Volatility and Expected Option Returns

Guanglian Hu and Kris Jacobs

We analyze the relation between expected option returns and the volatility of the underlying securities. The expected return from holding a call (put) option is a decreasing (increasing) function of the volatility of the underlying. These predictions are supported by the data. In the cross-section of equity option returns, returns on call (put) option portfolios decrease (increase) with underlying stock volatility. This finding is not due to cross-sectional variation in expected stock returns. It holds in various option samples with different maturities and moneyness, and it is robust to alternative measures of underlying volatility and different weighting methods.

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