How Far Out to Sell Cash Secured Puts: My Approach

Selling cash-secured puts is a popular options trading strategy that can generate income for investors willing to take on stock ownership at a predetermined price. In this strategy, an investor writes an at-the-money or out-of-the-money put option while setting aside enough cash to buy the stock at the strike price. The timeframe for selling these options is crucial, as it can significantly impact the risk and reward involved.

out of the money cash secured puts how far out to sell

The decision on how far out to sell cash-secured puts depends on factors such as market conditions, the underlying stock’s performance, and the investor’s personal risk tolerance. By carefully considering these factors and utilizing various tools and techniques, investors can optimize their strategy and potentially maximise returns.

Key Takeaways

- Selling cash-secured puts is an income-generating options strategy that requires careful selection of expiry dates.

- The timeframe for selling these options depends on market conditions, stock performance, and risk tolerance.

- Investors should use various tools, such as technical indicators and analysis, to optimize their strategy and maximise potential returns.

Understanding Cash Secured Puts

Basics of Put Options

Put options are contracts that grant the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to sell a specified amount of an underlying stock at a predetermined price, known as the strike price, before the contract expires. The seller of the put option, on the other hand, incurs the obligation to buy the underlying stock at the strike price if the buyer exercises the option. The seller receives a premium for writing the put option.

Investors use put options primarily for hedging against potential declines in stock prices, speculating on decreasing stock prices and generating income. Cash-secured puts (CSP) are a popular income-generating strategy for many investors.

Strategies and Examples

Selecting Strike Price and Expiration

When selling cash-secured puts, selecting the strike price and expiration date is a crucial part of the strategy. The strike price is the price at which the option can be exercised, and it should be chosen according to the investor’s target entry point for the underlying stock. The expiration date represents the deadline for the option holder to exercise the option. Generally, shorter expiration dates offer higher annualized returns, while longer expiration dates offer more conservative returns with potentially less risk.

To choose the appropriate strike price and expiration:

  1. Identify a suitable stock with solid fundamentals and good liquidity.
  2. Determine your target entry price and desired annualized return.
  3. Analyse the stock’s historical price movements and implied volatility.
  4. Choose an out-of-the-money (OTM) strike price that aligns with your target entry price.
  5. Select an expiration date that meets your annualized return objectives without taking excessive risk.

Example of a Cash Secured Put Trade

Let’s assume you are interested in purchasing shares of Company XYZ, currently trading at £100. You believe the stock is reasonably valued at £95 and are willing to take ownership at this price. You can write a cash-secured put option by following these steps:

  1. Choose a strike price of £95, which is below the current market price.
  2. Select an expiration date 30 days out to provide some time for the stock to potentially decline to your target entry price.
  3. Review the option’s premium, which represents the income you will receive for writing the put option. Let’s say the premium is £1.
  4. Write and sell the £95 strike put option, receiving £1 per share in premium income.
  5. Set aside enough cash (£95 per share) to buy the stock if the put option is exercised.

If the stock price stays above £95 at expiration, the put option will expire worthless, and you keep the premium income. If the stock price falls below £95, you will be obligated to purchase the shares at the strike price, effectively buying the stock at your target entry price of £95.

Out-of-the-Money Put Option

An out-of-the-money (OTM) put option refers to a put option with a strike price below the current market price of the underlying stock. Selling OTM put options can effectively lower the cost basis on a stock purchase, while also providing a higher likelihood that the option will expire worthless, allowing the investor to keep the premium income.

In the example above, the £95 strike put option is considered OTM because it is below the current market price of £100. The advantage of selling OTM put options is that it increases the probability of the option expiring worthless, allowing the investor to keep the premium income without having to purchase the underlying stock.

OTM put options often have lower premiums compared to at-the-money (ATM) or in-the-money (ITM) options due to the lower probability of being exercised. However, selling OTM puts can still be a lucrative strategy, generating consistent income as long as the investor remains diligent in selecting appropriate strike prices and expiration dates to reduce risks.

Benefits and Risks

Income Generation Potential

One of the main benefits of selling cash-secured puts is the potential to generate income. When you sell a put option, you receive a premium upfront from the buyer. This premium serves as a source of income and can be viewed as a partial payment for potentially acquiring the underlying stock in the future. If the stock’s price remains above the strike price throughout the expiry duration, the put option expires worthless and the seller gets to keep the entire premium as income.

Obligations and Risks

While selling cash-secured puts offers income generation potential, it also comes with certain obligations. When selling a put option, you assume the responsibility to potentially purchase the stock at the agreed-upon strike price.

One risk associated with cash-secured puts is the potential for incurring losses if the stock’s price declines significantly below the put’s strike price. In this case, the seller will be obligated to purchase the stock at a higher price than its current market value, resulting in a loss. However, the premium received can help to offset part of the loss incurred.

Another risk is the loss of opportunity if the stock’s price does not reach the strike price by the expiration date. In this scenario, the seller keeps the premium but misses out on the chance to acquire the stock at a more favourable price.

Selling cash-secured puts can be a strategic income-generating tool for investors when used appropriately. It is essential to carefully weigh the benefits and risks, as well as to assess personal financial circumstances and risk tolerance before implementing such a strategy.

Choosing Stocks for Cash Secured Puts

Considering Company Valuation

Before selling cash-secured puts, it’s crucial to evaluate the underlying company’s valuation to determine if it’s priced fairly or overvalued. A fair valuation indicates a potentially good investment opportunity, whereas an overvalued stock might have a higher chance of declining in price. For instance, let’s examine AAPL, the NASDAQ-traded tech firm Apple Inc. To determine AAPL’s valuation, you may consider the following factors:

  • Price-to-earnings ratio (P/E): Compare AAPL’s P/E ratio with its competitors and the industry average.
  • Price-to-sales ratio (P/S): Assess AAPL’s P/S relative to the broader market and industry.
  • Price-to-book ratio (P/B): Analyse Apple’s P/B in comparison to other companies in the tech sector.

If Company A has a more attractive valuation than AAPL, you might want to consider selling cash-secured puts on Company A instead, due to its potential upside.

Portfolio Diversification

Once you’ve determined potential candidates for selling cash-secured puts, it’s important to make sure your portfolio is diversified. A well-diversified portfolio will manage risk better than a concentrated one. When selecting stocks for cash-secured puts, make sure to:

  • Spread investments across sectors: If you already have many investments in the tech sector, consider selling cash-secured puts on stocks in other industries to avoid overexposure.
  • Diversify within sectors: Even within a specific sector, try to choose different companies with varying market capitalisations and growth rates.
  • Include defensive stocks: Stocks with lower volatility, such as utilities and consumer goods, can help protect your portfolio against market fluctuations.

With a diversified portfolio, your risk of losses from a single investment will be mitigated. This practice is essential when selling cash-secured puts due to the potential obligation to purchase the underlying security if the put option is in the money at expiration.

Remember to keep your choices of stocks for cash-secured puts within the context of your overall investing strategy and risk tolerance. Conduct thorough research and consider your individual circumstances before making any decisions.

Technical Indicators and Analysis

In this section, we will discuss the importance of technical indicators such as Delta, Implied Volatility, and the Relative Strength Index (RSI) in determining how far out to sell cash-secured puts.

Delta and Implied Volatility

Delta is a measure of the sensitivity of an option’s price to a change in the underlying stock price. It is helpful for assessing the likelihood of a put option being exercised. When selling cash-secured puts, a lower Delta value indicates a lower probability of the option being exercised, which reduces the risk of the put seller. As a general guideline, Delta values below 0.30 are considered suitable for selling cash-secured puts, although traders may adjust based on their risk tolerance.

Implied Volatility (IV) is an important factor to consider when selecting the strike price and expiration date of cash-secured puts. High IV suggests greater uncertainty about the stock’s future price, which can result in higher options premiums. When selling cash-secured puts, higher implied volatility may be more desirable for generating income, but it also increases the risk of the stock being put to the seller. A balance between IV and Delta is essential; traders should look for relatively high IV in conjunction with a satisfactory Delta value.

Some key points to consider:

  • Look for Delta values below 0.30 for lower-risk put selling
  • High implied volatility can lead to higher premiums, but also increased risk
  • Balancing Delta and IV is essential for an optimal cash-secured put strategy

Relative Strength Index

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is a momentum-based technical indicator that can help traders gauge the overall strength of a stock’s price movement. The RSI ranges from 0 to 100, with values above 70 indicating overbought conditions and values below 30 suggesting oversold conditions. When selling cash-secured puts, it may be beneficial to target stocks with relatively low RSI values, as they could represent potential buying opportunities. Selling puts on an oversold stock increases the likelihood of the option expiring worthless, and it also allows the seller to collect premiums while potentially acquiring the stock at a more favorable price.

However, it’s crucial to consider other fundamental and technical factors alongside the RSI when selecting stocks for a cash-secured put strategy, as the RSI alone doesn’t provide a complete picture of the stock’s potential.

To summarise:

- Low RSI values can indicate potential buying opportunities for selling cash-secured puts

- Combine RSI analysis with other technical and fundamental factors for a more comprehensive evaluation

- Balance risk and potential rewards when using RSI to determine cash-secured put candidates

Managing and Exiting Positions

Position Management Strategy

When managing cash-secured put positions, it’s crucial to strike a balance between maximising your potential for profits while minimising the probability of taking assignment (ownership) of the underlying stocks. Focus on the following factors:

  • Strike prices: Selecting out-of-the-money (OTM) put strike prices helps maximise profit potential and lower the probability of assignment. The stock’s price must decrease below the strike price for the put option buyer to exercise the option.
  • Time to expiration: Shorter expiration terms, such as monthly options, allow you to adapt strategies as market conditions evolve. This increases your flexibility in position management.
  • Delta: An option’s Delta is an essential measurement of the likelihood of assignment. A low Delta (less than 20%) typically indicates a lower probability that the option will be exercised.

Remember that staying informed of market conditions is crucial for effective position management. Be prepared to adjust your strategy accordingly.

Exit Strategy Plans

Before entering a cash-secured put position, it’s essential to have specific exit plans in place to protect yourself from potential losses or unfavourable market movements. Some possible strategies include:

  1. Closing positions early: If the put option’s value significantly decreases during its lifetime, consider buying it back at a lower price to exit the position early and profit from the difference.
  2. Rolling positions: If the underlying stock’s price approaches the put option’s strike price and you don’t want assignment, rolling the position by closing the current put and selling a new one with a later expiration date and lower strike price may be beneficial.
  3. Accepting assignment: In some cases, it might be beneficial to take assignment of the underlying stock if the put option is exercised. You can then decide to retain the shares long-term or engage in other strategies like selling covered calls to generate additional income.

Remember that every investor’s risk tolerance and objectives will vary, so tailor your exit strategy plans accordingly. Keep a vigilant eye on market conditions and be prepared to adjust your strategy if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ideal expiry for selling puts

The ideal expiry for selling cash-secured puts (CSPs) depends on the investor’s risk tolerance, market outlook, and personal preferences. Shorter expirations, such as weekly options, provide quicker cash flow, but they may require more frequent monitoring. On the other hand, longer expirations, like monthly options, allow you to have a wider margin but at the cost of reduced flexibility. You may also want to consider factors such as time to earnings announcements or economic events when choosing the ideal expiry.

Choosing the best stocks for CSP

To choose the best stocks for CSPs, investors should consider several factors, such as strong fundamentals, liquidity, and historical price trends. Look for companies with stable financials, good earnings performance, and low debt levels. Evaluating the stock’s average trading volume and bid-ask spread is crucial to ensure sufficient liquidity for entering and exiting positions. It’s also essential to analyse the stock’s historical volatility and price movements to determine potential support and resistance levels.

Exit strategy for cash-secured puts

Having an exit strategy for your CSPs is essential to manage risk and lock in profits. Popular exit strategies include setting a target profit level, closing the position before the expiry date if the option value has significantly decreased, or taking assignment of the stock if the option is in-the-money (ITM). Another option is to roll the CSP to a different strike price or expiry date to adjust the position based on market movements or your outlook.

Weekly vs monthly CSP performance

The performance of weekly versus monthly CSPs varies significantly based on market conditions and the underlying stock’s behaviour. Weekly options generally provide faster cash flow and more opportunities to generate income, but they can result in a higher number of transactions and, potentially, higher trading costs. Monthly options tend to offer more significant premiums due to time decay and, therefore, provide a larger margin of safety. Your choice between them should align with your investment style, risk tolerance, and overall goals.

Calculating CSP profit

To calculate the profit of a CSP, you need to consider the premium received and any fees associated with the trade. The formula to calculate the profit percentage is as follows:

(Initial Premium - Fees) / (Strike Price * 100)

For example, if you sold a put option for a £1.50 premium on a stock with a £100 strike price and £10 in fees, your profit percentage would be:

(£1.50 - £0.10) / (£100 * 100) = 1.4%
Kevin S

Kevin S

Greetings, I'm Kevin! I am now a full time options trader and investor. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with you. My objective is to assist you in navigating the complexities of option trading, regardless of whether you're a beginner or an experienced trader looking to enhance your skills. I'm excited to accompany you on your journey to mastering the art of option trading. Let's make this year an extraordinary one for you!

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Kevin S

Kevin S

Greetings, I'm Kevin! I am now a full time options trader and investor. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with you. My objective is to assist you in navigating the complexities of option trading, regardless of whether you're a beginner or an experienced trader looking to enhance your skills. I'm excited to accompany you on your journey to mastering the art of option trading. Let's make this year an extraordinary one for you!


Welcome to Dividend On Fire, we are a site dedicated to options trading! We specialize in helping investors generate passive weekly or monthly income through selling cash secured puts and covered calls.

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