There are two types of options contracts: call options and put options.
In simple terms, call options give the owner the right to buy the underlying asset in the contract. Again, it is not an obligation.
For example, John and Tom agreed on a call options contract wherein John will buy from Tom, 100 shares (equivalent to one option) of Company A at $20 (strike price) what will expire on the third Friday of April. The current price of the share is $20.
At the expiry date (also called maturity date), the share price of Company A remains at $25. John can then exercise his right to buy the share for $20 and thus, yielding $5. Meanwhile, if the share price goes down to $22, John can still earn $2 by simply exercising his rights as stated in the contract. In whichever way, any amount higher than the strike price at the end of the contract will become the profit of the owner. But before it can happen, the owner who decides to pursue his right has to have his money ready to pay for the amount.
However, if the share price goes down below $20, say $18, on the maturity date, it will be too expensive for John so he can just ignore the contract since he is not obliged to carry it out. He will only lose the amount he paid for the contract called the Option Premium. Tom, on the other hand will keep the asset and the premium, which in a sense, is his profit.
In put options, the buyer has the right to sell an asset to the writer (the seller). Just like the call asset, it is bounded by a contract which states that the underlying asset will be sold at a particular price and a particular date. But the similarity ends there. In put options, the writer has to buy the underlying asset at the strike price if the buyer exercises this option.
Let us continue with John and Tom. John bought call options from Tom. But he could also buy put options from Tom. If John buys put options, it means that he buys the right to sell Company Aís shares at $20 on April 1. If the price of shares goes down below $20 on the expiry date, John can exercise his right and can still sell it at $20, thus making a profit.
Buying put option allows investors to earn when price of shares drops at the end of the contract.
Profit potentials are unlimited for the buyers of put options, especially if the market begins to sell off. On the other hand, risks are limited if the market goes against them.
In reality, trading of options or transactions does not happen between two persons. Buying or selling can happen without knowing the identity of the other party.
Options are only sold in 100 share lots. So if the share price is $20, you will have to pay $2,000 for each option contract plus the Option Premium.
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