NaughtyPines
Short

TRADE IDEA: QQQ AUG/DEC 171/176 COVERED SHORT "COMBO"

NASDAQ:QQQ   INVESCO QQQ TRUST UNIT SER 1
A "combo" is a two-legged option setup with a "long combo" consisting of a short put and long call sold at the same strike and in the same expiry, and a "short combo" consisting of the inverse -- a short call and a long put sold at the same strike. The short combo emulates a short stock position with static* -100 delta; a long, a long stock position with +100 delta. Consequently, they're thought of as synthetic stock positions.

The primary benefit of these over taking on a long or short stock position (at least in a margin environment), is buying power effect: the combo aspect of the pictured setup has a buying power effect of something around 20% of the buying power it would take to short the stock at 176/share. Naturally, I could go with my standard Poor Man's, but going deep in the money and far out in time with the long leg of those setups can be costly from a buying power standpoint,** but also "pesky" -- long-dated, deep in the money long options frequently aren't the most liquid things in the world, and low liquidity generally isn't a trader's friend. In comparison, at-the-money combos tend to be relatively more liquid compared to their long-dated, deep in the money buddies.

In the pictured example, you're basically doing a covered put with the combo at the 176 strike standing in as your static -100 delta short stock and the August 17th, 30 delta, 170 short put "covering" that position, and you work it as you would any other "covered" setup -- rolling the short aspect on significant decrease in value to reduce your cost basis, improve your break even, and/or to defend.

Max Profit: The width of the spread (6) plus the credit received (here, 2.92) for a total of 8.92 and is realized on a finish below the "covering" short put at 170.
Break Even: The combo strike plus the credit received (2.92) or 178.92.
Delta: -70.62***
Theta: 5.04
Take Profit: Take profit is somewhat subjective with these, but I'd begin looking to take the trade off at 20% max, although I can also see leaving it on longer than normal to keep and maintain the static short delta the setup offers.

* -- The delta of a combo is "static," as it is with stock. It never changes, regardless of how price moves in relation to it.
** -- The longer-dated you go with a Poor Man's, the deeper in the money you generally have to go to find longs that have extrinsic value that is less than that of the front month short option you're selling. The deeper you go, the wider the spread, the more expensive it is to put those on. In comparison, the buying power effect of a combo generally doesn't increase significantly over time. In the above example, you actually get paid more in credit for the 176 short combo the farther you go out in time due to put side skew: October: .20 credit; December: .68; January: .67; March: 1.14 which also has the welcome effect of improving the break even of the combo aspect (October: 176.20; December: 176.68; January 176.67; March 177.14).
*** -- You can naturally be more aggressive with these on the covered short put end of these, going with the 40 delta shortie instead of the 30, for example, which would yield a 60 short delta setup.

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