“The greatest ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about”
If you are invested in Equity Markets or Mutual Funds, it is wise to be AWARE of the derivative product called ‘Options’.
Options have seen increase in popularity over the past few years. Television shows like CNBC, NDTV Profit, ET Now etc devote a significant amount of time discussing option strategies for investors. Investors and traders are attracted to options due to the low cost involved. There is a possibility of high return potential in case of options trading as well. However there is an equal or more probability of downside of trading in options which needs to be understood as well.
Let us take a look at a few of the more popular strategies for buying options.
Types of Options
Call options give an investor the right to buy shares at an agreed upon price. Investors that buy calls are not obligated to ever exercise the option. Call options can be owned for as short as a few days or long as a year. Investors that purchase call options are bullish on a particular stock.
Put options are just like call options except they give investors the right to sell shares of a stock. Bearish investors buy put options so that they can benefit from a stock that they expect to decline. Watching the activity in put options is a great way of judging when investor sentiment is turning bearish.
Buying call options are cheaper than buying shares of stock.
Call options allow investors to buy shares of a company for a much cheaper price than buying the actual shares themselves. For example, say you wanted to buy 125 shares of LNT (Larsen and Toubro) at 1700. Your total cost would be Rs 2,12,500. I have taken the figure of 125 shares because lot size of LNT is 125. (Pls note that futures and options are bought in lots)
A cheaper option would be to buy call options. You could buy one CALL option of Jul 2010 series , strike price 1700 (lot size 125) for Rs 50. Your total cost would be Rs 6,250 (125 shares x Rs50). You would only pay Rs 6,250. If shares of LNT are higher than 1750 (Strike price + cost of purchase Rs 50) by series end, you could exercise the option and make a profit. If not then you can just let the option expire. Your total risk is only Rs 6,250. For this investment you could control 125 shares of LNT.
Buying put options can limit your downside risk.
Buying a put option is a great way for investors to limit their downside risk. It is like taking insurance against your assets.
Let’s say you already owned 125 shares of LNT and the stock is currently at Rs 1700. Let us assume that you are sitting in good profits, you are afraid that the stock is going to decline, and at the same time you do not want to sell your shares.
You could protect your profits by buying a put option.
You could buy one PUT option of Jul 2010 series, strike price 1650 (lot size 125) for Rs 50. . If shares of LNT are lower than 1650 (Strike price – cost of purchase Rs 50) by series end, you would exercise the option and make a profit. By doing this, you have unlimited profit potential on downside and at the same time have limited your losses (which is depreciation of holdings of LNT against profits made by the PUT option.)
This strategy is known as a protective put strategy. If the stock drops substantially, you can always exercise your put option. If shares rise you can do nothing and just let the option expire.
Put investors can also employ a married put strategy. A married put strategy is when an investor buys shares of a stock and buys a put option on the same shares at the exact same times. The stock and option are considered married since they were both purchased at the same time.
If used properly, options can cost less, limit risk, and have the potential for higher returns.
Many investors are completely unaware about options. The intention behind this article is to make aware of the basics of options. Nevertheless, One should definitely understand the implications and understand the risks involved before buying or trading in options.
ps: I have used the example of LNT (Larsen and Toubro), because it has been on my radar since it broke out of 1700 range earlier this month. More here …..
I will cover selling options and implications later sometime.