The iron condor is a limited risk, non-directional option trading strategy that is designed to have a large probability of earning a small limited profit when the underlying security is perceived to have low volatility. The iron condor strategy can also be visualized as a combination of a bull put spread and a bear call spread.
|Iron Condor Construction|
|Sell 1 OTM Put|
Buy 1 OTM Put (Lower Strike)
Sell 1 OTM Call
Buy 1 OTM Call (Higher Strike)
Using options expiring on the same expiration month, the option trader creates an iron condor by selling a lower strike out-of-the-money put, buying an even lower strike out-of-the-money put, selling a higher strike out-of-the-money call and buying another even higher strike out-of-the-money call. This results in a net credit to put on the trade.
Maximum gain for the iron condor strategy is equal to the net credit received when entering the trade. Maximum profit is attained when the underlying stock price at expiration is between the strikes of the call and put sold. At this price, all the options expire worthless.
The formula for calculating maximum profit is given below:
Maximum loss for the iron condor spread is also limited but significantly higher than the maximum profit. It occurs when the stock price falls at or below the lower strike of the put purchased or rise above or equal to the higher strike of the call purchased. In either situation, maximum loss is equal to the difference in strike between the calls (or puts) minus the net credit received when entering the trade.
The formula for calculating maximum loss is given below:
There are 2 break-even points for the iron condor position. The breakeven points can be calculated using the following formulae.
Suppose XYZ stock is trading at $45 in June. An options trader executes an iron condor by buying a JUL 35 put for $50, writing a JUL 40 put for $100, writing another JUL 50 call for $100 and buying another JUL 55 call for $50. The net credit received when entering the trade is $100, which is also his maximum possible profit.
On expiration in July, XYZ stock is still trading at $45. All the 4 options expire worthless and the options trader gets to keep the entire credit received as profit. This is also his maximum possible profit.
If XYZ stock is instead trading at $35 on expiration, all the options except the JUL 40 put sold expire worthless. The JUL 40 put has an intrinsic value of $500. This option has to be bought back to exit the trade. Thus, subtracting his initial $100 credit received, the options trader suffers his maximum possible loss of $400. This maximum loss situation also occurs if the stock price had gone up to $55 instead.
To further see why $400 is the maximum possible loss, lets examine what happens when the stock price falls to $30 on expiration. At this price, both the JUL 35 put and the JUL 40 put options expire in-the-money. The long JUL 35 put has an intrinsic value of $500 while the short JUL 40 put is worth $1000. Selling the long put for $500, he still need $500 to buy back the short put. Subtracting the initial credit of $100 received, his loss is still $400.
Commission charges can make a significant impact to overall profit or loss when implementing option spreads strategies. Their effect is even more pronounced for the iron condor as there are 4 legs involved in this trade compared to simpler strategies like the vertical spreads which have only 2 legs.
If you make multi-legged options trades frequently, you should check out the brokerage firm OptionsHouse.com where they charge a low fee of only $0.15 per contract (+$4.95 per trade).
The following strategies are similar to the iron condor in that they are also low volatility strategies that have limited profit potential and limited risk.
The converse strategy to the iron condor is the reverse or short iron condor. Short iron condors are used when one perceives the volatility of the price of the underlying stock to be high.
The iron condor spread belongs to a family of spreads called wingspreads whose members are named after a myriad of flying creatures.
Your new trading account is immediately funded with $5,000 of virtual money which you can use to test out your trading strategies using OptionHouse's virtual trading platform without risking hard-earned money.
Once you start trading for real, your first 100 trades will be commission-free! (Make sure you click thru the link below and quote the promo code '60FREE' during sign-up)Click here to open a trading account at OptionsHouse.com now!
Buying straddles is a great way to play earnings. Many a times, stock price gap up or down following the quarterly earnings report but often, the direction of the movement can be unpredictable. For instance, a sell off can occur even though the earnings report is good if investors had expected great results....[Read on...]
If you are very bullish on a particular stock for the long term and is looking to purchase the stock but feels that it is slightly overvalued at the moment, then you may want to consider writing put options on the stock as a means to acquire it at a discount....[Read on...]
Also known as digital options, binary options belong to a special class of exotic options in which the option trader speculate purely on the direction of the underlying within a relatively short period of time.....[Read on...]
If you are investing the Peter Lynch style, trying to predict the next multi-bagger, then you would want to find out more about LEAPSÂ® and why I consider them to be a great option for investing in the next MicrosoftÂ®.... [Read on...]
Cash dividends issued by stocks have big impact on their option prices. This is because the underlying stock price is expected to drop by the dividend amount on the ex-dividend date....[Read on...]
As an alternative to writing covered calls, one can enter a bull call spread for a similar profit potential but with significantly less capital requirement. In place of holding the underlying stock in the covered call strategy, the alternative....[Read on...]
Some stocks pay generous dividends every quarter. You qualify for the dividend if you are holding on the shares before the ex-dividend date....[Read on...]
To achieve higher returns in the stock market, besides doing more homework on the companies you wish to buy, it is often necessary to take on higher risk. A most common way to do that is to buy stocks on margin....[Read on...]
Day trading options can be a successful, profitable strategy but there are a couple of things you need to know before you use start using options for day trading.... [Read on...]
Learn about the put call ratio, the way it is derived and how it can be used as a contrarian indicator.... [Read on...]
Put-call parity is an important principle in options pricing first identified by Hans Stoll in his paper, The Relation Between Put and Call Prices, in 1969. It states that the premium of a call option implies a certain fair price for the corresponding put option having the same strike price and expiration date, and vice versa.... [Read on...]
In options trading, you may notice the use of certain greek alphabets like delta or gamma when describing risks associated with various positions. They are known as "the greeks".... [Read on...]
Since the value of stock options depends on the price of the underlying stock, it is useful to calculate the fair value of the stock by using a technique known as discounted cash flow.... [Read on...]
Risk Warning: Stocks, futures and binary options trading discussed on this website can be considered High-Risk Trading Operations and their execution can be very risky and may result in significant losses or even in a total loss of all funds on your account. You should not risk more than you afford to lose. Before deciding to trade, you need to ensure that you understand the risks involved taking into account your investment objectives and level of experience. Information on this website is provided strictly for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as a trading recommendation service. TheOptionsGuide.com shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.