Let's Talk Iron Condors

An iron condor is a market-neutral strategy that combines two credit spreads. A call credit spread is implemented above the current stock price, and a put credit spread is implemented below it. The objective of any credit spread is to profit from the short options’ time decay while protecting the position with further out-of-the-money long options.

The iron condor is simply combining the call and put credit spreads as one trade. The trade is based on the possibility of the stock trading between both credit spreads by expiration. Let’s use ABC stock as an example. If the stock has been trading between a range of $75 and $80 over the past few weeks, an iron condor might be an option with an expiration from about a week to a month.

A call credit spread with the short strike call at 80 or higher would profit if the stock stayed below $80 at expiration. A short strike put at 75 or lower would profit if the stock stayed at $75 or higher at expiration. Both short options would need to be protected by further out-of-the-money (OTM) long options. Both spreads would expire worthless, and both premiums are the trader’s to keep if ABC closes at or between the short strikes. The total risk on the trade is also reduced because of both premiums received.

Max profit is both credits from each credit spread. Max risk is the difference in one set of strike prices minus both premiums received. Maximum loss would occur if the stock is at or below $75 or at or above $80 at expiration. No matter what happens, one of the credit spreads will always expire worthless. This, of course, does not guarantee a profit.

Iron condors are a great way to take advantage of time decay when it looks as if the stock will travel in a range for a certain amount of time. The key is to set your profit and loss parameters before entering the trade.

John Kmiecik, Market Taker Mentoring

Trader Education