June 21, 2024

Covered Call Options: Implied Volatility

Covered Call Options: Implied Volatility

To maximize the benefits of covered calls, it's important to understand a concept called implied volatility (IV).

What is Implied Volatility?

Implied volatility is a measure of the market's expectation of future price movements for a stock. It's "implied" by the current market price of options on that stock. In simple terms:

  • Higher IV suggests the market expects larger price swings
  • Lower IV suggests the market expects smaller price swings

Why Implied Volatility Matters for Covered Calls

When selling covered calls, higher implied volatility can work in your favor. Here's why:

  1. Higher premiums: Options with higher IV are priced higher, meaning you receive more money for selling the call.
  2. Increased likelihood of price decay: High IV often decreases over time, which can help the option expire worthless, allowing you to keep the premium.

Timing Your Covered Calls with IV

To potentially improve your covered call strategy:

  1. Look for periods of high IV: This often occurs before earnings reports, during market uncertainty, or amid major company news.
  2. Sell calls when IV is elevated: You'll receive larger premiums, which can lead to better overall returns.
  3. Be cautious when IV is low: The premiums might not be worth the risk of having your shares called away.


Let's revisit our earlier scenario in our previous post with Stock XYZ:

  • During normal market conditions (lower IV), you might receive $1 per share for a call option.
  • During periods of high IV (e.g., before earnings), you might receive $2 or more per share for the same call option.

By timing your covered call sales with higher IV, you could potentially double your income from this strategy.

Remember: While high IV can lead to larger premiums, it also indicates that the market expects significant price movements. Be prepared for the possibility of larger price swings in either direction.

Covered call selling can be an effective way to generate extra income from your portfolio, especially when you factor in implied volatility. By understanding and utilizing IV, you can potentially enhance your returns and make more informed decisions about when to implement this strategy.

As with any investment strategy, it's crucial to continue learning and potentially consult with a financial advisor to ensure covered calls align with your overall investment goals and risk tolerance.