Stock Options: how do they work?

2023-09-19 18:39:26

Investing in the stock market is a popular way to seek financial returns. And when it comes to investing in stocks, chances are you’ve heard about stock options. Options are a type of derivative that allows investors to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specified price in a given future. But what exactly are stock options and how can you profit from them? In this comprehensive guide, we will answer these questions and more, providing you with all the information possible to become a successful investor in the options market.

What are stock options?

Stock options are financial instruments traded on the market that represent a contract between two parties, the holder and the writer. The holder has the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a particular underlying asset at an agreed price, known as the strike price, on a specific date in the future, called the expiration date. The underlying asset can be a stock, an index, a currency or even a commodity.

There are two main types of stock options: call options and put options. Call options give the holder the right to buy the underlying asset at the strike price, while put options give the holder the right to sell the underlying asset at the strike price. The strike price is the price at which the underlying asset can be bought or sold.

How does the options market work?

Stock options can be traded on stock exchanges or over the counter. When created on stock exchanges, options have standardized characteristics, such as exercise price and expiration data established by the exchange. In addition, the exchange also establishes useful guarantees for those who trade options. On the other hand, in the over-the-counter market, buyers and sellers negotiate the characteristics of the contract, such as terms, values ​​and guarantees, and the options registered are on the exchange only to guarantee compliance with the agreement.

In the options market, there are important terms and concepts that you need to know. The underlying asset is the asset being traded, such as a stock or an index. The holder is the one who buys the option and has the right to buy or sell the underlying asset. The writer is the one who sells the option to the holder and assumes the obligation to buy or sell the underlying asset. The premium is the amount paid by the holder to the writer to acquire the option. There are also the concepts of call option and put option, which grant the right to buy or sell the underlying asset, respectively. And finally, the strike price is the price at which the underlying asset can be bought or sold.

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Expiration and exercise of an option

Each option has an expiration date, also known as the exercise date. It is the last day on which the holder can exercise the right to buy or sell the underlying asset. After this data, the option expires and loses its validity. B3, the Brazilian stock exchange, uses the third Friday of the expiration month as the trading deadline for options. If there is no such data session, trading will take place on the last previous business day.

When it comes to deciding whether or not to exercise an option, it all depends on the type of option and the market situation of the underlying asset. In general, the holder of a call option should exercise only if the underlying asset is trading above the exercise price, as this would be advantageous, as he would buy the asset at a lower price than the prevailing market price. On the other hand, if the underlying asset is trading below the strike price, it is more advantageous to let the option expire as it would be cheaper to buy it directly from the market. The same comment applies to put options, where the holder should exercise only if the underlying asset is trading below the exercise price.

Options code

To operate in the options market, it is important to understand how the trading codes for these derivatives are defined. An option code is made up of a combination of letters and numbers that indicate information about the underlying asset, the type of option and the expiration month. The initial four letters indicate the underlying asset, the letters demonstrate the option type and expiration month, and the final two numbers represent the option’s strike price.

For example, if you see an option code PETR4F25, it means it is a call option on the asset PETR4, with expiration in June and an exercise price of R$25.

Advantages and risks of investing in options

Stock options offer advantages and risks to investors. One of the main advantages is leverage, which allows the investor to earn greater profits with a smaller investment compared to directly purchasing the underlying asset. Additionally, options can be used to protect an investment portfolio against price drops through hedging strategies.

However, it is important to be aware of the risks involved. Options are complex financial products and can lead to significant losses. Furthermore, options trading requires knowledge and experience in the financial market. Therefore, it is recommended that investors study and fully understand how options work before starting to operate in this market.


Investing in the options market can be an interesting strategy to diversify and enhance the returns of an investment portfolio. However, it is essential to understand the characteristics and risks of this market before starting to operate. In this comprehensive guide, we cover the basics of stock options, how negotiations work, the most important terms and concepts, as well as the advantages and risks involved.

Always remember that the options market is complex and requires knowledge and experience. Therefore, it is recommended to seek guidance from specialized professionals and constantly study to improve your skills as an investor. With knowledge and care, stock options can become a powerful tool for achieving your financial goals.

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