Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 26

Gray Matters Volatility Potential By Philip Guziec Is implied volatility an asset class, and if so, how can it fit into a portfolio? In the Winter 2008 issue of Morningstar Advisor, we discussed the suitability of equity and index options for individual investor portfolios. We concluded there are many ways equity and index options could be suitable for balancing risk and cash flows, but we also mentioned that options prices as measured by implied volatility have some very unique characteristics. The characteristics of implied volatility are so unique, in fact, that some have taken to calling implied volatility an asset class. In this article, we’ll discuss the unique characteristics of volatility, how to view the world in terms of implied versus realized volatility, and how implied volatility could fit into investors’ portfolios. Characteristics of Volatility The price of a stock is equal to the expected value of the distribution of potential prices at the expiration date for the option. As a simple example of expected value, a stock that has a 50% chance of being worth $51 and a 50% chance of being worth $49 has an expected value of $50 and a probability distribution of only two outcomes. As we increase the number of potential outcomes and probabilities, we approach a smoother probability distribution. You can think of the expected value of a stock price distribution as the point where you could place a knife edge under the distribution, Expected Value Implied volatility is simply the value plugged into an options pricing model, commonly the Black-Scholes-Merton model, to force the model to spit out the market price for the option. The actual dollar value of an option varies with a number of known variables, including strike price, duration, underlying stock price, and interest rate. Implied volatility is the only unknown variable used to determine option prices and, as such, is the measure commonly used to discuss prices of options. To develop a better intuition about implied volatility, it is helpful to return to our favorite options graphic, the probability distribution of the price of a stock. Figure A: With the same expected value, probability distributions can be wider or narrower. Options allow us to split the probability distribution into upside and downside at a strike price, and we think of options as allowing us to buy or sell the upside or downside on an investment relative to some price, called the strike, along this distribution. If we were to sell exposure to the downside (puts) relative to the stock price and buy exposure to the upside (calls) relative to the stock price, we’d be putting the probability distribution back together, and our investment would generate the same payoff as the stock. Because this characteristic holds true regardless of the width of the probability distribution, implied volatility is theoretically completely distinct from stock price. Going back to our simple example to reinforce this concept, let’s say we have two stocks with $50 value. One stock is our simple example above, which has a 50/50 chance of being $51 or $49. The second has a 50% chance of being worth zero, and a 50% chance of being worth $100. The two examples have the same expected value but the width of the probability distributions is entirely different. To understand how implied volatility translates to option prices, let’s split the distribution into its upside and downside and evaluate the options graphically in figure B. The value of each option is determined by the expected value of the upside and downside pieces of a probability distribution, rather than and the distribution would balance perfectly. Implied volatility for an option is a measure of the width of the expected stock price distribution relative to that balance point. As we can see in figure A, with the same stock price, the distribution of potential outcomes can be wider or narrower. 26 Morningstar Advisor Spring 2008

Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008

Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008
Contents
Letter from the Editor
Inbox
Do You Use Annuities with Living Benefit Guarantees?
Managers Who Actively Enrich Shareholders
Staying Out of the Silos
Investment Briefs
Let’s Not All Become Fundamental Indexers Just Yet
Volatility Potential
Adding the Income Dimension
Do’s and Don’ts of RMDs
An Attractive Yield is Only Skin Deep
Mutual Funds Get in the Game
Beyond Target Date
The Last Holdout
A Bird of a Different Feather
First-Class Thinker
Sleep Like a Baby
Is Health Care Immune to a Recession?
Anatomy of a Mutual Fund Disaster
Embrace Your Inner Contrarian
Risks Worth Taking
Mutual Fund Analyst Picks
Undervalued Stocks
Most Popular Variable Annuities
New at Morningstar and on MorningstarAdvisor.com
Back to the Garden
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Intro
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Cover2
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 1
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 2
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Contents
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 4
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 5
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 6
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Letter from the Editor
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 8
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Inbox
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Do You Use Annuities with Living Benefit Guarantees?
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 11
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Managers Who Actively Enrich Shareholders
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 13
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 14
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Staying Out of the Silos
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 16
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 17
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Investment Briefs
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 19
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 20
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 21
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Let’s Not All Become Fundamental Indexers Just Yet
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 23
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 24
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 25
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Volatility Potential
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 27
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 28
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 29
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 30
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 31
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Adding the Income Dimension
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 33
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 34
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 35
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Do’s and Don’ts of RMDs
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 37
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 38
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 39
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - An Attractive Yield is Only Skin Deep
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 41
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Mutual Funds Get in the Game
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 43
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 44
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 45
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 46
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Beyond Target Date
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 48
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 49
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 50
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 51
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 52
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - The Last Holdout
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 54
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 55
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 56
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 57
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 58
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 59
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - A Bird of a Different Feather
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 61
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 62
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 63
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - First-Class Thinker
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 65
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 66
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 67
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Sleep Like a Baby
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 69
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 70
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 71
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 72
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 73
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Is Health Care Immune to a Recession?
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 75
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Anatomy of a Mutual Fund Disaster
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 77
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Embrace Your Inner Contrarian
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 79
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Risks Worth Taking
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 81
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 82
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Mutual Fund Analyst Picks
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 84
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 85
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 86
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 87
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 88
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Undervalued Stocks
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 90
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 91
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Most Popular Variable Annuities
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 93
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - 94
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - New at Morningstar and on MorningstarAdvisor.com
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Back to the Garden
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Cover3
Morningstar Advisor - Spring 2008 - Cover4
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