Selling Put Option Strategies: Unlocking Long-Term Value In Your Investment Approach

Jeremy BiberdorfBy: Jeremy Biberdorf

July 7, 2024July 7, 2024

Many investors might not immediately associate options trading with long-term investment strategies. It’s true that activities like buying calls or puts typically cater to those looking for quick profits based on short-term market movements. However, selling put options stands is an exception. This strategy is less about swift speculation and more aligned with a patient, buy-and-hold philosophy.

Whether you are deeply experienced in the stock market or are just beginning to explore the options trading scene, mastering the art of selling put options could have a profound positive effect on your financial strategy.

Keep reading as I dive deeper into this topic, I’ll unpack the mechanics of this strategy, the associated risks, and why it might be an advantageous strategy to add to your trading arsenal. If you prefer to learn through videos, check out this informative selling put option strategy breakdown:

What is Put Selling?

Put selling, or writing put options, is an investment strategy where an investor sells put options and receives a premium in return. In this agreement, the seller grants the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to sell a specific stock at a predetermined price, known as the strike price, before the option expires.

The seller profits from the premium if the stock’s market price remains above the strike price, as the buyer will likely choose not to exercise the option. However, if the stock price falls below the strike price, the buyer can sell the stock at this higher strike price, obligating the seller to purchase the stock at a potential loss.

This strategy can generate income through premiums but comes with risks if the stock price declines.

How Put Options Work

When you sell a put option, you’re essentially wagering that the stock price will remain stable or rise during the option’s duration. As the seller, or “writer,” you collect a premium from the buyer, which serves as your immediate income from the trade. If the stock price remains above the strike price, the buyer won’t likely exercise the option, allowing you to keep the entire premium as profit.

Example: Selling a Put Option

Let’s say you sell a put option for Company X with a strike price of $50, expiring in one month, for which you receive a $2 premium per share. If Company X’s stock stays above $50, the buyer has no incentive to exercise the option since they could sell their stock for more on the open market. As the seller, you pocket the premium with no further obligations.

However, if Company X’s stock price falls to $40, the option becomes “in the money,” and the buyer can exercise their option to sell at $50. You then have to purchase the stock at this higher strike price, paying $5,000 for shares now worth only $4,000, leading to a loss

While the initial premium you received helps offset this loss, the worst-case scenario, such as the stock price plummeting to nearly worthless levels, though highly unlikely, could lead to significant financial impact.

While put options can be an excellent way to earn premium income and provide some insurance against declines, they come with risks that need careful consideration. Understanding both the market conditions and the specific terms of the option contracts is crucial in leveraging put options effectively

How Much Premium Can You Charge Selling Put Options: Factors Affecting Pricing

When selling put options, the premium you can charge is influenced by several key factors tied to the conditions of the market and the specifics of the option contract. Understanding these can help you better strategize and potentially maximize your profits from selling options.

The premium of a put option is significantly affected by the current market price of the underlying security. For instance, if a put option has a strike price of $20 and the underlying stock is currently trading at $19, this option has $1 of intrinsic value, making it “in the money.”

The premium for this option might be $1.35, with $0.35 representing the time value. This time value compensates for the risk taken by the seller, as it accounts for possible further declines in the stock price before expiration.

Here are some of the main factors that influence the put option premiums. For a deeper dive into these factors, check out my option volatility and pricing strategies article.

Factors Influencing Put Option Premiums

  1. Current Market Price and Strike Price: The relationship between the strike price and the current price of the underlying stock, or ‘moneyness,’ directly impacts the premium. The closer the option is to being “in the money” or below the strike price, the higher the premium will be due to increased likelihood it will be exercised.
  2. Time Decay: As the option approaches its expiration date, its time value decays, especially if the option is “out of the money.” This decay accelerates the closer the option gets to expiration, reducing the premium unless it’s offset by significant movements in the stock price.
  3. Implied Volatility: The expected volatility of the stock also plays a crucial role. Higher volatility increases the premium because there’s a greater chance the option will move “in the money.” For example, an option with an annualized implied volatility of 20% might see its premium increase if the volatility rises to 50% during the option’s life. Check out my article on what is a good implied volatility for options for a deeper explanation.
  4. Market Conditions: Broader market trends and the general economic environment can affect investor sentiment and thus option pricing. In volatile markets, premiums tend to increase due to the higher risk of significant price movements.

By integrating these elements into your strategy, you can better estimate the appropriate premium for the put options you sell.

Why And When Should You Sell Put Options

Selling put options is a strategic choice for investors aiming to enhance their portfolios either through potential profits from premium income or by strategically acquiring stocks at lower prices than the current market rates.

Reasons to Sell a Put Option:

  1. Income Generation: The primary lure for selling put options is the ability to earn premium income. As a seller, I receive the option premium upfront, which is mine to keep, irrespective of whether the option is exercised. This approach is particularly profitable in stable or slightly bullish markets where the price of the underlying stock is not expected to drop below the strike price. The steady stream of income generated can be a reliable supplement to other investment returns.
  2. Acquiring Stocks at a Lower Price: Another strategic use of selling put options is to acquire stocks at a price lower than the current trading price. By selecting a strike price that is below the current stock price, you position yourself to purchase the stock at a discount if the market price falls and the option is exercised. This method serves as an efficient way to manage the entry price for a stock position within a portfolio.

Optimal Conditions for Selling Put Options:

  • Market Stability or Bullish Trends: Selling puts is most advantageous in market conditions that are stable or mildly bullish, where the current stock price is unlikely to fall below the strike price.
  • High Volatility: Periods of high volatility can also be ideal for selling put options since the increased volatility inflates option premiums. Even if there’s a risk of the option being exercised due to a drop in the stock price, the higher premium can offset some of the potential financial downsides.

Selling put options is a nuanced strategy that should be employed when the market conditions are favorable, and the investor is confident about the underlying asset’s performance. It requires a solid understanding of market dynamics and a clear strategy for managing potential risks and maximizing returns.

This approach is not just about earning income or buying stocks at a discount; it’s about making calculated moves to optimize the financial outcomes of your investment portfolio. If you are wondering where

Where Can I Sell Put Options?

Options can be bought and sold through your broker like TradeStation or Robinhood. If you aren’t sure which broker to choose for your option trading, my TradeStation vs Robinhood article is a nice place to start.

Specific Put Option Strategies

Selling put options is a versatile strategy for investors aiming to either increase their income or strategically purchase stocks at prices below current market rates. Here are some specific put option strategies you can consider using. If you want a deeper dive on any of these strategies, click the links for my full breakdowns:

  1. Income Generation through Naked Puts: One of the simplest strategies is selling naked puts, where you sell put options without owning the underlying stock. Here, I collect the premium upfront, hoping that the option will expire worthless as long as the stock price doesn’t fall below the strike price. This method can be quite profitable in stable or slightly bullish markets. However, it’s a risky endeavor if there’s a sharp decline in stock prices.
  2. Acquiring Stocks at Favorable Prices with Cash-Secured Puts: If there’s a specific stock I want to own, I might choose to sell cash-secured puts. This method involves setting aside enough cash to cover the purchase price should the option buyer decide to exercise. It’s a conservative strategy that not only generates income through premiums but also positions me to buy the stock at a break-even price that’s lower than the current trading price, making it an appealing option if I believe the stock is undervalued.
  3. Limiting Risks with Put Credit Spreads: Put credit spreads, also known as bull put spreads, this involves selling a put option at a higher strike price while buying another at a lower strike price within the same expiration period. This strategy limits my potential maximum gain but also caps my losses, making it suitable when I predict that the stock price will not dip below the higher strike price, allowing me to retain the net premium.
  4. Enhancing Stock Positions with Protective Put Selling: For stocks I already own, selling protective puts can serve as a hedge against potential price declines. This tactic allows me to earn premiums which can offset some losses if the stock’s price falls.

Each of these strategies requires careful consideration of market conditions, the specific stock involved, and my own risk tolerance and investment goals. Whether I’m looking to potentially lower my entry price on stock purchases or simply aiming to bolster my investment income, put option selling offers several strategies that can be tailored to meet diverse financial needs and market outlooks.

If you would like to study all of the options strategies in-depth, I suggest subscribing to a service like Option Strategies Insider. To learn more about their offerings, check out my Option Strategies insider review.

Selling Put Option Strategies: My Final Thoughts

Selling put options can be a strategic and beneficial approach for both generating income and potentially acquiring stocks at more favorable prices. This technique aligns well with a patient, buy-and-hold investment philosophy rather than short-term speculation, making it suitable for investors who prefer a more calculated and thoughtful approach to trading.

By understanding the nuances of when and why to employ this strategy, investors can enhance their financial strategy, taking advantage of market conditions to optimize returns and mitigate risks. I encourage you to continue exploring this topic and consider how selling put options might fit into your broader investment strategy.

Embrace the potential of this approach and consider integrating it into your trading arsenal to potentially boost your investment outcomes.

Jeremy Biberdorf
Jeremy Biberdorf

About the Author:

Jeremy Biberdorf is the founder of Modest Money. He's a father of 2 beautiful girls, a dog owner, a long-time online entrepreneur and an investing enthusiast.

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