Long Put

The long put option strategy is a basic strategy in options trading where the investor buy put options with the belief that the price of the underlying security will go significantly below the striking price before the expiration date.

Long Put Construction
Buy 1 ATM Put

Put Buying vs. Short Selling

Compared to short selling the stock, it is more convenient to bet against a stock by purchasing put options as the investor does not have to borrow the stock to short. Additionally, the risk is capped to the premium paid for the put options, as opposed to unlimited risk when short selling the underlying stock outright.

However, put options have a limited lifespan. If the underlying stock price does not move below the strike price before the option expiration date, the put option will expire worthless.

"Unlimited" Potential

Since stock price in theory can reach zero at expiration date, the maximum profit possible when using the long put strategy is only limited to the striking price of the purchased put less the price paid for the option.

The formula for calculating profit is given below:

  • Maximum Profit = Unlimited
  • Profit Achieved When Price of Underlying = 0
  • Profit = Strike Price of Long Put - Premium Paid
Long Put Payoff Diagram
Graph showing the expected profit or loss for the long put option strategy in relation to the market price of the underlying security on option expiration date.

Limited Risk

Risk for implementing the long put strategy is limited to the price paid for the put option no matter how high the stock price is trading on expiration date.

The formula for calculating maximum loss is given below:

  • Max Loss = Premium Paid + Commissions Paid
  • Max Loss Occurs When Price of Underlying >= Strike Price of Long Put

Breakeven Point(s)

The underlier price at which break-even is achieved for the long put position can be calculated using the following formula.

  • Breakeven Point = Strike Price of Long Put - Premium Paid

Example

Suppose the stock of XYZ company is trading at $40. A put option contract with a strike price of $40 expiring in a month's time is being priced at $2. You believe that XYZ stock will fall sharply in the coming weeks and so you paid $200 to purchase a single $40 XYZ put option covering 100 shares.

Say you were proven right and the price of XYZ stock crashes to $30 at option expiration date. With underlying stock price now at $30, your put option will now be in-the-money with an intrinsic value of $1000 and you can sell it for that much. Since you had paid $200 to purchase the put option, your net profit for the entire trade is therefore $800.

However, if you were wrong in your assessement and the stock price had instead rallied to $50, your put option will expire worthless and your total loss will be the $200 that you paid to purchase the option.

Note: While we have covered the use of this strategy with reference to stock options, the long put is equally applicable using ETF options, index options as well as options on futures.

Commissions

For ease of understanding, the calculations depicted in the above examples did not take into account commission charges as they are relatively small amounts (typically around $10 to $20) and varies across option brokerages.

However, for active traders, commissions can eat up a sizable portion of their profits in the long run. If you trade options actively, it is wise to look for a low commissions broker. Traders who trade large number of contracts in each trade should check out OptionsHouse.com as they offer a low fee of only $0.15 per contract (+$4.95 per trade).

Similar Strategies

The following strategies are similar to the long put in that they are also bearish strategies that have unlimited profit potential and limited risk.

Put Backspread
Protective Call

Out-of-the-money Puts

Going long on out-of-the-money puts maybe cheaper but the put options have higher risk of expiring worthless.

In-the-money Puts

In-the-money puts are more expensive than out-of-the-money puts but the amount paid for the time value of the option is also lower.

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