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Understanding Option Greeks and Dividends: An Introduction

In the options marketplace, the “Greeks” have zero to do with classic philosophers or toga parties (unless you’re trading from the fraternity house). For option traders, the Greeks are a series of handy variables that help explain the various factors driving movement in options prices (also known as “premiums”).

Many options traders mistakenly assume that price movement in the underlying stock or security is the only factor driving changes in the option’s price. In fact, it’s very possible to watch the option contract move up or down in value, while the underlying price stays still.

There are many factors that affect an option’s price, and the Greeks help us understand this process better. It’s possible for some Greeks to be working for your position while others are simultaneously working against it. If you understand how changing conditions can affect your options trades, you may be able to better position yourself accordingly.

Mathematically speaking, the Greeks are all derived from an options pricing model. The best known is Black-Scholes, but many variations are used. For equity options, it is most common to use some form of the Cox-Ross-Rubinstein model, which accounts for the possible early exercise of American-style options.

Each Greek isolates a variable that can drive options price movement, providing insight on how the option’s premium will be affected if that variable changes.

We’ve created articles that address each of the major Greeks: delta, gamma, theta, vega, and rho, as well as dividends. Read the articles to learn more about the Greeks in terms of their importance and how to use them in your trading decisions.


Understanding Option Greeks and Dividends: Delta

In the options trading world, delta is frequently used synonymously with probability. Learn how to work with the Greek that refers to the amount an option price is expected to move, based on a $1 change in the underlying stock.

Understanding Option Greeks and Dividends: Gamma

Before investing, option traders need to understand gamma, the amount a theoretical option’s delta will change for a corresponding one-unit (point) change in the price of the underlying security.

Understanding Option Greeks and Dividends: Theta

Theta refers to the amount a theoretical option’s price will change for a corresponding one-unit (day) change in the days to expiration of the option contract. Read more to develop your own option trading strategy.

Understanding Option Greeks and Dividends: Vega

What is vega and how can you take advantage of this Greek during option trades? Vega is the amount a theoretical option’s price will change for a corresponding one-unit (point) change in the implied volatility of the option contract.

Understanding Option Greeks and Dividends: Rho

Okay, so rho is the amount a theoretical option’s price will change for a corresponding one-unit (percentage-point) change in the interest rate used to price the option contract. How should that impact your trading strategies?

Understanding Dividends

In terms of their impact on options prices, dividends are just as important as the Greeks. Before you dive into more advanced trading activities, read this brief overview and deepen your understanding of how dividends work in the option world.