Commit To Buy Intuitive Surgical At $290, Earn 3.7%

Investors considering a purchase of Intuitive Surgical Inc ( ISRG) stock, but tentative about paying the going market price of $500.95/share, might benefit from considering selling puts among the alternative strategies at their disposal. One interesting put contract in particular, is the January 2015 put at the $290 strike, which has a bid at the time of this writing of $10.60. Collecting that bid as the premium represents a 3.7% return against the $290 commitment, or a 2.3% annualized rate of return (at Stock Options Channel we call this the YieldBoost).

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Selling a put does not give an investor access to ISRG's upside potential the way owning shares would, because the put seller only ends up owning shares in the scenario where the contract is exercised. And the person on the other side of the contract would only benefit from exercising at the $290 strike if doing so produced a better outcome than selling at the going market price. ( Do options carry counterparty risk? This and six other common options myths debunked). So unless Intuitive Surgical Inc sees its shares fall 42.1% and the contract is exercised (resulting in a cost basis of $279.40 per share before broker commissions, subtracting the $10.60 from $290), the only upside to the put seller is from collecting that premium for the 2.3% annualized rate of return.

Below is a chart showing the trailing twelve month trading history for Intuitive Surgical Inc, and highlighting in green where the $290 strike is located relative to that history:

The chart above, and the stock's historical volatility, can be a helpful guide in combination with fundamental analysis to judge whether selling the January 2015 put at the $290 strike for the 2.3% annualized rate of return represents good reward for the risks. We calculate the trailing twelve month volatility for Intuitive Surgical Inc (considering the last 248 trading day closing values as well as today's price of $500.95) to be 32%. For other put options contract ideas at the various different available expirations, visit the ISRG Stock Options page of

In mid-afternoon trading on Monday, the put volume among S&P 500 components was 1.73M contracts, with call volume at 2.01M, for a put:call ratio of 0.86 so far for the day, which is unusually high compared to the long-term median put:call ratio of .65. In other words, there are lots more put buyers out there in options trading so far today than would normally be seen, as compared to call buyers.