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Time Erosion vs. Delta Effect

Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors.
Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors. Certain requirements must be met to trade options. Before engaging in the purchase or sale of options, investors should understand the nature of and extent of their rights and obligations and be aware of the risks involved in investing with options. Please read the options disclosure document titled "Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options (PDF)" before considering any option transaction. You may also call the Investment Center at 877.653.4732 for a copy. A separate client agreement is needed. Multi-leg option orders are charged one base commission per order, plus a per-contract charge.

Select to close help pop-up The amount by which an option is in-the-money
A challenging aspect of shorter-term options is the erosion of the time premium portion of the option's price. Time premium is the amount of the option's price that exceeds its intrinsic valueHover to view help pop-upSelect to view help pop-upThe amount by which an option is in-the-money. As an option nears expiration and time decreases, the marketplace is increasingly less willing to pay any premium over intrinsic value.
Time premium erosion works in favor of short-term option sellers. Conversely, the option buyer must overcome the erosion of time premium to profit from a long option position. The graph below is a representation of theoretical time erosion for longer-dated options:
For illustrative purposes only.
Note: The prices presented in this graph are for illustrative and educational purposes only. They do not represent any actual options prices and are not intended to. Options prices on actual stocks may differ significantly from those shown.
As you can see from the graph, time erosion of options premium is not linear (i.e., it does not occur in a straight line). The mathematical reasons for this are complex.
The result is that the erosion of time premium in the earlier months of an option's life is much less dramatic than the erosion that occurs in the last few months. Because of the long timeframe of LEAPS® options, this effect is even more pronounced. The time erosion that occurs in the first several months of a LEAPS® option is minimal.
However, when LEAPS® options become shorter-term options (time to expiration is less than one year), they behave like all other shorter-term options, as the graph shows. Time erosion becomes more pronounced and has a greater impact, especially in the last 90 days of the option's life.
What does this mean to options investors?
  • Buyers of LEAPS® options have less time premium erosion to fight than buyers of shorter-dated options.
  • LEAPS® options offer less leverage..
  • The Deltas of LEAPS® options will not increase as dramatically as with shorter-dated options since there is so much time remaining until expiration.
  • A lower Gamma tempers any drastic changes to an option's Delta due to the amount of time until expiration/
Content licensed from the Options Industry Council is intended to educate investors about U.S. exchange-listed options issued by The Options Clearing Corporation, and shall not be construed as furnishing investment advice or being a recommendation, solicitation or offer to buy or sell any option or any other security. Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors.

Content licensed from the Options Industry Council. All Rights Reserved. OIC or its affiliates shall not be responsible for content contained on Merrill's Website, or other Company Materials not provided by OIC. OIC education can be accessed at the OIC web site popup.

Without the Jargon

Select to close help pop-up A call option is out of the money if the strike price is greater than the market price of the underlying security. A put option is out of the money if the strike price is less than the market price of the underlying security.
An out-of the-moneyHover to view help pop-upSelect to view help pop-upA call option is out of the money if the strike price is greater than the market price of the underlying security. A put option is out of the money if the strike price is less than the market price of the underlying security. longer dated option is less sensitive to changes in the underlying security. This sensitivity is measured by Gamma. Gamma is an option's Greek that measures the change of Delta. Delta measures the change of the option's contract premium when the underlying security moves $1.00. A longer dated option will experience less of a change in Gamma as it does not have a rapidly decreasing time value. Once the LEAPS® turn into shorted dated options with less than a year to expiration, Gamma will fluctuate and the option will have a higher sensitivity to movements in the underlying security.
Information not provided by the Options Industry Council
Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors. Certain requirements must be met to trade options. Before engaging in the purchase or sale of options, investors should understand the nature of and extent of their rights and obligations and be aware of the risks involved in investing with options. Please read the options disclosure document titled "Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options (PDF)" before considering any option transaction. You may also call the Investment Center at 877.653.4732 for a copy. A separate client agreement is needed. Multi-leg option orders are charged one base commission per order, plus a per-contract charge.
View definitions for investment terms in our Glossary.
The material was provided by a third party not affiliated with Merrill or any of its affiliates and is for information and educational purposes only. The opinions and views expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Merrill or any of its affiliates. Any assumptions, opinions and estimates are as of the date of this material and are subject to change without notice. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The information contained in this material does not constitute advice on the tax consequences of making any particular investment decision. This material does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situations or needs and is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security, financial instrument, or strategy. Before acting on any recommendation in this material, you should consider whether it is in your best interest based on your particular circumstances and, if necessary, seek professional advice.
For purposes of all the computations discussed in this article, commissions, fees and margin interest and taxes, have not been included in the examples. These costs obviously will impact the outcome of any stock or option transaction. Any strategies discussed, including examples using actual securities and price data, are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes only and are not to be construed as an endorsement, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell securities. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.
This material is being provided for informational purposes only. Nothing herein is or should be construed as investment, legal or tax advice, a recommendation of any kind, a solicitation of clients, or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to invest in options. The information herein has been obtained from third-party sources and, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified and its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed.

Supporting documentation for any claims, comparisons, recommendations, statistics or other technical data will be furnished on request.
Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.
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