What is a 'Call on a Call'

A call on a call is a type of exotic option in which the investor buys a secondary call option with customized provisions that gives them the option to buy a plain vanilla call option on an underlying security.

BREAKING DOWN 'Call on a Call'

Call on a call options are a type of exotic option with customized terms that trade on alternative exchanges. With a call on a call option the holder has a secondary call option which gives them the right but not the obligation to buy a plain vanilla call option with specified terms at a specified price.

Call on a Call Exercise 

A call on a call can be beneficial to an investor if it is offered at an optimal price. The holder of the secondary call has the right but not the obligation to buy a plain vanilla call. Generally, call on a call options are structured with American exercise. Thus, the investor has until the expiration date to exercise the secondary call. The secondary call and plain vanilla call can be exercised simultaneously or separately.

If the investor exercises the compound call simultaneously then they believe the plain vanilla call is in the money and at its most profitable peak. When both compound options are exercised, the investor receives the underlying call option which is then immediately exercised for receipt of the underlying security. If the compound option holder chooses to only execute the first leg of the contract then they will receive the plain vanilla call option at its specified expiration and exercise price for future enactment.

In some cases a call on a call option can be used by an investor to extend their exposure to an underlying asset at a low cost. Many options allow a roll feature which provides for extended exposure but a call on a call option may allow this at a lower cost. For example, if the compound call holder finds the price of the underlying call option to be beneficial to their investment plans they may exercise the first leg of the option to obtain the plain vanilla option with a future expiration date.

Pricing

Before expiration, the value of the plain vanilla option will depend on the value of the asset the underlying option represents. In the options market, investors may use several methodologies to calculate the value of their option. The Metron model is one method that has been introduced for compound options. Generally all modeling techniques will be based primarily on the trading value of the underlying security for which the contract is centered on.

Costs

A compound call on a call option is a complex option which results in higher costs. The investor will be required to pay a transaction cost that factors in the execution of both options. The cost of the compound option is important to consider as it can decrease the profitability of the investment overall.

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