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Options Trading Mastery: An Imaginary Spread Scenario

Jan 1, 2008
We are going to put together an imaginary spread scenario and set it in real life events. Consider that, in October, you begin to hear about IJK stock. It looks interesting, so you use a variety of sources to learn about it. (News, charts, outside analysts, Internet research, etc.) From your investigations, you decide that this stock is poised for a strong upward move and you would like to take advantage of it. Each share is $50.00 and you question whether you want to put out the capital for enough shares to make the trade worthwhile.

Now is the time to investigate IJK spreads. Since you are bullish on the stock, you look into the bullish plays of the call spreads and the put spreads. You check the pricing of both since you know that implied volatility and time decay affect your purchase and selling price if you decide to sell out the spread before expiration.

Imagine that you set the spread's maximum potential gain at $10.00 using our formula. Then you decide that you want to buy a call spread, so you buy 10 IJK Nov. 50 calls and sell 10 IJK Nov 60 calls. This is the Nov. 50-60 spread. The spread's cost is $3.50, which means you pay $3,500 for the trade. This is inexpensive when you consider that 1,000 shares of IJK stock would have cost you $50,000! You will now wait and follow the stock price of IJK. If you hold the position to expiration, you face the following losses or gains.

If the stock does not move up as you expected and stays at $50 or decreases in value, your spread is worthless and you will lose the $3,500 that you paid for the spread. If the stock begins to move up, you will recoup your investment and move into profits. When the stock has moves up to $3.50, you are at the breakeven point. Every money advance after that represents profit.

At any time until expiration, you can sell out of the spread, but what you receive for the price are influenced by implied volatility and time decay. That will change your profit or loss. If you hold the spread until expiration and your bullish lean proves true, your maximum profit on your $3,500 investment is $6,500.

You paid $3,500 for the spread and received $10,000 at expiration with the stock at $60.00. That represents a $6,500 profit, which is a 186% return. If you had invested $50,000 for 1,000 shares of IJK and at expiration sold the stock for $60,000, your profit is $10,000 for a 20% return.

For many investors the reward/risk scenario of the spread is attractive because investors can limit the capital at risk and the time of risk/reward exposure. The spread also offers protection if your lean is bullish or bearish. Finally, the spread has the potential of a large percentage return on investment.
About the Author
Ron Ianieri is currently Chief Options Strategist at The Options University, an educational company that teaches investors how to make consistent profits using options while limiting risk. For more information please contact The Options University at http://www.optionsuniversity.com or 866-561-8227
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