1. Why do companies use stock options to compensate employees? What are the advantages of stock options relative to cash compensation? What, if any, are their disadvantages? 2. What, if any, risks do Dell’s shareholders face from Dell’s stock option program? Draw terminal payoff diagrams to illustrate the risk. Is this risk something that shareholders of Dell expect to bear when investing in Dell? 3. How does Dell remove, or hedge, the perceived risk of the stock options program for shareholders? Draw terminal payoff diagrams to illustrate. 4. Why does Dell transact in both call and put options? Use put-call parity to reformulate the put and call positions that Dell takes in terms of Dell’s stock and borrowing. What effectively does Dell’s call and put positions accomplish? Is risk management the primary motivation for Dell’s actions?
A stock option is an offer by a company that gives employees the right to buy a specified number of shares in the company at an agreed upon price (usually lower than market) by a specific date. The benefit of granting options to employees is viewed as a good thing because it (theoretically) aligned the interests of the employees (normally the key executives) with those of the common shareholders. If a material portion of a CEO's salary were in the form of options, she or he would be incited to manage the company well, resulting in a higher stock price over the long term. The higher stock price would benefit both the executives and the common shareholders. Substituting options is supposed to keep executives eyes on the long term since the potential benefit (higher stock prices) would increase over time. Also, options programs require a vesting period (generally several years) before the employee can actually exercise the options.
This is in contrast to a "traditional" compensation program, which is based upon meeting quarterly performance...