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I would like to know how and when the decision to issue options on a stock are made? Currently, Denny's does not have options. How would it go about getting options for its stock? Thanks, Peter

The decision to list options rests solely with the options exchanges. A publicly traded company has no say in the listing of related exchange-traded options. Guidelines are set forth by the

Securities and Exchange Commission

, but the ultimate requirements and decision to list options rest with each individual exchange.

That said, the requirements are fairly uniform across all of the exchanges. And given the competitive nature of the industry, if one exchange decided to list a contract, the others would likely follow suit.

The basic requirements are as follows:

  • The underlying security should have a public float (excluding shares held by officers and shareholders controlling more than 10% of the outstanding shares) of 7 million shares.
  • There should be at least 2,000 holders of the underlying security.
  • Shares of the underlying security should have traded a minimum of 2.4 million shares during the 12 months preceding the listing.
  • Shares of the underlying security must trade on a national stock exchange.
  • The share price of the underlying security trade must be above $3 for five consecutive days.

This $3 minimum price threshold was amended two years ago and is a change from the original rule, which required shares to trade above $7.50 for at least 50% of the days during the three-month period prior to listing options.

This has allowed options on popular stocks to be listed almost immediately after a company's initial public offering. One of the first -- and certainly most high-profile -- examples of breaking the time barrier was when

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

options were listed just five days after the company's IPO.

Denny's

(DENN) - Get Report

seems to meet all of the above requirements, so my best guess is that either the exchanges, specialists or both just don't think there will be sufficient interest to make it worth the cost of listing (filing legal and regulatory papers) and maintaining (disseminating market data such as live bid/ask and trade quotes for all the strike prices) an options market in Denny's.

Steven Smith writes regularly for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He was a seatholding member of the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) from May 1989 to August 1995. During that six-year period, he traded multiple markets for his own personal account and acted as an executing broker for third-party accounts. He appreciates your feedback;

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