Continuous rainbow options on commodity outputs: what is the real value of switching facilities?

Jörg Dockendorf, Dean Paxson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We develop real rainbow option models to value an operating asset with the flexibility to choose between two commodity outputs. We provide a quasi-analytical solution and a numerical lattice solution to a model with continuous switching opportunities between two commodity outputs, taking into account operating and switching costs. The models are applied to an illustrative case, demonstrating that the quasi-analytical solution and the lattice approach provide near identical results for the asset valuation and optimal switching boundaries. We find that the switching boundaries generally narrow as prices decline. In the presence of operating costs and temporary suspension, however, the thresholds diverge for low enough prices. A fertilizer plant with flexibility between selling ammonia and urea is valued in an empirical section using our real option models. Despite the high correlation between the two alternative commodities, ammonia and urea, there is significant value in the flexibility to choose between the two. Both strategic and policy implications for stakeholders in flexible assets are discussed, with some generalisations outside the fertilizer industry. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-673
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Journal of Finance
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • continuous switching
  • operating flexibility
  • rainbow option
  • temporary suspension


Dive into the research topics of 'Continuous rainbow options on commodity outputs: what is the real value of switching facilities?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this