stock option


stock option
an option giving the holder, usually an officer or employee, the right to buy stock of the issuing corporation at a specific price within a stated period.
[1940-45]

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Contractual agreement entitling the holder to buy or sell a share of stock at a designated price for a specified period of time, regardless of changes in its market price during that period.

The various kinds of stock options include put and call options, which may be purchased in anticipation of changes in stock prices, as a means of speculation or hedging. A put gives its holder an option to sell, or put, shares to another party at a fixed price even if the market price declines. A call gives the holder an option to buy, or call for, shares at a fixed price even if the market price rises. U.S. corporations often issue stock options to executives as a form of compensation in addition to salary, on the theory that an option is an incentive to improve the company's business and thus raise the value of its stock; at times such options have been far more valuable than the salary itself.

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▪ securities trading
      contractual agreement enabling the holder to buy or sell a security at a designated price for a specified period of time, unaffected by movements in its market price during the period. Put and call options, purchased both for speculative and hedging reasons, are made by persons anticipating changes in stock prices. A put gives its holder an option to sell, or put, shares to the other party at a fixed put price even though the market price declines; a call, on the other hand, gives the holder an option to buy, or call for, shares at a fixed call price notwithstanding a market rise.

      Another form of option, a stock purchase warrant, entitles its owner to buy shares of a common stock at a specified price (the exercise price of the warrant). Warrants are often issued with senior securities (preferred stocks and bonds) as “sweeteners” to increase their salability. They may also be issued directly as part of the compensation for underwriters of new issues and other promoters in the establishment of a new business.

      The stock rights option gives a stockholder the choice of (1) buying additional stock at a price below the current market price for a specified period of time, usually briefer than the life span of stock purchase warrants, or (2) selling the rights on the market. They are the customary way of implementing the stockholder's preemptive right to subscribe to whatever additional stock is issued in order to maintain his proportionate equity in the corporation and its control.

      American corporations frequently issue employee stock options as a form of incentive compensation for their executives. The underlying theory is that an option constitutes an incentive to do what will improve the company's fortunes and thus raise the value of its stock. The employee stock option was widely used as a means of supplementing the compensation of high-salaried employees after 1950, when federal income-tax provisions permitted the “spread” between high market price and the lower option price to be treated, upon sale of the stock, as capital gain, taxable at a 25 percent ceiling rather than the higher personal income-tax rates. In 1976, however, such profit was designated as ordinary income.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • stock option — see option 3 Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. stock option n. Th …   Law dictionary

  • stock-option — [ stɔkɔpsjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1987; de stock et option ♦ Écon. Système d option sur achat d actions au sein d une entreprise. Des stock options. Recomm. offic. option sur titres. ● stock option, stock options nom féminin (mot anglo américain signifiant… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Stock-Option — Stock Op|ti|on, Stock|op|ti|on [ stɔk|ɔpʃn̩ , auch: …|ɔpt̮si̯o:n ], die; , en, bei engl. Ausspr. s <meist Pl.> [engl. stock option, aus: stock (↑ 3Stock) u. option = ↑ Option] (Wirtsch.): Form der Mitarbeiterbeteiligung, bei der die… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • stock option — stock options N COUNT A stock option is an opportunity for the employees of a company to buy shares at a special price. [AM, BUSINESS] He made a huge profit from the sale of shares purchased in January under the company s stock option program.… …   English dictionary

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  • Stock option — An option in which the underlying is the common stock of a corporation. The New York Times Financial Glossary * * * stock option stock option ➔ option * * *    ► See Equity Options. * * * stock option UK US noun [C] STOCK MARKET, FINANCE …   Financial and business terms


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