolio) and obtain risk-free arbitrage profit. For example, let’s say you observe a put option price of $8.00. Then the arbitrage opportunity is to buy the put option at $8.00 and sell a synthetic put (Portfolio B) at $8.2277. The time 0 payoff is $0.2723, which is a risk-less arbitrage profit. The following table shows the Year 1 cash flows.

    \text{ }

    Table 2 – Arbitrage opportunity when put option is underpriced

    \left[\begin{array}{llll}      \text{Year 1 Cash Flows} & \text{ } & \text{Share Price = } \$ 40 & \text{Share Price = } \$ 65 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \text{Short synthetic put} & \text{ } & \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \ \ \ \ \text{Long 0.6 shares}  & \text{ } & + \$ 24 & + \$ 39 \\      \ \ \ \ \text{Repay the borrowing of } \$38.2277   & \text{ } & - \$ 39 & - \$ 39 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \text{Long put }  & \text{ } & \ \ \$ 15 & + \$ 0 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\            \text{Total payoff} & \text{ } & \text{ } \ \$ 0  & \ \ \$ 0    \end{array}\right]

    \text{ }

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To complete the picture

The put option price of $8.2277 is derived by showing that the replicating portfolio has the same payoff as the put option. How do we know that the replicating portfolio consists of shorting 0.6 shares and lending of $38.2277?

In general, the replicating portfolio of a European option consists of \Delta shares of the stock and the amount B in lending at time 0 (borrowing if negative). By equating the payoff of the replicating portfolio and the payoff of the put option in this example, we have the following equations:

    \text{ }
    \displaystyle \begin{array}{ccc} \displaystyle 40 \ \Delta + B \ e^{0.02} & = & 15 \\ \displaystyle 65 \ \Delta + B \ e^{0.02} & = & 0  \end{array}
    \text{ }

Solving these two equations, we obtain \Delta=\frac{-15}{25}=-0.6 and B=39 \ e^{-0.02}=38.2277. Therefore, the replicating portfolio for the put option in this example consists of shorting 0.6 shares of the stock and $38.2277 in lending. The net investment for the replicating portfolio is $8.2277 (=-0.6(50)+38.2277). Because there are only two data points in the future stock prices, the option premium is a linear function of \Delta and B. The following is the premium of the call (or put) option using the one-period binomial tree

    C=\Delta \ S+B

where S is the stock price at expiration. The above formula gives the cost of the portfolio replicating the payoff of a given option. It works for call option as well as for put option. The above example shows that for put options, \Delta is negative and B is positive (i.e. shorting stock and lending replicate the payoff of a put). The number \Delta has a special interpretation that will be important in subsequent discussion of option pricing. It can be interpreted as the sensitivity of the option to a change in the stock price. For example, if the stock price changes by $1, then the option price, \Delta \ S + B, changes by the amount \Delta. In other words, \Delta is the change in the option price per unit increase in the stock price.

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Put-call parity

The put-call parity relates the price of a European call with a European put that has the same strike price and the same time to expiration. The following is a call on XYZ stock that is compatible to the put described above.

  • The underlying asset of the call option is the XYZ stock.
  • The strike price is $55.
  • The option will expire in one year.
  • The option is assumed to be a European option, i.e. it can be exercised only at expiration.

The previous post shows that the premium of this call option is $4.316821227. The put-call parity also derive the same cost for the put.

    \displaystyle \begin{aligned} P(55,1)&=C(55,1)-50+55 \ e^{-0.02} \\&=4.316821227-50+55 \ e^{-0.02} \\&=\$ 8.2277  \end{aligned}

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Remarks

The examples discussed in this post and in the previous post have value even though the examples may seem like an extreme simplification. These two examples are an excellent introduction to the subject of option pricing theory. The one-period example can be extended to a multi-period approach to describe far more realistic pricing scenarios. For example, we can break a year into many subintervals. We then use the 2-state method to describe above to work backward from the stock prices and option values of the last subinterval to derive the value of the replicating portfolio.

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Practice problems

Practice problems can be found in the companion problem blog via the following links:

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\copyright \ \ 2015 \ \text{Dan Ma}

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Pricing a call option – an example

The example in this post illustrates how to price a call option using the one-period binomial option pricing model. The next post will present an example on pricing a put option. The two posts are designed to facilitate the discussion on the binomial option pricing (given in a series of subsequent posts). Links to practice problems are found at the bottom of the post.

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The example

The following gives the information about the stock:

  • The stock of XYZ company is currently selling for $50 per share. The price per share 1 year from now is expected to increase to $65 or to decrease to $40. The stock pays no dividends.

Consider a call option with the following specifics:

  • The underlying asset of the call option is the XYZ stock.
  • The strike price is $55.
  • The option will expire in one year.
  • The option is assumed to be a European option, i.e. it can be exercised only at expiration.

The annual risk-free interest rate is 2%. There is a benefit to the buyer of the option described above. If the price of the stock goes up to $65 at the end of the 1-year period, the owner of the option has the right to exercise the option, i.e., buying one share at the strike price of $55 and then selling it at the market price of $65, producing a payoff of $10. If the price of the stock goes down to $40 at the end of the 1-year period, the buyer of the option has the right to not exercise the option. The call option owner buys the stock only when he makes money. What would be the fair price of having this privilege? What is the fair price of this call option?

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Pricing the call option

In this example, the current stock price is $50 and the stock price can be only one of the two possible values at the end of the option contract period (either $65 or $40). The following diagram shows the future state of the stock prices.

    \text{ }
    Figure 1 – Stock Price
    Future stock price
    \text{ }

The assumption of the 2-state stock prices in 1 year simplifies the analysis of the call option. The value of the call option at the end of 1 year is either $10 (=65-55) or zero. Note that when the share price at the end of the 1-year contract period is less than the strike price of $55, the call option expires worthless. The following diagram shows the value of the call option.

    \text{ }
    Figure 2 – Call Option Payoff
    call option payoff
    \text{ }

In the above diagram, the value of the call option at the end of 1-year is either $10 or $0. The value of the option at time 0 is C, which is the premium of the call option in this example. Our job here is to calculate C. The key to finding the value of the option is to compare the payoff of the call to that of a portfolio consisting of the following investments:

    Portfolio A

  • Buy 0.4 shares of XYZ.
  • Borrow $15.683 at the risk-free rate.

The idea for setting up this portfolio is given below. For the time being, we take the 0.4 shares and the borrowed amount of $15.683 as a given. Note that $15.683 is the present value of $16 at the risk-free rate of 2%. Let’s calculate the value of Portfolio A at time 0 and at time 1 (1 year from now). The following diagram shows the calculation.

    \text{ }
    Figure 3 – Portfolio A Payoff

    replicating portfolio payoff
    \text{ }

Note that the payoff of the call option is identical to the payoff of Portfolio A. Thus the call option in this example and Portfolio A must have the same cost. Since Portfolio A costs $4.317, the price of the option must be $4.317. The Portfolio A of 0.4 shares of stock and $15.683 in borrowing is a synthetic call since it mimics the call option described in the example. Portfolio A is called a replicating portfolio because it replicates the payoff of the call option in question.

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Arbitrage opportunities

In deriving the cost of the call option of $4.137, we rely on the idea that if two investments have the same payoff, they must have the same cost. This idea is called the law of one price, which is a commonsensical idea and is also an important principle in derivative pricing. If the law of one price is violated, in particular if the price of the call option discussed in this example is not $4.317, there would be arbitrage opportunities that can be exploited to gain risk-free profit.

What if the law of one price is violated? For example, what if the option were selling for a higher price (say $4.50)? If the price of the replicating portfolio is less than the price of the option, then we can “buy low and sell high” (i.e. buy the replicating portfolio and sell call option) and obtain a risk-free profit of $0.183. The arbitrage is to buy the synthetic call (Portfolio A) at $4.317 and sell the call option at $4.50. The following table shows the Year 1 cash flows of this arbitrage opportunity.

    \text{ }

    Table 1 – Arbitrage opportunity when call option is overpriced

    \left[\begin{array}{llll}      \text{Year 1 Cash Flows} & \text{ } & \text{Share Price = } \$ 40 & \text{Share Price = } \$ 65 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \text{Long synthetic call} & \text{ } & \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \ \ \ \ \text{Hold 0.4 shares}  & \text{ } & + \$ 16 & + \$ 26 \\      \ \ \ \ \text{Repay borrowed amount of } \$ 15.683  & \text{ } & - \$ 16 & - \$ 16 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \text{Short call }  & \text{ } & \ \ \$ 0 & - \$ 10 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\            \text{Total payoff} & \text{ } & \text{ } \ \$ 0  & \ \ \$ 0    \end{array}\right]

    \text{ }

The above table shows that buying a synthetic call (holding 0.4 shares and borrow $15.683) and selling a call will have no loss at the end of 1 year. Yet, the time 0 cash flow is $0.183 (=4.50 – 4.317), and is thus a risk-less profit.

If the option is underpriced, then we can still buy low and sell high (in this case, buy call option and sell the replicating portfolio) and obtain risk-free arbitrage profit. For example, let’s say you observe a call option price of $4.00. Then the arbitrage opportunity is to buy the call option at $4.00 and sell a synthetic call (Portfolio A) at $4.317. The time 0 payoff is $0.317, which is a risk-less arbitrage profit. The following table shows the Year 1 cash flows.

    \text{ }

    Table 2 – Arbitrage opportunity when call option is underpriced

    \left[\begin{array}{llll}      \text{Year 1 Cash Flows} & \text{ } & \text{Share Price = } \$ 40 & \text{Share Price = } \$ 65 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \text{Short synthetic call} & \text{ } & \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \ \ \ \ \text{Short 0.4 shares}  & \text{ } & - \$ 16 & - \$ 26 \\      \ \ \ \ \text{Receive the amount of } \$ 15.683  & \text{ } & + \$ 16 & + \$ 16 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\      \text{Long call }  & \text{ } & \ \ \$ 0 & + \$ 10 \\      \text{ } & \text{ } \\            \text{Total payoff} & \text{ } & \text{ } \ \$ 0  & \ \ \$ 0    \end{array}\right]

    \text{ }

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To complete the picture

The call option price of $4.317 is derived by showing that the replicating portfolio has the same payoff as the call option. How do we know that the replicating portfolio consists of holding 0.4 shares and the borrowing of $15.683?

In general, the replicating portfolio of a European call option consists of \Delta shares of the stock and the amount B in lending at time 0 (borrowing if negative). By equating the payoff of the replicating portfolio and the payoff of the call option in this example, we have the following equations:

    \text{ }
    \displaystyle \begin{array}{ccc} \displaystyle 40 \ \Delta + B \ e^{0.02} & = & 0 \\ \displaystyle 65 \ \Delta + B \ e^{0.02} & = & 40  \end{array}
    \text{ }

Solving these two equations, we obtain \Delta=\frac{10}{25}=0.4 and B=-16 \ e^{-0.02}=15.683. Therefore, the replicating portfolio for the call option in this example consists of 0.4 shares of the stock and $15.683 in borrowing. The net investment for the replicating portfolio is $4.317 (=0.4(50)-15.683). Because there are only two data points in the future stock prices, the option premium is a linear function of \Delta and B. The following is the premium of the call (or put) option using the one-period binomial tree

    C=\Delta \ S+B

where S is the stock price at expiration. The above formula gives the cost of the portfolio replicating the payoff of a given option. It works for call option as well as for put option. We will see that for put options, \Delta is negative and B is positive (i.e. shorting stock and lending replicate the payoff of a put). The number \Delta has a special interpretation that will be important in subsequent discussion of option pricing. It can be interpreted as the sensitivity of the option to a change in the stock price. For example, if the stock price changes by $1, then the option price, \Delta \ S + B, changes by the amount \Delta. In other words, \Delta is the change in the option price per unit change in the stock price.

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Put-call parity

The put-call parity relates the price of a European call with a European put that has the same strike price and the same time to expiration. The following is a put on XYZ stock that is compatible to the call described above.

  • The underlying asset of the put option is the XYZ stock.
  • The strike price is $55.
  • The option will expire in one year.
  • The option is assumed to be a European option, i.e. it can be exercised only at expiration.

By the put-call parity, the following gives the price of the put option.

    \displaystyle \begin{aligned} P(55,1)&=C(55,1)-50+55 \ e^{-0.02} \\&=4.316821227-50+55 \ e^{-0.02} \\&=\$ 8.2277  \end{aligned}

The next post will calculate the price of the same put using the binomial model.

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Remarks

We would like to comment that even though the example here may seem like an extreme simplification, the example has great value. First of all, this is an excellent introduction to the subject of option pricing theory. Secondly, the one-period example can be extended to a multi-period approach to describe far more realistic pricing scenarios. For example, we can break a year into many subintervals. We then use the 2-state method to describe above to work backward from the stock prices and option values of the last subinterval to derive the value of the replicating portfolio.

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Practice problems

Practice problems can be found in the companion problem blog via the following links:

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\copyright \ \ 2015 \ \text{Dan Ma}

Put-Call Parity, Part 2

Put-call parity is a key idea in option pricing theory. It provides a tool for constructing equivalent positions. The previous post gives a general discussion of the put-call parity. In this post, we discuss the put-call parity for various underlying assets, i.e. the parity relations in this post are asset specific. The following is one form of the general put-call parity. This is the version (0) discussed in the previous post.

    \text{ }
    Put-Call Parity
    \displaystyle PV(F_{0,T})=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+PV(K) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (0)
    \text{ }

The put-call parity has four components – the price of the call, the price of the put, the present value of the strike price and the present value of the forward price. In the general form of the put-call parity, the present value of the forward price completely take the dividends and time value of money into account. For a specific type of underlying asset, in order to make the put-call parity more informative, we may have to take all the interim payments such as dividends into account. Thus in the parity relations that follow, the general forward price is replaced with the specific forward price for that asset. Synthetic assets can then be created from the asset-specific put-call parity that is obtained.

The notations used here are the same as in the previous posts. The notation F_{0,T} is the forward price. All contracts – forward and options and other type of contracts – are set at time 0 (today) and are to end at time T. The strike price for the options is K. The letter r denotes the risk-free annual continuous interest rate. If the strike price K is paid for an asset at time T, its present value at time 0 is PV(K)=e^{-r T} K. All options discussed here are European options, i.e. they can be exercised only at expiration.

All the parity relations that follow will obviously involve a call and a put. To make this extra clear, the call and the put in these relations have the same strike price and the same time to expiration. Thus whenever we say buying a call and selling a put, we mean that they are compatible in this sense.

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Put-call parity for stocks

Forward prices for stocks are discussed here. For a non-dividend paying stock, the forward price is F_{0,T}=S_0 e^{r T}, i.e. the price to pay for the stock in the future is the future value of the time 0 stock price. The following is the put-call parity of a non-dividend paying stock.

    \text{ }
    Put-Call Parity – non-dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle S_0=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (S1)
    \text{ }

The parity (S1) says that there are two ways to buy a non-dividend paying stock at time 0. One is the outright stock purchase (the left side). The other way (the right hand side) is to buy a call, sell a put and lend the present value of the strike price K. By buying a call and selling a put, it is certain that you will buy the stock by paying K, which is financed by the lending of PV(K)=e^{-r T} K at time 0. In both ways, you own the stock at time T. There is a crucial difference. In the outright stock purchase, you own the stock at time 0. In the “options” way, the stock ownership is deferred until time T. For the non-dividend paying stock, an investor is probably indifferent to the deferred ownership in the right hand side of (S1). For dividend paying stock, deferred ownership should be accounted for the parity equation.

    \text{ }
    Put-Call Parity – dividend paying stock (discrete dividend)
    \displaystyle S_0-PV(\text{Div})=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K  \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (S2)
    \text{ }

In (S2), \text{Div} refers to the dividends paid during the period from time 0 to time T and PV(\text{Div}) refers to the time 0 value of \text{Div}. The deferred stock ownership on the right hand side of (S2) does not have the dividend payments while the outright stock ownership has the benefit of the interim dividend payments. Thus the cost of deferred stock ownership must be reduced by the amount of the dividend payments. This is why the dividend payments are subtracted on the left hand side. The next parity relation is for a stock or stock index paying continuous dividend.

    \text{ }
    Put-Call Parity – dividend paying stock (continuous dividend)
    \displaystyle S_0 e^{-\delta T}=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (S3)
    \text{ }

Continuous dividends are reinvested (as additional shares) where \delta is the annual continuous compounded dividend rate. The forward price is F_{0,T}=S_0 e^{(r-\delta) T}. The present value of the forward price is S_0 e^{-\delta T}, which is the left hand side of (S3). The left side of (S3) is saying that e^{-\delta T} shares at time 0 will accumulate to 1 share at time T. The right hand side is saying that buying a call, selling a put and lending out the present value of K at time 0 will lead to ownership of 1 share at time T.

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Synthetic stocks and other synthetic assets

In this section, we consider synthetic assets that can be created from the parity relations on stocks. These synthetic assets are parity relations. The left side of each of these relations is an asset that exists naturally in the financial market place. The right hand side is the synthetic asset – a portfolio that is an alternative asset that has the same cost and payoff, thus a portfolio that mimics the natural asset. For example, a synthetic stock is a combination of put and call and a certain amount of lending that will replicate the same payoff as owning a share of stock. In the next section, we will resume the discussion of put-call parity on underlying assets.

Each of the parity relation in this section is derived from an appropriate stock put-call parity by solving for the desired asset. For a synthetic stock, we put the stock on the left hand side by itself.

    \text{ }
    Synthetic stock – non-dividend paying
    \displaystyle S_0=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (Syn1)
    \text{ }
    Synthetic stock – discrete dividend paying
    \displaystyle S_0=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K+PV(\text{Div})  \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (Syn2)
    \text{ }
    Synthetic stock – continuous dividend paying
    \displaystyle S_0 =(C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K) \ e^{\delta T} \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (Syn3)
    \text{ }

Note that (Syn1) is identical to (S1) since there is no dividend. The portfolio on the right hand side is the synthetic stock. For example, for (Syn2), the strategy of buying a call, selling a put, and lending out the present values of the strike price and the interim dividends is an alternative way to own a discrete dividend paying stock. There is a crucial difference between outright stock ownership on the left hand side and the deferred stock ownership on the right hand side. The synthetic stock pays no dividends. Thus the outright stock ownership is worth more than the synthetic stock. In other words, the cost of outright stock ownership exceeds the synthetic cost. By how much? By the present value of the interim dividends. This is why the present value of the dividend payments is added to the right hand side of (Syn2) and (Syn3).

Now we consider synthetic T-bills (or synthetic risk-free asset).

    \text{ }
    Synthetic T-bill – based on non-dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle e^{-r T} K=S_0-C(K,T)+P(K,T) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (T1)
    \text{ }
    Synthetic T-bill – based on discrete dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle e^{-r T} K+PV(\text{Div})=S_0-C(K,T)+P(K,T)  \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (T2)
    \text{ }
    Synthetic T-bill – based on continuous dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle e^{-r T} K=S_0 e^{-\delta T}-C(K,T)+P(K,T) \  \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (T3)
    \text{ }

In (T1), (T2) and (T3), the right hand side is the synthetic way of creating a T-bill. Let’s look at (T3).

    Relation (T3). In order to hold a synthetic T-bill, you buy e^{-\delta T} shares of stock, sell a call and buy a put at time 0. At time T, the e^{-\delta T} shares become 1 share, which will be used to meet the demand of either the call option or put option. If the stock price is more than K, the call buyer will want to exercise the call and you as a seller of the call will have to sell 1 share at the strike price K. If the stock price is less than K at time T, you as the put buyer will want to sell 1 share of stock at the strike price K. So in either case, you have the amount K at time T, precisely the outcome if you buy a T-bill with maturity value K.

Next we consider synthetic call options.

    \text{ }
    Synthetic call – based on non-dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle C(K,T)=S_0-e^{-r T} K+P(K,T) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (C1)
    \text{ }
    Synthetic call – based on discrete dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle C(K,T)=S_0-e^{-r T} K-PV(\text{Div})+P(K,T)  \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (C2)
    \text{ }
    Synthetic call – based on continuous dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle C(K,T)=S_0 e^{-\delta T}-e^{-r T} K+P(K,T) \  \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (C3)
    \text{ }

The right hand side of the above three equations are synthetic ways to buy a stock call option. They can be derived by solving for C(K,T) in the put-call parity relation in respective stock. It also pays to think through the cash flows on both sides. The right hand side of each of (C1) through (C3) consists of a leveraged position (stock purchase plus borrowing) and a long put to insure the leveraged position. For example, in the right hand side of (C1), borrow e^{-r T} K and buy one share of stock (the leveraged position). Then use a purchased put to insure this leveraged position.

Another way to look at synthetic call is that the right hand side consists of a protective put and borrowing. A protective put is the combination of a long asset and a long put. For example, the right hand side of (C1) consists of S_0+P(K,T) (a protective put) and the borrowing of e^{-r T} K, the present value of K.

Here’s the synthetic put options.

    \text{ }
    Synthetic put – based on non-dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle P(K,T)=C(K,T)-S_0+e^{-r T} K \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (P1)
    \text{ }
    Synthetic put – based on discrete dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle P(K,T)=C(K,T)-S_0+e^{-r T} K+PV(\text{Div})  \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (P2)
    \text{ }
    Synthetic put – based on continuous dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle P(K,T)=C(K,T)-S_0 e^{-\delta T}+e^{-r T} K \  \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (P3)
    \text{ }

The right hand side of each of (P1) through (P3) is a synthetic put, a portfolio that mimics the payoff of a put option. Note that the right hand side consists of a long call and a short stock position (this is a protective call) and the lending of the present value of K.

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Put-call parity for currencies

A previous post on forward prices shows that the currency forward price is F_{0,T}=x_0 \ e^{(r-r_f) T} where x_0 is the exchange rate (units of domestic currency per unit of foreign currency, e.g. dollars per euro), r is the domestic risk-free rate and r_f is the foreign currency risk-free rate. The present value of F_{0,T} is then e^{-r T} \ F_{0,T}=x_0 \ e^{-r_f T}, which is the number of units of the domestic currency (e.g. dollars) at time 0 in order to have one unit of foreign currency (e.g. euro) at time T. Substituting e^{-r T} \ F_{0,T}=x_0 \ e^{-r_f T} into the parity relation of (0), we have:

    \text{ }
    Put-Call Parity – Currencies
    \displaystyle x_0 \ e^{-r_f T}=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (F1)
    \text{ }
    \displaystyle x_0 \ e^{-r_f T}-e^{-r T} K=C(K,T)-P(K,T) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (F2)
    \text{ }

In (F1) and (F2), we assume that the call and the put are denominated in dollars, i.e. both the strike price K and the put premium and call premium are denominated in dollars. For ease of discussion, let’s say the foreign currency is euro. The premium C(K,T) discussed here is in dollars and grants the right to pay K to get 1 euro. The premium P(K,T) discussed here is in dollars and grants the right to pay 1 euro to get K. Thus the strike price K is an exchange rate of USD per euro.

For example, let’s say K= 0.80 USD/Euro at time 0. If at time T the exchange rate is x_T= 0.9 USD/Euro, the call buyer would want to exercise the option by paying 0.8 USD for 1 euro. If at time T the exchange rate is x_T= 0.7 USD/Euro, then the long put position would want to exercise the put by paying 1 euro to get 0.8 USD.

The relation (F1) indicates that the difference in the call and put premiums plus lending the present value of the strike price is the same as lending the present value of the amount in dollars (the domestic currency) that is required to buy 1 euro at time T.

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Put-call parity for bonds

For a zero-coupon bond, the forward price is simply the future value of the bond price. For a coupon paying bond, the future price has to reflect the value of the coupon payments. In the following parity relations, B_0 is the bond price at time 0. The amount PV(\text{Coupons}) is the present value of the coupon payments made during the life of the options.

    \text{ }
    Put-Call Parity – zero-coupon bond
    \displaystyle B_0=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (B1)
    \text{ }
    \displaystyle B_0-PV(\text{Coupons})=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K  \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (B2)
    \text{ }

Note that for the zero-coupon bond, the parity relation is similar to the one for non-dividend paying stock.

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Summary

The following is the list of all the asset specific put-call parity relations discussed in this post.

    \text{ }
    Forward/Futures
    \displaystyle e^{-r T} \ F_{0,T}=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+PV(K)
    \text{ }

    Non-dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle S_0=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K
    \text{ }

    Discrete dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle S_0-PV(\text{Div})=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K
    \text{ }

    Continuous dividend paying stock
    \displaystyle S_0 e^{-\delta T}=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K
    \text{ }

    Currency
    \displaystyle x_0 \ e^{-r_f T}=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K
    \text{ }

    Bond
    \displaystyle B_0=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+e^{-r T} K
    \text{ }

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\copyright \ \ 2015 \ \text{Dan Ma}

Put-Call Parity, Part 1

Put–call parity is a relationship between the price of a European call option and European put option with the same strike price and time to expiration. It is one of the most important relationships in option pricing. It provides a tool for constructing equivalent positions. This post is a general discussion of put-call parity. In the next post, we discuss put-call parity in greater details for various underlying assets – e.g. stocks, treasuries and currencies.

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Synthetic forward – buying a call and selling a put

Suppose you follow the strategy of buying a call and selling a put (at time 0) where both options have the same underlying asset, the same strike price K and the same time T to expiration. At time T, it is certain that you will buy the underlying asset by paying the strike price K. Too see this, if at expiration of the options, the asset price is more than K, then you, as a call buyer will want to exercise the call option and pay K to buy the asset. If the asset price at expiration is less than K, then you as a call buyer will not want to exercise but the put buyer that bought from you will want to exercise the put option. As a result, you will also buy the asset by paying the strike price K. Thus by entering into a long call and a short put (on the same underlying asset, with the same strike and same time to expiration), you will end up buying the underlying asset at time T at the strike price K. What is being described sounds very much like a forward contract – a contract in which you can lock in a price today to pay for an asset a time T in the future. For this reason, the strategy of buying a call and selling a put is called a synthetic forward contract.

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Put-call parity

The above discussion on synthetic forward suggests that there are two ways to buy an underlying asset (e.g. a stock) at time T in the future. They are:

  1. Enter into a forward contract to buy the underlying asset by paying the forward price F_{0,T} at time T.
  2. Buy a call and sell a put today (on the same underlying asset, with the same strike price K and the same time T to expiration).

The two different strategies generate the same payoff. Hence they must have the same cost. Otherwise there would be arbitrage opportunities. By the “no-arbitrage pricing” principle, the net cost of the two strategies must equal. The cost at time 0 of the “buy call sell put” strategy is C(K,T)-P(K,T), plus the present value of the strike price K, where C(K,T) and P(K,T) represent the call option premium and put option premium, respectively. The cost at time T of the forward contract strategy is the forward price F_{0,T}. Thus cost at time 0 of the forward contract strategy is the present value of F_{0,T}. We can now equate the costs of the two strategies.

    \text{ }
    Put-Call Parity
    \displaystyle PV(F_{0,T})=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+PV(K) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (0)
    \text{ }

The notation PV(\cdot) denotes the time 0 value of an amount at the time T. Equation (0) is one form of the put-call parity, which is a statement that buying a call and selling a put is equivalent to a synthetic forward contract. It also tells us that buying a call and selling a put plus lending the present value of the strike price is equivalent to buying the underlying asset.

Other versions can be derived by algebraically rearranging equation (0), some of which have interesting interpretations. The following is one of them.

    \text{ }
    Put-Call Parity
    \displaystyle C(K,T)-P(K,T)=PV(F_{0,T}-K) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (1)
    \text{ }

The left hand side of (1) is the net option premium – the premium paid for the call less the premium received for the put. When this amount is not zero, it is in effect the premium of the synthetic forward contract (this amount is the initial cash outlay for the synthetic forward contract). This is one difference between a synthetic forward and an actual forward. Note that an actual forward contract has zero premium (the initial cash outlay is zero). Another difference is that the “forward price” of the synthetic forward is the strike price K of the options and while the forward price of the actual forward is F_{0,T}.

Suppose that the strike price K is chosen to be less than the actual forward price F_{0,T}. Then the holder of the synthetic forward contract can buy the asset at a price lower than the forward price. This is certainly a benefit. In order to get this benefit, the holder of the synthetic forward contract has to pay the net option premium, which is the result of the call being more expensive than the put. In this scenario, the net payment is a little higher at time 0. As a result, the payment at time T is a little less.

Suppose that the strike price K is chosen to be more than the actual forward price F_{0,T}. Then the holder of the synthetic forward position is obliged to pay for the underlying asset at a price higher than the forward. It then makes sense for the holder of the synthetic forward position to be compensated by receiving a payment initially. This would occur if the put is more expensive than the call. In this scenario, the net payment is a little less at time 0, leading to a larger payment at time T.

If the strike price is chosen to be the same as the forward price F_{0,T}, then equation (1) suggests that the synthetic forward mimic exactly the actual forward (both have zero premium). For this to happen, premiums for the put and the call must be equal.

The right hand side of (1) is the value of the discount resulted from paying the strike price instead of the forward price. This version of the put-call parity says that the discount is identical to the net option premium.

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Protective put and covered call

The next two versions can be interpreted in terms of a protective put and a covered call. A protective put consists of a long asset position and a long put. It is the strategy of buying a put option to protect against the risk of falling prices of a long asset position. A covered call consists of a long asset position and a short call. The covered call uses the upside profit potential of the long asset to back up (or cover) the call option sold to the call buyer. First, the protective call version:

    \text{ }
    Put-Call Parity
    \displaystyle PV(F_{0,T})+P(K,T)=C(K,T)+PV(K) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (2)
    \text{ }

The left hand side of (2) is the time 0 cash outlay of buying the underlying asset and buying a put. The right hand side of (2) is time 0 cash outlay of buying a call option (with the same strike and time to expiration as the put) and buying a zero-coupon bond costing PV(K). Thus equation (2) tells us that buying the underlying asset and buying a put on that asset (i.e. a protective put) have the same cost and generate the same payoff as the buying a call option and buying a zero-coupon bond. Adding a bond lifts the payoff graph but does not change the profit graph. Thus buying the asset and buying a put has the same profit as buying a call. Because of Equation (2), buying the underlying asset and buying a put is called a synthetic long call option. This point is also discussed in this previous post. Here’s the version of the put-call parity involving covered call.

    \text{ }
    Put-Call Parity
    \displaystyle PV(F_{0,T})-C(K,T)=PV(K)-P(K,T) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (3)
    \text{ }

The left hand side of (3) is the time 0 cash outlay of buying the underlying asset and selling a call on that asset (i.e. a covered call). The right hand side of (3) is the time 0 cash outlay of buying a zero-coupon bond costing PV(K) and selling a put. Thus a covered call has the same cost and same payoff as buying a bond and selling a put. Once again, adding a bond does not change the profit. Thus a covered call has the same profit as selling a put. For this reason, a buying the underlying asset and selling a call is called a synthetic short put option. This point is also discussed in this previous post.

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Summary

As a summary, we gather the various versions of the put-call parity in one place along with their interpretations.

    \text{ }
    Versions of Put-Call Parity
    \text{ }
    \displaystyle PV(F_{0,T})=C(K,T)-P(K,T)+PV(K) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (0)
    Interpretation: Time 0 cost of a long asset = Time 0 cost of (Long Call + Short Put + Long Bond).

    \text{ }

    \displaystyle C(K,T)-P(K,T)=PV(F_{0,T}-K) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (1)
    Interpretation: Net option premium (call option premium that is paid out less put option premium received) = the value of the discount as a result of paying the strike price instead of the forward price.
    \text{ }

    \displaystyle PV(F_{0,T})+P(K,T)=C(K,T)+PV(K) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (2)
    Interpretation: Time 0 cost of (Long Asset + Long Put) = Time 0 cost of (Long Call + Long Bond).
    The portfolio on the left (Long Asset + Long Put) is called a protective put.
    Because of (2), a protective put is considered a synthetic long call option.
    \text{ }

    \displaystyle PV(F_{0,T})-C(K,T)=PV(K)-P(K,T) \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (3)
    Interpretation: Time 0 cost of (Long Asset + Short Call) = Time 0 cost of (Long Bond + Short Put).
    The portfolio on the left (Long Asset + Short Call) is called a covered call.
    Because of (3), a covered call is considered a synthetic short put option.
    \text{ }

In each of the above versions of parity, the portfolio of investments on the left side is equivalent to the portfolio of investment on the right side. More specifically, each version equates the costs of obtaining the portfolios at time 0. The bond indicated in the interpretations is a zero-coupon bond. A long position on a bond means lending.

One comment about the four parity relations discussed here. We derive the first one, which is version (0) by comparing the cash flows of two equivalent investments. The other three versions are then derived by algebraically rearranging the first version. As a learning device, it is a good idea to think through the cash flows and payoff of versions (2) through (3) independently of version (0). Doing so is a great practice and will help solidify the understanding of put-call parity. Drawing payoff diagrams can make the comparison easier. It is also possible to just think through the cash flows of both sides of the equation. For example,

    let’s look at version (2). On the right side, you lend PV(K) and buy a call at time 0. Then at time T, you get K back. If the price of the underlying asset at that time is more than K, then you exercise the call – using the K that you receive to buy the asset. So on the right hand, side, the payoff is S_T-K if asset price is more than K and the payoff is K if asset price is less than K (you would not exercise the call in this case). On the left hand side, you lend PV(F_{0,T}) and buy a put at time 0. At time T, you get F_{0,T} back and you use it to pay for the asset. So you own the asset at time T. If the asset price at time T is less than K, you exercise by selling the asset you own and receive K. Thus the payoff on the left hand side is S_T-K if asset price is more than K (in this case you don’t exercise the put and instead you profit from holding the asset). The payoff is K if the asset price at time T is less than K (this is the case where you exercise the put option). The comparison shows that both sides of (2) have the same payoff at time T. Then it must be the case that they also have the same cost at time 0. Otherwise, there would be an arbitrage opportunity by buying the side that is low and sell the other side.

The basic put-call parity relations discussed in this post can be used in a “cookbook” fashion to create synthetic assets. For example, version (0) indicates that buying a call, selling a put and lending the present value of the strike price K has the same cost and payoff as buying a non-dividend paying stock. Thus version (0) is a basis for constructing a synthetic stock. In the next post, we discuss the put-call parity for different underlying assets.

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\copyright \ \ 2015 \ \text{Dan Ma}

Basic insurance strategies – covered call and covered put

The use of options can be interpreted as buying or selling insurance. This post follows up on a previous post that focuses on two option strategies that can be interpreted as buying insurance – protective put and protective call. For every insurance buyer, there must be an insurance seller. In this post, we discuss two option strategies that are akin to selling insurance – covered call and covered put.

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Selling insurance against an asset position

The previous post discusses the strategies of protective put and protective call. Both of these are “buy insurance” strategies. A protective put consists of a long asset and a long put where the long put is purchased to protect against a fall in the prices of the long asset. A protective call consists of a short asset position and a long call where the long call option is purchased to protect against a rise in the prices of the asset being sold short. Both of these strategies are to buy an option to protect against the adverse price movement of the asset involved.

When an insurer sells an insurance policy, the insurer must have enough asset on hand to pay claims. Now we discuss two strategies where the investor or trader holds an asset position that can be used for paying claims on a sold option.

A covered call consists of a long asset and a short call. The insurance sold is in the form of a call option. The long asset gains in value when asset prices rise and the gains are used to cover the payments made by the call seller when the call buyer decides to exercise the call option. Therefore the covered call is to use the upside profit potential of the long asset to back up (or cover) the call option sold to the call buyer. The covered call strategy can be used by an investor or trader who believes that the long asset will appreciate further in the future but is willing to trade the long term upside potential for a short-term income (the call premium). This is especially true if the investor thinks that selling the long asset at the strike price of the call option will meet a substantial portion of his expected profit target.

A covered put consists of a short asset position and a short put. Here, the insurance sold is in the form of a put option. The short asset is used to back up (or cover) the put option sold to the put buyer. A short asset position is not something that is owned. How can a short asset position back up a put option? The short asset position gains in value when asset prices fall. A put option is exercised when the prices of the underlying asset fall. Thus a put option seller needs to pay claims exactly when the short asset position gains in value. Thus the gains in the short asset position are used to cover the payments made by the put seller when the put buyer decides the exercise the put option.

In this post, we examine covered call and covered put in greater details by examining their payoff diagrams and profit diagrams.

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Covered call

As mentioned above, a covered call is a position consisting of a long asset and a short call. Here the holder of the long asset sells a call against the long asset. Figure 1 is the payoff of the long asset. Figure 2 is the payoff of the short call. Figure 3 is the payoff of the covered call. Figure 4 is the profit of the covered call. The strike price in all the diagrams is K. We will see from Figure 4 that the covered call is a synthetic short put.

    \text{ }

    Figure 1 – Long Asset Payoff
    long asset position payoff

    \text{ }

Figure 1 is the payoff of the long asset position. When the asset prices are greater than the strike price K, the positive payoff is unlimited. The unlimited upside potential is used to pay claim when the seller of the call is required to pay claim to the call buyer.

    \text{ }

    Figure 2 – Short Call Payoff
    Short call position payoff

    \text{ }

Figure 2 is the payoff of the short call. This is the payoff of the call seller (i.e. the insurer). The call seller has negative payoff to the right of the strike price. The negative payoff occurs when the call buyer decides to exercise the call. The long asset payoff in Figure 1 is to cover this negative payoff.

    \text{ }
    Figure 3 – Long Asset + Short Call Payoff
    long asset position short call payoff
    \text{ }

Figure 3 is the payoff of the covered call, the result of combining Figure 1 and Figure 2. Unlike Figure 1, the long asset holder no longer has unlimited payoff to the right of the strike price. The payoff is now capped at the strike price K.

    \text{ }
    Figure 4 – Long Asset + Short Call Profit
    long asset position short call profit
    \text{ }

Figure 4 is the profit of the covered call. The profit is the payoff less the cost of acquiring the position. At time 0, the cost is S_0 (the purchase price of the asset, an amount that is paid out) less P (the option premium, an amount that is received). The future value of the cost of the covered call is then S_0 e^{r T}-P e^{r T}. The profit is then the payoff less this amount. The profit graph is in effect obtained by pressing down the payoff graph by the amount of S_0 e^{r T}-P e^{r T}. Because of the received option premium, S_0 e^{r T}-P e^{r T} is less than the strike price K. As a result, the flat part of the profit graph is above the x-axis.

Without selling insurance (Figure 1), the profit potential of the long asset is unlimited. With the insurance liability (Figure 4), the profit potential is now capped at essentially at the call option premium. In effect the holder of a covered call simply sells the right for the long asset upside potential for cash received today (the option premium).

The strategy of a covered call may make sense if selling at the strike price can achieve a significant part of the profit target expected by the investor. Then the payoff from the strike price plus the call option premium may represent profit close to the expected target. Let’s look at a hypothetical example. Suppose that the stock owned by an investor was purchased at $60 a share. The investor believes that the stock has upside potential and the share price will rise to $70 in a year. The investor can then sell a call option with the strike price of $65 with an expiration of 6 months and with a call premium of $5. In exchange for a short-term income of the call option premium, the investor gives up the profit potential of $70 a share. If in 6 months, the share price is more than $65, then the investor will sell at $65 a share, producing a profit of $10 a share ($5 in share price appreciation and $5 call premium). If the share price is below the strike price is 6 months, the investor then pockets the $5 premium.

Note the similarity between Figure 4 above and the Figure 11 in this previous post. Figure 11 in that previous post is the profit diagram of a short put. So the covered call (long asset + shot call) is also called a synthetic short put option since it has the same profit as a short put.

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Covered put

As indicated above, a covered put is to use the profit potential of a short asset position to cover the obligation of a sold put option. Figure 5 below is the profit of a short asset position. Figure 6 is the payoff of a short put option. Figure 7 is the payoff of the covered put. Figure 8 is the profit diagram of the covered put.

    \text{ }

    Figure 5 – Short Asset Payoff
    short asset payoff
    \text{ }

Figure 5 is the payoff of the short asset position. Holder of a short asset position is concerned about rising prices of the asset. The holder of the short borrows the asset in a short sales and sells the asset immediately for cash, which is then accumulated at the risk-free rate. The short position will have to buy the asset back in the spot market at a future date to repay the lender. If the spot price at expiration is greater than the original sale price, then the short position will lose money. In fact the potential loss is unlimited.

    \text{ }

    Figure 6 – Short Put Payoff
    Short put payoff
    \text{ }

Figure 6 is the payoff of a short put option. Recall that the short put payoff is from the perspective of the seller of the put option. When the price of the underlying asset is below the strike price, the seller has the obligation to sell at the strike price (thus experiencing a loss). When the asset price is above the strike price, the put option expires worthless.

    \text{ }

    Figure 7 – Short Asset + Short Put Payoff
    short asset short put payoff
    \text{ }

Figure 7 is the payoff of the covered call. With the covered call, the holder of the short asset can no longer profit by paying a price lower than the strike price for the asset to repay the lender. Instead he has to pay the strike price (this is the flat part of Figure 7). To the right of the strike price, the covered call continues to have the potential for unlimited loss.

    \text{ }

    Figure 8 – Short Asset + Short Put Profit
    short asset short put profit
    \text{ }

Figure 8 is the profit of the covered put, which indicates the profit is essentially the option premium received by selling the put option. Without selling the insurance (Figure 5), the short asset position has good profit potential when prices fall. With selling the insurance, the profit potential to the left of the strike price is limited to the option premium. The covered put is in effect to trade the profit potential (when prices are low) with a known put option premium.

Compare Figure 8 above with Figure 5 in this previous post. Both profit diagrams are of the same shape. Figure 5 in the previous post is the profit diagram of a short call. So the combined position of short asset + short put is called a synthetic short call.

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Synthetic put and call

Just a couple of more observations to make about synthetic put and synthetic call.

Note that Figure 3 (the payoff of long asset + short call) also resembles the payoff of a short put option, except that the level part of the payoff is not at the x-axis. So Figure 3 is the lifting up of the usual short put option payoff by a uniform amount. That uniform amount can be interpreted as the payoff of a long zero-coupon bond. Thus we have the following relationship.

    \text{ }
    payoff of “long asset + short call” = payoff of “short put + zero-coupon bond”
    \text{ }

Adding a bond lifts the payoff graph. However, adding a bond to a position does not change the profit. To see this, simply subtract the cost of acquiring the position from the payoff. You will see that for the bond, the same amount appears in both the cost and the payoff. Thus we have:

    \text{ }
    profit of “long asset + short call” = profit of “short put”
    \text{ }

As mentioned earlier, the above relationship indicates that the combined position of long asset + short call can be viewed as a synthetic short put. We now see that the covered call is identical to a short put.

Now similar thing is going on in a covered put. Note that Figure 7 resembles the payoff of a short call except that it is the pressing down of the payoff of a usual short call. We can think of this pressing down as a borrowing. Thus we have:

    \text{ }
    payoff of “short asset + short put” = payoff of “short call – zero-coupon bond”
    \text{ }

Adding a bond means lending and subtracting a bond means borrowing. As mentioned before, adding or subtracting a bond lift or depress the payoff graph but does not change the profit graph. We have:

    \text{ }
    profit of “short asset + short put” = profit of “short call”
    \text{ }

The above relationship is the basis for calling “short asset + short put” as a synthetic short call.

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\copyright \ \ 2015 \ \text{Dan Ma}