Options, structured derivative products and futures are not suitable for all investors as the inherent risk may expose investors to rapid and substantial losses. Trading in these instruments is risky and may be appropriate only for sophisticated investors. Various theoretical explanations of the risks associated with these instruments have been published.
Risks associated with specific Option Strategies include:
• Call or put purchasing: If you buy options, the maximum loss is the premium
• Uncovered call writing: If you sell call options, the risk is unlimited
• Uncovered Put Writing: If you sell put options, the risk is the entire notional below the strike
• Call or put vertical spread purchasing (same expiration month for both options): Risk is limited to the premium paid when the position is established
• Call or put vertical spread writing (same expiration month for both options): Risk is limited to the difference between the strike prices less the amount received in premiums
• Call or put calendar spread purchasing (different expiration months & short must expire prior to the long): Risk is limited to the premium paid when the position is established
• Risk Reversals (buy 1 put, sell 1 call at a higher strike) – if you are long the put and short the higher priced call, risk is unlimited, if you are short the put and long the higher priced call, the risk is the entire notional below the strike
• 1x2 call spread (buy 1 call, sell 2 calls at higher strike) – if you are long the lower strike and short the two higher strikes, risk is unlimited, if you are short the lower strike and long the two higher strikes, risk is limited
• Butterflies/Condors (sell 2 calls, buy one call at a higher strike, buy one call at a lower strike) – risk is limited for both buyers and sellers
• Straddles/Strangles (buy a call and a put) – if you are long the call and put, risk is limited, if you are short the call and put, risk is unlimited
• Call Ladders (buy an ITM call, sell an ATM call, sell an OTM call) - If you are long the ITM call and short the ATM and OTM calls , risk is unlimited, if you are short the ITM call and long the ATM and OTM calls, risk is limited
• Put Ladders (buy an ITM put, sell an ATM put, sell an OTM put) – If you are long the ITM put and short the ATM and OTM puts, the risk is equal to the entire notional below the lower strike plus any premium paid, if you are short the ITM put and long the ATM and OTM puts, the risk is limited
Additional strategies can be constructed using combinations of the strategies described above. A combination is at least as risky as its most risky, uncovered component. For example, the risk of selling a combination containing an uncovered call option is unlimited and may result in losses significantly greater than the premium received. Before buying or selling a combination, the investor must make certain to understand each component of the combination and which, if any, components are uncovered.
The actual profit or loss from any trade will depend on the price at which the trades are executed. Because of the importance of tax considerations to many options transactions, the investor considering options should consult with his/her tax advisor as to how taxes affect the outcome of contemplated options transactions.