A long straddle is the best of both worlds, since the call gives you the right to buy the stock at strike price A and the put gives you the right to sell the stock at strike price A. But those rights don’t come cheap.
The goal is to profit if the stock moves in either direction. Typically, a straddle will be constructed with the call and put at-the-money (or at the nearest strike price if there’s not one exactly at-the-money). Buying both a call and a put increases the cost of your position, especially for a volatile stock. So you’ll need a fairly significant price swing just to break even.
Advanced traders might run this strategy to take advantage of a possible increase in implied volatility. If implied volatility is abnormally low for no apparent reason, the call and put may be undervalued. The idea is to buy them at a discount, then wait for implied volatility to rise and close the position at a profit.
Maximum Potential Profit
Potential profit is theoretically unlimited if the stock goes up.
If the stock goes down, potential profit may be substantial but limited to the strike price minus the net debit paid.
Maximum Potential Loss
Potential losses are limited to the net debit paid.
Break-even at Expiration
There are two break-even points:
- Strike A plus the net debit paid.
- Strike A minus the net debit paid.
TradeKing Margin Requirements
After the trade is paid for, no additional margin is required.
As Time Goes By
For this strategy, time decay is your mortal enemy. It will cause the value of both options to decrease, so it’s working doubly against you.
After the strategy is established, you really want implied volatility to increase. It will increase the value of both options, and it also suggests an increased possibility of a price swing. Huzzah.
Conversely, a decrease in implied volatility will be doubly painful because it will work against both options you bought. If you run this strategy, you can really get hurt by a volatility crunch.