Call Backspread

The call backspread (reverse call ratio spread) is a bullish strategy in options trading that involves selling a number of call options and buying more call options of the same underlying stock and expiration date at a higher strike price. It is an unlimited profit, limited risk options trading strategy that is taken when the options trader thinks that the underlying stock will experience significant upside movement in the near term.

Call Backspread Construction
Sell 1 ITM Call
Buy 2 OTM Calls

A 2:1 call backspread can be implemented by selling a number of calls at a lower strike and buying twice the number of calls at a higher strike.

Call Backspread Payoff Diagram
Graph showing the expected profit or loss for the call backspread option strategy in relation to the market price of the underlying security on option expiration date.

Unlimited Profit Potential

The call back spread profits when the stock price makes a strong move to the upside beyond the upper breakeven point. There is no limit to the maximum possible profit.

The formula for calculating profit is given below:

  • Maximum Profit = Unlimited
  • Profit Achieved When Price of Underlying >= 2 x Strike Price of Long Call - Strike Price of Short Call +/- Net Premium Paid/Received
  • Profit = Price of Underlying - Strike Price of Long Call - Max Loss

Limited Risk

Maximum loss for the call back spread is limited and is taken when the underlying stock price at expiration is at the strike price of the long calls purchased. At this price, both the long calls expire worthless while the short call expires in the money. Maximum loss is equal to the intrinsic value of the short call plus or minus any debit or credit taken when putting on the spread.

The formula for calculating maximum loss is given below:

  • Max Loss = Strike Price of Long Call - Strike Price of Short Call +/- Net Premium Paid/Received + Commissions Paid
  • Max Loss Occurs When Strike Price of Long Call

Breakeven Point(s)

There are 2 break-even points for the call backspread position. The breakeven points can be calculated using the following formulae.

  • Upper Breakeven Point = Strike Price of Long Call + Points of Maximum Loss
  • Lower Breakeven Point = Strike Price of Short Call

Example

Suppose XYZ stock is trading at $43 in June. An options trader executes a 2:1 call backspread by selling a JUL 40 call for $400 and buying two JUL 45 calls for $200 each. The net debit/credit taken to enter the trade is zero.

On expiration in July, if XYZ stock is trading at $45, both the JUL 45 calls expire worthless while the short JUL 40 call expires in the money with $500 in intrinsic value. Buying back this call to close the position will result in the maximum loss of $500 for the options trader.

If XYZ stock rallies and is trading at $50 on expiration in July, all the options will expire in the money. The short JUL 40 call is worth $1000 and needs to be bought back to close the position. Since the two JUL 45 call bought is now worth $500 each, their combined value of $1000 is just enough to offset the losses from the written call. Therefore, he achieves breakeven at $50.

Beyond $50 though, there will be no limit to the gains possible. For example, at $60, each long JUL 45 call will be worth $1500 while his single short JUL 40 call is only worth $2000, resulting in a profit of $1000.

If the stock price had dropped to $40 or below at expiration, all the options involved will expire worthless. Since the net debit to put on this trade is zero, there is no resulting loss.

Note: While we have covered the use of this strategy with reference to stock options, the call backspread is equally applicable using ETF options, index options as well as options on futures.

Commissions

For ease of understanding, the calculations depicted in the above examples did not take into account commission charges as they are relatively small amounts (typically around $10 to $20) and varies across option brokerages.

However, for active traders, commissions can eat up a sizable portion of their profits in the long run. If you trade options actively, it is wise to look for a low commissions broker. Traders who trade large number of contracts in each trade should check out OptionsHouse.com as they offer a low fee of only $0.15 per contract (+$4.95 per trade).

Similar Strategies

The following strategies are similar to the call backspread in that they are also bullish strategies that have unlimited profit potential and limited risk.

Protective Put
Married Put
Long Call

Ratio Spread

The converse strategy to the backspread is the ratio spread. Ratio spreads are used when little movement is expected of the underlying stock price.

Put Backspread

The backspread can also be constructed using puts. Unlike the call backspread, the put backspread is a bearish strategy.

Ready to Start Trading?

Open an account at OptionsHouse.com and get 100 commission-free trades + free virtual trading tool!

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!

Continue Reading...

Buying Straddles into Earnings

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...]

Writing Puts to Purchase Stocks

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...]

Investing in Growth Stocks using LEAPS® options

If you are investing the Peter Lynch style, trying to predict the next multi-bagger, then you would want to find out more about LEAPS® and why I consider them to be a great option for investing in the next Microsoft®.... [Read on...]

Effect of Dividends on Option Pricing

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...]

Bull Call Spread: An Alternative to the Covered Call

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...]

Dividend Capture using Covered Calls

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...]

Leverage using Calls, Not Margin Calls

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 using Options

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...]

What is the Put Call Ratio and How to Use It

Learn about the put call ratio, the way it is derived and how it can be used as a contrarian indicator.... [Read on...]

Understanding Put-Call Parity

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...]

Understanding the Greeks

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...]

Valuing Common Stock using Discounted Cash Flow Analysis

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...]

From Around The Web



Follow Us on Facebook to Get Daily Strategies & Tips!



You May Also Like



Bullish Strategies

Options Strategies

Options Strategy Finder

Outlook on Underlying:


Profit Potential:


Loss Potential:


Credit/Debit:


No. Legs:





Home | About Us | Terms of Use | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Sitemap

Copyright 2016. TheOptionsGuide.com - All Rights Reserved.