The month of October proved to be yet another record setter with a number of stocks from a variety of sectors hitting all time highs and the S&P 500 (chart) setting a new record high of 1775.22 on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) all hit 52 week highs as well on Wednesday. This seemingly unstoppable bull run is unprecedented with gains of over 20% on most of the key indices year to date. I think it is fair to say a pause is overdue and would most likely be very healthy for the overall market.
In last month’s opening blog, I discussed how selling options premium can be beneficial in times of increased volatility, and in particular the “covered call” strategy. Today I would like to cover “selling puts” as a way to create options premium income. Unlike the “covered call” strategy where you must own the underlying security in order to “write or sell” a covered call, selling a put does not require you to own the security. However, by selling a put, you are potentially obligated to purchase the security should it close below the strike price you chose on its expiration day.
Let’s look at an example of selling a put on a given stock and like last month I will use Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) as the example. Facebook is currently trading around $50 dollars a share. In looking at the options chain on Facebook and its current pricing, the December $48 puts are bidding around $2.00 dollars per contract. If an investor were to sell 10 December $48 dollar puts on Facebook for $2.00 per contract, that investor would bring in $2,000 dollars in premium less transactions costs. If Facebook closes above $48.00 dollars a share on expiration Friday in December, the investor would keep the entire premium he collected. However, by selling the 10 put option contracts, the investor has the obligation to purchase 1000 shares of Facebook should Facebook close below $48.00 per share on expiration Friday in December. It’s important to note that before considering and implementing a “selling put” strategy you must be willing to own the stock at the strike price you sold the puts on and in this Facebook example, that would be $48.00. However, your cost basis would not be $48.00 because you received $2.00 in premium when you sold the puts, therefore, your cost basis would be $46.00 per share less transactions costs.
Please also note this is not a recommendation to sell puts on Facebook or any other asset or index. This is merely another example of how an investor can capitalize on selling options premium. In closing and as I always suggest, please consult with a certified financial planner(s) before making any investment decisions.
Have a great weekend 🙂