A warrant is similar to an option, except that it is granted by a firm. The warrant entitles the holder to purchase shares from the corporation at a predetermined price within a given time period. When a warrant is exercised, the investor purchases shares from the corporation, and the proceeds serve as a source of money for the company. While warrants aren’t very popular, it’s crucial to grasp what they are and how to value them in case a firm in which you hold stock provides or may issue warrants in the future.
A warrant, like an option, does not reflect real ownership in the company’s stock; it is only the right (but not the responsibility) to purchase shares at a certain price in the future. A warrant normally has a significantly longer life than a call option, with an expiration date that is five or ten years in the future. Some warrants are even indefinite.
Although warrants and options are similar, there are numerous major distinctions. For starters, options are often written by other investors or market makers, while warrants are typically granted by corporations. Warrants are often traded over-the-counter and lack the normal characteristics of option contracts. An options writer cannot draft any kind of contract that the corporation desires. Furthermore, unlike warrants, options do not dilute present stockholders. This is due to the fact that when a warrant is exercised, new stock is issued.
Although there are many other sorts of warrants, the most frequent are detachable and bare. Detachable warrants are issued with other securities (such as bonds or preferred shares) and may be traded independently. Naked warrants are granted in their whole, with no supporting securities.
Wedded warrants, which can only be exercised if the connected bond/preferred stock is relinquished, and put warrants, which may be used to hedge employee option schemes, are two less frequent forms of warrants.
Why Are They Issued?
The most typical rationale for a corporation to issue warrants is to use them as a “sweetener” in a bond or preferred stock offering. The corporation expects that by adding the warrants, it would be able to achieve better terms (lower interest rates) on its debt or preferred stock. Furthermore, warrants indicate a future source of money and may therefore provide a capital-raising alternative to corporations that cannot or do not choose to issue further debt or preferred shares.
There are also certain accounting advantages. The treasury stock technique may be used by issuers to determine profits per share, and amortized warrant value can be utilized to raise interest cost and tax advantages.
Warrants are less typically granted as part of a bankrupt company’s recapitalization strategy. While common stock holders are normally wiped out in a bankruptcy, offering warrants for soon-to-be-worthless shares provides the firm with a future supply of equity capital (if owners exercise those options) and retains some goodwill among former shareholders.
Valuing Warrants with the Black-Scholes Model
Although numerous approaches for valuing a warrant exist, a modified version of the Black-Scholes model is usually utilized. This formula is for European-style options, and although American-style options are theoretically more valuable, there isn’t much of a price difference in actuality.
The Black-Scholes model expresses the value of a call option as:
C = S N ( d 1 ) X e r T N e r T N e r T N e r T N e r T N e (d2)where: C stands for calloption. S = underlying asset price N denotes the standard normal distribution. T = Timetoexpiration X = Optionstrikeprice Dividend = d Riskfreeinterestrate = r e = Exponentialterm startaligned &C=SNleft (d1right). -Xe-rTN right(d2 left) &textbfwhere: &C=textCall option &S=textUnderlying asset price &N=textStandard normal distribution &X=textOption strike price &T=textTime to expiry &d=textDividend &r=textRisk free interest rate &e=textExponential term endaligned
Because warrants constitute dilution, the value of that call must be reduced by (1 + q), where q is the ratio of warrants to existing shares, and each warrant is worth one share.
The formula calculates an option’s theoretical value. What it trades at in the real world may be different. Do a symbol check for the stock warrant you’re interested in on NYSE.com or Nasdaq.com to see current warrant pricing. To get the current price, click on the warrant symbol given. The sample below provides warrant price data for AmbacFinancialGroup, Inc. (AMBC).
Warrants, as seen by the price snapshot, may be traded similarly to stocks or options. The warrant may be exchanged at any moment until it expires as long as there is someone else to purchase or sell from.
Factors That Influence Warrant Prices
In addition to the formula described above, investors should consider the following criteria when determining the price of a warrant.
Underlying Security Price: The greater the underlying security’s price, the more valuable the warrant. After all, if the stock price is less than the warrant strike price, there is no need to exercise the warrant since it is cheaper to acquire the shares on the open market.
Days to Maturity: In general, the value of options and warrants decreases as the expiry date approaches. If the strike price is higher than the current price, this behavior is known as “time decay,” and it will increase as expiry approaches.
Dividends are not paid to warrant holders, and the accompanying decrease in stock price when a dividend is paid to common shareholders diminishes the value of the warrant.
Higher interest rates/risk-free rates boost the value of warrants.
Implied Volatility: The greater the volatility, the more likely the warrant will finally be in-the-money and the higher the warrant’s value.
Dilution: Because the exercise of a warrant increases the number of shares outstanding in a corporation, dilution adds a twist to value that is not included in standard option pricing. Potential dilution may prevent the common stock’s price from growing.
Warrants may be issued with a premium attached; the smaller the premium, the more valuable the warrant.
Gearing/leverage: Gearing is the ratio of the share price to the warrant premium, and it indicates how much the warrant price increases for each change in the stock price. The more precious the warrant, the higher the gearing.
Limits: Though difficult to measure analytically, any restrictions on warrant execution will have an influence on the value of a warrant, usually adversely. The distinction between American-style and European-style warrants is a prevalent limitation. European-style warrants can only be exercised on the expiry date, but American-style warrants may be exercised at any time. The former is worth more than the latter.
The Bottom Line
A warrant is essentially a long-term option that a firm issues. Investors must apply a few changes to account for special considerations such as dilution, but a standard Black-Scholes options pricing formula will provide a decent estimate of the warrant’s value. Current warrant prices may also be accessed on the NYSE and NASDAQ websites. Warrants may be purchased or sold at any time, but not all warrants are regularly traded, so verify the volume before trading one.
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