Lookback Option

DEFINITION of 'Lookback Option'

An exotic option that allows investors to "look back" at the underlying prices occurring over the life of the option and then exercise based on the underlying asset's optimal value. This type of option reduces uncertainties associated with the timing of market entry.

BREAKING DOWN 'Lookback Option'

There are two types of lookback options:

1. Fixed: The option's strike price is fixed at purchase. However, the option is not exercised at the market price: in the case of a call, the option holder can look back over the life of the option and choose to exercise at the point when the underlying asset was priced at its highest over the life of the option. In the case of a put, the option can be exercised at the asset's lowest price. The option settles at the selected past market price and against the fixed strike.

2. Floating: The option's strike price is fixed at maturity. For a call, the strike price is fixed at the lowest price reached during the life of the option. For a put, it is fixed at the highest price. The option settles at market and against the floating strike.

While lookback options are appealing to investors, they can be expensive and are also considered to be quite speculative.

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