Long Strangle Option Strategy: Mastering Market Volatility for Maximum Gains

Jeremy BiberdorfBy: Jeremy Biberdorf

July 9, 2024July 9, 2024

Looking to harness the power of significant market movements? The long strangle option strategy might be your gateway to capitalizing on volatility without choosing a specific direction. This approach allows traders to position themselves to profit from large price swings, regardless of whether the market surges up or plunges down.

Stay tuned as we explore the mechanics of setting up a long strangle, the optimal conditions under which to employ it, and why it might be a valuable addition to your trading arsenal.

Whether you’re a novice exploring complex strategies or an experienced trader looking to diversify your approaches, understanding the long strangle could open new doors to trading opportunities.

If you are more of a visual learner, check out this long strangle explanation:

Key Takeaways

  • The long strangle option strategy excels in high-volatility environments, allowing traders to profit from significant movements without predicting a specific direction.
  • While offering unlimited profit potential, the strategy’s risk is capped at the total premiums paid, making it a calculated risk option for seasoned traders.
  • Best utilized during periods of expected volatility due to major announcements or economic events, where the outcome is uncertain.
  • Although it involves purchasing both a call and a put, the out-of-the-money positions typically result in lower initial costs compared to similar strategies like the long straddle.

What is The Long Strangle Option Strategy?

Long Strangle Strategy

This strategy involves purchasing both a long call option at a higher strike price and a long put option at a lower strike price, with both options set on the same underlying stock and sharing the same expiration date.

Basically, this setup is executed for a net debit, meaning the initial cost of entering the position, and targets scenarios where the underlying stock experiences significant price swings.

The appeal of the long strangle lies in its structure as a multi-leg, market-neutral strategy that does not necessarily require a directional bet on the stock movements.

Instead, it leverages the potential for volatility. Traders employing this strategy stand to gain unlimited profit potential if the stock price surges above the upper break-even point determined by the call option’s strike price plus the net cost of the trade.

Conversely, there’s substantial profit potential if the stock price drops below the lower break-even point, calculated from the put option’s strike price minus the same net cost.

The financial risk is clearly defined with the long strangle: the maximum loss a trader can incur is limited to the total cost paid to establish the strangle, plus any transaction fees. This cost forms the total risk capital at stake, which can be a decisive factor for traders in assessing their risk tolerance and deciding on the viability of this strategy for their trading portfolios.

When You Should Use The Long Strangle Option Strategy

The long strangle option strategy is an exceptional choice for traders seeking to leverage substantial movements in the stock price, irrespective of the direction. This approach involves buying both a call and a put option, each with different strike prices but the same expiration date. It’s designed for scenarios where significant volatility is anticipated but the direction of the move is uncertain.

Here’s why the long strangle strategy is often used:

  • Market Neutrality and Volatility: Long strangles are market-neutral, thriving on the volatility increase expected from major corporate or economic events. Whether it’s an earnings announcement or a pivotal FDA approval, this strategy positions traders to benefit from sharp price swings in the underlying asset. The strategy’s success hinges on the asset’s price surpassing the upper or lower break even points, dictated by the strike prices of the options involved.
  • Advantage of Increased Volatility: The rise in implied volatility typically associated with big market events can inflate the option premiums, which is a core component of the long strangle’s profit potential. If the stock moves dramatically, the increase in volatility combined with asset moves can lead to significant profits.
  • Cost-Effectiveness and Profit Potential: Although it requires paying premiums on two options, the long strangle is often less costly than strategies like long straddles because the options are out-of-the-money. The requirement for a larger move in the stock price to reach profitability reflects a trade-off between cost and potential reward. The profit potential is unlimited if the stock price dramatically rises or falls beyond the breakeven points.
  • Risk and Reward Balance: The maximum risk is confined to the premiums paid for the options, marking it as a limited risk strategy. This predefined risk makes the long strangle a suitable strategy for traders with varying risk tolerance levels but who seek substantial profits from predicted high volatility.

What Type of Trader Should Use The Long Strangle Option Strategy?

The long strangle option strategy is ideal for traders who are adept at managing the nuances of high volatility and unpredictability in the markets. Here’s a profile of the type of trader best suited for this strategy:

  • Experienced with Options Strategy: The long strangle requires a deep understanding of how various factors such as time decay and asset moves affect option prices, making it suitable for those well-versed in complex options strategies.
  • Analytical and Strategic: Traders must excel in making precise trading decisions based on their analyses of underlying security movements, especially as expiration approaches. This involves predicting whether asset prices will hit the breakeven points calculated from the strike prices and the entire premium paid.
  • Responsive to Market Dynamics: Ideal traders are those who can actively monitor stock price moves and adjust their positions in response to changing market conditions, such as unexpected reactions to earnings reports or significant news events that might affect the underlying security.

How To Execute a Long Strangle Option Strategy: A Step-By-Step Guide

Executing a long strangle option strategy involves careful planning and an understanding of market volatility. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to execute this strategy effectively:

Step 1: Assess Market Conditions

Start by evaluating the current market volatility and potential for large price swings. A long strangle strategy is particularly effective in environments where you anticipate significant price movement in the underlying security but are unsure of the direction.

This could be around events like earnings reports or major economic announcements that are likely to cause substantial price movement. For this step, a good stock market newsletter is crucial. Motley Fools Options is a popular choice for successful options traders. Check out my Motley Fool Options review to see if it is worth adding to your playbook.

Step 2: Choose Appropriate Strike Prices

Select the strike prices for both the call and put options. The call option should have a higher strike price while the put should have a lower strike price, both out-of-the-money. The choice of strike prices should reflect a balance between the cost of the options (option premium) and the potential for profit. It’s crucial that these strikes are set at points where you expect the stock to move significantly beyond, by expiration.

Step 3: Purchase the Options

Buy the call and put options with the same expiration period. This will form your long strangle position. The cost of entering this trade (strangle cost) is the sum of the premiums paid for both the call and the put, which represents your maximum potential loss.

Ensure that the expiration dates give the stock enough time to make the anticipated move. You will need a quality broker for this step. Robinhood has become a preferred option for almost 16 million users. Read my Robinhood review to see what traders love about them.

Step 4: Monitor the Underlying Security

After initiating the strangle, monitor the underlying security’s price movements closely. The strategy’s success hinges on the stock price moving enough to either rise above the upper breakeven point or fall below the lower breakeven point before the options expire.

Step 5: Manage the Position

As the expiration approaches, keep an eye on the time decay and how it affects the option prices. Time decay can erode the value of your options, so it’s important to make any necessary adjustments to your position based on the underlying price moves and remaining time. This might include rolling the positions to different strikes or expiration dates if market conditions change.

Step 6: Close the Position

Decide on an exit strategy. You can either wait for the options to expire, potentially capturing the full profit if the positions are profitable, or choose to close them early to capture partial profits or prevent further losses. This decision should be based on your risk tolerance, market analysis, and the stock’s price relative to your breakeven points.

Step 7: Review and Learn

After the trade is completed, whether at expiration or by closing the position early, review the outcome. Analyze whether the initial market expectations were met and how the actual volatility compared to your predictions.

Use this insight to refine your strategy for future trades, paying close attention to the accuracy of your market predictions and the effectiveness of your strike selection and timing. An online trading journal like TraderSync helps this process immensely. My TraderSync review will let you know what benefits they offer.

The Long Strangle Option Strategy: My Final Thoughts

The long strangle option strategy is a powerful tool for traders looking to leverage market dynamics without taking a directional stance. By buying both a call and a put option, traders can prepare to capture profit from potential spikes in volatility.

This strategy is particularly appealing due to its clearly defined risk profile, which is limited to the initial investment in the option premiums, making it an attractive strategy for traders with a good grasp of market timing and risk management.

Whether facing earnings announcements or other pivotal market events, the long strangle can be a valuable strategy in a well-rounded trader’s arsenal, offering both high profit potential and controlled risk.

Jeremy Biberdorf
Jeremy Biberdorf

About the Author:

Jeremy Biberdorf is the founder of Modest Money. He's a father of 2 beautiful girls, a dog owner, a long-time online entrepreneur and an investing enthusiast.

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