A Practical Guide to Hedging with Index Options

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Hedging a portfolio opposite a marketplace improvement is conceptually easy to understand. However, that is frequency a box in use with mixed variables to consider. We’ve fabricated a useful beam to a best practices for putting on an effective portfolio hedge. Variables to cruise embody timing, hedging instrument, sizing, death date and strike price.

Before evaluating a portfolio hedge, it should be famous that a many effective sidestep for a portfolio is to pierce resources to money when expecting a marketplace correction, and reinvest when markets recover. However, relocating to money is not always an choice for investors and that is when a portfolio sidestep regulating options should be considered.


Protecting a portfolio opposite a marketplace improvement is best achieved by shopping put options on an index that’s closely correlated to that portfolio. Put options yield total downside word with a bound fixed cost. Simply put, it can be noticed as shopping an word process with a one-time premium. Put options should usually be purchased during a marketplace improvement and generally should not be used forward of time to expect an arriving correction. Due to a costly inlet of hedging, it is vicious that hedges are exited as fast as probable once a marketplace improvement is complete. Timing of entrance and exit of a sidestep should implement “fear gauges” such as a Nasdaq-100® Volatility Index (VXN).


Picking a right instrument to sidestep your portfolio can be challenging. Most diversified portfolios should use a broad-based index as a hedging instrument. Protecting a portfolio during a marketplace improvement can be achieved good regulating Index Options. Indices such as a Nasdaq-100 Index (NDX) yield a far-reaching preference of expiration, strikes and agreement sizes that are good matched for hedging a portfolio opposite marketplace corrections larger than 3-5%.

Cash settled, European-style Index options with potentially auspicious taxation diagnosis yield additional cost efficiencies for hedging vs. normal ETF options. NDX index options precedence a full value Nasdaq-100 Index while a NQX hit provides 1/5 a bearing to a same flagship index. These dual contracts yield opposite notional index sizing to fit a needs of sell and institutional customers.

Contract Size

Determining a series of put contracts to squeeze for a sidestep can be distributed regulating a following formula:

$ Portfolio Value ÷ Index Value ÷ 100 = Put Contracts to Purchase

Example: $1,000,000 ÷ 1,470 (NQX Index Value) ÷ 100 = 7 Contracts of NQX

Expiration Date

Index options yield a far-reaching operation of probable death dates giving investors coherence in selecting a suitable time frames. Most portfolio hedges typically final a integrate of weeks to a integrate of months. It’s best to select an death date that is during slightest 1-2 months over a approaching improvement period. Longer-dated options have reduction time spoil (Theta) that helps revoke a cost of holding a hedge. Example: If an financier anticipates a 5% dump in a subsequent month, it’s best to buy a 2-3 month option.

Strike Prices

Investors have coherence when selecting strike prices that yield several degrees of protection. Analogous to word policies, investors can select between inauspicious or extensive coverage.

Strategy 1: Buy Out-of-the-Money “OTM” Puts (30-40 Delta)

Catastrophic Coverage – Provides downside word usually in a vital marketplace correction

Cost: Typically 1-2% of a underlying portfolio

Strategy 2: Buy In-the-Money “ITM” Puts (50-60 Delta)

Comprehensive Coverage – Provides downside word with any marketplace correction

Cost: Typically 3-5% of a underlying portfolio


Hedging a $1,000,000 Portfolio regulating NQX (Nasdaq-100 Reduced Value Index Options)

Catastrophic Coverage: Buy 7 Contracts, 2-Month 30-Delta Put @ $17,500 (1.75% of Portfolio)

Comprehensive Coverage: Buy 7 Contracts, 2-Month 60-Delta Put @ $36,750 (3.68% of Portfolio)

Despite ITM Puts costing some-more than twice a volume of a OTM puts, they yield distant improved word during a improvement while progressing a smaller portfolio detriment even when a marketplace does not pierce lower. Only if a marketplace moves significantly higher, does a ITM puts underperform for a altogether portfolio.


Hedging a portfolio good opposite a marketplace improvement can be achieved regulating index options with a scold inputs. The coherence of Nasdaq-100 index options provides both sell and institutional investors a ability to stay invested in equities while shortening bearing during marketplace downturns. Understanding a impact of opposite degrees of hedges is vicious to a successful hedging strategy. Utilize a OptionsPlay Platform to daydream and calculate portfolio-hedging strategies for risk and prerogative metrics on your underlying portfolio.

The information contained herein has been prepared but courtesy to any sold investor’s investment objectives, financial situation, and needs.  Accordingly, investors should not act on any recommendation (express or implied) or information in this element but receiving specific recommendation from their financial advisors and should not rest on information herein as a primary basement for their investment decisions.

Neither a information nor any opinion voiced shall consecrate an offer to sell or a questionnaire or an offer to buy any securities, line or sell traded products.

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