There’s a figurative universe worth of investment securities and trading strategies to be found on the world’s stock markets, and their complexity ranges from “pretty easy” all the way up to “extremely complex.” The basics of trading stocks and bonds, for example, are generally easy to conceptualize, and they’re just as generally easy to trade. But there are an endless number of other ways to trade in stocks, including trading their derivatives, which are commonly known as stock options. Always keep in mind the complexity of stock options and how they’re traded, though, as well as the need to fully understand just how those trades work before you undertake the strategy, because stock options trading itself, while lucrative, can also be financially risky when they’re traded incorrectly.
Stock options themselves are known as “derivatives” in the trading world, because they derive their reason for existence from the stocks from which they originate. You’re actually not buying or selling stocks when you purchase a stock option contract, however, at least not at first. What you buy in a stock option contract is a right, but not an obligation, to later purchase or sell the stocks making up or underlying that contract, with such stocks typically bound together in 100-share blocks. The world of trading in stock options is made up of a seemingly endless number of options contracts, though the options in most of them are generally allowed to expire rather than being exercised, to be truthful.
There’s no doubt stock option contracts are complex, though they’re still very popular as an investment tool because they can be employed to facilitate many different strategies from an investment point of view. In truth, very conservative investment programs as well as those of a far riskier tone can be undertaken solely using stock options trading, though one should always remember that such trading isn’t for the weak-kneed. After all, a stock option contract may bring with it the possibility of great reward but it also comes with an equal helping of great risk, most especially when you’re a new trader and don’t understand the strategy works. In other words, understand stock option contracts like the back of your hand before you begin trading them.
Neophyte investors eager to begin stock options trading should pause for a moment and ensure they’re well-trained in the strategy and how option contracts operate before investing, if only to avoid the prospect of stress as well as potential financial ruin. Before sinking any money into a brokerage account, and all brokerages allow their more-experienced clients to trade such options, take an opportunity to closely study stock option basics and how these fascinating derivatives really work. For one, learn just what stock option contract “calls” and “puts” are, because they’re very important. Basically, a stock option contract “call” gives you a right but not an obligation to buy the shares contained within that contract at a later date while a “put” gives you a right but not an obligation to sell those shares, also at a later date.
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.
In stock option trading, contracts always contain a “strike price,” or the price that the contract’s purchaser must pay on a per-share basis to buy or sell the underlying stocks within the contract. For example, you might purchase a 100-share option contract for a $1-per-share premium for a total of $100, with a $10 per share strike price. If you decide to exercise your stock option rights before the contract’s expiration date you’ll owe the contract writer (normally another investor), $1,000 or $10 per share for 100 shares. If the stock’s worth $13 per share, your profit when you immediately turn around and sell will be very nice indeed. If the stock’s only worth $9 on the market, simply decline to exercise your option and let the contract die.
Once you’ve gained an easy familiarity with just how stock option contracts work, always take a bit more time to learn from those experienced at trading them. There are many different websites on the Internet that make a ton of promises when it comes to stock options trading education, especially when it comes to using them as an investment strategy. However, if you really want to ensure your success in trading stock options you need to closely examine any website making promises related to turning you into a super-trader or the like before handing over any money in hopes of becoming that sort of trader. You also need to beware any stock options website promoting some sort of “autopilot” automated stock option contract trading software. While it’s true that there’s a lot of money to be made in trading stocks and their options you can see just as much money fly away by trusting only to an automated trading software package.
There’s little doubt that stock option contracts can be an exciting investment vehicle, and you should head over to the NASDAQ — it was once called the “National Association of Securities Dealers, Automated Quotation” — website to get an idea of what you’re involving yourself in. If you’ve previously gained experience in the ins and outs of stocks and bonds and how they themselves are traded and you think you want to try your hand at stock options trading ensure you head over to several professional stock options trader-type websites before beginning. Always remember, as well, that stock option contracts are somewhat complex, and that the more time you can spend associating with professional options traders, learning from them, before striking out on your own, will always be helpful.
Before you even think about trading in stock option investment strategies, make sure you check out the Option Millionaires website and its tutorials on stock option investment strategies trading as well as its active stock option investment strategies trader forums.