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Stock Delta: Delta in Stocks – What Does it Mean?

Stock Delta:  What is Delta in Stocks and Options?

Stock DeltaThe term Stock Delta refers to a ratio measuring the rate of change in a stock option or derivative for every $1 increase in value of the underlying stock or security.

Delta is the ratio that compares the change in the price of a stock or other marketable security to the corresponding change in the price of its derivative. For example, consider a stock option that has a delta value of 0.45.  This means that if the underlying stock increases in price by $1 per share, the option will rise by $0.45 per share, all else being equal.  The value of the option’s delta is the first derivative of the option’s value with regard to the price of the underlying security. As a result, delta is frequently employed in hedging methods and is also known as a hedge ratio.

Stock Delta – What it Means

Depending on the type of option, delta values can be positive or negative. For example, the delta for a call option always ranges from 0 to 1.  This is because call options increase in price when the underlying asset grows in price. Put option deltas are always between -1 and 0.  This is because the value of put options decreases as the underlying security rises.

  • Reflects probability – Delta can be seen as the probability of the option expiring in the money (ITM). This is why an at the money (ATM) option has a delta of around 0.5, reflecting a 50-50 chance. Deep ITM options have a delta closer to 1 and deep out of the money (OTM) options have a delta closer to 0.
  • Delta is positive for call options and negative for put options. That is because a rise in the price of the stock is positive for call options but negative for put options. A positive delta means that you are long on the market and a negative delta means that you are short on the market.
  • Changes over time – Delta keeps changing over a period of time. The value depends on factors like volatility, interest rates, and time to maturity.

Delta Stock Hedging

Delta measures the ratio of the change in the price of an option to the change in the price of the underlying asset. It is also called the hedge ratio. and applies to derivative products like options. Delta hedging reduces the risk of price movements in the underlying asset by offsetting long and short positions.

Call Option Delta

For a call option on a stock, a delta of 0.50 means that for every $1.00 that the stock goes up, the option price rises by $0.50. As options near expiration, in-the-money call option contracts approach a delta of 1.0.  The delta behavior of a call option is determined by whether it is in-the-money (now profitable), at-the-money (where the strike price currently equals the underlying stock’s price), or out-of-the-money (not currently profitable). As the expiration date approaches, the value of in-the-money call options approaches a value of one (1.0). At-the-money call options normally have a delta of 0.5.  Out-of-the-money call options have a delta that approaches zero as expiration approaches. The closer the delta is to one, and the more the option behaves like the underlying asset, the deeper in-the-money the call option.

Put Option Delta

Put option deltas range from 0.00 to -1.00.  In-the-money put options approach a delta of -1.  For example, if a put option has a delta of -0.25, and the price of the underlying asset increases by $1, the price of the put option will decrease by $0.25.  Put option delta behavior is likewise affected by whether the option is in-the-money, at-the-money, or out-of-the-money.  However, they are the inverse of call options. As expiration approaches, in-the-money put options grow closer to -1. At-the-money put options normally have a delta of -0.5.  Out-of-the-money put options have a delta that approaches zero as expiration approaches. The closer the delta is to -1, the deeper the put option is in the money.

If the trader holds one call option with a delta of 0.50 and one put option with a delta of -0.50 then the net delta of the position is 0. Typically, straddles have a zero delta. Delta hedging can also be done with stocks and options. How does it work? Let us say you are holding a call option with a delta of 0.70. If the lot size of the stock is 1000 shares then you can perfectly hedge 1 lot of the call option by selling 700 shares of the stock. (Source: business-standard.com)

Stock Delta – Trading Applications 

Delta is a significant variable in the pricing model utilized by option sellers. Professional option sellers price their options using complex models. Delta is an important element in these models for both option buyers and sellers.  It can help investors and traders determine how option prices are expected to vary as the underlying security’s price changes. Delta is calculated in real-time by computer algorithms.

These automated programs continuously disclose delta values to broker clients. Traders and investors frequently utilize an option’s delta value to support their decision to buy or sell options. The behavior of call and put option delta is very predictable.  This makes it extremely valuable for portfolio managers, traders, hedge fund managers, and individual investors.

Stock Delta vs. Delta Spread

A delta spread is an options trading method in which the trader first develops a delta neutral position.  This is accomplished by purchasing and selling options to achieve a neutral ratio.  This is where the positive and negative deltas offset each other.  As a result, the overall delta of the assets in question totals zero. When using a delta spread, a trader often expects to make a small profit if the underlying security’s price does not change significantly. However, larger gains or losses are possible if the stock swings dramatically in either direction. A calendar spread option trade is the most commonly used method for conducting a delta spread strategy. The calendar spread entails creating a delta-neutral position with options with varying expiration dates.

For example, a trader will sell near-month call options while simultaneously purchasing call options with a later expiration date.  The proportions are balanced to maintain a neutral ratio. With a delta-neutral position, the trader should not suffer gains or losses as a result of minor price movements in the underlying security. Rather, the trader anticipates that the price will remain stable.  Then, as the near-month calls lose value and expire, the trader will be able to sell call options with longer expiration dates and, ideally, profit.

Example 

Assume there is a publicly-traded company called BigCorp. Shares of its stock are traded on a stock market and put and call options are available for those shares. The delta of a call option on BigCorp stock is 0.35. That is a $1 increase in the price of BigCorp stock results in a $0.35 increase in the price of XYZZ call options. Thus, if BigCorp’s shares are trading at $20 and the call option is trading at $2, a change in the price of BigCorp’s shares to $21 means the call option will rise to $2.35.

Put options to work in the opposite direction. If the delta of the put option on BigCorp shares is -$0.65, then a $1 increase in BigCorp’s share price results in a $.65 fall in the price of BigCorp’s put options. So, if BigCorp’s stock is trading at $20 and the put option is trading at $2, BigCorp’s stock will rise to $21 and the put option will fall to $1.35. (Source: investopedia.com)

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a high delta stock value good or bad?

It depends.  Call options have a positive delta whereas put options have a negative delta. This is due to the fact that a rise in the stock price is favorable for call options but bad for put options. A positive delta indicates that you are long the market, while a negative delta indicates that you are short the market.

What is the difference between a low delta and a high delta stock value?

In general, traders can utilize delta to assess the directional risk of a specific option or options strategy. Higher deltas may be appropriate for more speculative, higher-risk, higher-reward strategies.  Lower deltas may be perfect for lower-risk, high-win methods.

What does delta-neutral mean?

Delta neutral is a portfolio strategy that employs several holdings while balancing positive and negative deltas.  The goal is that the total delta of the assets in question is zero. Delta indicates how much the price of an option varies as the price of the underlying security changes.

Up Next: What Is a Futures Market?

Futures MarketA Futures Market is an exchange where futures contracts are traded for stocks, securities, or commodities with a set price for a future date.

A futures market is an auction market.  Traders purchase and sell commodity and futures contracts for delivery at a later date. Futures contracts are exchange-traded derivatives. They are agreements to buy or sell a particular quantity of stock, investment, or commodity at a predetermined price at a future date. In other words, the contract locks in the delivery at a future date at a price specified today.  Futures contracts are used to trade a wide range of commodities, currencies, and indexes. This provides traders with a diverse range of products. Futures contracts are a popular product among day traders since they can be bought and sold at any time the market is open until the fulfillment date.

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