Stock Option Returns: A Puzzle
56 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2009
Date Written: August 2, 2008
Under very weak assumptions, the expected returns of European call options must be positive and increasing in the strike price. This paper investigates the returns to call options on individual stocks that do not have an ex-dividend day prior to expiration. The main findings are that over the 1996 to 2005 period (1) out-of-the-money calls have negative average returns, and (2) the average returns of high strike calls are lower than those of low strike calls. The puzzling returns are robust to a number of variations in methodology, and are not due to a 'peso' problem. Finally, preliminary evidence is presented that is consistent with investor skewness-seeking contributing to the puzzling call returns.
Keywords: Options, Idiosyncratic skewness, Derivatives, Behavioral study
JEL Classification: G12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation