The previous post stirred the pot quite a bit. I received several comments, which I will try to respond via this post. I wrote about my general thought process without getting into the details of the strategy. I will try to explore some thoughts around that in this post.
Strategy not executable in India
Let me clarify something at the outset, namely that the strategy of buying deep out of the money puts to hedge against extreme events (or black swans), works well with long term options. As far as I know, we only have 1-3 month options in India. I think these options are quite fairly priced and any chances of making money on these options due to mispricing are lower than winning a lottery.
I bought some options once (miniscule amount) to just experiment a bit and I think it is very unlikely I will ever buy short term options to hedge or insure my portfolio.
The strategy in my previous post would work well with long term options with durations greater than 9 months. These kind of options are available in the US market and called as LEAPS. I don’t think such options are available in india yet, so I think my strategy would continue to remain on paper till we have such options.
Justifying an approach
I received several comments and more emails which implied that I wanted to dabble in options and I was justifying it by wrapping it up with the logic of value investing. That may very well be the case, though I consciously don’t think so.
Let me give you an analogy. When we buy a car or a house, don’t we buy earthquake or accident insurance? We don’t hope for an earthquake so that we can collect money on the insurance. The purpose of buying insurance is to protect our asset against extreme events. In order to have this peace of mind we end up paying 0.2% or higher of the asset value as insurance.
Long dated, deep out of the money put options can sometimes serve the same purpose. The trick would be to buy when the premiums are low and the market does not expect the crisis. Ofcourse this is hardly do able in India.
Investing for the thrill
I don’t think I am in for the thrill. I have invested in options a few times and you cannot believe the agony I have gone through during the holding period. Options lose value with time, which is called as time decay or Theta. So if you have a 3 month option, you will lose 20-25% of the value in the first month (with everything else remaining the same). As a result, it has pained me to see my options position lose value everyday.
So with options one has to get the timing right too. I am almost 100% sure that I can never get the timing right. So it is unlikely I will buy options repeatedly to try my luck in the market.
Short term hedge
I would rarely want to hedge my portfolio for the short term via options. My approach is to sell overvalued positions or hold on to it through a market drop if I am convinced about the company. As some of you commented on the previous post, buying short term options would just be a waste of money.
All of the above discussion does not mean one should not learn about options. I think it is a topic one should explore and learn. There are quite a few interesting possibilities with long term options, especially during extreme market peaks or bottoms. That ofcourse is a separate topic in itself.