Should I sell a PUT, or buy a CALL if I am bullish on an underlying? Which one is more profitable?

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I would happily strangle ...

Simple answer to your question would be that buying the call would be more profitable if you disregard the other aspects assuming your view turns out to be correct. 

However things are never that simple, isn't it? Let's consider the other aspects which can't be ignored when trading options. For your buy call to make money, underlying not only needs to move up as per your prediction but also fast enough to counter the theta decay. Even if the underlying move in your direction but takes its own sweet time to do that, you'll end up losing money. On the other hand, if you sold a put instead of buying the call then you just have to be right about the direction, e.g. underlying won't go down below the strike price at which you sold the put. As long as price stays up even by a rupee above the strike price at the time of expiry, you'll make money. Time also works in favor of option writers.

Option buying can seem more lucrative compared to option writing (selling) when you consider the reward that you make when you win compared to the reward option seller would make in the same trade. Selling options also require more capital and margin compared to buying options so it generally works better for the big guys (HNIs, funds, MFs etc). As option buyer, your risk is limited to the premium that you pay but your risk can be theoritically unlimited when selling options. 

Generally speaking, if you have enough capital to trade options and you're in for a long haul then writing options could work better for you. Chances of winning in favor of option writers are 2:1, considering they only need to be right about where the prices won't go. On the other hand, options buyers not only have to be right about the direction but the underlying should also move fast enough to end up being profitable.

Writing options is considered same as the casinos or insurance business where you lose big once in a while but most of the time collect consistent and steady returns from those buying options.

Finally, it all comes down to your individual preference and risk appetite. Majority of time options writers win but that does not mean options buyers don't make money. There are a lot of successful option buyers but you have to be very good to consistently make profits buying options. Selling options is safer due to higher chances of winning though returns are relatively smaller.

Written Nov 27, 2020

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