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  • What are Options?

    ptions are contracts through which a seller gives a buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a specified number of shares at a predetermined price within a set time period.

    Options are derivatives, which means their value is derived from the value of an underlying investment. Most frequently the underlying investment on which an option is based is the equity shares in a publicly listed company. Other underlying investments on which options can be based include stock indexes, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), government securities, foreign currencies or commodities like agricultural or industrial products. Stock options contracts are for 100 shares of the underlying stock - an exception would be when there are adjustments for stock splits or mergers.

    Options are traded on securities marketplaces among institutional investors, individual investors, and professional traders and trades can be for one contract or for many. Fractional contracts are not traded.

  • Benefits of trading Options

    Options are an extremely versatile investment tool. Because of their unique risk/reward structure, options can be used in many combinations with other option contracts and/or other financial instruments to seek profits or protection.

    An equity option allows investors to fix the price for a specific period of time at which an investor can purchase or sell 100 shares of an equity for a premium (price), which is only a percentage of what one would pay to own the equity outright. This allows option investors to leverage their investment power while increasing their potential reward from an equity’s price movements.

    Limited Risk for Buyer
    Unlike other investments where the risks may have no boundaries, options trading offers a defined risk to buyers. An option buyer absolutely cannot lose more than the price of the option, the premium. Because the right to buy or sell the underlying security at a specific price expires on a given date, the option will expire worthless if the conditions for profitable exercise or sale of the option contract are not met by the expiration date. An uncovered option seller (sometimes referred to as the uncovered writer of an option), on the other hand, may face unlimited risk.

  • Three elements to consider when trading Opions

    1. Decide which direction you think the stock is going to move This determines what type of options contract you take on. If you think the price of a stock will rise, you’ll buy a call option. A call option is a contract that gives you the right, but not the obligation, to buy a stock at a predetermined price (called the strike price) within a certain time period.

    If you think the price of a stock will decline, you’ll buy a put option. A put option gives you the right, but not the obligation, to sell shares at a stated price before the contract expires.

    2. Predict how high or low the stock price will move from its current price An option remains valuable only if the stock price closes the option’s expiration period “in the money.” That means either above or below the strike price. (For call options, it’s above the strike; for put options, it’s below the strike.) You’ll want to buy an option with a strike price that reflects where you predict the stock will be during the option’s lifetime.

    The price you pay for an option, called the premium, has two components: intrinsic value and time value. Intrinsic value is the difference between the strike price and the share price, if the stock price is above the strike. Time value is whatever is left, and factors in how volatile the stock is, the time to expiration and interest rates, among other elements. For example, suppose you have a $100 call option while the stock costs $110. Let’s assume the option’s premium is $15. The intrinsic value is $10 ($110 minus $100), while time value is $5.

    3. Determine the time frame during which the stock is likely to move Every options contract has an expiration date that indicates the last day you can exercise the option. Here, too, you can’t just pull a date out of thin air. Your choices are limited to the ones offered when you call up an option chain.

    Expiration dates can range from days to months to years. Daily and weekly options tend to be the riskiest and are reserved for seasoned option traders. For long-term investors, monthly and yearly expiration dates are preferable. Longer expirations give the stock more time to move and time for your investment thesis to play out.