Like warrants, options are a form of security called a derivative. As a derivative’s name suggests, these securities gain their value from an underlying asset. In the case of options, this is the underlying security.
There are typically two primary forms of options; call options and put options. Both are governed by contracts; a call option allows the holder to buy securities at a set price while a put option allows them to sell. However, options contracts do not come for free. They can be bought for a premium, which is a non-refundable payment due upfront. Once options have been purchased, the holder has a certain amount of time during which they can exercise their options. On the other hand, options do not require the holder to purchase the shares contracts allow. When options are exercised, the price paid is referred to as the strike price.
In buying call options, the holder is guaranteed to buy securities at a certain price, even if the underlying security significantly increases in price. A put option works more like an insurance policy, protecting the holder’s portfolio from potential downturns. If a security was to decrease in price, the shareholder would be able to sell at a set price specified by their option contract, even if the market price was to fall lower than what the option allows it to be sold at.
In addition to being a way to minimize investment risks and maximize profits, options are becoming a popular incentive for employees, especially in startup companies when looking to attract employees. In addition to options that can be bought, options also refer to the ones issued to employees by their employer. This gives employees the chance, but not the obligation, to buy shares within a specified time. Employee stock options either come as an Incentive Stock Option or Nonqualified Stock Options, with the difference being the tax incentives that go along with exercising the options.
Whether you have call or put options, they are a useful way to protect your portfolio from downsides or benefit from being able to purchase more shares at a discounted price. They are just one of the many forms of securities available, which should be considered carefully when making investment decisions.