The call of the options

An option is a kind of derivative that gives you the right to buy or sell a particular asset at a predetermined price at a fixed date in the future. However, it does not give you the obligation to exercise the right. Options are available for a variety of assets, including stocks, gold, petroleum, wheat and so on.

There are two types of options – call and put options. The call option definition is that it’s an instrument that gives you the right, but not the obligation, to buy something. A put option gives you the right, but not the obligation, to sell something.

What is call option in share market?

Call and put options were introduced in the Indian stock markets in 2001-2. Trading call options in stocks allow you to take advantage of price movements without having to expend large amounts of capital and with considerably reduced risk.

Let’s see how trading in these is beneficial with an example. Say you expect the share price of a specific company ABC to go up from Rs 100 to Rs 150 in the future. You want to benefit by trading call options. So you buy 1,000 at a strike price of Rs 100. When the share prices move up to Rs 150, you can exercise your right to purchase the shares at Rs 100. Thus you will be able to make a profit of Rs 50,000, or (150-100) x 1,000. If on the other hand, if the price goes down to Rs 50, you can choose not to exercise your right and avoid losing Rs 50,000. The only loss you will incur in this case is the premium that you have to pay for the options contract.

The leverage advantage

Premiums are the price you pay to enter into the contract. Various factors affect the premium, but it is only a fraction of the value of the underlying asset. This allows you to trade much higher volumes with a given amount of capital.
If you invest Rs 10 lakh in stocks and prices go up by 10 per cent, you stand to make gains of Rs 1 lakh. However, with the same amount of capital, you will be able to trade much higher volumes with call options — you can enter into Rs 90 lakh worth of transactions. The only amount you need to pay upfront is the premium, which we are assuming here is 10 percent. If stock prices go up by 10 percent, your gains would be Rs 9 lakh! So there is a definite advantage of trading in options

Exercise at will

Call options contracts are available for 1, 2 or 3 months. However, you can exit the contract at any time before the end of the expiry period.

If you are a buyer, you can exit at any time if prices turn unfavourable or you want to book profits. Similarly, the seller or the `writer’ too has the option of exiting the contract to cut losses. However, the seller has to pay a premium to exit, since the premium changes according to the situation. From the seller’s viewpoint, when prices turn unfavourable, and it’s no longer worth exercising the contract, this is called `out-of-the-money’. In the case of the buyer, the situation is `in-the-money’ because he stands to make money by exercising the contract. So the premium he expects will be higher. The difference between the premium paid and premium received will be the loss in the case of the seller and profit in the case of the buyer.

There are three ways in which this type of contract can be settled. One is to square off the transaction – that is you can buy put options for the same stock at the same price. The difference between the premiums paid for the call and put options will be your profits/ losses. Another option is to sell. The third is a settlement at the strike price at the end of the expiry period.

How to buy call options

You can buy call options in the same way as you purchase stocks; through your broker after paying a premium. This premium then goes to the exchange and eventually finds its way to the seller or writer. While learning about how to buy call options, you should remember that not all stocks have stock options. Options contracts are available for only select securities – around 175 of them.

You can also purchase these for indices. If you think an index like the Nifty 50 is going to move up in the future, you can purchase call options on it and can turn in a profit. Index options tend to be less risky since you would be investing in a basket of stocks, which is better than putting all your eggs in one basket.

There are several advantages of trading in call options. You can trade much larger volumes for the same amount, the potential losses are limited to the premium that you have paid, plus it also allows you to trade in shares that would otherwise be too expensive to buy. These work best in a bullish market, enabling you to profit from any increase in share prices. Put options generally work better in a bear market, allowing the buyers to benefit from a downtrend in prices.

Potential losses may be smaller in call options than in direct investment in stocks, but you still have to get the timing right to make money.