Historical Hedging Examples

Recent history provides examples of how different futures price patterns can be approached with the flexibility offered by options strategies. The first is December 2003 whose unexpected late-season price surge highlights the need for upside price flexibility in your marketing strategy. The second example highlights the need for a price floor when you have a reasonable expectation (but still ultimately uncertain) of a major price decline, as in early December 2004. The third and fourth examples are from December 2005 and December 2006 when prices traded in a narrow band below most growers’ costs of production. In this situation, insuring a meaningful price floor using put options would have been more expensive, so various spread strategies could have been employed to finance the core put option strategy. The December 2007 contract shows how more volatile and higher prices provided more opportunities to set a flexible floor using options. The December 2008 contract provides an extreme picture of volatility and potential option hedging (with some caveats about accessing and/or affording the options). The December 2009 contract also displayed large price swings, with opportunities for options to provide insurance coverage (but not much insurance payout, in that case). The unprecedented price pattern of the December 2010 contract provides another extreme picture of volatility and potential option hedging. Probably the most notable opportunity in the 2010 case was for those who purchased $1.00 call options on Dec’10 in about August, not because they could see the future but because it was a relevant and very cheap insurance buy. The pattern of December 2011 and December 2012 both involved predictably falling prices from a very high level. Because of the expense of put options, 2011 was a situation where put spreads would have been relevant for making downside price protection more affordable.  The 2012 case was one where purchasing downside price protection from straight put options was pretty affordable.  December 2013 cotton futures did not provide much opportunity for affordable price insurance, unless you waited until about July to purchase it.


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