Google's Split: A Potential Mess In The Options Market

| About: Alphabet Inc. (GOOG)

If I owned options on Google (GOOG), whether puts or calls, I'd be thinking about getting out of my position before the stock splits.

When I saw the word "dividend" appear on CNBC Thursday afternoon, I was initially impressed. Then I noted that it was a stock dividend. And then I saw that the company is creating a new Class C of stock.

I can't think of anything more confusing than the company's new third class of stock. There's always been the distinction between the widely traded Class A shares and the more privately held Class B shares. Investors knew that going in.

Generally when a stock splits, or declares a special dividend, you'll see a new "non-standard' series of options appear.

For example, on April 10, the Options Clearing Corporation announced that Heico Corporation (HEI), which did a 5-4 stock split, would have a new series of strike prices. A 50-strike call would become a 40-strike call. That's easy enough. But a 55-strike call would now be a 44-strike call.

This isn't so bad if you own more shares of the same stock with the same symbol. For example, when Freeport McMoRan (FCX) split 2 for 1, it wasn't that big a deal. But according to Google's release, the class C shares will have an entirely different symbol.

What a mess.

So far, the company is only "planning" to do the stock split. If it does and creates a whole new ticker symbol, I'm not sure what the folks at the Options Clearing Corporation will do, but when they do, it will be announced here.

It's interesting though. I wonder: How much of a premium will the market give a voting share vs. a non-voting share?

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

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