Out-Of-The-Money Naked Call

The out-of-the-money naked call strategy involves writing out-of-the-money call options without owning the underlying stock. It is a premium collection options strategy employed when one is neutral to mildly bearish on the underlying.

Naked Call (OTM) Construction
Sell 1 OTM Call

The main objective of writing naked calls is to collect the premiums when the options expire worthless. One would write an out-of-the-money naked call every month and if the stock price stays flat or drops, one would pocket the premiums and repeat the process as long as the perceived market condition remains unchanged.

Naked Call (OTM) Payoff Diagram
Graph showing the expected profit or loss for the naked call (otm) option strategy in relation to the market price of the underlying security on option expiration date.

Limited Profit Protential

Maximum gain is limited and is equal to the premium collected for selling the call options.

The formula for calculating maximum profit is given below:

  • Max Profit = Premium Received - Commissions Paid
  • Max Profit Achieved When Price of Underlying <= Strike Price of Short Call

Unlimited Loss Potential

If the stock price goes up dramatically at expiration, the out-of-the-money naked call writer will be required to satisfy the options requirements to sell the obligated stock to the options holder at the lower strike price by buying the stock from the open market at the higher market price. Since there is no limit to how high the stock price can be at expiration, maximum potential losses for writing out-of-the-money naked calls is therefore theoretically unlimited.

The formula for calculating loss is given below:

  • Maximum Loss = Unlimited
  • Loss Occurs When Price of Underlying > Strike Price of Short Call + Premium Received
  • Loss = Price of Underlying - Strike Price of Short Call - Premium Received + Commissions Paid

Breakeven Point(s)

The underlier price at which break-even is achieved for the naked call (otm) position can be calculated using the following formula.

  • Breakeven Point = Strike Price of Short Call + Premium Received

Example

The stock XYZ is currently trading at $48. An options trader decides to writes a JUL 50 out-of-the-money naked call for $3. So he receives $300 for writing the call option.

On expiration date, the stock had rallied to $68. Since the striking price of $50 for the call option is lower than the current trading price, the call is assigned and the writer buys the shares for $6800 and sell it to the options holder at $5000, resulting in a loss of $1800. However, since he received $300 earlier on, his net loss is $1500.

However, what happens should the stock price had gone down 20 points to $28 instead? Let's take a look.

At $28, the call expires worthless and the writer of the naked call keeps the $300 in premiums received as profit.

From the profit graph above, we can see that the breakeven is at $53 (Call Strike + Premium). So long as the stock price remains at $53 or below, the naked call writer will not suffer any loss.

In-the-money Naked Call Write

A more bearish version of this strategy with a higher potential profit is to write deep-in-the-money naked calls.

Note: While we have covered the use of this strategy with reference to stock options, the naked call (otm) is equally applicable using ETF options, index options as well as options on futures.

Commissions

For ease of understanding, the calculations depicted in the above examples did not take into account commission charges as they are relatively small amounts (typically around $10 to $20) and varies across option brokerages.

However, for active traders, commissions can eat up a sizable portion of their profits in the long run. If you trade options actively, it is wise to look for a low commissions broker. Traders who trade large number of contracts in each trade should check out OptionsHouse.com as they offer a low fee of only $0.15 per contract (+$4.95 per trade).

Similar Strategies

The following strategies are similar to the naked call (otm) in that they are also bearish strategies that have limited profit potential and unlimited risk.

In-The-Money Naked Call
Covered Put

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