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Delta hedging – A comprehensive guide on mechanics and implications

Have you ever encountered a trading strategy that aims to lessen the risk associated with the price changes of an underlying asset?

delta hedging

Investing in the financial markets involves dealing with risks. One common method to manage these risks is Delta Hedging. It helps reduce the chances of losing money due to changes in market prices. Using Delta Hedging, investors try to stabilise their portfolio’s performance.

Let’s read more to find out more about delta hedging.

What is delta hedging?

Delta Hedging is a strategy to decrease the risk of loss that comes with the change in the price of investments. It is done by holding the investment and its related options. The aim is to balance the effects of price changes so losses are minimised.

Delta is a measure showing how much the price of an option will change if the price of the actual investment changes. By knowing the Delta, investors can determine how many options contracts are needed to balance the risk.

Delta Hedging involves using options to balance out changes in an investment, like shares in a company. If the share price increases, options that make money when prices fall are used to maintain balance. This way, the gain offsets the loss in the other, keeping the total value stable.

Through Delta Hedging, investors sell options or investments to balance the risk if a portfolio’s value increases with rising prices. This way, Delta Hedging helps lower losses and steadier a portfolio’s performance by decreasing the risk from price changes.

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How does delta hedging work?

Delta hedging is a technique where traders create a balanced position to offset the potential risk of price fluctuations in their owned assets. To achieve this, they strategically manage positions in both the primary asset and its corresponding options.

The initial step consists of determining the exposure to the underlying asset by calculating its delta along with the delta of its associated options. Delta is a measurement indicating how much an option’s price fluctuates relative to changes in the asset’s price.

Subsequently, a hedge ratio comes into play, determined by dividing the options’ delta by that of the underlying asset. This ratio illustrates how many options are required to counterbalance potential risks effectively. 

Market conditions can alter deltas, leading traders to make appropriate adjustments in their portfolios. This might call for acquiring or disposing of options and assets to preserve equilibrium status.

Successful implementation of delta hedging depends on accurate hedge ratios and prompt adaptation as market dynamics evolve over time.

Understanding delta

Delta shows the change in an option’s value when there is a change in the price of the asset it is linked to. For instance, if an option of Reliance Industries has a delta of 0.8, it means if Reliance’s stock price increases by Rs 1 per share, the option’s price will go up by Rs 0.8.

For call options, delta values are between 0 and 1, and for put options, they are between -1 and 0. In put options, a delta of -0.75 means if the asset’s price falls by Rs 1, the option’s price will go up by Rs 0.75. Similarly, for a call option with a delta of 0.6, if the asset’s price goes up by Rs 1, the option’s price will go up by Rs 0.6.

Delta is also linked with whether an option is in-the-money, at-the-money, or out-of-the-money. For instance, in put options, a -0.5 delta means the option is at the money (market price equals strike price). For call options, a delta of 0.5 also represents an at-the-money situation (strike price equals the market price).

Also Read: Leverage in stock market – strategies, risks and rewards


“In-the-money” implies that the option contract has value, as its strike price is advantageous based on the underlying asset’s market price.

Call option: A call option is in-the-money when the market price is above the exercise price. For instance, if an investor has a call option to buy Reliance stock at ₹300 and the market price is ₹350, the call is in-the-money. The investor can buy the stock at ₹300, saving ₹50 per stock.

Put option: A put option is in-the-money when the market price is below the exercise price. For example, if an investor has a put option to sell Infosys stock at ₹1,200 and the market price is ₹1,100, the put is in the money. The investor can sell the stock at ₹1,200, earning ₹100 more per stock than the current market price.


“At-the-money” means the option’s strike price is the same as the underlying asset’s market price.

Example: If the strike price for both call and put options on TATA stock is ₹500, and the market price is also ₹500, the options are at-the-money. Besides time value, these contracts have zero intrinsic value.

Now, relating to delta hedging:

Delta Hedging involves adjusting the position in an option with the underlying asset to neutralise the risk of price movement. The “at-the-money” and “in-the-money” status of an option influences the effectiveness and adjustments needed in a delta hedging strategy.

Understanding these positions helps in executing a delta hedge, maintaining a balance between the option and the asset, and minimising the risk from price fluctuations.

Reaching delta-neutral

Achieving a delta-neutral state means adjusting your investments so that, overall, price changes in stocks don’t affect your portfolio’s value. For example, if you own shares in Tata Motors and the price goes up, but you want to stay neutral, you’d sell or buy options to balance that change. 

If your portfolio leans towards gaining when prices rise (positive delta), you’d sell options or take opposite positions to lower this delta. Similarly, if it leans towards losing when prices rise (negative delta), you’d buy options or take matching positions to raise this delta.

This neutral state helps traders lessen the risk from price changes, letting them focus on other market factors like volatility or time decay to make money, regardless of price direction.

Delta hedging with equities

Delta hedging is not just for options. It applies to stocks, too. Here, the aim remains unchanged: balancing the impact of price changes on your portfolio.

For instance, if you hold options and shares in Infosys, you’d first figure out the delta of your options – this delta shows how the option values change with Infosys share prices. A positive delta means you gain when prices go up, and a negative means you lose.

To maintain the equilibrium, in case your potential choices demonstrate a gain in value, you would trade or decrease your Infosys stocks, which would reduce the overall gain. In contrast, when there is a loss, you would purchase additional Infosys shares to elevate it.

Given that market dynamics fluctuate, it becomes vital to consistently monitor the earnings difference between your alternatives and your stock possession and align them accordingly so that you remain in a delta-neutral condition.

This approach ensures that despite market fluctuations, your investment set-up remains stable, allowing you the opportunity to benefit from other financial aspects.

Also Read: What is Short-Selling, and how does it work?

Advantages and disadvantages of delta hedging

Advantages of delta hedging:

  • Risk Reduction: Delta hedging lowers the risk of price changes, helping limit possible losses for steadier portfolio performance.
  • Consistency: By reducing the impact of price volatility, delta hedging helps maintain steady returns, enabling traders to follow their strategies without worrying about market swings.
  • Flexibility: It offers room to adjust portfolio positions. Traders can change their exposure to the asset by tweaking the hedge ratio and adapting to market shifts easily.

Disadvantages of delta hedging:

  • Cost: Involve transaction expenses like brokerage charges, bid-ask spreads, and slippage, which can diminish profits and the strategy’s effectiveness.
  • Complexity: Requires a good grasp of options pricing and risk control, which might be hard for new traders.
  • Constant Parameters Assumption: Assumes factors like volatility and interest rates are steady. Any changes in these can affect the hedge’s effectiveness.

Example of delta hedging

Take a scenario where a person has 1,000 call options of a company ABC’s stock, with a delta of 0.6, signifying a positive delta stance.

To make this a delta-neutral position, they would sell short 600 shares of ABC’s stock, as stocks have a delta of 1. Now, if the stock price goes up by 1%, the call options value goes up by about 0.6% due to its delta.

Simultaneously, the short position in the stock causes a loss of 0.6%, balancing out the gain from options. This way, delta hedging shields the investor from major losses if stock prices move adversely while also keeping the chance to benefit from other elements like volatility or time decay.


Delta hedging helps control the risks tied to price shifts of assets like company shares. This strategy uses options to offset the loss or gain from price movements.

However, this strategy demands regular attention and can cost a lot, given the need to constantly buy or sell shares or options. Despite its cost, it can be useful in managing risk if used wisely.

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Akanksha Jha

With extensive writing experience and years deep in the stock market and fintech sectors, I excel at transforming intricate financial concepts into clear, actionable insights. I'm dedicated to guiding readers on their financial paths with confidence and clarity.

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