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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.

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Trading Terms

Stock options: what are they?

Stock options: A computer monitor and a graph symbolizing stock options.

Would you rather have a paycheck that only gives you money today or a special option that might give you even more money in the future? This special option is called a stock option. So what is it? Keep reading to learn more.

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What are stock options?

Stock options are like a special deal you can make with a company. They give you the choice, but not the duty, to buy or sell a piece of the company's stock at a set price on a certain date. There are two main types: puts and calls. Puts are a bet that the stock will drop, while calls are a bet that it will go up.

Think of it this way: if you believe a company's stock will rise in the future, you might want to buy a call option. This gives you the right to buy the stock later at today's price, even if the price goes up. On the other hand, if you think the stock will fall, you could buy a put option. This allows you to sell the stock later at today's price, even if it drops.

These options are often used by investors to manage risk or speculate on the future movements of stock prices. Employee stock options are a special kind given to employees as a bonus or incentive, letting them buy company stock in the future at a set price.

Stock options can be a bit like a game—it's important to know the rules and understand the risks. While they offer the chance to make money if you predict stock movements correctly, they also come with risks. If the stock doesn't move the way you expect, you might lose money.

It's like making a bet: if you guess right, you win, but if you guess wrong, you lose. So, before getting into stock options, it's wise to learn more about how they work and consider seeking advice from a financial expert. Remember, investing always involves some level of risk, and it's essential to only invest money you can afford to lose.

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Example of stock options and how they work

Let's imagine a simple scenario to explain how stock options work:

Say you believe that the stock of a company called ABC Inc. will go up in the next few months. You decide to use stock options to potentially make money from this belief.

Here's how you might do it:

  1. Buying call options: You buy a call option for ABC Inc. This gives you the right to buy ABC Inc.'s stock at a set price, let's say $50 per share, within the next three months.
  2. Waiting for the stock to go up: Over the next few months, you keep an eye on ABC Inc.'s stock price. If it goes up as you expected, let's say to $60 per share, you can use your call option.
  3. Exercising the option: Since you have the call option, you can buy ABC Inc.'s stock at the agreed-upon price of $50 per share, even though it's now worth $60 per share. You make a profit of $10 per share ($60 - $50).

But what if the stock doesn't go up? Well, in that case, you might choose not to exercise your option. You'd lose the money you paid to buy the option, but you wouldn't lose any more than that. This is one-way stock options can help manage risk—you know upfront how much you could potentially lose.

So, in this example, buying a call option on ABC Inc. allowed you to potentially profit from your belief that the stock price would rise, without having to buy the stock outright. It's a way to make bets on stock movements without needing a lot of money upfront.

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Pros and cons of stock options

Pros Cons
Potential for high returns: Stock options could offer significant returns if the price of the underlying stock moves in the expected direction. Limited time: Options have expiration dates, meaning you must be right about the direction and timing of the stock's movement to gain.
Limited risk: When buying options, the most you can lose is the premium paid for the option. This limits your downside risk compared to other investment strategies. Complexity: Options trading can be complex and requires a good understanding of the market and various strategies, which may not be suitable for all investors.
Flexibility: Options could be used for various trading strategies including hedging against downside risk, generating income, or speculating on market movements. Potential for losses: While the risk is limited when buying options, it could be significant when selling options or engaging in more complex trading strategies.
Leverage: Options allow you to control a large amount of stock with a relatively small investment, magnifying potential gains. Volatility: Options prices are influenced by factors like volatility, time decay, and changes in interest rates, which could make them unpredictable and subject to sudden changes in value.

Stock Options vs. Stock CFDs

While stock options give you the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell shares at a predetermined price, Skilling offers an alternative: stock CFDs (Contracts for Difference). Unlike stock options, CFDs allow you to speculate on the price movements of stocks without owning the underlying asset. This means you could either profit or incur a loss from both rising and falling markets. With CFDs, there's no expiration date, providing more flexibility compared to the fixed terms of options. Additionally, trading CFDs with Skilling can be more accessible, with lower capital requirements and straightforward transactions.

Did you enjoy the content?

With over 1200 global CFD instruments including Stocks, Forex, Commodities, and Cryptocurrencies, Skilling, an award-winning CFD trading broker is here to help you explore a myriad of financial avenues. Whether you're fascinated by the Ethereum price or looking to trade commodities like platinum, silver, or even coffee with low competitive fees, Skilling is here for you. Open a free Skilling account today.

FAQs

1. What are stock options?

Stock options are financial contracts that give the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a specific amount of a company's stock at a predetermined price within a set time frame.

2. How do stock options work?

Stock options work by allowing investors to speculate on the future price movements of a company's stock without needing to own the stock outright. Call options give the right to buy, while put options give the right to sell.

3. What is the difference between a call option and a put option?

A call option gives the holder the right to buy a stock at a predetermined price, while a put option gives the holder the right to sell a stock at a predetermined price.

4. What is a strike price?

The strike price, also known as the exercise price, is the price at which the holder of an option can buy (for call options) or sell (for put options) the underlying stock.

5. What is an expiration date?

The expiration date is the date by which the option contract must be exercised. After this date, the option becomes worthless.

6. What are some common strategies for trading stock options?

Common strategies include buying call options to profit from a rise in the stock price, buying put options to profit from a fall in the stock price, selling covered call options to generate income, and using spreads to limit risk.

7. What are the risks associated with trading stock options?

The main risks include the potential for loss of the premium paid for the option, time decay (options losing value as expiration approaches), and the risk of the underlying stock not moving as anticipated.

8. Are stock options suitable for all investors?

No, trading stock options involves risks and may not be suitable for all investors. It requires a good understanding of the market and various strategies. Investors should carefully consider their risk tolerance and financial situation before trading options.

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

No commissions, no markups.
22/07 - 26/07
AMZN.US: 00:00 - 20:00 UTC
SANDUSD: 00:00 - 20:00 UTC
Trade now
What better way to welcome you than with a bonus?
Start trading with a $30 bonus on your first deposit.

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Capitalise on volatility in share markets
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