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The Strategy

Buying the call gives you the right to buy the stock at strike price A. Selling the put obligates you to buy the stock at strike price A if the option is assigned.

This strategy is often referred to as “synthetic long stock” because the risk / reward profile is nearly identical to long stock. Furthermore, if you remain in this position until expiration, you will probably wind up buying the stock at strike A one way or the other. If the stock is above strike A at expiration, it would make sense to exercise the call and buy the stock. If the stock is below strike A at expiration, you’ll most likely be assigned on the put and be required to buy the stock.

Since you’ll have the same risk / reward profile as long stock at expiration, you might be wondering, “Why would I want to run a combination instead of buying the stock?” The answer is leverage. You can achieve the same end without the up-front cost to buy the stock.

At initiation of the strategy, you will have some additional margin requirements in your account because of the short put, and you can also expect to pay a net debit to establish your position. But those costs will be fairly small relative to the price of the stock.

Most people who run a combination don’t intend to remain in the position until expiration, so they won’t wind up buying the stock. They’re simply doing it for the leverage.

Options Guy’s Tips

It’s important to note that the stock price will rarely be precisely at strike price A when you establish this strategy. If the stock price is above strike A, the long call will usually cost more than the short put. So the strategy will be established for a net debit. If the stock price is below strike A, you will usually receive more for the short put than you pay for the long call. So the strategy will be established for a net credit. Remember: The net debit paid or net credit received to establish this strategy will be affected by where the stock price is relative to the strike price.

Dividends and carry costs can also play a large role in this strategy. For instance, if a company that has never paid a dividend before suddenly announces it’s going to start paying one, it will affect call and put prices almost immediately. That’s because the stock price will be expected to drop by the amount of the dividend after the ex-dividend date. As a result, put prices will increase and call prices will decrease independently of stock price movement in anticipation of the dividend. If the cost of puts exceeds the price of calls, then you will be able to establish this strategy for a net credit. The moral of this story is: Dividends will affect whether or not you will be able to establish this strategy for a net credit instead of a net debit. So keep an eye out for them if you’re considering this strategy.

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