Employee Reload Options:
Pricing, Hedging, and Optimal Exercise

by Philip H. Dybvig and Mark Loewenstein
Washington University in Saint Louis

full article (204K PDF)

Reload options, call options granting new options on exercise, are popularly used in compensation. Although the compound option feature may seem complicated, there is a distribution-free dominant policy of exercising reload options whenever they are in the money. The optimal policy implies general formulas for numerical valuation. Simpler formulas for valuation and hedging follow from BlackScholes assumptions with or without continuous dividends. Time vesting affects the optimal policy, but numerical results indicate that it is nearly optimal to exercise in the money whenever feasible. The results suggest that reload options produce similar incentives as employee stock options and share grants.

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