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Iron Condor Spread

The (Short) Iron Condor Spread is my all-time favorite spread when I think the market will trade within a fairly small range for the near future.  It is a little complicated, but worth the effort to learn.

With a name like this, it's got to be a great spread.  I know what a condor is, but I wouldn't recognize a short one if I saw it, and I've never seen an iron one - all the condors I know have feathers.

If you really want to impress your friends, you can tell them you own a Short Iron Condor Spread, or wow them even more by saying you also are long a strangle and short another strangle which is more in the money. Or you can say you have a bear call spread and a bull put spread, or else a short vertical call spread and a short vertical put spread.  They all mean the same thing, but who really cares what they call them?

The Iron Condor spread involves the simultaneous purchase of a put and a call for the same expiration month (usually only one or two months of remaining life), and the sale of a put and call for that same month but at a strike price which is closer the to current stock price than the options you purchased.

The result is that you end up with two vertical spreads, one of which uses calls at the higher strikes (called a bear call spread) and puts at the lower strikes (called a bull put spread) with all positions in the same expiration month. The number of call spreads is equal to the number of put spreads, and the increment between the strike prices is the same for both spreads.

Typically, an iron condor spread is sold rather than bought (so it should really be called a short iron condor spread).  Since both the puts and calls which are sold have a higher value than those being purchased, it is a credit spread.  It is placed when the investor believes the underlying stock will end up inside of a certain range of prices.  If it does, all four options will expire worthless and the investor will pocket the original credit she received when originally placing the spread.

The iron condor is so named due to the shape of the profit/loss graph, which loosely resembles a large-bodied bird.  In keeping with this analogy, traders often refer to the inner (short) options collectively as the "body" and the outer (long) options as the "wings".

The word Iron is used (for no apparent reason that I have been able to find) to describe a spread where one part of the overall position is a spread at strike prices above the current price of the underlying stock and the other part of the overall position is at strikes below the current price of the stock.  An iron butterfly is another example of using iron in this manner.

Six reasons to love Short Iron Condor Spreads:

  1.     The stock can go up, down, or stay flat, and you can still make a profit.
  2.     Exceptional profits are possible every month
  3.     Extreme flexibility is possible in creating a comfortable risk level
  4.     You can precisely determine your maximum potential loss (or gain) before you make the investment
  5.     If the stock closes anywhere in a broad range at expiration, a guaranteed pre-determined profit is made
  6.     You only have to wait a maximum of 30 or 60 days to learn how much you have made or lost.

One reason not to like Short Iron Condor Spreads:

  1. You can lose your entire investment in less than 60 days.

For this reason, the best way to carry out the iron condor strategy is to be willing to take a small loss at times because it eliminates the possibility of incurring a larger loss, and only investing a portion of  your capital at one time.  Theoretically, if you only risk half your capital at one time, you will never run out of money to invest.

 

Terry's Tips Stock Options Trading Blog

March 17, 2019

Will MasTec’s (MTZ) Growth Prospects Keep the Stock Bid?

This week we are looking at another of the Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 List companies.  We use this list in one of our options portfolios to spot outperforming stocks and place option spreads that take advantage of the momentum.  The Terry’s Tips actual portfolio that trades these ideas has gained 164% so far in 2019.  As always, future results can’t be assured to be as good, but we are pleased with the results so far.

Terry

Will MasTec’s (MTZ) Growth Prospects Keep the Stock Bid?

MasTec’s recent earnings report exceeded expectations and several analysts believe growth trends will continue, here are two of them – MasTec’s 2018 Results: A Lot to Like Here and Will MasTec Earnings Grow Over The Next Year?

Although a daily chart is displayed below, the strongest technical indicator for MTZ is seen on a weekly chart where the stock regained it’s 100 moving average on a sustained basis.  The daily chart confirms the uptrend as the stock is held within a rising trend channel.  The stock has held above a horizontal level at $47.30 in recent sessions, this is a level that was well respected resistance for most of 2018 on several attempts.  Further support in the event of a dip lower is seen near $45.55 where a horizontal level is found as well as the 20-day moving average.

[caption id="attachment_2356" align="alignnone" width="300"]MZT Chart March 2019 MZT Chart March 2019[/caption]

*source Tradingview.com

If you agree there's further upside ahead for MZT, consider this trade which is a bet that the stock will continue to advance over the next five weeks, or at least not decline very much.

Buy To Open MZT 18APR19 44 Puts (MZT190418P44)
Sell To Open MZT 18APR19 47 Puts (MZT190418P47) for a credit of $0.85 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when MZT was trading near $48.  Unless the stock rallies quickly from here, you should be able to get close to this amount.

Your commission on this trade will only be $2.50 per spread (the rate charged by thinkorswim for Terry’s Tips’ subscribers).  Each contract would then yield $82.50 and your broker would charge a $300 maintenance fee, making your investment $217.50 ($300 – $82.50).  If MZT closes at any price above $47 on April 18, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 38% (433% annualized).

Changes to Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 This Week:

[caption id="attachment_2357" align="alignnone" width="258"]IBD Underlying Updates March 14, 2019 IBD Underlying Updates March 14, 2019[/caption]

We have found that the Investor’s Business Daily Top 50 List has been a reliable source of stocks that are likely to move higher in the short run.  Recent additions to the list might be particularly good choices for this strategy, and deletions might be good indicators for exiting a position that you might already have on that stock.

As with all investments, you should only make option trades with money that you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading,

Terry

March 10, 2019

MGM Growth Properties (MGP) Dips Lower, Is It A Buy?

This week we are looking at another of the Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 List companies.  We use this list in one of our options portfolios to spot outperforming stocks and place option spreads that take advantage of the momentum.

Terry

MGM Growth Properties (MGP) Dips Lower, Is It A Buy?

Several analysts think MGM Growth Properties has a lot more upside, here are two of them – A Careful Analysis of MGM Growth Properties and MGM Growth Properties On The Radar of Prospective Investors.

MGP is seen pulling back after testing resistance from a trendline drawn by connecting a high from late 2017 with the high from last year.  Momentum indicators show no reason to believe a triple top is playing out and candlestick patterns on the higher time frames point to strength in recent upward momentum.  The stock is currently testing its 200-day moving average which could be a spot where bulls might look to reenter.

[caption id="attachment_2352" align="alignnone" width="300"]MGP Chart March 2019 MGP Chart March 2019[/caption]

*source Tradingview.com

If you agree there's further upside ahead for MGP, consider this trade which is a bet that the stock will continue to advance over the next six weeks, at least a little.

Buy To Open MGP 18APR19 25 Puts (MGP190418P25)
Sell To Open MGP 18APR19 30 Puts (MGP190418P30) for a credit of $1.18 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when MGP was trading near $30.  Unless the stock rallies quickly from here, you should be able to get close to this amount.

Your commission on this trade will only be $2.50 per spread (the rate charged by thinkorswim for Terry’s Tips’ subscribers).  Each contract would then yield $115.50 and your broker would charge a $500 maintenance fee, making your investment $384.50 ($500 – $115.50).  If MGP closes at any price above $30 on April 18, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 30% (281% annualized).

Changes to Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 This Week:

[caption id="attachment_2353" align="alignnone" width="258"]IBD Underlying Updates March 7, 2019 IBD Underlying Updates March 7, 2019[/caption]

We have found that the Investor’s Business Daily Top 50 List has been a reliable source of stocks that are likely to move higher in the short run.  Recent additions to the list might be particularly good choices for this strategy, and deletions might be good indicators for exiting a position that you might already have on that stock.

As with all investments, you should only make option trades with money that you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading,

Terry

March 3, 2019

American Tower Corp (AMT) Rallies to Record Highs, What’s Next?

This week we are looking at another of the Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 List companies.  We use this list in one of our options portfolios to spot outperforming stocks and place option spreads that take advantage of the momentum. The actual Terry’s Tips portfolio which trades these weekly trade ideas has gained 157% so far in 2019, by far surpassing our other portfolios which have enjoyed average gains of 19% for the first two months of the year.  Of course, past results can’t always be replicated in the future, but we are pleased with the results so far this year.

Terry

American Tower Corp (AMT) Rallies to Record Highs, What’s Next?

Several analysts remain bullish AMT following their earnings report in the past week, here are two of them – American Tower Delivers High-Speed Growth in Q4 and Gearing for a bull run? American Tower Corp Moves 7.42% For The Quarter.

AMT has been rising within an ascending trend channel that dates back to a low printed in late December.  The price action surrounding the earnings report suggests that bulls remain in control.  The stock was volatile on the earnings date, rising about 2% initially but then reversing sharply to end lower on the day.  However, a rally the following day after testing the lower bound of the trend channel saw the price break to a record high, fully erasing the earnings-inspired drop.  The technical outlook points to the potential of a rally towards the top of the rising trend channel.

*source Tradingview.com

If you agree there's further upside ahead for AMT, consider this trade which is a bet that the stock will continue to advance over the next five weeks, or at least not decline very much.

Buy To Open AMT 05APR19 175 Puts (AMT190405P175)
Sell To Open AMT 05APR19 177.5 Puts (AMT190405P177.5) for a credit of $0.85 (selling a vertical)

This price was $0.02 less than the mid-point of the option spread when AMT was trading near $178.  Unless the stock rallies quickly from here, you should be able to get close to this amount.

Your commission on this trade will only be $2.50 per spread (the rate charged by thinkorswim for Terry’s Tips’ subscribers).  Each contract would then yield $82.50 and your broker would charge a $250 maintenance fee, making your investment $167.50 ($250 – $82.50).  If AMT closes at any price above $177.5 on April 05, both options would expire worthless, and your return on the spread would be 49% (559% annualized).

Changes to Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) Top 50 This Week:

[caption id="attachment_2347" align="alignnone" width="168"]IBD Underlying Updates February 28, 2019 IBD Underlying Updates February 28, 2019[/caption]

We have found that the Investor’s Business Daily Top 50 List has been a reliable source of stocks that are likely to move higher in the short run.  Recent additions to the list might be particularly good choices for this strategy, and deletions might be good indicators for exiting a position that you might already have on that stock.

As with all investments, you should only make option trades with money that you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading,

Terry

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