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Options Mastery Lesson: Straddles

Jan 3, 2008
In our previous reports, we discussed option strategies that feature the use of options in combination with stock such as the buy-write and the use of options against each other in the form of spreads. We will focus on the Straddle, which uses options in unison with each other.

Unlike a spread that features a long option versus a short option, the Straddle features one position (either long or short) and two options - a call and its corresponding put. A Straddle is the strategy composed of a long (or short) call and a long (or short) put where both options have the identical strike price and expiration month.

When putting together a Straddle, the construction should be as follows:

-Different options (call and its corresponding put)
-Same stock
-Same strike
-Same expiration
-One-to-one ratio

Straddle positions are referred to as 'long Straddle' or 'short Straddle' depending on whether you purchase the call and its corresponding put (long) or sell the call and its corresponding put (short). For example, we will construct the long Straddle by purchasing both the July 60 call and the July 60 put. We will construct the short Straddle by selling both the July 60 call and the July 60 put. It is important to note that the Straddle is a one-to-one ratio strategy. For every call that you buy (or sell), you must purchase (or sell) exactly one corresponding put.

Straddle Scenarios
The Straddle relies on movements in stock price or in implied volatility to establish profit opportunities. The Straddle buyer looks for the stock to move aggressively in either direction or for the anticipated perception of possible aggressive moves that will bring about an increase in implied volatility.

Sellers of the Straddle hope for the opposite scenario. A lack of stock movement or a perceived lack of movement, causing implied volatility to decrease, will create profitable scenario.

Straddle Mechanics
Let's look at how a Straddle works. In our illustration, we see the July 65 Straddle. We can either buy or sell the Straddle. If we purchase both the July 65 call and the July 65 put simultaneously in a one-to-one ratio we have a long Straddle. To construct a short Straddle we would sell both the July 65 call and July 65 put simultaneously in a one-to-one ratio.

Continuing with our illustration, we will set the price for each of the options. With our imaginary stock trading at $65.50, the July 65 call trades at $3.13 and the July 65 put trades at $2.47. The combination of these two prices accounts for the $5.60 cost of the Straddle. Fast forward to expiration and observe what happens to the value of the Straddle at different stock prices.

Price Call Put Straddle P & L
50 0.00 15.00 15.00 9.40
55 0.00 10.00 10.00 4.40
60 0.00 5.00 5.00 -.60
65 0.00 0.00 0.00 -5.60
70 5.00 0.00 5.00 -.60
75 10.00 0.00 10.00 4.40
80 15.00 0.00 15.00 9.40

As you can see, the Straddle's value increases the further the stock moves away from the strike. The closer the stock is to the strike, the lower the value of the Straddle at expiration. The chart clearly shows that the more the stock moves away from the strike, the higher the Straddle's value becomes. Conversely, the closer the stock finishes to the strike, the lower the value of the Straddle. Owners of Straddles want and need movement while sellers of Straddles want and need stagnation.

How does this example influence your investment strategy? If you feel that a stock is likely to move aggressively in either direction or if you feel that implied volatility is likely to increase, possibly due to impending news (such as earnings, FDA approval, etc.), look into the purchase of a Straddle. If you feel a stock is likely to enter a stagnant phase, or if you feel that implied volatility is likely to decrease, the sale of a Straddle can be a very profitable trade for you.
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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