This article is part of our series on options investing, in which The Motley Fool is sharing a number of strategies you can use to get better results from your investment portfolio.
As with so many things, investing has gotten increasingly sophisticated over the years. Gone are the days when the only choices you had for your investment dollars were stocks and old-fashioned mutual funds. Now, you have a wealth of new strategies available to you -- and many of them can help you get the returns you want without the risk you can't afford to take.
Over the past month, we've taken a look at various ways that you can use options to improve your investing experience. Whether you're trying to boost the income from your portfolio, protect yourself from unexpected losses, or take advantage of bargain prices to buy stocks on the cheap, options can help you get the job done.
But one question largely remained unanswered: Is there a best type of stock that matches up well with these options strategies? To close out our options investing series, let's take a closer look at how different strategies work with different stocks.
The key to options happiness
The most important thing about trading options is understanding that you won't always find the same level of liquidity in the options market as you do when you buy and sell stocks. That means that strategies that look like they'd work well in theory aren't always going to be practical.
For instance, look at DryShips
By contrast, popular stocks give you the kind of liquidity that can make a real difference to your options investing results. For instance, a range of options for Caterpillar
What liquidity lets you do
Because liquidity is so important, you have to separate trade-intensive strategies from those that don't require many trades. For instance, one obvious candidate for a LEAP option is Dendreon
On the other hand, stocks with more liquid options markets -- which include most of the Dow's and Nasdaq 100's components, along with the larger stocks in the S&P 500 -- give you much more flexibility to do what you want. A strategy like a diagonal call, which requires you to buy a long-term option but also write successive short-term options repeatedly, works better for Intel
That doesn't mean you can't use simple options strategies like writing puts or calls on liquid stocks. But with stocks that don't have the options-market liquidity that can support more complex trades, you'll want to limit yourself to those simple strategies in order to keep trading costs and bid-ask spread friction to a minimum.
Open your eyes
With the stock market as risky as it's been lately, knowing how to use options to protect yourself while producing valuable profit opportunities has become more important than ever. Whether you seek out the higher income from covered calls, the profit potential from bull call spreads, or a host of other goals, options can help give you the answers you need.
Make sure you know everything you need to do know about investing in options by following up in our Options collection. There, you'll find Motley Fool Options co-advisor Jim Gillies reviewing the basics and giving you his insight on how to make the most of options in your portfolio.
Thanks for tuning into our options investing series! Please give us your feedback in the comments box below, and be sure to click back to the series intro for links on any of the articles you may have missed.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has been fascinated by options ever since college. You can follow him on Twitter here. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Dendreon and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a diagonal call position on Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool's disclosure policy gives you all the options.