ETF investing has become highly popular in the last two decades. ETFs or what you call Exchange Traded Funds give you the benefits of both mutual funds as well as stocks. Now, ETFs are a basket of securities that are tailored to track a particular index whether it be a stock index, market index, a sector index, a commodity index, a currency index or other. You can trade options on ETFs as well. This makes ETFs a highly powerful addition to your portfolio.
The most important difference is that Index Options are cash settled on expiry while the ETF Options are settled with the underlying instruments that is shares of that ETF. Since with an ETF Options, you can also own the underlying security, you can use various combination strategies.
Index and ETFs both get affected ETFs to Reduce Downside Volatility by the dividends paid by the underlying stocks. So if you use options on them, these dividends on the underlying stocks should be incorporated into the puts and calls by using an options calculator.
Now, ETF Options are more flexible than the Index Options as you can use the underlying ETF as well in your options strategies. If you have already traded stock options, ETF options should not be difficult for you. You can hedge your ETF position with an option on the ETF.
Using Protective Put Strategy by combining long ETF with a long put can hedge against the downside risk limiting it to the put strike price with a slightly increased cost for the ETF.
Similarly, you can use a Covered Call on ETF. A Covered Call is formed by taking combining long ETF with a short call on that ETF. The short call will give you some income in the shape of a premium and reduce the cost of the position. This will also slightly reduce the risk of the position. But on the other hand, a covered call will limit the upside profit potential. Your max profit now will only be limited to the call strike price.
Another combination strategy that you can use with an ETF is forming a Collared Position. A Collared Position is formed with a long ETF and a long put combined with a short call. A Collared Position limits the limited but high risk to a limited risk only. The downside risk is now only limited to the put strike price. The premium paid in taking a long put position is offset somewhat by the premium that you get by writing a call.
Whatever options strategies you use with the ETF, you should first paper trade those strategies and instruments. This is an inexpensive way of test these strategies and can be a good lesson in unexpected risk of either of these securities.
ETF options are always American Style meaning you can exercise them any time before the expiry. You can even use LEAP Options on ETFs. LEAP Options are long term options having expiry ranging from nine months to 21/2 years. Now just like stocks, not all ETF have options available for trading.
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