expand/collapse risk warning

Trading financial products on margin carries a high risk and is not suitable for all investors. Ensure you fully understand the risks and take appropriate care to manage your risk.

Trading financial products on margin carries a high degree of risk and is not suitable for all investors. Please ensure you fully understand the risks and take appropriate care to manage your risk.

Your capital is at risk.

Trading Terms

Put options explained: your guide to trading and strategies

Put options: A man in a hoodie focused on his computer screen, analyzing put options.

In the world of investment and trading, understanding various financial instruments is crucial for making informed decisions. One such instrument that has gained significant attention is the put option. This article aims to demystify put options, explaining their mechanics, providing examples, and discussing their pros and cons. Whether you're a seasoned investor or just starting, this guide will equip you with the knowledge you need.

Capitalise on volatility in share markets
Take a position on moving share prices. Never miss an opportunity.
Sign up

What is a put option?

A put option is a type of financial contract in the options market that gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to sell a specified amount of an underlying asset at a predetermined price within a set period. This predetermined price is known as the strike price, and the set period is until the option's expiration date. Investors buy put options when they anticipate a decline in the price of the underlying asset, aiming to lock in a higher selling price before the asset loses value.

Put options are traded on various underlying assets, including stocks, commodities, currencies, and indices. The buyer of a put option pays a premium to the option seller for this right. This premium is the maximum amount the put option buyer can lose, making put options a popular risk management tool. By purchasing a put option, investors can hedge their portfolios against potential downturns and limit their exposure to risk.

How does a put option work?

To illustrate how a put option works, let's look into a more detailed example.

Suppose you own 100 shares of Company XYZ, which are currently trading at $50 per share. You are concerned about potential short-term volatility in the market that might cause the stock's price to drop. To protect your investment, you decide to purchase a put option with a strike price of $50 and an expiration date one month away. The cost of this option, also known as the premium, is $2 per share, totaling $200 for the 100 shares.

There are two possible outcomes:

  • The stock price drops to $40 per share before the option expires. You can exercise your put option and sell your 100 shares at the $50 strike price, securing a sale price that is $10 higher per share than the current market price.

In this scenario, the put option has helped you mitigate your losses, although the profit from exercising the option would be offset by the initial $200 premium paid.

  • The stock price remains stable or increases. If this happens, exercising the option would not be beneficial since you can sell your shares at a higher price in the open market. In this case, you might choose to let the option expire worthless, resulting in a loss of the $200 premium paid.

However, this loss is significantly less than what you might have incurred if the stock price had dropped significantly, and you had not purchased the put option.

Curious about Forex trading? Time to take action!
Use our free demo account to practise trading 70+ different Forex pairs without risking real cash
Sign up

Advantages and disadvantages of put options

Advantages Disadvantages
Risk management: Put options provide a way to hedge against potential losses in your investment portfolio, helping to protect your assets from unfavorable market movements. Limited time: Options have expiration dates, and if the market does not move in your favor within that time, the option becomes worthless.
Profit from market declines: Investors can profit from declining markets or stock prices without owning the underlying asset, providing opportunities to make money in bearish conditions. Cost of premium: Buying put options requires paying a premium, which can add up over time, especially if multiple options are purchased, potentially eroding profits.
Flexibility: Put options offer various strike prices and expiration dates, providing flexibility to tailor your investment strategy to your specific needs and market outlook. Complexity: Understanding and effectively using put options requires a good grasp of market movements and options strategies, which might be challenging for beginners.
Limited loss potential: The maximum loss when buying a put option is limited to the premium paid, providing a known and confined risk level. Opportunity cost: The premium paid for a put option could be used elsewhere, and if the option expires worthless, that money is lost.
Leverage: Put options allow investors to control a large amount of the underlying asset with a relatively small investment, providing the potential for significant returns. Requires accurate market prediction: Successfully trading put options often requires accurate prediction of market movements within a specific timeframe, which can be difficult to achieve consistently.

FAQs

1. What is the significance of the strike price in a put option?

The strike price is crucial in a put option as it determines the price at which you can sell the underlying asset. A put option becomes more valuable as the underlying asset's price falls below the strike price, allowing the option holder to sell the asset at a higher price than its current market value.

2. How does time affect the value of a put option?

Put options have a time value that diminishes as the expiration date approaches, a phenomenon known as time decay. The more time remaining until expiration, the higher the premium, as there is a greater chance that the underlying asset’s price will move in a favorable direction for the option holder.

3. Can I lose more money than I invested in a put option?

No, the maximum amount you can lose when buying a put option is the premium paid for the option, regardless of how much the underlying asset's price moves against you. This limited risk is one of the main advantages of using put options for risk management.

4. What factors influence the premium of a put option?

Several factors influence the premium of a put option, including the underlying asset's price, the strike price, time until expiration, volatility, and interest rates. Generally, higher volatility and more time until expiration result in higher premiums.

5. Is it possible to sell my put option before it expires?

Yes, you can sell your put option contract in the options market at any time before it expires. The price at which you can sell the option depends on the underlying asset's current price and the time remaining until expiration, among other factors.

This article is offered for general information and does not constitute investment advice. Please be informed that currently, Skilling is only offering CFDs.

Capitalise on volatility in share markets
Take a position on moving share prices. Never miss an opportunity.
Sign up
Curious about Forex trading? Time to take action!
Use our free demo account to practise trading 70+ different Forex pairs without risking real cash
Sign up