Tuesday, April 10, 2007

AMD and Call Options

Today, AMD spiked up as high as 13.61, from a previous close of 12.86. This spike prompted me to go ahead and write 3 April $14.00 call options. Since no one else knows what I'm talking about, I'll explain a bit. A call option allows the holder to buy shares of a stock at a given price (the strike price). Option contracts are typically for 100 shares. The writer of a call option owns these 100 shares, but promises to sell them whenever the option holder asks for them. For this right to buy stock at a set price, the option holder pays the option writer a premium (quoted per share).

A little while ago I bought 300 shares of AMD at $13.00. Thus, I can cover 3 contracts worth of call options. That is precisely what I did. April's expiration date is the 21st. This means I sold the option to buy 300 shares of AMD at $14.00 at any time before the 21st of April. Someone paid me $0.30 per share for this honor. So, I made $90 today, minus $15.24 of commission ($12.99 + $0.75/contract). So, $74.76 in profit. Since I paid $3912.99 (including commission again), I made 74.76/3912.99 = 1.91%. This is also immediately available cash - not just a paper gain.

When these options expire, I will either have sold my shares of AMD for a 7.7% profit (in about 3 weeks), or I will have the shares and be able to write more call options for May. I see the latter as far more likely. AMD got a boost today by saying they won't lose as much money as everyone feared, and that they'll be restructuring the company to cut costs. I don't see this as a lasting price increase, yet. This month is a risky month for options writers, though. AMD releases their 1Q results on the 17th. If they did better than people expected, the price could spike, and I may have to sell. Still, 7.7% (plus the 1.9% made today!) is very acceptable.

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