The financial markets are filled with easy-to-understand as well as complex financial instruments. For example, the concept of stocks and bonds is relatively easy to grasp and they can be just as easy to trade. Of course, there are a myriad of ways to trade in stocks, including in derivatives known as options. Option contracts for stocks are somewhat complex, however, and understanding how to get started in stock options trading is a must before you dive into this potentially lucrative, as well as potentially risky, investment strategy.
Stock options are called “derivatives” because they’re derived from the stocks that are the foundation upon which they rest. In stock options contracts, you don’t really buy or sell the stocks found within them, at least at first. Instead, what you’re buying with stock options is a right, but absolutely no obligation, to purchase or sell in the future the actual stocks, which are usually grouped together in 100-share portions, contained in those contracts. Stock options trading activities are composed of a huge number of such contacts, though the vast majority of such deals aren’t eventually exercised, to be honest.
Though complex, stock option contracts are a popular trading tool because they can be used in a wide variety of investment strategies. Conservative as well as high-risk strategies and everything in between all lend themselves well to the intelligent use of stock options trading, but never forget that trading stock options isn’t for the faint of heart. With potentially great reward, and stock options can bring lucrative financial payoff, comes potentially great risk, especially if you don’t understand stock options, their contracts and how they’re traded. Thoroughly understand stock options contracts before trading them, in other words.
Most neophyte investors are strongly advised to learn all they can about how stock options trading works before they take up the investment strategy precisely because financial ruin awaits if they don’t do it correctly. Before funding a stock brokerage account — and all reputable stock brokerages offer clients the ability to trade in stock option contracts — read up on the basics of stocks and their derivative options. Understand, as well, what a stock option “call” is versus its opposite, the stock option “put.” In stock options, a “call” is a right to buy an agreed-upon number of stocks in a contract, while a “put” is a right to sell an option contract’s shares.
When it comes to stock options trading, contract fees or “premiums” per underlying share in the option contract are another key concept. A stock option contract premium is the price per share that you’ll pay to obtain the option to buy or sell those shares in the future, and it’s also your total cost to obtain that contract unless and until you exercise your option rights. When it comes to a stock option contract’s premiums or fees, their costs vary by the contract. For instance, there might be a $1 per share premium attached to each underlying share within the 100-share block within the contract, or a $100 total premium at $1×100 shares to gain the right to purchase or sell the stock before the contract’s expiration date, or expiry.
When it comes to stock options trading, you’ll always find a “strike price” attached to the contract’s language, with that strike price being the price per share you’ll pay to gain those stocks if you exercise your option rights. For instance, your purchase of a 100-share stock option contract might cost you a $1 per share premium, or $100, and then a $10 per share strike price if you really do exercise your call or put option. When you exercise your stock option contract rights you’ll be on the hook for the $10 per share strike price, meaning $1,000 to the contract’s writer (at $10×100 shares = $,1000), but if the stock’s actually worth $13 per share your profit when you sell those shares will be high. If the stock found within your stock option contract is only worth $9 on the markets, and your strike price is $10 to obtain that stock, you’d generally just let the contract expire and decline to exercise your option rights.
Once you’ve gained a basic understanding of just what a stock option contract is, you should consider taking some time to hang out with and learn from experienced stock options trading professionals. The Internet and the World Wide Web are filled with websites promising in-depth education on stock option contracts as an investment strategy. If you hope to succeed in the practice of trading in stock options investigate any website promising education in stock options fully before committing to it. And always be wary of websites promoting some sort of “autopilot” stock option contract trading software. You can make great wealth, as well as quickly lose your shirt, on stock options and options trading autopilot software holds more peril than promise for newbie investors.
Stock options trading can be exciting, of that there’s little doubt, and you can check out the strategy by visiting the NASDAQ — once known as the “National Association of Securities Dealers, Automated Quotation” — website to see what it’s all about. If you’re already up to speed on the basics of stocks and how they’re bought and sold and you’re ready to jump into their derivatives by trading stock options, check out a few professional trading-type websites beforehand. Keep in mind that stock options and their contracts are complex, so spending some time in close proximity to professional traders, learning from them, is highly advised.
Before you even think about trading stock option contracts, make sure you check out the Option Millionaires website and its tutorials on stock option investment strategies as well as its active stock option investment strategies trader forums.. Free reprint available from: How To Get Started In Stock Options Trading.