Hoping and praying that the stocks that you just bought will go up is not the best strategy to use, however it is the one very often used by the average Joe stock trader who is stock trading on the internet. The only salvation they have is that in bull markets most stocks will go up.
Statistics show that in a bull market about 75% of the stocks will follow the general trend and go up, and in a bear market 75% will also go down. Trading with the trend is the best way to trade as 9 out of 12 stocks will follow the trend and give you the best chance of making gains on your stock purchases.
But what if you own some good stocks and don’t want to sell when the market is clearly going down, or about to go down?. There are a couple of tactics that you can consider, both of which involve the use of options, CALL options and PUT options. There is the widely known strategy called Covered Calls, and the much lesser known one called the Married Put.
If you are going to trade options it is important that before you start trading you get the best option trading education that you can. You should also practice stock trading until you are comfortable with the process. This is a very important point that must be taken seriously, if you don’t understand the terminology and the theory then you should not be trading options. If the terms Put option, Call option, Married Put and Covered Call are new to you then don’t trade until you have studied sufficiently.
Selling calls against your stock in 100 share increments is the basis of the covered call strategy and it can provide about a 2-7% buffer against the loss in stock price. However a bigger drop in the stock price will not be compensated for using the covered call strategy, in general.
Stocks in a bear market, and even in a bull market, can drop quickly on news or earnings releases, as much as 15 to 40% within a month. Using covered calls to protect your stocks will only provide limited protection of less than 7% at best and so will not save your account if the stock takes a 40% tumble.
The better solution to providing down-side stock protection is the option strategy called the Married Put. As the name suggests the PUT that you buy is used to provide protection when the stock goes down because Put options will increase in value when the stock decreases in value. The term married is used because the option that is selected has to be very compatible with the stock, in other words a good match, if the strategy is to work.
The selection of the best Put option is not straightforward and involves several criteria which are listed below:
- The strike price of the option
- The current stock price
- Choice of options, in or out of the money
- Put expiration time
Even though the married Put protection only has a limited life span if offers much more protection than the covered call. It can provide as much as 90-95% loss recovery in the event of a significant drop in the stock price.
The downside of the good protection is that you have to buy the Put which is a debit whereas the covered call is a credit. But there are ways of off-setting this expense and there is much more to this strategy when executed correctly. The Married Put can be made to pay for itself and used to generate good gains if the market, or stock to be specific, moves a lot.
The general idea of the Collar Trade is to combine the covered call and married Put strategy into one, this is what is called the Collar Trade. In effect you put a collar around the stock, sell a call and buy a PUT. If you do this correctly most of the cost of the Put can be offset by the credit from the covered call so you can protect your valuable stock at almost no cost. Yes this is a great strategy which the general public is unfortunately very ignorant of, and most brokers don’t understand.
The strategy that I have outlined above is unknown to the average stock market trader but is one of the best trading systems you could have.