Commit To Purchase BancorpSouth At $20, Earn 10.2% Annualized

Investors eyeing a purchase of BancorpSouth Inc. (BXS) shares, but cautious about paying the going market price of $19.95/share, might benefit from considering selling puts among the alternative strategies at their disposal. One interesting put contract in particular, is the April 2014 put at the $20 strike, which has a bid at the time of this writing of $1.35. Collecting that bid as the premium represents a 6.8% return against the $20 commitment, or a 10.2% annualized rate of return (at Stock Options Channel we call this the YieldBoost).

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Selling a put does not give an investor access to BXS's upside potential the way owning shares would, because the put seller only ends up owning shares in the scenario where the contract is exercised. And the person on the other side of the contract would only benefit from exercising at the $20 strike if doing so produced a better outcome than selling at the going market price. ( Do options carry counterparty risk? This and six other common options myths debunked). So unless BancorpSouth Inc. sees its shares decline 0.5% and the contract is exercised (resulting in a cost basis of $18.65 per share before broker commissions, subtracting the $1.35 from $20), the only upside to the put seller is from collecting that premium for the 10.2% annualized rate of return.

Worth considering, is that the annualized 10.2% figure actually exceeds the 0.2% annualized dividend paid by BancorpSouth Inc. by 10%, based on the current share price of $19.95. And yet, if an investor was to buy the stock at the going market price in order to collect the dividend, there is greater downside because the stock would have to fall 0.45% to reach the $20 strike price.

Always important when discussing dividends is the fact that, in general, dividend amounts are not always predictable and tend to follow the ups and downs of profitability at each company. In the case of BancorpSouth Inc., looking at the dividend history chart for BXS below can help in judging whether the most recent dividend is likely to continue, and in turn whether it is a reasonable expectation to expect a 0.2% annualized dividend yield.

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Below is a chart showing the trailing twelve month trading history for BancorpSouth Inc., and highlighting in green where the $20 strike is located relative to that history:

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The chart above, and the stock's historical volatility, can be a helpful guide in combination with fundamental analysis to judge whether selling the April 2014 put at the $20 strike for the 10.2% annualized rate of return represents good reward for the risks. We calculate the trailing twelve month volatility for BancorpSouth Inc. (considering the last 250 trading day closing values as well as today's price of $19.95) to be 23%. For other put options contract ideas at the various different available expirations, visit the BXS Stock Options page of StockOptionsChannel.com.

In mid-afternoon trading on Wednesday, the put volume among S&P 500 components was 626,907 contracts, with call volume at 626,907, for a put:call ratio of 0.75 so far for the day, which is above normal compared to the long-term median put:call ratio of .65. In other words, if we look at the number of call buyers and then use the long-term median to project the number of put buyers we'd expect to see, we're actually seeing more put buyers than expected out there in options trading so far today. Find out which 15 call and put options traders are talking about today.

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