Ever seen a "Brazilian Zebra"?

Pictured here is an ITUB (35/76) Zero Extrinsic Back Ratio Spread (hence the colorful acronym, "ZEBRA") in the Brazilian financial, ITUB . Since Zebras are high delta directional plays, they're seen as synthetic stock substitutes and can be deployed both on the call side (long), as well as on the put side (short), with the general advantages being their buying power effect relative to being in a one lot, as well as their being defined risk with max loss limited to the debit paid for putting the play on.

Here's how I set these up:

1. Start out by looking at selling a front month at-the-money short call (around the 50 delta).

2. Look at buying two times the number of long calls such that the front month short pays for all the extrinsic in the longs, which should result in a break even that is or near where the underlying is currently trading.

Here, the July 4 short call is paying .45, with the two December longs costing 2.17 each or 4.34 in total. The setup consequently costs a 3.89 debit (4.34 - .45) to put on. Since the long calls are doubled up, one-half 3.89 equals 1.945, so your break even is that amount plus the long call strike at 2.00 or 3.945 versus 4.08, which is where the stock finished on Friday. Put another way, the credit you collect for the 4 short call exceeds all of the extrinsic in the longs by about .13 (4.08 - 3.95 = .13).

From a trade management standpoint, I view these setups in two separate parts: (1) An in the money long call at the 2.00 strike; and (2) A December/July 2/4 long call diagonal.

Assuming favorable movement, I look at taking the long call diagonal off at or near max (here, the width of the spread or 2.00), and then letting the remaining long call "ride," taking it off in profit or, alternatively, selling call against, depending on how it goes. Consequently, the max profit is "undefined," since -- theoretically -- the extra long call can go to infinity. Conversely, I will look to roll the short call out to reduce cost basis further in the event the stock doesn't move or goes down.

Two other candidates for this type of setup: PBR (26/69) and EWZ (36/55) -- both options liquid and at the low end of their 52-week ranges.

In the case of the former, the PBR October/July 5/7 Zebra costs 4.06 to put on with a break even of 7.03 versus 7.06 spot (so you get into a play for 57.5% of what you'd pay to buy and cover a one lot at market); the latter: the EWZ September/July 19/25, 10.97 with a break even of 24.48 versus 24.66 spot and delta of 120.33 (you get into a play for 44.5% of the cost of getting into a one lot at 24.66).


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