Understanding covered calls—an analogy

I know that analogies usually confuse more than they help—but that’s not going to stop me from trying… Imagine that you are the season ticket holder of 4 good seats for a major league football team at the beginning of the season. A lot of people think the team is headed for the Superbowl, but you are pessimistic. You’d like to cash in on the …

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Capturing dividends with covered calls—are you ready?

In a recent post I gave an overview of dividend capture strategies. In some situations, an effective way to hedge risk with a dividend capture strategy is to use covered call options.  If you are not familiar with options this might sound exotic, but it’s truly the training wheels of option trading.  With covered calls, you can introduce yourself to the conservative, hedging possibilities of …

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Out of Oil and SPY

My USO position and my remaining SPY covered call positions were called this weekend, so I’m back to about 90% cash.  Despite the scary stuff in the last couple of weeks, they ended up yielding their maximum profit potential. Oil looks expensive right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a pull back there.   The S&P 500 could certainly go higher with this …

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DIA dividend capture

The SPDR Dow Diamond ETF is an interesting candidate for a dividend capture strategy–if you can do it in a tax sheltered account such as a traditional or ROTH IRA.   On an annual basis is it yielding around 2% and it distributes dividends monthly.  Its dividend payouts are not consistent month to month, they vary from an average of  $0.11 in January over the last 5 years, to and average of $0.33 in October.  The chart below gives details.   February’s average payout is around $0.25, which is pretty close to a .25% return since the DIA is around $100 per share right now.

DIA is unusual for a index ETF offering monthly dividends, in that its ex-dividend dates are the day before the option expiration date for that month.  For example DIA goes ex-dividend on 19-February and the last day of trading on the options is also the 19th with expiration on Saturday the 20th.

This arrangement sets up a straightforward dividend capture scheme using covered calls.   You buy DIA and sell DIA ITM calls, with an extrinsic  value (time value) of approximately the dividend value (historically about 0.25 for February).  At closing today, with DIA at $101.5, this would suggest the 98 Feb call, which at $3.75 would give the target extrinsic value.  The break-even point on this position will probably be 101.5-3.75 =97.75.  I say probably, because there is uncertainty on whether you collect the 0.25 per share dividend or not.

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