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Protective Put

Holding a long position in the underlying asset and purchasing a put option on it

What is a Protective Put?

A protective put is a risk management and options strategy that involves holding a long position in the underlying asset (e.g., stock) and purchasing a put option with a strike price equal or close to the current price of the underlying asset. A protective put strategy is also known as a synthetic call.


Breaking Down Protective Puts

A protective put strategy is analogous to the nature of an insurance. The main goal of protective puts is to limit potential unrealized losses resulted from an unexpected price depreciation of the underlying asset.

In addition, adopting such a strategy does not limit the potential profits of the investor. Profits from the strategy are determined by the growth potential of the underlying asset. However, a portion of the profits is reduced by the premium paid for the put.

On the other hand, the protective put strategy creates a limit for the maximum loss, which is equal to the stock price minus the strike price plus the premium paid for the put. Protective puts are generally employed by bullish investors who want to hedge their long positions in the asset.


Example of Protective Put

You own 100 shares in ABC Corp, with each share valued at $100. You believe that the price of your shares will increase in the future. However, you want to hedge against the risk of an unexpected price decline. Therefore, you decide to purchase one put contract (one put contract contains 100 shares) with a strike price of $100. The premium of the put contract is $5.


Protective Put


The payoff from the protective put depends on the future price of the company’s shares. The following scenarios are possible:


Scenario 1: Share price above $105.

If the share price goes beyond $105, you will experience an unrealized gain. The profit can be calculated as Current Share Price – $105 (it includes initial share price plus put premium). The put will not be exercised.


Scenario 2: Share price between $100 and $105.

In this scenario, the share price will remain the same or slightly rise. However, you will still lose money or hit the breakeven point in the best case. It is caused by the premium you paid for the put contract. Similar to the previous scenario, the put will not be exercised.


Scenario 3: Share price below $100.

In this case, you will exercise the put option to limit the losses. After the put is exercised, you will sell your 100 shares at $100. Thus, your loss will be limited to the premium paid for the put.


Related Readings

CFI is the official provider of the global Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program, designed to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst. To keep advancing your career, the additional resources below will be useful:

  • Long and Short Positions
  • Options: Calls and Puts
  • Service Charge
  • Technical Analysis: A Beginner’s Guide

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