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Skip Strike Butterfly with Calls

AKA Broken Wing Butterfly; Split Strike Butterfly

NOTE: This graph assumes the strategy was established for a net credit.

The Setup

  • Buy a call, strike price A
  • Sell two calls, strike price B
  • Skip over strike price C
  • Buy a call, strike price D
  • Generally, the stock will be at or below strike A

NOTE: Strike prices are equidistant, and all options have the same expiration month.

Who Should Run It

All-Stars only

NOTE: Due to the narrow sweet spot and the fact you’re trading three different options in one strategy, skip strike butterflies may be better suited for more advanced option traders.

When to Run It

You want the stock to rise to strike B and then stop.

The Sweet Spot

You want the stock price to be exactly at strike B at expiration.



About the Security

Options are contracts which control underlying assets, oftentimes stock. It is possible to buy (own or long) or sell (“write” or short) an option to initiate a position. Options are traded through a broker, like TradeKing, who charges a commission when buying or selling option contracts.

Options: The Basics is a great place to start when learning about options. Before trading options carefully consider your objectives, the risks, transaction costs and fees.

The Strategy

You can think of this strategy as embedding a short call spread inside a long call butterfly spread. Essentially, you’re selling the short call spread to help pay for the butterfly. Because establishing those spreads separately would entail both buying and selling a call with strike C, they cancel each other out and it becomes a dead strike.

The embedded short call spread makes it possible to establish this strategy for a net credit or a relatively small net debit. However, due to the addition of the short call spread, there is more risk than with a traditional butterfly.

A skip strike butterfly with calls is more of a directional strategy than a standard butterfly. Ideally, you want the stock price to increase somewhat, but not beyond strike B. In this case, the calls with strikes B and D will approach zero, but you’ll retain the premium for the call with strike A.

This strategy is usually run with the stock price at or around strike A. That helps manage the risk, because the stock will have to make a significant move upward before you encounter the maximum loss.

Maximum Potential Profit

Potential profit is limited to strike B minus strike A minus the net debit paid, or plus the net credit received.

Maximum Potential Loss

Risk is limited to the difference between strike C and strike D minus the net credit received or plus the net debit paid.

Break-even at Expiration

If established for a net credit (as in the graph above) then the break-even point is strike C plus the net credit received when establishing the strategy.

If established for a net debit, then there are two break-even points:

  • Strike A plus net debit paid.
  • Strike C minus net debit paid.

TradeKing Margin Requirements

Margin requirement is equal to the difference between the strike prices of the short call spread embedded into this strategy.

NOTE: If established for a net credit, the proceeds may be applied to the initial margin requirement.

Keep in mind this requirement is on a per-unit basis. So don’t forget to multiply by the total number of units when you’re doing the math.

As Time Goes By

For this strategy, time decay is your friend. Ideally, you want all options except the call with strike A to expire worthless.

Implied Volatility

After the strategy is established, the effect of implied volatility depends on where the stock is relative to your strike prices.

If the stock is at or near strike B, you want volatility to decrease. Your main concern is the two options you sold at strike B. A decrease in implied volatility will cause those near-the-money options to decrease in value, thereby increasing the overall value of the butterfly. In addition, you want the stock price to remain stable around strike B, and a decrease in implied volatility suggests that may be the case.

If the stock price is approaching or outside strike A or D, in general you want volatility to increase. An increase in volatility will increase the value of the option you own at the near-the-money strike, while having less effect on the short options at strike B.

Options Guy's Tip

  • Some investors may wish to run this strategy using index options rather than options on individual stocks. That’s because historically, indexes have not been as volatile as individual stocks. Fluctuations in an index’s component stock prices tend to cancel one another out, lessening the volatility of the index as a whole.


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