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What is a call option?

A call option is a type of contract that allows the holder of the contract to purchase an underlying stock at a specific price, even if the market price goes higher. A call option contract gives the owner of the contract the right to purchase a particular asset, which is typically a stock, at a strike price designated in the contract during a certain period of time. For example, if the stock of company ABC is trading at $100/share, you might purchase the right to buy it at $90/share for a $12/share premium. Continue reading...

What is a ratio call spread?

Ratio call spreads are options strategies where the investor combines purchased calls and short calls at the same expiration but with different strike prices. A Ratio Call Spread starts off as a delta-neutral strategy, which means that even if you have two long calls and one short call, the sensitivity of your overall position to move in the underlying is equal whether it moves up or down by small amounts. Continue reading...

What is a bear call spread?

A bear call spread seeks to make money on the sale of call options but does not believe the underlying security will increase. A Bear Call Spread strategy is utilized when one believes that the price of the underlying stock will go down (but not significantly) in the near future. It entails selling a call short at a lower price than you buy a long call, which is done to realize a net credit at the outset. Continue reading...

What is a naked call?

A naked call is a type of option contract where the seller of a call does not own the underlying security, thereby exposing them to unlimited risk. Investors have the ability to “write” or sell options contracts as well as to buy them. The seller of a call option has opened a position in which the buyer is given the right to buy 100 shares of a stock at the strike price named in the contract. The seller – along with all other sellers of calls for that security – are the ones who must cover and close the open positions if the call owners exercise their options. Continue reading...

What is a Margin Call?

A margin call is a mandatory request by the custodian/broker for the account holder to add equity to the account, either by depositing cash or selling securities to raise cash. When an investor takes an account on margin, the custodian will require that they keep a certain amount of equity/cash in the account to maintenance the borrowed amount. If the account value drops past a certain level, the custodian may require the investor to add equity to the account to cover the margin balance. Continue reading...

What is an Earnings Call?

An earnings call is when a company opens up a teleconference line or webcast that the public can join to hear the company management talk about how the company performed recently, their plans for the future, and the market forces that exist in the current environment. Most publicly traded companies today have adopted this practice. Earnings calls may take place once a year or during earnings seasons after the quarterly earnings have been announced in a press release. Companies often have one executive whose job is to interface with the shareholders in such settings, but various executives are often given a chance to present some thoughts. Continue reading...

What is a bull call spread?

A bull call spread is a vertical spread that buys and sells calls in a way that benefits from upward price movement but limits the risk of the short position. Using calls options of the same expiration date but different prices, a bull call spread seeks to maximize profits for moderate price movements upward. A long position is taken in a call contract (meaning it is bought and held) that has a strike price near the current market price of the security or is at least lower than the other call contract used in this strategy. Continue reading...

What does 'call option' mean?

If you own a Call Option, you have the right (not the obligation) to purchase a security at an agreed-upon price from the seller of the option. Buying a call option means you are bullish on the security. For example, an investor may buy an August 2017 call on stock XYZ for $50/share (strike price). This means that the owner of this call option has the ability to buy XYZ on the expiration date (August) for $50/share. Continue reading...

What is the Falling Wedge (Bullish) Pattern?

The Falling Wedge pattern forms when the price of a security appears to be spiraling downward, and two down-­sloping lines are created with the price hitting lower lows (1, 3, 5) and lower highs (2, 4). The two pattern lines intersect to form a narrow triangle. Unlike Descending Triangle patterns, however, both lines need to have a distinct downward slope, with the top line having a steeper decline. Continue reading...

What is the Falling Flag (Bearish) Pattern?

The Falling Flag (or Bearish Flag) pattern looks like a flag with the mast turned upside down (the mast points up). The pattern forms when falling prices experience a consolidation period, and the price moves within a narrow range defined by the parallel lines through points 2-4 and 3-5. After the consolidation, the previous trend resumes. This type of formation happens when anticipation of a downtrend is high, and when a security’s price consolidates during a broader decline. It may indicate growing investor concern of an impending downtrend. Continue reading...

What is the Falling Pennant (Bearish) Pattern?

The Falling Pennant (or Bearish Pennant) pattern looks like a pennant turned upside down (the mast points up). It forms when falling prices experience a consolidation period, and the price moves within a narrow range defined by the converging lines through points (2, ­4) and (3, ­5). After the consolidation, the previous trend resumes. This type of formation happens when anticipation of downtrend is high, and when the price of a security consolidates during a declining trend. It may indicate growing investor concern of an impending downtrend. Continue reading...

What is the Falling Wedge (Bearish) Pattern?

The Falling Wedge pattern forms when prices appear to spiral downward, with lower lows (1, 3, 5) and lower highs (2, 4) creating two down­-sloping trend lines that intersect to form a triangle. Unlike Descending Triangle patterns, however, both lines need to have a distinct downward slope, with the top line having a steeper decline. This pattern is commonly associated with directionless markets since the contraction (narrowing) of the market range signals that neither bulls nor bears are in control. However, there is a distinct possibility that market participants will either pour in or sell out, and the price can move up or down with big volumes (leading up to the breakout).​​ Continue reading...

What are currency warrants?

Currency warrants are relatively new to the international Forex market. They function like puts or calls, depending on whether it is a purchase warrant or a warrant to sell, but they have longer durations, usually between one and five years until they expire. They can be purchased to take a position on a currency index or on a currency pair. Warrants were originally issued by corporations, giving investors the ability to redeem the warrant like a call option to purchase a stock at a strike price. Continue reading...

What is a Warrant?

A warrant is an agreement giving the holder the right to buy (or sell) a certain number of shares of a company. Warrants are often requested or granted when a company engages in a loan from private investors - it will give the lenders the opportunity to buy and own shares in the company if its stock appreciates or if the opportunity seems attractive. If the company fails to grow and deliver, the warrants can simply go unused with no financial impact for the holder. Like options, there are warrants that confer the option to buy shares (call warrants) and those that allow the holder to sell (put warrants). Continue reading...

What is a strangle?

A strangle is an options strategy which is profitable if the price of the underlying security swings either up or down because the investor has purchased a call and a put just out of the money on either side of the current price of the underlying. To execute a strangle an investor chooses an underlying security which he or she anticipates will experience some price volatility around a given expiration date for options, but is not sure which way it will go, so a call and a put are both purchased. Continue reading...

Should I use options in my portfolio?

Options can be a valuable tool in portfolio management, but investors should be well-versed in how options work, and the risks involved, before actively engaging in options trading. Options can provide you a hedge, or provide the potential for unlimited gains or losses. They can also give you a relatively conservative income stream. Proper use of options can be highly profitable, but requires some level of expertise and a watchful eye. Continue reading...

What is a time spread?

A ‘Time Spread,’ also called a Calendar Spread or a Horizontal Spread, involves the use of multiple options of the same type (either all calls or all puts), with the same strike price but different expiration dates. Generally traders will sell a near-term option (take a short position) and buy a far-term option (take a long position). The strategy is virtually identical whether calls or puts are used. Continue reading...

What is a covered straddle?

A covered straddle is a bullish options strategy, where the investors write the same number of puts and calls with the same expiration and strike price on a security owned by the investor. If an investor owns a stock and is bullish about where it’s price is headed, they may use a covered straddle strategy to provide them the ability to buy more shares at a set price (the call option portion of the straddle) while also giving them the option to sell the security at the same price (the put portion of the straddle). Continue reading...

What is a put option?

A put option gives the owner of the option/contract the right to sell a stock at the strike price named in the contract. One kind of option is a put. A Put is a right to sell a particular asset (usually a stock) at a certain price (called the “strike price”) within a specified time-frame. The owner of the put contract doesn’t need to own the underlying stock. If the price of the stock drops below the strike price in the put, the owner of the put contract can buy the stock at the lower market price and immediately sell it at the higher strike price in the put contract. That is a speculative way to use a Put contract. Continue reading...

What are the basics of options?

Options are contracts used by investors to take a speculative position – or a hedge – based on expected future price movements of the underlying securities. Many investors are scared when they heard the word "option" and perceive it as a risky, speculative investment. Options certainly can be risky, but they don’t have to be. In fact, certain options strategies are far more conservative than many available investments in the marketplace. Continue reading...