Quoted below is a brief bit from Standard and Poors found on the BusinessWeek Online website. I highly recommend the site, but I like Brussel sprouts too, so..... I have attached a chart of MRK which includes my usual markings. This recent bit of volatility has plumped up the options some too making a covered call (or short put) more attractive for Apr expiration, but wait for the stock to settle down a bit. MRK went ex-div the beginning of this month, so the next record date will be June 3rd or so.