stock option


Definition of stock option

1 : an option contract involving stock
2 : a right granted by a corporation to officers or employees as a form of compensation that allows purchase of corporate stock at a fixed price usually within a specified period

Examples of stock option in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

With every $50-billion gain after that, Musk is richly reward with stock options, until the company's market value hits $650 billion. Russ Mitchell,, "Tesla shareholders approve pay plan for Elon Musk worth up to $55 billion over 10 years," 21 Mar. 2018 In addition, the company granted stock options over more than 2.5 billion shares to more than 7,000 employees, who are now also free to exercise those options and then sell their shares. Joanne Chiu, WSJ, "Smartphone Giant Pivots From IPO to Buybacks Within Months," 21 Jan. 2019 According to the suit, there were written contracts between IAC and the employees for Tinder to be valued on dates in 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021, when they would be given the chance to exercise stock options. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Tinder co-founders sue Match Group for $2 billion," 14 Aug. 2018 That is a big step up from the compensation of former CFO David Wells, who was set to receive an annual salary of $2.8 million and annual stock options worth $2.45 million in 2018, according to a Netflix’s proxy statement. Tatyana Shumsky, WSJ, "New Netflix CFO to Earn Almost Twice as Much as Predecessor," 7 Jan. 2019 There are certain tax treatments for paying basically bonuses and stock options and restricted stock to executives. Eric Johnson, Recode, "American capitalism broke in the 1980s. Can it be fixed?," 7 Nov. 2018 Acton exited Facebook a year before his final batch of stock options vested, a decision that ultimately cost him north of $800 million. Chris Welch, The Verge, "Facebook’s former Messenger boss calls WhatsApp co-founder a ‘new standard of low-class’," 26 Sep. 2018 The gourmet supermarket chain was acquired by Amazon in June 2017, and workers are upset that the company has since laid off hundreds of marketing employees and stopped offering stock options to lower-lever Whole Foods staff. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Whole Foods employees are worried about new owner Amazon — so they’re trying to unionize," 7 Sep. 2018 Employees would then be free to sell their stock options in Tinder based on those valuations. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Tinder’s co-founders are suing former parent company IAC for at least $2 billion," 14 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stock option.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of stock option

1877, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for stock option

Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for stock option

The first known use of stock option was in 1877

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More Definitions for stock option

stock option


Financial Definition of stock option

What It Is

A stock option gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to purchase (or sell) 100 shares of a particular underlying stock at a specified strike price on or before the option's expiration date. There are two kinds of options: American and European. American options differ from European options in that European options allow the holder to exercise only on the expiration date.

How It Works

All options are derivative instruments, meaning that their prices are derived from the price of another security. More specifically, options prices are derived from the price of an underlying stock. For example, let's say you purchase a call option on shares of Intel ({ia_ext|Nasdaq: INTC|}) with a strike price of $40 and an expiration date of April 16. This option gives you the right to purchase 100 shares of Intel at a price of $40 on or before April 16th (the right to do this, of course, will only be valuable if Intel is trading above $40 per share at that point in time).

Every option represents a contract between a buyer and seller. The seller (writer) has the obligation to either buy or sell stock (depending on what type of option he or she sold--either a call option or a put option) to the buyer at a specified price by a specified date. Meanwhile, the buyer of an options contract has the right, but not the obligation, to complete the transaction on or before a specified date. When an option expires, if it is not in the buyer's best interest to exercise the option, then he or she is not obligated to do anything. The buyer has purchased the option to carry out a certain transaction in the future -- hence the name.

As a quick example of how call options make money, let's say IBM ({ia_ext|NYSE: IBM|}) stock is currently trading at $100 per share. Now let's say an investor purchases one call option contract on IBM at a price of $2 per contract. Note: Because each options contract represents an interest in 100 underlying shares of stock, the actual cost of this option will be $200 (100 shares x $2 = $200). This American contract happens to say the investor can purchase up to 100 shares for $100 each on or before January 1.

Here's what will happen to the value of this call option under different scenarios:

When the option expires, IBM is trading at $105.
Remember: The American call option gives the buyer the right to purchase shares of IBM at $100 per share on or before January 1 (rather than only on January 1, as would be the case with a European option). The buyer could use the option to purchase those shares at $100, then immediately sell those same shares in the open market for $105. This option is therefore called “in the money.” Because of this, the option will sell for $5 (because each option represents an interest in 100 underlying shares, this will amount to a total sale price of $500). Because the investor purchased this option for $200, the net profit to the buyer from this trade will be $300.

When the option expires, IBM is trading at $101.
Using the same analysis, the call option is worth $1 (or $100 total). Because the investor spent $200 to purchase the option, he or she will show a net loss of $1 (or $100 total). This option is called “at the money,” because the transaction is essentially a wash.

When the option expires, IBM is trading at or below $100.
If IBM ends up at or below $100 on the option's expiration date, then the contract will expire “out of the money.” It will now be worthless, so the option buyer will lose 100% of his or her money (in this case, the full $200 that he or she spent for the option).

The Black Scholes model is a formula used to assign prices to option contracts, but it is geared toward European options. American options command higher prices than European options because the American options essentially allow the investor several chances to capture profits, whereas the European options allow the investor only one chance to capture profits.

Why It Matters

Investors use options for two primary reasons -- to speculate and to hedge risk. To speculate is to simply bet on the direction of price changes. Hedging, however, is like buying insurance -- it is protection against unforeseen events. Using options to hedge your portfolio accomplishes this for some investors.

In general, European options are riskier than American options because they allow only one day of exercise opportunity to the investor. American options give the underlying stock more chances on which to rise enough to put the option in the money. For sellers of European option contracts, this all can be an advantage.

Many index options are European options, so investors should be sure to understand the nature of what they’re buying.

Source: Investing Answers

stock option


English Language Learners Definition of stock option

US : a right that is given by a company to an employee that lets the employee purchase stock in the company usually for a price that is lower than the normal price

stock option

Legal Definition of stock option

see option sense 3

More from Merriam-Webster on stock option

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stock option Encyclopedia article about stock option

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