trade options

Trading And Buying Options Basics

by splinder on September 29, 2010

Options are contracts that make it possible for option buyers to buy a option investors are known as speculators.


What are speculators? They are those who most often do not have any plans to exercise the option contract. This contract is one that makes it possible for an underlying stock to be bought or sold. What they wish to do instead is to capture a move that takes place within the stock without having to spend a great deal of money. Having an edge works to your advantage when it comes to purchasing options. One of the biggest mistakes made by option investors is buying them in anticipation of an event that is receiving a great deal of attention such as an earnings announcement or the approval of a new drug. Be aware that option markets are much more efficient than many speculators believe them to be.

What You Need to Know

Stocks have what is known as intrinsic value. Those interested in buying stocks often use fundamental analysis to review a company’s financial statements and balance sheets. Reviewing these things can lead to understanding the intrinsic value inherent in a given stock. Often when analysts upgrade a stock they will sometimes provide a price target for it. They also may offer a time frame that is vague in nature. These kinds of option buyers then tend to be more inclined to choose long-term contracts that are anywhere from six months to 12 months in length.

There is also what is known as the technical analysis of a stock. Some stock options buyers choose this because it provides a means of determining a specific price movement of the stock. Chart readers of this sort are able to adequately identify areas of both supply and demand for stock shares. In the world of options this is known as support and resistance. Generally speaking stocks move up when there is a greater demand for them and they move down when there are too many of them. Being able to identify the supply and demand modifications of stocks is good because it helps to determine the time frame and the movement of them.

Understanding Intrinsic Value

The price movement of a stock is the biggest driver of its success when it comes to buying an options contract. For example, if you are a call buyer then it is important for you that the stock rises. On the other hand a put buyer needs the price of the stock to fall. The option’s premium is composed of two elements- there is the intrinsic value and the extrinsic value. The intrinsic value is comparable to equity in a home. It can be defined as the percentage of the premium’s value that is driven by the stock price overall.

Let us use a concrete example to illustrate the point. You own a call option on a stock that is presently trading at $47 per share. To make this simple to understand let’s say that you own a call with a strike price of $45. The option premium for it is $3. Due to the fact that the stock happens to be $2 more than the price of the strike that means that $2 of the $3 premium is known as intrinsic value (or equity as it was described previously), while the $1 that is left is extrinsic value. In order to determine how much the stock must move for more profit to be seen you can add the price of the premium to the price of the strike. It would look like this: 3 + 45 = 48.

Extrinsic value is often referred to as the time-value component of the option price. It is the additional cost that is paid out for the privilege of owning the option that is above and beyond what its intrinsic value is worth. Options that have intrinsic value are described as being “in the money” (ITM) while those that have no intrinsic value but lots of extrinsic value are described as being “out of the money” (OTM). Options that have plenty of extrinsic value tend to be less sensitive when it comes to the movement of stock prices. Options with plenty of intrinsic value are more in balance with the price of a stock. The name given to the sensitivity of an option in terms of the underlying movement of the stock is known as delta. For example, a delta of 1.0 means that the option is likely to move dollar per dollar with the stock.

Understanding Extrinsic Value

Extrinsic value is sometimes referred to as time value. It is important to note however that this is somewhat of a misnomer. Extrinsic value is made up of implied volatility that fluctuates in so much as the demand for options fluctuates. However other influences affect it including stock dividend changes and interest rate shifts. Time value and implied volatility tend to be greatest influences than interest rates and dividends.

Time value is the part of the premium that is above the intrinsic value that an option buyer will pay in order to be the privileged owner of the contract. Over the course of time the time value premium becomes smaller as the expiry date for the option draws closer. A long option contract provides the option buyer with a greater time premium to pay for. The time value melts at a more rapid rate the closer to the expiry date that a contract is.

The Greek letter theta is what time value is measured by. Having efficient market timing is essential for option buyers because theta has a way of eating away at the premium regardless of whether the profit is good or not so good. A mistake that is often made by option investors is to let a profitable trade sit for such a length of time that theta has the opportunity to reduce the profits tremendously. That is why it is so important for investors to devise a clear exit strategy before purchasing an option.

Implied volatility is also an integral part of extrinsic value. Option investors often refer to this as “vega.” Supply and demand is what mainly accounts for vega moving in an upward or downward direction. When there is an influx of purchasing for an option contract this automatically forces the option price to go higher.

This in turn entices those who sell options to decide that it is time to take the other side of the trade. Vega or demand will often lead to the inflation of the option premium. This explains why such popular events as drug trials or earnings are often disappointing for option buyers because they end up being less profitable than anticipated.

To cope as effectively as possible with vega you must either get rid of it as fast as possible by choosing to go in the money (ITM) or you must anticipate the inflation of the premium and purchase ahead of the demand. If the demand drops off and the supply then increases then the vega will be reduced and this will lead to a percentage of the extrinsic value being deflated (a significant portion of it). These things all explain why an investor really needs to develop an edge when it comes to purchasing options.

When you buy options your goal is for it to lead to profit. There are two ways to make options buying as profitable as possible. First, you must determine an entry point for it before the price begins to move. The second thing is that you must strike while the iron is hot. To put it another way, you must purchase the option before its implied volatility begins to inflate. Be aware that implied volatility has a tendency to inflate the most during bearish turns (which means when prices are expected to fall). This can provide put buyers an advantage over call buyers.


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