SteadyOptions is an options trading forum where you can find solutions from top options traders. TRY IT FREE!

We’ve all been there… researching options strategies and unable to find the answers we’re looking for. SteadyOptions has your solution.

Can Options Assignment Cause Margin Call?


I've had three emails in the past month on people being assigned on positions and receiving margin calls, and generally not knowing what happened. I advise everyone to completely research and become familiar with the exercise/assignment aspect of option trading. If you don't you can find your entire account blown out over a weekend.

Assignments occur in two basic varieties. First, on expiration Friday (or Thursday or Wednsday depending on the instrument your trading, but most commonly on Friday). If you have a position that is .01 in the money, or more, you WILL be assigned. For instance, if you have a 100 Call on stock XYZ that expires today, and XYZ closes (AFTER HOURS) at 100.01, you will find that you own, sometime Saturday, 100 shares of XYZ that you paid $100/share for.

 

Now this option might have only cost you $100 or so. But all of a sudden, due to the inherent multiplier in options, you are now out of pocket $10,000.00. What if you're account only had $5,000.00 in it? Well, you are going to get both (a) a Regulation T Notice and (b) margin call from your broker. First thing Monday morning, your broker will automatically liquidate the position. What if there is adverse news over the weekend and the opening price is only $80? Well you just lost $2,000.0 -- in a $5,000.00 account. In other words, that $100 option just cost you 40% of your entire account. This happens.

 

What if you had "hedged" the position though, and had a vertical call spread? For instance, you might have bought the $100/$105 spread on XYZ. Well if XYZ closes anywhere above $105 you are ok because BOTH positions will be auto-exercised. This SOMETIMES results in a margin call as well -- but don't worry. Option clear throughout the day on Saturday and your account will frequently show one position and the other not exercised yet. By Sunday morning it will be fixed. By way of example, I had a very large position (for me) (20 contracts) in the LNKD 92.5/95 vertical call before earnings. Well earnings did what they were supposed to and LNKD jumped to 104. Well Saturday morning, all of a sudden, I was SHORT 2000 shares of LNKD and had received roughly $190K in cash into my account. This sends off all kinds of margin alerts. I got an email, a call, and another call. Ignore them, they're idiots. The 92.5 side simply hadn't cleared yet. Three hours later the other option cleared, buying the shorts back at 92.5. Then Sunday morning, your account statement will reflect that all trades happened at the same time.

 

HOWEVER, what if, on that 100/105 spread, XYZ closes at 103 on Friday? Well, guess what, you'll be assigned on the 100 position, the 105 will expire worthless, and now your back in margin call.

 

MORAL OF THE STORY:

 

DON'T EVER LET YOURSELF BE ASSIGNED ON A SPREAD THAT'S NOT FAR IN THE MONEY ON BOTH LEGS.

 

assign.jpg

 

What if, on Friday, the price of XYZ was at $106 at close? You better have closed the spread, because of after hours trading. The price of XYZ can move after hours -- but you can't get out of the options. So if the market closes at 106, and you say good, both legs will clear and I won't pay commissions (or pay less commissions) and get a huge tax break, you could be wrong, as in after hours the market might go back to $104.98. Then you're screwed, only the 100 option gets exercised and you go into margin call. I'm convinced when your near a strike the market makers manipulate the after hours markets to have this happen.

 

Of course if you have enough cash in your account, you won't get margin called -- you're risk profile will just be largely out of whack.

 

And this isn't to say you can't have a big benefit from this. My single most profitable trade EVER occurred on a spread that was $.50 above the line, I didn't close it, and then in after hours the price dropped. So I got assigned long on the lower strike. Well, that weekend there was big news involving the company and the price jumped 15% the next morning. In that case, here's what happens -- I own the 100 (long) /105 (short) vertical. After hours, the price is $104.92. Well that spread was worth $4.85 at close on 20 contracts, or $9,700. Well, Saturday I'm now the proud owner of 2,000 shares bought at $100.00 each, for a net cost of $200,000 -- oops. Margin call, broker call, broker email, ect. Well they inform me the trade will immediately close at open on Monday. Well the price jumped, and the position was closed, at $240,000.00. My original investment of $8,500.00, that I didn't want to close at $9,700.00, netted me $40,000.00, or roughly a 470% return. BUT, what if the price had gone down 20%? Well I would be owing my broker money and have completely blown out my account.

 

If you have ANY questions on this, please let me know.

 

Now SITUATION TWO -- and you will, sooner or later, encounter this. Let's say we have that same 100(long)/105 (short) spread on XYZ. Only we own the September spread and today (Friday) XYZ closes at 103. No bigger. UNLESS someone exercises their 100 spread. American style options can be exercised at anytime. Why would this happen with time value? Who knows, most likely someone needed to unwind a position, hedge something, take profits, any number of things realy.

 

Well if you had a 10 contract position, on Saturday your account is now down $100,000.00 in cash and you won 1,000 shares of XYZ. You will again go into margin call. However, while this is a headache and you will have to deal with your broker, you don't need to panic because the position is still hedged. You can certainly still lose money -- but only up to the 105 line.

 

What happens? Well your broker will force you to exit the position Monday morning at the open. If you BEG and wheedle, the broker might let you close the position yourself, so you can close at the mid point instead of just a market order. They should let you do this because the position is still hedged, but you are technically in a Reg T violation, so they won't let you hold it for long. Monday you'll have to sell your shares and buy back the short calls. This should be, at worst, a break even situation because of the time value left in the short calls. However, markets fluctuate and you might have to sell your stock at something like 104 and by the time you exit the short calls its up to 105 (or you get a bad fill price) so you give back some.

 

When this happens, take your lumps and move on. I have this happen about once a quarter and my worse loss was 4%. There's nothing you can do to protect against this. You are hedged, and you won't blow your account out, but it does suck.

 

I hope that clears some things. If not, please let us know.

 

By Christopher B. Welsh

 

Christopher B. Welsh is a SteadyOptions contributor. He is a licensed investment advisor in the State of Texas and is the president of a small investment firm, Lorintine Capital, LP which is a general partner of two separate private funds. He offers investment advice to his clients, both in the law practice and outside of it. Chris is an active litigator and assists his clients with all aspects of their business, from start-up through closing.

 

Chris is managing the Anchor Trades portfolio.

What Is SteadyOptions?

Full Trading Plan

Complete Portfolio Approach

Diversified Options Strategies

Exclusive Community Forum

Steady And Consistent Gains

High Quality Education

Risk Management, Portfolio Size

Performance based on real fills

Try It Free

Non-directional Options Strategies

10-15 trade Ideas Per Month

Targets 5-7% Monthly Net Return

Visit our Education Center

Recent Articles

Articles

  • Option Trade After Earnings in AutoZone

    AutoZone Inc (NYSE:AZO) has earnings due out tomorrow, 9-19-2017 before the market opens and we can look at a slightly advanced option trade that starts two calendar days after AZO earnings (9-21-2017) and lasts for the 19 calendar days to follow, that has been a winner for the last 3 years. 

    By Ophir Gottlieb,

    • 0 comments
    • 98 views
  • Why Winning Ratio Means Nothing

    A lot of options traders consider 90% probability strategies a Holy Grail of trading. After all, if you can win 90% of the time, you should be able to grow your account very quickly, right? Well, not only this is not true, but in fact, winning ratio alone tells you NOTHING about your chances to be profitable. 

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,674 views
  • Post Earnings Option Trade in Facebook

    For Facebook Inc, irrespective of whether the earnings move was up or down, if we waited one-day, and then sold an one-week at out of the money iron condor (using weekly options), the results were quite strong. This trade opens two calendar after earnings to try to let the stock find equilibrium after the earnings announcement. 

    By Ophir Gottlieb,

    • 0 comments
    • 90 views
  • The Incredible Option Trade in VXX

    The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures TM ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) is referred to as "the VXX.". The obligation of the VXX is to match the performance of the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Index Total Return and that is a strategy index which maintains positions in the front two-month Volatility Index (VIX) futures contracts. 

    By Ophir Gottlieb,

    • 0 comments
    • 338 views
  • The Art of Trading Decisions

    One of my basic tenets in teaching people how to trade options is that rules and guidelines should not be written in stone and that there are valid reasons for accepting or rejecting some of them. When I offer a rationale or explanation or suggest course of action, it is because I have found that this specific suggestion has worked best for me.

    By MarkWolfinger,

    • 0 comments
    • 102 views
  • Trade Iron Condors Like Never Before

    Iron Condors have gained a lot of popularity among professional money managers and retail investors. It is a market neutral strategy that allows you to profit when the underlying price moves sideways. Iron Condors usually have a limited risk and a high probability of success.

    By Kim,

    • 2 comments
    • 5,998 views
  • Early Exercise: Call Options

    How would a trader like you decide to do early exercise? Say you bought calls when they were trading in the 1.0 -> 2.5 range, now underlying has risen so that calls trade bid-ask at 4.0 / 4.8 and there is strong possibility of it going higher. Also assume in another case that they trade in the 6.0 to 7.0 range.

    By MarkWolfinger,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,594 views
  • 3 Reasons to Own PG for the Next 50 Years

    Large-cap, blue-chip companies are not exactly the hottest commodities on the current market. But one of them has been rewarding income investors for decades and will likely continue to do so. I’m talking about Procter & Gamble Co (NYSE:PG), a multinational consumer goods company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 373 views
  • The Power of Selling Options on Futures

    It’s no secret that selling far out of the money options, as opposed to buying them, is a trading strategy with a high probability of success. Low-delta options have a proclivity to expire worthless. The dramatic downward moves required to make low-delta options profitable don’t happen all of the time.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 813 views
  • How to Control Losses and Protect Profits

    One of the requirements when developing a trading method is that traders have to fully describe how to start and settle trades. However, when they are forced to describe how to adjust and manage the size of their positions, few traders have a concrete answer.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 974 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!


 

 I am a bit confused,  in situation two nobody else than you can exercise the 100 call rights out of assignment date. You are long call 100 so it is only up to you whether or not to early exercise. What I'm misunderstanding, please?

Edited by Javier

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Javier said:

 

 I am a bit confused,  in situation two nobody else than you can exercise the 100 call rights out of assignment date. You are long call 100 so it is only up to you whether or not to early exercise. What I'm misunderstanding, please?

You're right. Situation two doesn't make sense because when you're long the 100 call, someone else can't force you to exercise that call before expiration. I think Chris just made a mistake in his example.

Edited by greenspan76

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
Guest DreamMaker

Posted · Report

Regarding the advise from the article, " DON'T EVER LET YOURSELF BE ASSIGNED ON A SPREAD THAT'S NOT FAR IN THE MONEY ON BOTH LEGS", how do you prevent the assignment?  Are you just advising that we always close out our spreads instead of relying on them to expire?  It seems there is risk of the short options being assigned any time the position is open, so I don't get how to "don't ever let yourself be assigned" .  I'm new to spreads/options, so I'm just trying to learn what can be done to minimize the assignment risk.  Thanks!

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my opinion, if the extrinsic (time) value of short ITM option is equal or less than how deep the short option is ITM than it is better to close for loss. The chance to be assigned is greater on the CALL side (opposite the PUT side), because of dividends.

good trading

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Usually assignment makes sense for options owners only if there is very little time value, which happens only when options are deep ITM or very close to expiration. So while in theory assignment can happen any time, in reality it doesn't happen very often, and you can estimate when the chances of assignment are high.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...