# Options risk return, Options Risk Reward Explained by Expert JJ Kinahan | TD Ameritrade

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To trade options successfully, investors must have a thorough understanding of the potential profit and risk for any trade they are considering.

For this, the main tool option traders use is called a risk graph. Risk graphs allow you to see on a single picture your maximum profit potential as well as the areas of greatest risk. The ability to read and understand risk graphs is a critical skill for anyone who wants to trade options.

The horizontal axis the x-axis represents the stock prices, labeled in ascending order. The vertical axis the y-axis represents the possible profit and loss figures for this position. The risk graph allows you to grasp a lot of information by looking at a simple picture.

The picture also demonstrates immediately that as the stock price moves down, your losses get larger and larger until the stock price hits zero, where would you lose all your money. On the upside, as the stock price goes up your profit continues to increase with a theoretically unlimited profit potential.

Options and Time-Based Risk Creating a risk graph for option trades includes all the same principles we just covered. You simply need to calculate the profit or loss at each price, place the appropriate point in the graph, and then draw a line to connect the dots.

Unfortunately, when analyzing options, it is only that simple if you are entering an option position on the day the option s expire, when determining your potential profit or loss is just a matter of comparing the strike price of the option s to the stock price.

But at any other time between the date of entering the position and expiration day, there are factors other than the price of the stock that can have a big effect on the value of an option.

One crucial factor is time. But an option is a wasting asset.

For every day that passes, an option is worth a little less all else being equal. That means the element of time makes the risk graph for any option position much more complex.

The most important thing is to fully understand the product before you start trading and to recognize that, just as there are opportunities to make money, there is also the potential to lose money. This is typically true, not just of options, but of any investment. Many investors consider the term "risk" a bad word because it is often viewed synonymously with loss. After all, nobody wants to lose money!

On a two-dimensional graph displaying an option position, there are normally several different lines, each representing the performance of your position at different projected dates. Here is the risk graph for a simple option position, a long callto show how it differs from the risk graph we drew for the stock.

The call option allows you to control the same shares for substantially less than it cost to purchase the stock outright. The line legend on the right shows how many days out each line represents.

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Notice the effect of time on the position. As time passes the value of the option slowly decays.

Notice also that this effect is not linear. When there is still plenty of time until expiration, only a little bit is lost each day due to the effect of time decay. As you get closer to expiration, this effect begins to accelerate but at a different rate for each price.

Traders often use this approach to plan which trades to take, and the ratio is calculated by dividing the amount a trader stands to lose if the price of an asset moves in an unexpected direction the risk by the amount of profit the trader expects to have made when the position is closed the reward. The ratio helps assess the expected return and risk of a given trade. An appropriate risk reward ratio tends to be anything greater than Comparing these two provides the ratio of profit to loss, or reward to risk. A stop-loss order is a trading trigger placed on a stock that automates the selling of the stock from a portfolio if the stock reaches a specified low.

Let's take a closer look at this time decay. When you first purchase the option, you start out internet business with passive income at the zero line with neither a profit nor a loss.

## Risk/Reward Ratio Definition

Together the multiple lines demonstrate this accelerating time decay graphically. Options and Volatility Risk For any other day between now and expiration, we can only project a probable, or theoretical, price options risk return an option.

This projection is based on the combined factors of not only stock price and time to expiration, but also volatility. And the difference between the cost basis on the option and that theoretical price is the possible profit or loss.

Keep options risk return in mind that the profit or loss displayed in the risk graph of an option position is based on theoretical prices and thus on the inputs being used. When assessing the risk of an option trade, many traders, particularly those who are just beginning to trade options, tend to focus almost exclusively on the price of the underlying stock and the time left in an options risk return.

But anyone trading options should also always be aware of the current volatility situation before entering any trade.

To gauge whether an option is currently cheap or expensive, look at its current implied volatility relative to both historical readings and your expectations for future implied volatility.

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When we demonstrate how to display the effect of time in the previous example, we assume that the current level of implied volatility would not change into the future. While this may be a reasonable assumption for some stocks, ignoring the possibility that volatility levels may change can cause you to seriously underestimate the risk involved in a potential trade.

But how can you add a fourth what cannot be done with an option to a two-dimensional graph?

The short answer is that you can't. There are ways to create more complex graphs with three or more axes, but two-dimensional graphs have many advantages, not least of which is that they are easy to remember and visualize later. So it makes sense to stick with the traditional two-dimensional graph, and there are two ways to do so while handling the problem of adding a fourth dimension.

## Understanding Options' Risk-Reward Relationship

The easiest way is simply to input a single number for what you expect volatility to be in the future, and then look at what would happen to the position if that change in implied volatility does occur. This solution gives you options risk return flexibility, but the resulting graph would only be as accurate as your guess for future volatility.

If implied volatility turns out to be quite different than your initial guess, the projected profit or loss for the position would also be off substantially.

Options: Risk vs. Return Weighing the risks Complexity and volatility are part of the options market.