Investor's wiki

Early Exercise

Early Exercise

What Is Early Exercise?

Early exercise of a options contract is the method involved with buying or selling shares of stock under the terms of that option contract before its expiration date. For call options, the options holder can demand that the options seller sell shares of the underlying stock at the strike price. For put options it is the opposite: the options holder might demand that the options seller buy shares of the underlying stock at the strike price.

Seeing Early Exercise

Early exercise is just conceivable with American-style option contracts, which the holder may exercise whenever up to expiration. With European-style option contracts, the holder may just exercise on the expiration date, making early exercise inconceivable.

Most traders don't involve early exercise for options they hold. Traders will take profits by selling their options and closing the trade. Their goal is to understand a profit from the difference between the selling price and their original option purchase price.

For a long call or put, the proprietor closes a trade by selling, as opposed to exercising the option. This trade frequently brings about more profit due to the amount of time value staying in the long option life expectancy. The additional time there is before expiration, the greater the time value that remaining parts in the option. Exercising that option brings about an automatic loss of that time value.

Benefits of Early Exercise

There are certain conditions under which early exercise might be worthwhile for a trader:

  • For example, a trader might decide to exercise a call option that is profoundly in-the-money (ITM) and is generally close to expiration. Since the option is ITM, it will typically have unimportant time value.
  • One more justification for early exercise might be a pending ex-dividend date of the underlying stock. Since options holders are not qualified for one or the other normal or special dividends paid by the underlying company, this will empower the investor to capture that dividend. It should more than offset the marginal time value lost due to an early exercise.

Early Exercise and Employee Options

There is one more type of early exercise that relates to company granted stock options (ESO) given to employees. On the off chance that the specific plan permits, employees might exercise their granted stock options before they become fully vested employees. A person might pick this option to get a better tax treatment.

Be that as it may, the employee should foot the cost to buy the shares before taking full vested ownership. Likewise, any purchased shares must in any case follow the vesting schedule of the company's plan.

The money outlay of early exercise inside a company plan is equivalent to waiting until in the wake of vesting, disregarding the time value of money. Be that as it may, since the payment is moved to the present, it very well might be feasible to keep away from short-term taxation and the alternative least tax (AMT). Of course, it presents the risk that the company may not associate with when the shares are fully vested.

Early Exercise Example

Assume an employee is granted 10,000 options to buy company ABC's stock at $10 per share. They vest following two years.

The employee exercises 5,000 of those options to purchase ABC's stock, which is valued at $15, following a year. Exercising those options will cost $7,000 in light of a federal AMT rate of 28%. Be that as it may, the employee can reduce the federal tax percentage by holding onto the exercised options for one more year to meet requirements for long-term capital gains tax.


  • Early exercise is the most common way of buying or selling shares under the terms of an options contract before the expiration date of that option.
  • Employees of startups and companies can likewise decide to exercise their options right on time to stay away from the alternative least tax (AMT).
  • Early exercise is just conceivable with American-style options.
  • Early exercise seems OK when an option is close to its strike price and close to expiration.