ALERT - OPTION SYMBOL
STOCK OPTION SYMBOL FORMATS
CHANGED FEB 12, 2010
We thought our stock option trading system would be immune to it, but it turns out that there
are a number of changes that throw a monkey wrench in our tracking systems.
Basically the CBOE is going to a system that will eliminate the 3-5 digit
codes that is used to identify all options today and instead produce a name
which will run 19-21 letters and numbers for each and every option. (We will
actually have it worse...we will have up to 44 characters to juggle for each
In some ways this will make it easier, at a glance, to know what specific
stock, option, strike, expiration and Put/Call you are looking at, but it
means looking up a specific option will become much more difficult. For our
programmers it is a bit of a nightmare. All of the major brokers attempted
to get the time frame extended for switchover, but Options Board has said no
and February 12 will be the day. To make matters worse, there will be a
"consolidation" period where the symbol will be a hybrid of old and new
until May when all old symbols will disappear. securities traders may not
recognize their options any longer.
That's when ticker symbols for listed options will expand from as few as
three characters to as many as 21 numbers and letters.
The 21-character symbols being spearheaded by the Options Clearing Corp.
(OCC)--the clearinghouse for U.S. listed options--will be introduced in
February 2010. The current three- to five- character codes will be
completely eliminated in May.
While in effect for over 30 years, the current identification codes don't
provide sufficient information on underlying securities and cannot
accommodate newer types of options such as long-term equity anticipation
options (Leaps) and flexible exchange (Flex) options. according to the OCC,
which has spearheaded the so-called Options Symbols Initiative (OSI) since
Of the maximum 21 characters in the new code, the first six characters will
represent an option contract's symbol; two characters each for the maturity
day, month and year; one for the call or put indicator; five for the strike
dollar; and three for the strike price. Today, listed options are named
using as many as five characters. Of those five, three characters indicate
the root symbol for the option and two characters identify the expiration
month, whether it's a put or a call and the strike price for the option.
Let's say that we were going to buy Here is an example of what it will look
The basic parts of new stock option symbol are: Root symbol + Expiration Year(yy)+
Expiration Month(mm)+ Expiration Day(dd) + Call/Put Indicator (C or P) +
The old option symbol format consisted of:
- Option Root - One to three characters representing underlying stock
- Month of Expiration & Call/Put - One character representing month of expiration & call/put
Strike Price - One character representing the strike price
For example, a 2010 call option for Intel with a month of expiration of January and a strike price of $17.5, the option would be represented as:
|Month of Expiration & Call/Put
The OLD stock option symbol would be entered, traded and listed as NQAW
The new option symbol contains the following components:
- Symbol - One to six symbol for the underlying security (e.g. INTC)
- Year of Expiration - Two characters representing expiration year
- Month of Expiration - Two characters representing expiration month
- Day of Expiration - Two characters for the expiration day
- Call/Put Indicator - One character for Call(C) or Put(P)
- Strike Price - One to nine characters for the strike price, including a decimal character if needed
New Symbol Structure
Year of Exp.
Day of Exp.
|Call(C) / Put(P)
The NEW option symbol using the new format would be:
ANOTHER NEW STOCK OPTION SYMBOL EXAMPLE:
Note: The consolidation of changes in options symbols will happen over a
period of time from Jan 2010 to May 2010. Before the symbol change to their
new final format as above, for some time you will see the conversion symbols
( e.g.YHQ100416P00020000) . Example: YHQPD.X will become YHQ100416P00020000
before it becomes YHOO100416P00020000 and YHVPE.X will become
YHV100416P00025000 before YHOO100416P00025000.
Now obviously from a programming standpoint it makes a lot more sense to
simply make the full switch instead of doing it piecemeal which means a
rewrite of all programming twice. I also believe it would be easier for
users since the new format is pretty intuitive, but I don't control the OCC.
Here is a video from the Options Council that gives a pretty good technical
overview of why the changes are being made and what the impact will be..
NEW STOCK OPTIONS SYMBOL VIDEO
-Henry Ford -