Part two in this new options series, this time we start looking at the practical use of options within a portfolio and the how and why of buying and selling options. In the first part we established options are more or less working as insurance. Because this is also a learning process for me I will keep it simple again. We are going to write covered options. Which basically means selling rights while covering the risk 100%. I know there are a lot more possibilities but as I said I keep it simple.
Writing a covered call option :
Our example in part 1 we had a Call Ahold Delhaize, strike price at 20 euro’s and a expiration date of 21 December 2018. Which just to remind ourselves means we have the right to buy 100 shares Ahold Delhaize at 20 Euro’s until the 21th of december. Puts are the other way around. The right to sell.
Now we are going to sell one, risking you have to deliver 100 shares of Ahold Delhaize at the expiration date for 20 Euro’s.
Why would you want to do this ? Well let’s say you bought 100 shares Ahold for 15 Euro’s and the current price is at 18 , you fully expect somewhere around 20 should be achievable in the future. You can now do two things , wait until the stock hits 20 Euro’s and decide if you want to sell then which can take quite a bit of time. Or you can sell a call option, with the strike price of 20 euros ,you can do this each month or sell one a few months down the line. The biggest risk is you would have too deliver the 100 stocks at 20 if the price at the expiration date is higher than 20. Which is annoying if it suddenly jumps up to 25. If it stays below 20 at expiration date you get to keep the shares and have also collected the cash for which you sold the option.
You can repeat this each month or on another interval you set for yourself, and have a little extra return on the equity. Basically you expect a rise but not all too sudden and with this set you will benefit from the time decay in the option. In other words time pushes value out of the option, given it has the expiration date as a hard line at which the option terminates.
Writing covered puts:
Exact opposite , you have got the cash , want to buy 100 shares of Ahold, but instead of just buying them , you will write a put. Let’s say one that is due in a month, at 18 euro’s. You again collect the option premium, reflected in the price you sell the option for, and the risk is covered because you have the 1800 euros cash in your account.
What is the advantage ? Well , the collected cash will cover your transaction cost and the assignment cost if you get to be assigned too buy the shares. The risk ? The stock drops significantly in the time you have until the expiration date of the option. Which would have been as bad when you bought the shares outright. Plus you can always take the loss and buy the option back if it’s gets out of hand.
Everything in between is another form of profiting from the time decay. Mostly this tactic is useful when the stock is moving sideways or when a slight drop in share price. With writing options you can also build in some buffer against the market going against you so instead of writing an option with the strike price of 18 which was the price when you wanted too buy , you can opt writing an option with a strike price of 17, give a bit of space, your premium will be lower.
There is a certain amount of expectation when trading options, a probability of future events. But with writing covered calls and starting out small you can see the benefit of time decay. And collecting premiums is good fun as well. It’s not huge amounts of money but all little amounts add up.
In the next episode I will specifically address time decay in option prices, until next time.