Such a strategy can benefit from buying (or selling) expensive implied volatility. There can also be benefits from a tax perspective and, potentially, from any embedded borrow cost in the price of options (price of positive delta option strategies is improved by borrow cost).
As the proceeds from selling the stock are typically greater than the cost of the calls (or margin requirement of the short put), the difference can be invested to earn interest.
- Figure 3. Stock Replacing with Calls Stock Replacing with Puts:
Stock replacing via calls benefits from convexity
As a call option is convex, this means that the delta increases as spot increases and vice versa. If a long position in the underlying is sold and replaced with calls of equal delta, then if markets rise the delta increases and the calls make more money than the long position would have. Similarly, if markets fall the delta decreases and the losses are reduced.
This can be seen in Figure 3 above as the portfolio of cash (proceeds from sale of the underlying) and call options is always above the long underlying profile. The downside of using calls is that the position will give a worse profile than the original long position if the underlying does not move much (as call options will fall each day by the theta if spot remains unchanged). Using call options is best when implied volatility is cheap and the investor expects the stock to move by more than currently implied.
Put underwriting benefits from selling expensive implied
Typically the implied volatility of options trades slightly above the expected realised volatility of the underlying over the life of the option (due to a mismatch between supply and demand).
Stock replacement via put selling therefore benefits from selling (on average) expensive volatility. Selling a naked put is known as put underwriting, as the investor has effectively underwritten the stock (in the same way investment banks underwrite a rights issue).
Put underwriting pays investors for work that otherwise might be wasted
The strike of put underwriting should be chosen at the highest level at which the investor would wish to purchase the stock, which allows an investor to earn a premium from taking this view (whereas normally the work done to establish an attractive entry point would be wasted if the stock did not fall to that level).
Asset allocators use put underwriting to rebalance portfolios
This strategy has been used significantly recently by asset allocators who are underweight equities and are waiting for a better entry point to re-enter the equity market (earning the premium provides a buffer should equities rally). If an investor does not wish to own the stock and only wants to earn the premium, then an OTM strike should be chosen at a support level that is likely to remain firm.
Put underwriting benefits from selling skew
Put underwriting gives a similar profile to a long stock, short call profile, otherwise known as call overwriting. One difference between call overwriting and put underwriting is that if OTM options are used, then put underwriting benefits from selling skew (which is normally overpriced).