Synthetic Long Stock (Split Strikes)

The synthetic long stock (split strikes) is a less aggressive version of the synthetic long stock.

The synthetic long stock (split strikes) position is created by buying slightly out-of-the-money calls and selling an equal number of slightly out-of-the-money puts of the same underlying stock and expiration date.

Synthetic Long Stock (Split Strikes) Construction
Buy 1 OTM Call
Sell 1 OTM Put

The split strike version of the synthetic long stock strategy offers some downside protection. If the trader's outlook is wrong and the underlying stock price falls slightly, he will not suffer any loss. On the flip side, a stronger upside move is needed to produce a profit.

Profits and losses with a split strike strategy are also not as heavy as a corresponding long stock position as the strategist has traded some potential profits for downside protection.

Synthetic Long Stock (Split Strikes) Payoff Diagram
Graph showing the expected profit or loss for the synthetic long stock (split strikes) option strategy in relation to the market price of the underlying security on option expiration date.

Unlimited Profit Potential

Similar to a long stock position, there is no maximum profit for the synthetic long stock (split strikes). The options trader stands to profit as long as the underlying stock price goes up.

The formula for calculating profit is given below:

  • Maximum Profit = Unlimited
  • Profit Achieved When Price of Underlying > Strike Price of Long Call - Net Premium Received
  • Profit = Price of Underlying - Strike Price of Long Call + Net Premium Received

Unlimited Risk

Like the long stock position, heavy losses can occur for the synthetic long stock (split strikes) if the underlying stock price takes a dive.

Often, a credit is taken when establishing this position. Hence, even if the underlying stock price remains unchanged on expiration date, there will still be a profit equal to the initial credt taken.

The formula for calculating loss is given below:

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

Breakeven Point(s)

The underlier price at which break-even is achieved for the synthetic long stock (split strikes) position can be calculated using the following formula.

  • Breakeven Point = Strike Price of Short Put - Net Premium Received OR Strike Price of Long Call + Net Premium Paid

Example

Suppose XYZ stock is trading at $40 in June. An options trader setups a split-strikes synthetic long stock by selling a JUL 35 put for $100 and buying a JUL 45 call for $50. The net credit taken to enter the trade is $50.

Scenario #1: XYZ stock price rise moderately to $45

If the price of XYZ stock rises to $45 on expiration date, both the long JUL 45 call and the short JUL 35 put will expire worthless and the trader keeps the initial credit of $50 as profit.

Scenario #2: XYZ stock rallies explosively to $60

If XYZ stock rallies and is trading at $60 on expiration in July, the short JUL 35 put will expire worthless but the long JUL 45 call expires in the money and has an intrinsic value of $1500. Including the initial credit of $50, the options trader's profit comes to $1550. Comparatively, a corresponding long stock position would have achieved a larger profit of $2000.

Scenario #3: XYZ stock price crashes to $20

On expiration in July, if the price of XYZ stock has instead crashed to $20, the long JUL 45 call will expire worthless while the short JUL 35 put will expire in the money and be worth $1500. Buying back this short put will require $1500 and subtracting the initial $50 credit taken when entering the trade, the trader's loss comes to $1450. A heavier loss of $2000 loss would have been suffered by a corresponding long stock position.

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).

Synthetic Long Stock

There is a more aggressive version of this strategy where both the call and put options involved are at-the-money. While a smaller upside movement of the underlying stock price is required to accrue large profits, this alternative strategy provides less room for error.

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