Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why I sold two more call options on Oracle

This morning I sold November and December $22.50 call options that cover all of my remaining shares of Oracle for 60¢ and $1.05 respectively. I've already discussed a number of reasons for trying to sell, so I won't go into too much detail. I should note, that a) my call options have captured nearly a full year of Oracle's earnings and b) I find Wall Street's estimate of 20% earnings growth seems fairly unlikely. In fact, the next few quarters may very well be disappointing because of a global slowdown. Buying BEA, even at a discount, just isn't enough to justify Oracle's current market price and make up the difference.

I should point out that by writing calls for two separate expiry dates I'm raising my costs fairly dramatically. Assuming both options are assigned, I basically have doubled my costs. But I've also doubled my opportunities. Imagine a coin-flipping offer where you earn a prize each time you flip heads and lose the coin the first time you flip tails. If you can chose between one coin that earns $2 for heads or two coins that earn a dollar each, which is a better choice? Although the expected return on the first turn is the same ($1), taking two coins gives you a 3 of 4 chance to go to a second turn as opposed to a 50% with one coin. This won't change the expected return, but it does keep you in the game longer. With two coins, you have more expected options to leave the game if the odds were to shift.

Thanks to a 3.4% increase in Oracle today, the odds the November option will be used are 63% and for the December option 66%. There isn't much short interest to propel shares higher on unexpected news and the market is already expecting good news during next week's OpenWorld conference and Q2 earnings announced in December. Therefor, I feel these options are likely to be profitable for me even if my shares are called away.

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