Welcome to our Options Trading Tutorial. Options trading is all about understanding leverage and trying to get the highest return investments to pay out in the shortest amount of time. You'll find that in this tutorial we delve into other related topics where leverage is important in order to improve your understanding of why options trading in most cases offers a better trading experience than other forms of trading.

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Options Trading Basics | Call Options | Put Options | Carry Trade | Inflation Investments | Option Brokers | Making Money on Options
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trading Options Course | Put Options

In the next part of our trading options course we'll start talking about put options, the opposite of call options (which we discussed in an earlier post).

Put Options Represent the Right to SELL

First and foremost put options represent the right to SELL an asset. The asset can be any number of things ranging from stocks to currencies to indexes to interest rates.  How you as investor profit from trading put options depends entirely on how you choose to use them.

Principal Elements of Put Options

A put option is a contract with specifically defined terms. Almost invariably the contract will consist of a strike price (at which the asset will be sold), an expiration date (on or before which the contract must be executed), the number of shares per contract (nearly always 100), and of course the asset to be bought or sold.  The person who OWNS the option has the right to SELL the asset to the person who SOLD the option in the first place.  That probably sounds totally confusing, so let's talk about a real world example.

Buying a Put Option on Apple Stock

It just so happens Apple Inc. is in the news today given the health of Steve Jobs is failing.  If you know Apple's history and Steve Jobs... as goes Steve, so goes Apple... so one might surmise that today it might be a good day if you're already an owner of a put option on Apple stock.  So lets pretend we went to buy a put option on Apple stock last Friday (the last day markets were open).

At the close of trading on Friday a January 2011 put option with a strike price of $345.00 (near Apple's approximate closing price on Friday which was $348) would have cost $5.91 to buy in the market. Buying (going LONG the Put Option contract) would cost $591.00 ($5.91/share x 100 shares/contract).

Now consider that if we were to execute the contract Friday we wouldn't get any money!  Why would we want to sell shares at $345/share when we could go into the market and sell them for $348?  Doesn't make sense does it?  And yet according to the finance pages there are 14,000+ contracts open at this time.

Why People Buy Put Options - Trading Options Course Lesson in Market Timing

Over the holiday weekend Steve Jobs announced he is taking a leave of absence from the company.  Steve is and always has been the driving force behind the value creation of Apple Inc.  The last time he took a leave the stock immediately tanked, and here we are years later about to open the market again after a "Steve is leaving" announcement and the shares are down $15 to ~$323.00.  Approximately how much will the put options on Apple Inc. stock be worth on Tuesday when the market opens?

The answer is the value of the put options will be AT LEAST the amount of money you can make by simply executing the contract and selling the shares, ie the difference between the strike price ($345) and the current market price ($323).  The put option contracts should open this morning at least $12.00/share, making the Friday investment of $591 now worth at least $1200. Not a bad return (doubling your money) for one weekend's risk, eh? (editor's note: for the record the $345 January 2011 put option opened around $13.00)

Now does the decision to buy put options for with a price of $345 make sense? I hope trading put options makes a little more sense to you today.