Straddles and strangles are both options strategies that allow the investor to gain on significant moves either up or down in a stock's price. Both strategies consist of buying an equal number of call and put options with the same expiration date; the only difference is that the strangle has two different strike prices, while the straddle has one common strike price.

For example, let's say you believe your favorite diamond mining company is going to release its latest results in three weeks time, but you have no idea whether the news will be good or bad. This would be a good time to enter into a straddle, because when the results are released the stock is likely to be more sharply higher or lower.

Let's assume the price is currently at $15 and we are currently in April 05. Suppose the price of the $15 call option for June 05 has a price of $2. The price of the $15 put option for June 05 has a price of $1. A straddle is achieved by buying both the call and the put for a total of $300: ($2 + $1) x 100 = 300. The investor in this situation will gain if the stock moves higher (because of the long call option) or if the stock goes lower (because of the long put option). Profits will be realized as long as the price of the stock moves by more than $3 per share in either direction. A strangle is used when the investor believes the stock has a better chance of moving in a certain direction, but would still like to be protected in the case of a negative move.

For example, let's say you believe the mining results will be positive, meaning you require less downside protection. Instead of buying the put option with the strike price of $15, maybe you should look at buying the $12.50 strike that has a price of $0.25. In this case, buying this put option will lower the cost of the strategy and will also require less of an upward move for you to break even. Using the put option in this strangle will still protect the extreme downside, while putting you, the investor, in a better position to gain from a positive announcement.

(For further reading, see Risk Graphs: Visualizing Your Profit Potential.)

  1. How do hedge funds use equity options?

    With the growth in the size and number of hedge funds over the past decade, the interest in how these funds go about generating ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can mutual funds invest in options and futures?

    Mutual funds invest in not only stocks and fixed-income securities but also options and futures. There exists a separate ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some of the most common technical indicators that back up Doji patterns?

    The doji candlestick is important enough that Steve Nison devotes an entire chapter to it in his definitive work on candlestick ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Tame Panic Selling with the Exhausted Selling Model

    The exhausted selling model is a pricing strategy used to identify and trade based off of the price floor of a security. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Point and Figure Charting Using Count Analysis

    Count analysis is a means of interpreting point and figure charts to measure vertical price movements. Technical analysts ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What assumptions are made when conducting a t-test?

    The common assumptions made when doing a t-test include those regarding the scale of measurement, random sampling, normality ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Chart Advisor

    Pay Attention To These Stock Patterns Playing Out

    The stocks are all moving different types of patterns. A breakout could signal a major price move in the trending direction, or it could reverse the trend.
  2. Chart Advisor

    Now Could Be The Time To Buy IPOs

    There has been lots of hype around the IPO market lately. We'll take a look at whether now is the time to buy.
  3. Chart Advisor

    Copper Continues Its Descent

    Copper prices have been under pressure lately and based on these charts it doesn't seem that it will reverse any time soon.
  4. Credit & Loans

    Pre-Qualified Vs. Pre-Approved - What's The Difference?

    These terms may sound the same, but they mean very different things for homebuyers.
  5. Technical Indicators

    Using Pivot Points For Predictions

    Learn one of the most common methods of finding support and resistance levels.
  6. Options & Futures

    Cyclical Versus Non-Cyclical Stocks

    Investing during an economic downturn simply means changing your focus. Discover the benefits of defensive stocks.
  7. Insurance

    Cashing in Your Life Insurance Policy

    Tough times call for desperate measures, but is raiding your life insurance policy even worth considering?
  8. Fundamental Analysis

    Using Decision Trees In Finance

    A decision tree provides a comprehensive framework to review the alternative scenarios and consequences a decision may lead to.
  9. Chart Advisor

    Watch These Stocks for Breakouts

    These four stocks are moving within price patterns of various size, shape and duration, and are worth watching for a breakout
  10. Chart Advisor

    ChartAdvisor for November 20 2015

    Weekly technical summary of the major U.S. indexes.
  1. Dead Cat Bounce

    A temporary recovery from a prolonged decline or bear market, ...
  2. Confirmation

    The use of an additional indicator or indicators to substantiate ...
  3. Crude Oil

    Crude oil is a naturally occurring, unrefined petroleum product ...
  4. Leg

    A leg is one component of a derivatives trading strategy, in ...
  5. Grant

    The issuance of an award, such as a stock option, to key employees ...
  6. Put-Call Parity

    A principle that defines the relationship between the price of ...

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  2. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  3. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  4. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  5. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  6. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
Trading Center