Put Option Overview, Buying and Selling a Put Option

Because put options, when exercised, provide a short position in the underlying asset, they are used for hedging purposes or to speculate on downside price action. Investors often use put options in a risk-management strategy known as a protective put. This strategy is used as a form of investment insurance to ensure that losses in the underlying asset do not exceed a certain tokenexus amount, namely the strike price. Conversely, if the stock remains above the strike price of $50, the option is “out of the money” and becomes worthless. So the option value flatlines, capping the investor’s maximum loss at the price paid for the put, of $5 premium per share or $500 in total. That makes it very hard to predict what will happen with the price of an option.

If the stock drops to $250 before expiry in January two years from now, you’ll be required to buy the 100 shares at that price. But you’ll keep the premium of $30 per share, so your net cost will be $220 per share. If shares never fall to $250, the option will expire worthless and you’ll keep the entire $3,000 premium. As an alternative, you could sell one January $250 put option expiring two years from now for just $30. That means the option will expire on the third Friday of January two years from now, and it has an exercise price of $250.

  1. Download today for access to AI-powered investment strategies.
  2. Options move in a non-linear correlation with the underlying asset price, so it is important to choose the right strike for your view.
  3. Trading options comes with risks, and the Securities and Exchange Commission recommends you understand how options strategies work before investing.
  4. A put allows the owner to lock in a predetermined price to sell a specific stock, while put sellers agree to buy the stock at that price.
  5. Determining how much capital you can allocate to trading options can be challenging.

Short sales can be used either for speculation or as an indirect way of hedging long exposure. For example, if you have a concentrated long position in large-cap technology stocks, you could short the Nasdaq-100 exchange traded fund (ETF) as a way to hedge your technology exposure. Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance.

In total, one put contract sells for $500 ($5 premium x 100 shares). For a put seller, if the market price of the underlying stocks stays the same or increases, you make a profit off of the premium you charged the seller. If the market price decreases, you have the obligation to buy back the option from the seller at the strike price. Put writing is an advanced option strategy meant for experienced traders and investors; strategies such as writing cash-secured puts also need a significant amount of capital. If you’re new to options and have limited capital, put writing would be a risky endeavor and not a recommended one.

But it’s important to learn how they work and make sure you can withstand losses before buying put options. As happened with lots of investors during the January 2021 Gamestop craze, put options can cause big losses if the market does behave as you expected. Each contract represents 100 shares, so for every $1 decrease in the stock below the strike price, the option’s cost to the seller increases by $100.

Put Options vs. Futures Contracts

Importantly, not all stocks have listed options and so some stocks that are not available for shorting might not have puts either. In some cases, however, puts are useful because you can profit from the downside of a “non-shortable” stock. Investors may buy put options when they are concerned that the stock market will fall. If the price of the underlying stock goes above your strike, your option is “out of the money” and at expiry your option is worthless and you only lose the price you paid to hold the put.

If Grace’s option gets exercised, she keeps the $2.50 per share premium and gets the stock at a price she likes. If the option expires, she keeps the premium without any cash outlay. Whether options trading is right for you depends on a variety of factors.

Short puts

The premium is the maximum amount that the option buyer can lose in a trade. If the put is not traded or exercised by the expiration date the contract will become worthless. For example, if the stock fell from $40 to $20, a put seller would have a net loss of $1,700, or the $2,000 value of the option minus the $300 premium received. If the option is exercised on you, you’ll be forced to buy 100 shares of the stock at $40 per share, while the stock is trading in the market at $20 per share. You’ll incur an immediate $20 per share loss on the stock, though of course that’s offset by the $300 you received for selling the put option.

4 – P&L behaviour of the Put Option buyer

And if the stock is already at $175, the option is worth even more. Say you own a lot of Apple stock and you’re worried the price could fall. The right options could limit losses if that prediction comes true.

Rather than sitting on the sidelines, you can use alternative approaches to make money during a down market. Options come with more risk than buying and holding stocks, but this can be minimized with proper planning. Better yet, your returns could be much more than what appreciating stocks offer. It can be very attractive to sell puts on securities that you want to own. If Company A declines, you’ll be required to pay $25,000 to purchase the shares at $250.

Investing products

To help you in the decision-making process, our expert contributors compare common preferences and potential pain points, such as affordability, accessibility, and credibility. Tesla has plenty of supporters who believe the company could become the world’s most profitable maker of battery-powered automobiles. But it also had no shortage of detractors who questioned whether the company’s market capitalization of over US$750 billion—as of February 2021—was justified. As a result, many brokerages require a certain level of margin to write put or call options.

Puts can pay out more than shorting a stock, and that’s the attraction for put buyers. What if the investor did not own the SPY units, and the put option was purchased purely as a speculative trade? In this case, exercising the put option would result in a short sale of 100 SPY units at the $425 strike price. The investor could then buy back the 100 SPY units at the current market price of $415 to close out the short position. At most, options holders can lose the premium they pay for a contract. The more valuable an option is to the holder, the larger the loss for the writer.

Buying a put option vs. short selling

The payoff for put sellers is exactly the reverse of those for buyers. Sellers expect the stock to stay flat or rise above the strike price, making the put worthless. A put option gives you the right, but not the obligation, to sell a stock at a specific price (known as the strike price) by a specific time – at the option’s expiration.

Short selling involves selling borrowed assets in anticipation of a price drop, while put options involve the right to sell assets at a specific price within a specific timeframe. Despite their risks (higher in short selling), both strategies can be effective in a bear market. While there are some similarities between short selling and buying put options, they do have differing risk-reward profiles that may not make them suitable for novice investors. An understanding of their risks and benefits is essential to learning about the scenarios where these two strategies can maximize profits.