What are Options Trading? Call and Put options Explained

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The simplest options trading strategy involves buying and selling options contracts in the F&O market. It involves two parties, namely the option writer and the buyer. Technically the writer assumes more risk. Hence he receives a premium, which the buyer is required to pay. It ensures that if the market is unfavourable and the options contract expires worthless, the losses for the writer doesn’t exceed the premium received. 

Options are divided into ‘call’ and ‘put’. And, now that you know what options are and how they differ from futures, let’s get to know the basics of call and put options and try to understand their process flow. Basically, you know that there are call options and put options. You can buy one of each and attempt to minimize your losses if you’re unsure of where the market is heading in the near future. Or, if you have a fairly certain assumption about future market trends, you can buy a call option or a put option, depending on the market movement.

Understanding the basics of call and put options and learning how work can be useful for traders who’re new to the derivative market, so they can formulate appropriate options trading strategies. Let’s get into the details.  

Call and Put Options

Call and put options are both derivative securities. This means that they derive their value from an underlying asset such as stocks or commodities. Options are basically contracts that two entities enter into, where the buyer of the contract receives a right to either buy or sell the underlying asset and the seller of the contract is obligated to do what the buyer chooses.

Call options give the buyer the right to purchase the underlying asset at a specific price on a predetermined day. The seller, meanwhile, is obligated to sell the asset at the predetermined price on the predetermined day if the buyer chooses to exercise his right.

Similarly, put options give the buyer the right to sell the underlying asset at a specific price on a predetermined day. Here, the seller is duty bound to buy the asset at the agreed price on the agreed day if the buyer of the put option chooses to exercise his right.

Call option: An example

A call option gives the buyer of the option the right to buy an asset. On the other hand, the seller of the option has no such right, and is mandated by the option contract to sell the asset to the buyer (if the buyer exercises his right to purchase). 

In exchange for effectively giving up his rights, the seller of the option charges a certain amount from the option buyer, termed as the ‘premium.’ Consider this ‘premium’ amount as a kind of a security deposit charged by the option seller to indemnify himself in the event of the buyer not exercising his option. 

Let’s take a look at an example to better understand the concept of call options.

Assume that Ambuja Cements is trading at Rs. 200 today. In the near future, say one month down the line, you expect the price of this stock to rise. So, you wish to lock in the current price today, so you can buy at this low price in the future. 

However, you’re also cautious by nature, so you want to account for the alternative outcome too - what if the prices fall instead? So, basically, you want the choice (and not the obligation) to buy the share at Rs. 200 in the future.

Here’s where an options contract can help. And this kind of an options contract - one that gives you the right to buy an asset at a predetermined price, on a future date - is known as a call option.

Meanwhile Ram, another trader, is 100% certain that the price of Ambuja Cements shares will fall in the near future. In other words, he’s keen on entering into a contract that will help him sell the share one month later at Rs. 200, since he believes the prices at that time will be much lower.

So, the two of you enter into a contract. You buy a call option from Ram. In other words, you buy the right to purchase the share of Ambuja Cements from him at Rs. 200 one month from now. By that point, you expect the price to be higher than Rs. 200. Ram, meanwhile, sells you that right to purchase the share of Ambuja Cements at Rs. 200.

This price (Rs. 200) is known as the strike price of the option.

Here, you’re the buyer of the options contract and the purchaser of the asset. And Ram is the seller of the options contract and the seller of the asset.

As a result of selling you the right to purchase the share, Ram is effectively obligating himself to sell you the shares in the process. And, as a compensation for any loss that he might incur if you decide to not exercise your option, Ram charges you a premium amount of say Rs. 20.  

  • At the end of one month, if the price is higher than Rs. 200 (say Rs. 250), you will exercise your right to buy the share for a lower price - in this case Rs. 200.
  • But at the end of one month, if the price is lower than Rs. 200 (say Rs. 180), you will not exercise your right to buy the share for a higher price - in this case Rs. 200. 
  • However, since you’ve not exercised your option, Ram gets to keep the premium that you paid to enter into the contract as compensation.  
  • Whatever you decide, Ram, being the seller of the contract, is obligated to follow through and act accordingly.
 

Put option: An example

So, what is a put option? Unlike a call option, a put option gives the buyer of the option the right to sell an asset. On the other hand, the seller of the option has no such right and is mandated by the option contract to buy the asset if the other person decides to exercise their right to sell. 

In exchange for effectively giving up his rights, the seller of the option charges a certain amount from the option buyer, termed as the ‘premium.’ Again, consider this ‘premium’ amount as a kind of a security deposit charged by the option seller to indemnify himself in the event of the buyer not exercising his option. 

Let’s take up the example of Ambuja Cements once again to try to understand put options. 

Once again assume that Ambuja Cements is trading at Rs. 200 today. In the near future, say one month down the line, you expect the price of this stock to fall. So, you wish to lock in the current price today, so you can sell at this high price in the future.

However, again, being cautious by nature, you want to account for the alternative outcome as well - what if the prices rise instead? So, basically, you want the choice (and not the obligation) to sell the share at Rs. 200 in the future.

Again, an options contract can be helpful here. And this kind of an options contract - one that gives you the right to sell an asset at a predetermined price, on a future date, is known as a put option.

Meanwhile Ram, another trader, is 100% certain that the price of Ambuja Cements shares will rise in the near future. In other words, he’s keen on entering into a contract that will help him buy the share one month later at Rs. 200, since he believes the prices at that time will be much higher.

So, the two of you enter into a contract. You buy a put option from Ram. In other words, you buy the right to sell the share of Ambuja Cements to him at Rs. 200 one month from now. By that point, you expect the price to be lower than Rs. 200. Ram, meanwhile, sells you that right to sell the share of Ambuja Cements at Rs. 200.

Here, you’re the buyer of the options contract and the seller of the asset. And Ram is the seller of the options contract and the buyer of the asset.

As a result of selling you the right to sell the share, Ram is effectively obligating himself to buy the shares from you in the process. And, as a compensation for any loss that he might incur if you decide to not exercise your option, Ram charges you a premium amount of say Rs. 20.  

  • At the end of one month, if the price is lower than Rs. 200 (say Rs. 180), you will exercise your right to sell the share for a higher price - in this case Rs. 200.
  • But at the end of one month, if the price is higher than Rs. 200 (say Rs. 250), you will not exercise your right to sell the share for a lower price - in this case Rs. 200.
  • However, since you’ve not exercised your option, Ram gets to keep the premium that you paid to enter into the contract as compensation.  
  • Whatever you decide, Ram, being the seller of the contract, is obligated to follow through and act accordingly.

What is options trading?

Options trading is the practice of buying and selling options on the respective exchange. When you buy an option, you purchase the right to buy or sell the underlying asset, depending on the type of options that you’ve traded. For example, if you buy a call option, it essentially means that you are purchasing the right to buy the underlying asset. Similarly, if you buy a put option, you are essentially purchasing the right to sell the underlying asset.

So, options trading involves trading the rights to buy or sell the underlying asset. Since options are also financial instruments, they can be traded between buyers and sellers much like how other securities are. If you are a beginner to options trading, you will find that there are several options trading strategies that can help you make informed trades in the derivatives market.

What are options trading strategies?

Options trading strategies are techniques that involve simultaneous buying and selling of multiple options contracts in order to optimize gains and minimize costs. Depending on the options trading strategy, you will have to buy and/or sell call and/or put options. The specifications of the contracts may vary based on the strategy.

Some common options trading strategies include the following.

  • Covered call 
  • Covered put
  • Bull call spread
  • Bear put spread
  • Iron butterfly
  • Iron condor

We’ll discuss more of these options trading strategies in the upcoming chapters.

Options trading for beginners: Things to keep in mind

So, we’ve seen the answer to ‘What is options trading?’ And you now know more about options trading strategies too. If you are just getting started with options trading, here is what you need to keep in mind. 

  • Understanding the basics of options trading is crucial.
  • Build a proper options trading strategy before you enter into a trade. 
  • Patience is very important in options trading.
  • There may be many options trading strategies available, but you need to choose the right one based on your trading goals and the market conditions.

Wrapping up

With this, we’ve come to the end of this chapter on the basics of call and put options. The concept of futures, call options, and put options don’t seem so complex or confusing now, does it? In the next couple of chapters, we’ll take up a call option and a put option and focus on calculating the payoffs that you’re likely to receive by trading it in the stock exchange. Till then, stay tuned!

A quick recap 

  • Understanding how call and put options work can be useful for traders who’re new to the derivative market, so they can formulate appropriate options trading strategies.
  • A call option gives the buyer of the option the right to buy an asset. 
  • On the other hand, the seller of the option has no such right, and is mandated by the option contract to sell the asset to the buyer (if the buyer exercises his right to purchase). 
  • In exchange for effectively giving up his rights, the seller of the option charges a certain amount from the option buyer, termed as the ‘premium.’
  • Unlike a call option, a put option gives the buyer of the option the right to sell an asset. 
  • On the other hand, the seller of the option has no such right and is mandated by the option contract to buy the asset if the other person decides to exercise their right to sell. 
  • In exchange for effectively giving up his rights, the seller of the option again charges a certain amount from the option buyer, termed as the ‘premium.’
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Comments (5)

VIJAY

03 Nov 2021, 05:07 PM

Thanks for valuable knowledge

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10 Nov 2021, 03:12 PM

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lokesh khanduri

13 Jun 2021, 09:01 PM

mail id verify nhi ho rhi hai

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30 Apr 2021, 08:53 PM

So nice

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Why quiz is not opening ??

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