AIG Warrants Still Trade Cheap vs. Peers

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Includes: AIG, BAC, JPM
by: NakedValue

As part of the government’s reorganization of AIG, they allowed the company to issue 75 million warrants to existing shareholders. The warrants are American style securities that expire in January 19, 2021. The warrants have a strike price of $45 and dilution protections that adjust the warrant exercise price to the extent that cash dividends exceed $0.67/year.

Based on closing prices from March 11th, the AIG warrants trade at an implied volatility of 28% (as calculated by the option calculator at iVolatility.com). This level is much lower than the 34% implied volatility of the JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) TARP warrants that expire on October 2018 and the 45% implied volatility of the Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) TARP warrants that expire in January 16, 2019. If the AIG (NYSE:AIG) warrants were to trade up to an implied volatility of 34%, the warrants would be worth $14.85, a % premium to the current price. JPM’s implied volatility is a conservative comparison for AIG, whose warrants could demand a higher implied volatility because of its smaller size and greater uncertainty of future prospects. If AIG warrants traded at a 45% implied volatility, that would value AIG warrants at $18.56, a % premium to current prices.

CALCULATION INPUTS

Prices are as of the March 11 close.

I set the interest rate to 4.5% because of the current yield on the 30 year Treasury. If you use a lower interest rate, it will decrease the value of the warrant. If you use a higher interest rate, it will increase the value of the warrant.

AIG warrants:

  • Expiration: January 19, 2021
  • Strike: $45
  • Option Price: $12.05
  • Stock Price: $37.35
  • Dividend: $0.67 (Dividends in excess of this amount will adjust exercise price of warrants)
  • Implied Volatility: 28%

BAC class A warrants:

  • Expiration: January 16, 2019
  • Strike: $13.30
  • Option Price: $8.05
  • Stock Price: $14.35
  • Dividend: $0.04 (Dividends in excess of this amount will adjust exercise price of warrants)
  • Implied Volatility: 45%

JPM warrants:

  • Expiration: October 28, 2018
  • Strike: $42.42
  • Option Price: $16.53
  • Stock Price: $45.74
  • Dividend: $1.52 (Dividends in excess of this amount will adjust exercise price of warrants)
  • Implied Volatility: 34%

INVESTMENT OPTIONS

  • Treat the AIG warrants as an arbitrage by buying the warrants and shorting AIG equity to remain delta neutral, possibly netting a 14% return.
  • If you want the long exposure to AIG, you can think of the undervalued warrants as offering an additional margin of safety to your investment. For example, if the AIG warrants are supposed to trade near an implied volatility of 32%, you are effectively buying a warrant priced as if the underlying stock were priced at $36.05.
  • Use listed AIG options to hedge long exposure in the AIG warrants. This could be a good strategy because the listed options trade above a 32% implied volatility. In addition, with the looming sale of the government’s 92% stake in the company, near term stock appreciation may be limited. Under this scenario, you should be very comfortable with options and understand the risks associated with shorting calls and mismatched hedges.

AIG closed at $38.54 on February 25, a discount to the company's $46.80 per share book value on December 31, 2010.

Disclosure: I am long BAC. I am long AIG warrants