How To Exercise A Call Option

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Let’s look at the process of exercising a call option. If you buy a call option on a stock, you can “exercise” your right at any time for the stock. “Exercise” means you have the right to buy the stock. The person who sold the call to you is “assigned an obligation” to fulfill the terms of the option contract to sell the stock.

The Process of Exercising The Option

The trade is quite simple to set up. The OCC, the Options Clearing Corporation, controls all exercises and assignments after the trades are made.

For example, let’s say you buy an XYZ June 50 call option. The stock rises in price to $55 per share and you decide to exercise your right to buy the stock for a profit. You instruct your broker to do so. The broker notifies their administrative staff to exercise and buy the stock. The order is then sent to the OCC: exercise one contract of the June 50 call series.

The OCC randomly selects a firm who is short the XYZ June 50 call. The firm must deliver 100 shares of XYZ at $50 per share to the firm that exercised the option. The firm contacts the client of their obligation.

The selection process is:

  1. First-in/first-out basis.
  2. Randomly.

After Exercising the Assignment

The OCC and the customer exercising the option usually do not care the way the method of delivery is executed. They just want to make sure that 100 shares of XYZ at $50 are delivered.

The holder who exercised the call can keep the stock in their account if they want to, but must pay cash or margin it fully. Or the holder may want to sell it in the open market for a price higher than $50. If the holder has a margin account, it may be sold immediately. If the holder exercises in a cash account, the stock must be paid in full; even if sold that day. That is why one must check with their broker.

Why Exercise an Option

There are a few reasons why you might choose to exercise your option:

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Disclaimer: The information above is for educational purposes only and should not be treated as investment advice. The strategy presented would not be suitable for investors who are ...

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