Before you learn the basics about how to trade options and the strategies, it is important to understand the types, cost and risks before opening an options account for trading. This article will focus on stock options vs. foreign currencies, bonds or other securities you can trade options on. This piece will mostly focus on the buy side on the market and the trading strategies used.
What is a Stock Option
An option is the right to buy or sell a stock at the strike price. Each contract on a stock will have an expiration month, a strike price and a premium – which is the cost to buy or short the option. If the contract is not exercised before the option expires, you will lose your money invested in your trading account from that contract. It is important to learn that these instruments are riskier than owning the stocks themselves, because unlike actual shares of stock, options have a time limit. There are 2 types of contracts. Calls and Puts and How to trade them and the basics behind them.
What is a Call Option and how to trade them?
A call option contract gives the holder the right to buy 100 shares of the stock (per contract) at the fixed strike price, which does not change, regardless of the actual market price of the stock. An example of a call option contract would be:
1 PKT Dec 40 Call with a premium of $500. PKT is the stock you are buying the contract on. 1 means One option contract representing 100 shares of PKT. The basic thought and learning how to trade call options in this example is you are paying $500, which is 100% at risk if you do nothing with the contract before December, but you have the right to buy 100 shares of the stock at 40. So, if PKT shoots up to 60. You can exercise the contract and buy 100 shares of it at 40. If you immediately sell the stock in the open market, you would realize a profit of 20 points or $2000. You did pay a premium of $500, so the total net gain in this options trading example would be $1500. So the bottom line is, you always want the market to rise when you are long or have purchased a call option.
Trading Strategy vs. Exercising and Understanding Premiums
With call options, the premium will rise as the market on the underlying stock rises. Buyer demand will increase. This increase in premiums allows for the investor to trade the option in the market for a profit. So you are not exercising the contract, but trading it back. The difference in the premium you paid and the premium it was sold for, will be your profit. The benefit for people looking to learn how to trade options or learn the basics of a trading strategy is you do not need to buy a stock outright to profit from it’s increase with calls.
What are Put Options?
A put option is the reverse of a call contract. Puts allow the owner of the contract to SELL a stock at the strike price. You are bearish on the shares or perhaps the sector that the company is in. Since selling a stock short is extremely risky, since you have to cover that short and your buyback price of that stock is unknown. Bet THAT wrong and you are in a world of trouble. However, put options leave the risk to the cost of the option itself – the premium. Learning or getting information on how to trade Puts starts with the above and looking at an example of a put contract. Using the same contract as above, our anticipation of the market is completely different.
1 PKT Dec 40 Put with a premium of $500. If the stock declines, the trader has a right to sell the stock at 40, regardless of how low the market goes. You are bearish when you buy or are long put options. Learning to trade puts or understanding them starts with market direction and what you have paid for the option. Any basic strategy you take on this contract must be done by December. Options normally expire toward the end of the month.
You have the same 3 trading strategy choices.
Let Option Expire – usually because the market went up and trading them is not worth it, nor is exercising your right to sell it at the strike price.
Exercise the Contract – Market declined, so you buy the stock at the lower price and exercise the contract to sell it at 40 and make your profit.
Trading The Option – The market either declined, which raised the premium or the market rose and you are just looking to get out before losing all of your premium.
Trading Options carries nice leverage because you do not have to buy or short the stock itself, which requires more capital.
They carry 100% risk of premiums invested.
There is an expiration time frame to take action after you buy options.
Trading Options should be done slowly and with stocks you are familiar with.
I hope you learned some of the basics of options buy side trading, investing and how to trade them. Look for more of our articles. American Investment Training.
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