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    Strategy - BUY A PUT

  • Strategy Outlook
    Investor takes a view that the market will fall significantly in the short-term.
  • Implementation of this Strategy
    Put option is bought with a particular strike price. The more bearish the investor is, the lower the strike price would be.
  • Upside Potential
    Profit potential is limited (limited because the price of the underlying security cannot fall below zero).
  • Breakeven Point at Expiry
    Strike price minus premium paid.
  • Downside Risk
    Limited to the premium paid - incurred if at expiry the market is at or above the strike price of the put option purchased.
  • Margin
    Not required.
  • When to buy a Put?
    Purchasing puts without owning shares of the underlying stock is a purely directional strategy used for bearish speculation. The primary motivation of this investor is to realize financial reward from a decrease in price of the underlying security.
    This investor is generally more interested in the quantum of his initial investment and the leveraged financial reward that long puts can offer than in the number of contracts purchased.

    Experience and precision are keys in selecting the right option (expiration and/or strike price) for the most profitable result. In general, the more out-of-the-money the put purchased is the more bearish the strategy, as bigger decreases in the underlying stock price are required for the option to reach the break-even point.

    A long put offers a leveraged alternative to a bearish, or "short sale" of the underlying stock, and offers less potential risk to the investor. As with a long call, an investor who purchased and is holding a long put has predetermined, limited financial risk versus the unlimited upside risk from a short stock sale.

    Purchasing a put generally requires lower up-front capital commitment than the margin required to establish a short stock position. Regardless of market conditions, a long put will never require a margin call.

    As the contract becomes more profitable, increasing leverage can result in large percentage profits.

    Warning: If the market does little then the value of the position will decrease as the option time value falls.

Strategy - SELL A CALL

  • Strategy Outlook
    Investor is certain that the underlying security will not rise but is unsure whether it will fall.
  • Implementation of this Strategy
    Call option is sold with a particular strike price. If the investor is very certain of his view then at-the-money call option should be sold,

    if less certain then out-of-money call should be sold.Call option is sold with a particular strike price.

    If the investor is very certain of his view then at-the-money call option should be sold,

    if less certain then out-of-money call should be sold.
  • Upside Potential
    Limited to the premium received if the underlying security at expiry is at or below the strike price of the call option sold.
  • Downside Risk
    Unlimited. Losses on the position will increase as the market rises. If the investor is not very certain of his view bearish spread might be a better alternative.
  • Margin
  • When to sell a Call?
    There are a variety of reasons that you may choose to sell calls. The successful covered call writer chooses a specific call to sell based on his expectations and objectives.

    There are two major factors that you should consider before writing a call:
    - Your expectations for the underlying stock
    - Your particular strategy objective

    If you expect the underlying stock to rise, your objective may be an above-average return - a combination of premium income and any appreciation of the stock price up to the strike price. Thus, if the call is exercised, you have met your objective.

    If you expect the stock to remain stable, your objective may be to generate cash flow or produce income on a dormant position.

    If you expect the stock to decline but are unwilling to sell out the stock position, your objective may be to offset some or perhaps all of the loss on the stock. In order to decide which call to write (sell), you must have a clear understanding of the relationship between the current market price of the underlying stock and the exercise price of each call and how that will affect your strategy.

    This relationship is defined in three ways:

    Out-of-the-money: The strike price of the call is higher than the price of the stock. Because the strike price is higher than the stock's current price, you will receive the smallest premium for an out-of-the-money call and therefore get the least downside protection with this type of call. However, the out-of-the-money call provides you with the opportunity for upside potential on your stock because you can profit on a rise by the stock all the way up to the strike price of the call. Therefore, when you sell an out-of-the-money call, you establish a selling price for your stock above the current market price and the premium increases the total return.

    This type of call may be well suited to the trader who expects a moderate rise in the price of the stock.

    At-the-money: The strike price of the call is at or near the price of the stock. Because the stock is trading at or very close to the strike price, you will receive a higher premium than the out-of-the-money call option and moderate downside protection. If the stock declines, you retain the premium as a profit, whether or not the call is exercised.

    In-the-money: The strike price of the call is lower than the stock price. Because the stock price is above the call's strike price, you would receive the largest premium for an in-the-money call and the maximum in downside protection.

    A willingness to have the stock called away is a very important consideration in planning a covered writing strategy.

    The higher the price of the stock in relation to the exercise price of the call, the greater the chance of an exercise.

    Thus, you incur the greatest likelihood of having your stock called away when you sell an in-the-money call.

    If the market does little, and time passes, this helps as the short position gains when the time value erodes.

Strategy - BEAR SPREAD

  • Strategy Outlook
    Investor thinks that the market will not rise, but wants to cap the risk. Conservative strategy for one who thinks that the market is more likely to fall than rise.
  • Implementation of this Strategy
    Call option is sold with a lower strike price and another call option bought with a higher strike price, producing a net initial credit,OR Put option is sold with a lower stike price and another put bought with a higher strike, producing a net initial debit.
  • Upside Potential
    Limited in both cases - net initial credit Puts: difference between strikes minus initial debit Maximum profit if market at expiry is below the lower strike.
  • Downside Risk
    Limited in both cases - Calls: difference between strikes minus initial credit Puts: net initial debit  
  • Margin Possibility for margin requirements to be off-set.

    When to use a Bear Spread ?  
  • Moderately Bearish An investor often employs the bear put spread in moderately bearish market environments, and wants to capitalize on a modest decrease in price of the underlying stock. If the investor's opinion is very bearish on a stock it will generally prove more profitable to make a simple put purchase.
  • Risk Reduction An investor will also turn to this spread when there is discomfort with either the cost of purchasing and holding the long put alone, or with the conviction of his bearish market opinion.

    The bear put spread can be considered a doubly hedged strategy.

    The price paid for the put with the higher strike price is partially offset by the premium received from writing the put with a lower strike price.

    Thus, the investor's investment in the long put and the risk of losing the entire premium paid for it, is reduced or hedged. With a bear spread options strategy, the trader is looking for price to decline.

    If the price rises, the most the trader can lose is predetermined.

    The greater the maximum profit potential, the greater the risk. The further the short call is in-the-money, the greater the profit potential. However, this carries greater risk as it is more likely the short call will close in-the-money.

    It is aggressive in the sense that the security needs to decline further in price. The further the security needs to fall, the greater the risk.


  • Strategy Outlook
    Investor thinks that the market will be flat or rise only slightly in the short-term, but will then fall later.
  • Implementation of this Strategy
    Sell a near-dated put option and buy a longer dated out-of-the-money put.
  • Upside Potential
    Large, if the bought option is held after the short option expires (the position then becomes a straight-forward buy put).
    If the position is closed at expiry of the near option, maximum profit will accrue if the market is at the level of the sold strike.
  • Downside Risk
    Limited to the difference in strikes plus/minus the initial debit/credit when establishing the spread.
  • Margin
    Yes, but limited.

    When to enter into a Diagonal Spread ?
    The diagonal spread is entered into when there is a firm long term bearish view of the market but the investor would prefer to cash in on any immediate upside potential of the stock.

    This could be in anticipation of any favourable corporate news/earnings report that could be profitably employed in the short term though the long term outlook is adverse.

    Warning: There is a risk of the sold options being called (i.e. being exercised).