Uncovered Put Write

Writing uncovered puts is an options trading strategy involving the selling of put options without shorting the obligated shares of the underlying stock.

Uncovered Put Write Construction
Sell 1 ATM Put

Also known as naked put write or cash secured put, this is a bullish options strategy that is executed to earn a consistent profits by ongoing collection of premiums.

Limited profits with no upside risk

Profit for the uncovered put write is limited to the premiums received for the options sold and unlike the covered put write, since the uncovered put writer is not short on the underlying stock, he does not have to bear any loss should the price of the security go up at expiration. The naked put writer sells slightly out-of-the-money puts month after month, collecting premiums as long as the stock price of the underlying remains above the put strike price at expiration.

The formula for calculating maximum profit is given below:

  • Max Profit = Premium Received - Commissions Paid
  • Max Profit Achieved When Price of Underlying >= Strike Price of Short Put
Uncovered Put Write Payoff Diagram
Graph showing the expected profit or loss for the uncovered put write option strategy in relation to the market price of the underlying security on option expiration date.

Unlimited Downside risk with Little downside protection

While the premium collected can cushion a slight drop in stock price, loss resulting from a catastrophic drop in stock price of the underlying can be huge when implementing the uncovered put write strategy.

The formula for calculating loss is given below:

  • Maximum Loss = Unlimited
  • Loss Occurs When Price of Underlying < Strike Price of Short Put - Premium Received
  • Loss = Strike Price of Short Put - Price of Underlying - Premium Received + Commissions Paid

Breakeven Point(s)

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

  • Breakeven Point = Strike Price of Short Put - Premium Received

Example

Suppose XYZ stock is trading at $45 in June. An options trader writes an uncovered JUL 45 put for $200.

If XYZ stock rallies to $50 on expiration, the JUL 45 put expires worthless and the trader gets to keep the $200 in premim as profit. This is also his maximum profit and is achieved as long as XYZ stock trades above $45 on options expiration date.

If instead XYZ stock drops to $40 on expiration, then the JUL 45 put expires in the money with $500 in intrinsic value. The JUL 45 put needs to be bought back for $500 and subtracting the initial credit of $200 taken, the resulting net loss is $300.

Note: While we have covered the use of this strategy with reference to stock options, the uncovered put write 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 uncovered put write in that they are also bullish strategies that have limited profit potential and unlimited risk.

Stock Repair Strategy
In-The-Money Covered Call
Covered Straddle

Writing Naked Puts to Purchase Stocks

The biggest risk facing the uncovered put writer is that should the price of the underlying drops below the put strike price, he is forced to buy the shares at the put strike price. However, for a long-term investor looking to go long on the stock at a discount, writing naked puts can be a great way to buy stock. He can do that by writing uncovered puts with a strike price at or near his target entry price. If the stock price drops below the put strike and the puts gets assigned, he gets to make the stock purchase at the desired price.

Additionally, he gets a further discount in the form of the premium earned from selling the puts. Even if the put strike price was not reached and the stock not acquired, he still gets to keep the premiums!

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