What Is an Iron Condor ?

An iron condor is an options scheme consisting of two puts ( one long and one unretentive ) and two calls ( one long and one short ), and four strike prices, all with the like termination date. The iron condor earns the maximum net income when the fundamental asset closes between the center strike prices at exhalation. In other words, the goal is to profit from low excitability in the implicit in asset .

The iron condor has a alike bribe as a regular condor bedspread, but uses both calls and puts alternatively of only calls or only puts. Both the condor and the iron condor are extensions of the butterfly spread and iron butterfly, respectively.

Key Takeaways

  • An iron condor is a delta-neutral options strategy that profits the most when the underlying asset does not move much, although the strategy can be modified with a bullish or bearish bias.
  • Similar to an iron butterfly, an iron condor is composed of four options of the same expiration: a long put further out of the money (OTM) and a short put closer to the money; and a long call further OTM and a short call closer to the money.
  • Profit is capped at the premium received while the potential loss is capped at the difference between the bought and sold call strikes and the bought and sold put strikes—less the net premium received.

Understanding the Iron Condor

The iron condor strategy has limited top and downside gamble because the high and abject affect options, the wings, protect against significant moves in either focus. Because of this limited risk, its net income potential is besides specify .

For this scheme, the trader ideally would like all of the options to expire worthlessly, which is only possible if the fundamental asset closes between the middle two strike prices at termination. There will probably be a fee to close the trade if it is successful. If it is not successful, the loss is silent limited .

The perpetration can be a luminary gene as there are four options involved. The structure of the strategy is as follows :

  1. Buy one out of the money (OTM) put with a strike price below the current price of the underlying asset. This OTM put option will protect against a significant downside move to the underlying asset. 
  2. Sell one OTM or at the money (ATM) put with a strike price closer to the current price of the underlying asset.
  3. Sell one OTM or ATM call with a strike price above the current price of the underlying asset.
  4. Buy one OTM call with a strike price further above the current price of the underlying asset. This OTM call option will protect against a substantial upside move.

One way to think of an iron condor is having a hanker choke inside of a larger, short strangle—or vice-versa. The options that are further OTM, called the wings, are both retentive positions. Because both of these options are far OTM, their premiums are lower than the two written options, so there is a net recognition to the account when placing the trade .

By selecting unlike strike prices, it is possible to make the strategy list bullish or bearish. For exercise, if both the in-between rap prices are above the current price of the underlying asset, the trader hopes for a small raise in its price by termination. In any character, the trade still carries a limited reinforce and restrict risk .

Iron Condor
picture by Julie Bang © Investopedia 2019

Iron Condor Profits and Losses

The maximal net income for an iron condor is the measure of premium, or credit, received for creating the four-leg options position .

The maximum loss is besides capped. The maximum loss is the deviation between the long call and short call strikes, or the long invest and short-change put strikes. Reduce the passing by the net credits received, but then add commissions to get the entire personnel casualty for the trade .

The maximum loss occurs if the price moves above the long call hit, which is higher than the sold call strickle, or below the long frame mint, which is lower than the sold put strike .

case of an Iron Condor on a stock

Assume that an investor believes Apple Inc. will be relatively flat in terms of price over the adjacent two months. They decide to implement an iron condor, with the stock presently trading at $ 212.26 .

They sell a call with a $ 215 hit, which gives them $ 7.63 in premium, and buy a call with a strike of $ 220, which costs them $ 5.35. The credit on these two legs is $ 2.28, or $ 228 for one contract—each options abridge, put or call, equates to 100 shares of the underlie asset. The deal is only half complete, though .

In summation, the trader sells a put with a come to of $ 210, resulting in a premium receive of $ 7.20, and buys a put with a fall of $ 205, costing $ 5.52. The final recognition on these two legs is $ 1.68, or $ 168 if trading one contract on each .

The total credit for the status is $ 3.96 ( $ 2.28 + $ 1.68 ), or $ 396. This is the maximum profit the trader can make and occurs if all the options expire worthless, which means the price must be between $ 215 and $ 210 when exhalation occurs in two months. If the monetary value is above $ 215 or below $ 210, the trader could still make a shrink profit, but could besides lose money .

The loss gets larger if the price of Apple malcolm stock approaches the upper call strike ( $ 220 ) or the lower arrange strickle ( $ 205 ). The maximum loss occurs if the monetary value of the lineage trades above $ 220 or below $ 205 .

Assume the livestock at termination is $ 225. This is above the upper call fall price, which means the trader is facing the maximum potential loss. The sold call is losing $ 10 ( $ 225 – $ 215 ) while the buy call is making $ 5 ( $ 225 – $ 220 ). The put exhale. The trader loses $ 5, or $ 500 entire ( 100 share contracts ), but they besides received $ 396 in premiums. consequently, the loss is capped at $ 104 plus commissions .

nowadays, assume the monetary value of Apple rather dropped, but not below the lower put threshold. It falls to $ 208. The brusque invest is losing $ 2 ( $ 208 – $ 210 ), or $ 200, while the retentive frame expires despicable. The calls besides expire. The trader loses $ 200 on the position but received $ 396 in premium credits. therefore, they even make $ 196, less commission costs .

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