Short Put Synthetic Straddle

The short put synthetic straddle recreates the short straddle strategy by shorting the underlying stock and selling enough at-the-money puts to cover twice the number of shares sold. That is, for every 100 shares shorted, 2 put contracts must be written.

Short Put Synthetic Straddle Construction
Sell 2 ATM Puts
Short 100 Shares

Short put synthetic straddles are limited profit, unlimited risk options trading strategies that are used when the options trader feels that the underlying asset price will experience very little volatility in the near future.

Short Put Synthetic Straddle Payoff Diagram
Graph showing the expected profit or loss for the short put synthetic straddle option strategy in relation to the market price of the underlying security on option expiration date.

Limited Profit Potential

Maximum profit for the short put synthetic straddle is achieved when the underlying stock price on expiration date is trading at the strike price of the options sold. At this price, both written put contracts expire worthless and the options trader gets to keep the entire net premium received taken as profit.

The formula for calculating maximum profit is given below:

  • Max Profit = Net Premium Received - Commissions Paid
  • Max Profit Achieved When Price of Underlying = Strike Price of Short Put

Unlimited Risk

Large losses for the short put synthetic straddle can be sustained when the underlying stock price makes a strong move either upwards or downwards at expiration. A strong downward move will cause the uncovered short put to expire deep in-the-money while a strong upward move will cause the short stock position to suffer a severe loss.

The formula for calculating loss is given below:

  • Maximum Loss = Unlimited
  • Loss Occurs When Price of Underlying > Sale Price of Underlying + Net Premium Received OR Price of Underlying < Strike Price of Short Put - Net Premium Received
  • Loss = Price of Underlying - Sale Price of Underlying - Net Premium Received OR Strike Price of Short Put - Price of Underlying - Net Premium Received + Commissions Paid

Breakeven Point(s)

There are 2 break-even points for the short put synthetic straddle position. The breakeven points can be calculated using the following formulae.

  • Upper Breakeven Point = Sale Price of Underlying + Net Premium Received
  • Lower Breakeven Point = Strike Price of Short Put - Net Premium Received

Example

Suppose XYZ stock is trading at $40 in June. An options trader implements a short put synthetic straddle by selling two JUL 40 puts for $200 each and shorting 100 shares of XYZ stock for $4000. The net premium received for writing the put contracts is $400. 

If XYZ stock is trading at $30 on expiration in July, the two JUL 40 puts expire in-the-money and has an intrinsic value of $1000 each. Buying back the the put options to close out the position will cost the trader $2000. However, the short stock position posted a gain of $1000. Taking into account the net premium of $400 received, the short put synthetic straddle's loss comes to: $2000 - $1000 - $400 = $600.

On expiration in July, if XYZ stock is still trading at $40, both the JUL 40 put contracts expire worthless while the short stock position broke even. Hence, the short put synthetic straddle trader made his maximum profit which is equal to the initial $400 net premium received upon entering the trade.

Note: While we have covered the use of this strategy with reference to stock options, the short put synthetic straddle 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 short put synthetic straddle in that they are also low volatility strategies that have limited profit potential and unlimited risk.

Variable Ratio Write
Short Strangle (Sell Strangle)
Short Straddle (Sell Straddle)

Short Call Synthetic Straddle

The synthetic short straddle can also be implemented using calls instead of puts and that strategy is known as the short call synthetic straddle.

Long Put Synthetic Straddle

Since the short straddle can be synthetically constructed, similarly, the long straddle can be recreated using the long put synthetic straddle strategy. Long put synthetic straddles are used when the underlying stock price is perceived to be highly volatile.

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