The Options Playbook

Featuring 40 options strategies for bulls, bears, rookies, all-stars and everyone in between TradeKing

Protective Put

Protective Put

NOTE: This graph indicates profit and loss at expiration, respective to the stock value when you bought the put.

The Strategy

Purchasing a protective put gives you the right to sell stock you already own at strike price A. Protective puts are handy when your outlook is bullish but you want to protect the value of stocks in your portfolio in the event of a downturn. They can also help you cut back on your antacid intake in times of market uncertainty.

Protective puts are often used as an alternative to stop orders. The problem with stop orders is they sometimes work when you don’t want them to work, and when you really need them they don’t work at all. For example, if a stock’s price is fluctuating but not really tanking, a stop order might get you out prematurely. If that happens, you probably won’t be too happy if the stock bounces back. Or, if a major news event happens overnight and the stock gaps down significantly on the open, you might not get out at your stop price. Instead, you’ll get out at the next available market price, which could be much lower.

If you buy a protective put, you have complete control over when you exercise your option, and the price you’re going to receive for your stock is predetermined. However, these benefits do come at a cost. Whereas a stop order is free, you’ll have to pay to buy a put. So it would be nice if the stock goes up at least enough to cover the premium paid for the put.

If you buy stock and a protective put at the same time, this is commonly referred to as a “married put.” For added enjoyment, feel free to play a wedding march and throw rice while making this trade.

Options Guy's Tip

Many investors will buy a protective put when they’ve seen a nice run-up on the stock price, and they want to protect their unrealized profits against a downturn. It’s sometimes easier to part with the money to pay for the put when you’ve already seen decent gains on the stock.

The Setup

  • You own the stock
  • Buy a put, strike price A
  • Generally, the stock price will be above strike A

Who Should Run It

Rookies and higher

When to Run It

Bullish You’re bullish but nervous.

Break-even at Expiration

From the point the protective put is established, the break-even point is the current stock price plus the premium paid for the put.

The Sweet Spot

You want the stock to go to infinity and the puts to expire worthless.

Maximum Potential Profit

Potential profit is theoretically unlimited, because you’ll still own the stock and you have not capped the upside.

Maximum Potential Loss

Risk is limited to the “deductible” (current stock price minus the strike price) plus the premium paid for the put.

TradeKing Margin Requirement

After the trade is paid for, no additional margin is required.

As Time Goes By

For this strategy, time decay is the enemy. It will negatively affect the value of the option you bought.

Implied Volatility

After the strategy is established, you want implied volatility to increase. That will increase the price of the option you bought.

Check your strategy with TradeKing tools

  • Use the Profit + Loss Calculator to establish break-even points, evaluate how your strategy might change as expiration approaches, and analyze the Option Greeks.

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