Using Put Options To Protect A Portfolio Of Tech Stocks

Options can be used to generate extra income like in this poor man’s covered call example. But they can also be used to protect a stock holding from a large drop in price. With the Nasdaq in a precarious spot, it might be time to look at buying some protection on stocks that we don’t necessarily want to sell.


A put option is a financial contract that gives the holder the right, but not the obligation, to sell a certain underlying asset at a certain price on or before expiration.

For this right, the buyer of the put option pays a premium to the option seller. Think of it like buying insurance against your house burning down.

You as the homeowner pay the insurance premium. And the options seller is like the insurance company.

Owning a put option gives the owner the right to sell their stock at a certain price, no matter how low it goes. The downside is protected while the investor still gets to benefit in the upside.

Let’s assume we own a portfolio of technology stocks that we don’t want to sell, but are concerned about the short-term prospects. Particularly with the election just around the corner.

Instead of liquidating our portfolio, we could buy put options on the Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) to help cushion the effects of any downturn.

QQQ ETF Can Hedge Against Downturn

On Monday, with the QQQ ETF trading around 285 and forming a base, a Nov. 20-expiring put with a strike price of 285 could be purchased for $11.80 a share. That would be $1,180 in total for a block of 100 shares.

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The break-even price for the put option would be 273.20 and can be calculated by taking the strike price (285) and subtracting the premium paid ($11.80).

Buying some protection like this can be expensive, but it can also help us sleep a little better at night if we are concerned about a large drop in stocks over the next month.

This November 285 put option has a notional delta of -14,000. That simply means that it will roughly hedge the price risk of a $14,000 portfolio of tech stocks.

Hedge May Not Work At All

However, it’s never perfect. You could find yourself in a position where the tech stocks you own drop but QQQ ETF rallies, in which case the hedge would not work at all.

Put options can help protect against large price declines and are an important risk management tool for investors.

It’s important to remember that options are risky and investors can lose 100% of their investment.

This article is for education purposes only and not a trade recommendation. Remember to always do your own due diligence and consult your financial advisor before making any investment decisions

Gavin McMaster has a Masters in Applied Finance and Investment. He specializes in income trading using options, is very conservative in his style and believes patience in waiting for the best setups is the key to successful trading. Follow him on Twitter at @OptiontradinIQ


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