LEAPS® & Expiration Cycles
What are Expiration Cycles?
The exchanges list options on a given security according to one of the following expiration cycles:
At any given time, there are at least four different expiration months trading on a particular security. All stocks & ETFs will have options listed for at least the two near-term expiration months along with two months from their expiration quarterly cycle. Recent exchange rules now allow for the listing of additional months beyond just four available expirations, so there are deviations from standard listing procedures.
The table below illustrates the standard months listed for each cycle throughout the year, beginning on the first day of the year. The most recently listed months are boldfaced.
At start of calendar year, exchanges list the following months:
After January expires, exchanges add September to Cycle 3 and March to Cycles 1 & 2:
After February expires, exchanges add October to Cycle 1 and April to Cycles 2 & 3:
After April expires, exchanges add December to Cycle 3 and June to Cycles 1 & 2:
After May expires, exchanges add January to Cycle 1 and July to Cycles 2 & 3:
After June expires, exchanges add February to Cycle 2 and August to Cycles 1 & 3.
After July expires, exchanges add March to Cycle 3 and September to Cycles 1 & 2.
After August expires, exchanges add April to Cycle 1 and October to Cycles 2 & 3.
After September expires, exchanges add May to Cycle 2 and November to Cycles 1 & 3.
After October expires, exchanges add June to Cycle 3 December to Cycles 1 & 2.
After November expires, exchanges add July to Cycle 1 and January to Cycles 2 & 3.
After December expires, exchanges add August to Cycle 2 and February to Cycles 1 & 3.
While any security may have a unique expiration cycle, the follow approach will generally determine the specific expiration cycle for your target security. Pull up a chain of its options, match the third and fourth expiration months with the relevant table above and identify the corresponding cycle.
Where can I find information and strategies based on LEAPS® options?
Find delayed quotes for LEAPS® here on our site under Quotes. Once you have entered a symbol and selected "Detail Options Chains," choose "LEAPS only" in the "Expiration" dropdown menu.Back to top
Do some brokers recognize LEAPS® securities as stocks and allow writing of covered calls against LEAPS®, even in retirement accounts?
Many brokerages do not allow short stock positions in retirement accounts under any circumstances. Buying a long-term call and selling short-term calls against it is a popular strategy called a calendar spread. While this hedges the written calls, brokerage firms do not consider them to be covered. In the event of assignment, because of the one-day lag between exercise and assignment, using the long-term call to close out the position requires being short the stock for a day.Back to top
Can you tell me how LEAPS® option contracts are treated in the event of a spin-off? Will I receive LEAPS® for the new corporation? Or, will I be compensated in some other way for the reduced value of the options that will now amount to a smaller corporation with a lower stock price and consequently a lower value for its LEAPS®?
If a company announces an upcoming spin-off, we may not yet know the terms of a possible adjustment. Although we may not know the exact adjustment, it is safe to assume that existing option contracts may be adjusted to avoid diluting an option holders' potential equity. For more information on how this type of corporate action is treated please see Chapter III of the Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options.
You may also review how various corporate actions affect option contracts in OIC's Contract Adjustments course here.
Four things you can do to locate information regarding adjusted contracts due to splits, mergers and spin-offs include:
- OCC's website offers contract adjustment memos with detailed information on how outstanding option contracts will be adjusted due to a corporate action.
- To receive notification for future adjustment memos, you may sign up to receive emails at the OCC Subscription Center at http://www.theocc.com/webapps/subscription-center.
- Check with your brokerage firm before placing the option trade.
- Contact OIC's Investor Services at firstname.lastname@example.org for further explanation on information memos.
When are the exchanges going to list 2021 LEAPS®?
All of the 2021 LEAPS® will be introduced on Monday, September 17th, 2018.Back to top
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