Managing an Option Position

Both the buyer and seller, in an option trade, establish the position with an opening transaction. The buyer has an opening purchase and the seller has an opening sale. To exit the option position, an investor must “close out” the position. The buyer of the option may exit their position through:

  • A Closing Sale
  • Exercising The Option
  • Allowing The Option To Expire

The Seller of an option may exit or close out their position through:

  • A Closing Purchase
  • Having the Option Exercised or Assigned to Them
  • Allowing The Option to Expire

Most individual investors do not exercise their options and will simply buy and sell options in much the same way as they would buy or sell other securities.

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Buying Calls

An investor who purchases a call believes that the underlying stock price will rise and that they will be able to profit from the price appreciation by purchasing calls. An investor who purchases a call can control the underlying stock and profit from its appreciation while limiting their loss to the amount of the premium paid for the calls. Buying calls allows the investor to maximize their leverage and they may realize a more significant percentage return based on their investment. An investor may also elect to purchase a call to lock in a purchase price for a security if the investor currently lacks the funds required to purchase the security but will have the funds available in the near future. When looking to establish a position the buyer must determine:

  • Their Maximum Gain
  • Their Maximum Loss
  • Their Breakeven

Maximum Gain Long Calls

When an investor has a long call position, their maximum gain is always unlimited. They profit from a rise in the stock price. Since there is no limit to how high a stock price may rise, their maximum gain is unlimited just as if they had purchased the stock.

Maximum Loss Long Calls

Whenever an investor is long, or owns a stock, their maximum loss is always limited to the amount they invested. When an investor purchases a call option, the amount they pay for the option or their premium is always going to be their maximum loss.

Determining The Breakeven for Long Calls

An investor who has purchased calls must determine where the stock price must be at expiration in order for the investor to breakeven on the transaction. An investor who has purchased calls has paid the premium to the seller in the hopes that the stock price will rise. The stock must appreciate by enough to cover the cost of the investor’s option premium in order for them to breakeven at expiration. To determine an investor’s breakeven point on a long call use the following formula:

Breakeven = Strike Price + Premium


An investor has established the following option position:

Long 1 XYZ May 30 call at 3

The Investor’s maximum gain, maximum loss, and breakeven will be: Maximum Gain: Unlimited

Maximum Loss $300 (The amount of the premium paid) Breakeven: $33 = 30 + 3 (Strike price + premium)

If at expiration XYZ is at exactly $33 per share and the investor sells or exercises their option they will breakeven excluding transactions costs.


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