If I sell a covered call and the stock declines some time before expiry, what would be a strategic approach to roll down the call to protect the downside, or are there any other approach to do it? Do I just buy back the call and sell another at lower strike?

I am not worried about losing upside potential and only considering premium as profit from this trade.

1 Answer 1


By definition, you are 'losing upside potential' when you write a covered call (CC). It has an asymmetric risk profile with a limited upside while bearing most of the downside risk.

The delta of the call represents how much the call will deteriorate for the first dollar of underlying loss. Since delta declines as share price drops, the smaller delta gets, the larger your loss will become. Rolling down is a defensive strategy which only provides a limited hedge which will only modestly 'protect the downside'.

Alternatively, you can use in-the-money (ITM) short calls. That will provide more premium and more protection but is likely to lock in an upside loss. In addition, using deeper ITM (in the U.S.) may result in a non qualified CC which causes loss of LT status in the underlying. So unless you are willing to take the risk, when rolling the CC down, you should avoid locking in a loss should the underlying reverse strongly to the upside.

The most efficient way to roll the call down would be using a vertical spread order rather than legging out of the initial short call and into the new short call. You'll have a better chance of shaving something off of both B/A spreads and it will eliminate the market risk of the underlying moving down between single executions.

IMO, a more 'strategic approach' for the current volatility in the market would be to collar your long stock positions at little to no cost. It could even be done for a small credit, depending on the strikes chosen. You'd give up the short call premium to pay for the long put but that would put a loss limit under your positions. It's synthetically equivalent to a vertical spread. Should the underlying collapse, you could either exit at the predetermined loss or if you want to continue owning the underlying, roll the put and call down, lowering your cost basis.

There are more sophisticated and aggressive approaches such as over writing short calls (CC or collar) as well as buying more puts for a collar but that's for those who understand, accept and can manage the risk.

There are a few old sayings about covered calls"

"Sometimes it like picking up peanuts in front of a steamroller"

" Most of the time you eat like a bird and sometimes, you sh*t like an elephant"

Covered calls are for providing income or executing a target sale price. They're not a good plan for bear markets.

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