Options straddles are an options trading strategy when you’re looking for a big move in either direction of the underlying stock. It involves buying a call and a put with the identical strike price and expiration date. If the price of the stock at its option expiration date is close to the option strike price, the straddle is a loss. This is because you need a big move in order to profit.
Options straddles involve a combination of buying both a call and put with identical strike prices and the same expiration date. You profit if there is big movement in either direction of the stock. The straddle is a loss if price is close to the strike at expiration.
Straddles trading is one of those advanced trading techniques for people who are interested in more effective stock trading. Straddles are part of the many option strategies and techniques considered more complicated but absolutely worth learning about. Today we discuss how options straddles work.
A profit on the trade occurs when there is a sizable movement in either direction. You use a straddle when you believe a stock’s price will move but you have reservations on direction.
In order to understand the mechanics of what a straddle trade is, some definitions are necessary. As a result, you’ll know when to apply the straddle.
This isn’t a strategy which is suitable in every situation. Nor it is one which should be used without understanding every aspect of the transaction and how it can be effective in certain situations.
There are several different types of positions which come under the general heading of a straddle. These include long, short and tax straddle; each of which has a different design, risk potential and profit potential.
In order to better understand straddles, we have to start with the basics. An options give you the right but not the obligation to buy (call) or sell (put) a stock at a set price within a certain time.
One contract controls 100 shares. That means you can control 100 shares without paying for them outright. Which is a great way to grow a small account.
Many times you get caught holding the bag. With options, you don’t need as much capital to trade the large cap stocks.
They’re not easily manipulated or pumped. That makes them safer to trade. However, options are more complicated and require study and practice.
Calls and puts are the foundation for every options strategy; whether basic or advanced. As a result, take the time to understand how to trade them.
Risk Potential of Long Options Straddles
An investor who has a long straddle position has a limited risk on the trade. The most an investor can lose on this type of transaction is the cost of the two option positions.
If the price doesn’t change enough to cover the premium of the options, the maximum loss will be the cost of the options.
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Risk Potential of the Short Straddle
The potential for risk in a short straddle is almost unlimited. If the price of the underlying security moves up or down in a large amount, the losses will be proportional to the amount of the price difference.
The sale of the call can expose the investor to unlimited levels of loss. The losses on the call can be unlimited. However, the losses on the put are limited to the strike price.
Are Options Straddles Profitable?
- An investor who holds a long straddle has unlimited profit potential. In a volatile market, the trader will use the call option of the long straddle and will let the put option expire.
- If the price goes down, the trader will use the put option and ignore the call option. It might sound like a spread but it’s different.
- Spreads are a bullish OR bearish play. Whereas straddle are a bullish AND bearish play. Therefore, you can potentially profit from a move either way.
When you implement a short straddle position, the potential for profit is limited. The total profit is the premium received from the sale of the call and the put.
So the maximum profit is set by the gain resulting from the initial sale of options. The most profit possible results when the underlying security closes at exactly the straddle strike price.
Both the calls and the puts, which make up the straddle, are allowed to expire. As a result, the owner of a straddle will receive the full credit received as the profit.
This strategy position is called non-directional. This is due to the fact that the short straddle closes in profit when the underlying security doesn’t change significantly in price.
The short strategy is also classified as a credit spread; since the sale of a short straddle will result in a credit for the put and call premiums.
When there is an expiration date on the option, which gives enough time, and the underlying stock is volatile enough, it’s possible for the trader to profit from both the call and put options.
This result would occur then the stock moved both below the strike price of said put option. Then above the strike price of a subject call option at different times prior to the expiration date of an option.
You have the option of closing one side of the straddle to lock in profits. Then you can let the other recover. However, that might not happen and you end up taking the loss.
Practicing Options Straddles
Straddles are an advanced strategy that require practice. Options have more moving parts than stocks do.
As a result, their ability for profit and loss is affected. That means you have to practice trading them to see how things like time and volatility affect the trade.
Many times we get caught up wanting to make money without taking the time to practice. We see the success stories and want one for ourselves.
The fact of the matter is, options can provide quite a profit stream when done right. However, they have a reputation for being difficult.
The reason for that is that people don’t take the time to learn the intricacies of options. Doing so however, gives you a great opportunity to make money in any market.
You can day trade naked calls and puts, swing trade spreads and straddles.
The opportunities are endless. That means the profits are too. And the loss. So practice!
There are two clues which can be gained from looking at a straddle. First is the market volatility which is expected from the security. The second clue is the expected trading range of this security by the date of expiration.
Therefore, you’d need to decide if straddles are worth trading. That comes with study and practice. Don’t jump into advanced options trading without mastering the basics.
If you need more help, take our options trading course.
Frequently Asked Questions
A long straddle is referred to as going long because you're buying. The investor will purchase both put option and a call option on the same underlying stock, index, interest rate or other product. Both the put and call are bought at the identical strike price and the same date of expiration. The trader who has purchased a long straddle is in profit if the underlying price moves a significant distance from the strike price.
The purchase of options is called a long straddle. While the sale of the option is known as a short straddle.
The movement can be either above or below the strike price. Here's a link for an alternate definition.
A short straddle requires simultaneously selling a call and a put of the same security, using the same expiration date and strike price. Like the long version of the straddle, this strategy is more complex than many of the other trades. As a result, it requires a more advanced level of understanding options trading.
A short straddle is an option trading strategy which is similar to a long one. However it goes in the opposite direction.
The third type of straddle strategy applies specifically to tax planning and operations. It's usually used in options and futures transactions to create a tax shelter. In practice, the investor who has a capital gain arranges his or her investments to create a visual loss from an unrelated trade. This last trade is structured to offset the gain in the current year and delay collecting the gain until the ensuing tax period. So, one of the positions accrues a gain which is not realized, while the other is showing as a loss.
The trade with the loss is closed before the tax year ends; which offsets the gain. When the new tax year begins, the creation of a new position is initiated in order to offset the risk from the position which is left over from the previous year.
Through the use of multiple straddling transactions, gains can be delayed indefinitely over years and years.