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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.

Your capital is at risk.

Trading Terms

Warrants: a trader's guide to understanding

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Warrants are a type of financial instrument in the trading world, offering a unique set of opportunities for investors. They are often used for speculative purposes or as a hedging tool. This article will explain what warrants are, and how they operate, compare them with CFDs, and address some frequently asked questions.

What is a warrant?

A warrant is a financial derivative that gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a security—most commonly, the issuer's stock—at a fixed price before the expiry date. Warrants are similar to options, but there are key differences, primarily that warrants are issued by the company itself, adding to the company's share count when exercised. In contrast, options are written contracts between two investors that do not affect the share count.

How do warrants work?

Warrants work by granting the investor a right that can be exercised to buy (a call warrant) or sell (a put warrant) shares of the issuing company at a specified price, known as the exercise or strike price. This can be done at any time up to the expiration date of the warrant.

Here's the process:

  1. Issuance: A company issues warrants directly to investors, often as an incentive to invest in the company's debt or equity.
  2. Exercise: If the stock price exceeds the warrant's strike price (for a call warrant), the investor can exercise the warrant to buy the stock at the strike price, which is typically lower than the market price.
  3. Leverage: Warrants provide leverage, allowing investors to control more shares with less capital than buying the stock outright.
  4. Expiration: If a warrant is not exercised before its expiration date, it becomes worthless.

CFDs vs Warrants

While both CFDs (Contracts for Difference) and warrants provide leverage and the ability to speculate on price movements without owning the underlying asset, they have distinct differences:

Feature CFDs (Contracts for Difference) Warrants
Issuer Created by financial brokers Issued by the underlying company itself
Market access Traded over-the-counter (OTC) through brokers Traded on stock exchanges or over-the-counter markets, accessible through brokers that provide entry to these venues
Expiration Do not typically expire; can be held as long as margin requirements are met Have a fixed expiration date and become worthless if not exercised
Leverage Provide leverage, allowing for larger exposure with less capital Also provides leverage, but can lead to the dilution of shares when exercised
Rights No rights to dividends or voting; purely speculative It may come with rights such as dividends if exercised, depending on the warrant
Settlement Typically do not involve the delivery of the underlying asset; settled in cash This may lead to the delivery of the underlying asset if exercised
Trading costs Incur financing costs for holding positions overnight; spread costs also apply May have lower costs compared to CFDs but can include brokerage fees when traded


How does warrant leverage compare to other instruments?

Warrant leverage is typically higher than direct stock investments, offering greater control over more shares for less capital, but with increased risk.

What happens to warrants if a company merges or is bought?

Warrants may be adjusted or revalued in mergers or acquisitions, depending on the deal's terms.

Can I exercise a warrant early?

Most warrants can be exercised any time before expiry, but some may only be exercised on the expiry date.

How can I reduce risks when trading warrants?

To minimize risks, use stop-loss orders, diversify holdings, and research the underlying asset and issuer.

Who sets a warrant's strike price and expiry?

The issuer sets the strike price and expiry based on market conditions and financial strategy at the time of issuance.

Do investors commonly exercise warrants?

Exercise is common when profitable, but many traders sell the warrant instead for immediate returns.

Are warrants a good investment?

Warrants can be a good investment if used wisely. They offer leverage and can lead to high returns, but they also come with high risk, especially since they can expire worthless.

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

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