Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to use Covered Calls – a guest post

Last month, Nishit wrote about the Short Strangle strategy to make money in a sideways market. Not too much has changed since then. The Nifty is still trading within a range - not giving a clear direction.

Individual stocks in your portfolio may be going nowhere also. Can you generate some profits without selling your stocks and losing out on dividends or bonus issues? Covered Call writing may be just the strategy for you, suggests Nishit.


We continue with our series of F&O with an article on Covered Calls. Covered Calls basically mean we already own an underlying asset and sell Calls.

The Wikipedia definition is:

A covered call is a financial market transaction in which the seller of call options owns the corresponding amount of the underlying instrument, such as shares of a stock or other securities. If the trader buys the underlying instrument at the same time as he sells the call, the strategy is often called a "buy-write" strategy. In equilibrium, the strategy has the same payoffs as writing a put option.

Let us take an example of Infosys. Infy has been rallying from 2700 to 2950 from the June Series. That’s roughly a rise of 10% for the past past 3-4 weeks. Logic states that if a stock rallies before results, then any good news is discounted in its price. Same logic if it falls before results. This is based on the principle that markets discount all news in advance.

Assuming I have Infy shares constituting 1 lot in F&O, which is 125 shares. If I had written 1 lot Rs 3000 strike price Option of Infy on Tuesday, then I would have got Tuesday’s price of 52. This would entail a premium inflow of Rs 6500 (=125x52).

I have 125 shares of Infy in my account. Now, if my trade goes right and Infy falls, then I get to keep the shares as well as pocket the premium of Rs 6500.

Now if Infy rises, till Rs 3000, I don’t pay anything. This is because Option strike price is Rs 3000. At Rs 3050, I have to pay Rs 50. My inflow is Rs 50 from writing, so no loss no profit.

Above Rs 3050, I start having to pay up. This also means that when market price was Rs 2950, I was covered till Rs 3050 for losses and above that, I sell my shares which I hold and pocket the money. Suppose, Infy hits Rs 3100, then I sell off at a rally of Rs 350 from the bottom which translates to 13% gain in a span of 4 weeks.

A stock like Infy moves max 20% in a year in a range. Like from Aug ’10 to Jan ’11, Infy moved from Rs 2700 to Rs 3500. Not a bad deal.

This strategy is recommended for Long Term Investors who have shares in their demat accounts and want to earn some money on the side, without losing out on dividends or bonus.

Before entering any trade, one should have a clear idea of reward, risk and max loss and max profit.

Note: The figures at some times may be indicative or rounded off for example’s sake. The idea of this article is to try and explain the fundamental principle. True students of Option Strategies should try and grasp the basic principle. The strategy works best for stocks in which you are long-term bullish, but which may not be moving much in the near term.


(Nishit Vadhavkar is a Quality Manager working at an IT MNC. Deciphering economics, equity markets and piercing the jargon to make it understandable to all is his passion. "We work hard for our money, our money should work even harder for us" is his motto.

Nishit blogs at Money Manthan.)

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