Is There Money to Be Made Investing in Options? A Historical Perspective

35 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2006 Last revised: 16 Jul 2008

See all articles by James Doran

James Doran

University of New South Wales

Andy Fodor

Ohio University

Date Written: December 8, 2006


This paper examines the historical performance of 12 portfolios that include S&P 100/500 index options. Each option portfolio is formed using options with different maturities and moneyness, while incorporating bid-ask spreads, transaction costs, and margin requirements. Raw and risk-adjusted returns of option portfolios are compared to a benchmark portfolio that is only long the underlying asset. This allows the marginal impact of including options in the portfolio to be examined. The analysis reveals that including options in the portfolio most often results in underperformance relative to the benchmark portfolio. However, a portfolio that incorporates written options can outperform the benchmark on a raw and risk-adjusted basis. This result is dependent on restricting option investment relative to the maximum allowable margin. While positive and significant risk-adjusted performance is observed for some option portfolios, greater risk tolerance relative to the long index benchmark portfolio is required.

Keywords: Portfolio Returns, Option Strategies, Option Pricing, Sharpe Ratios, S&P 500

JEL Classification: G11, G12, G13

Suggested Citation

Doran, James and Fodor, Andy, Is There Money to Be Made Investing in Options? A Historical Perspective (December 8, 2006). Available at SSRN: or

James Doran (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales ( email )

College Rd
Sydney, NSW 2052

Andy Fodor

Ohio University ( email )

514 Copeland Hall
Athens, OH 45701
United States
740.593.0259 (Phone)

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