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Michael C. Thomsett is a widely published options author. His "Getting Started in Options" (Wiley, 9th edition) has sold over 300,000 copies. He also is author of "Options Trading for the Conservative Investor" and "The Options Trading Body of Knowledge" (both FT Press); and "Options for... More
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  • The Synthetic Long Stock Strategy And How It Works 0 comments
    Feb 28, 2013 11:27 AM

    Creating synthetic long stock lets you open an options-based position that behaves exactly like 100 shares of stock, but without requiring you to invest in shares. This also means that market risk is quite limited, because you have less cash sitting in the position.

    An example: You want to buy 100 shares of stock which closed at $60.39 last night. But you don't want to risk $6,039 to buy those shares and tie up capital. The solution is to create a synthetic long stock position in options.

    The following options were available:

    September 60 call 2.00

    September 60 put 1.52

    The synthetic long stock position consists of buying the call and selling the put at the same expiration. This position gives you a good tracking mechanism for very little cost. You buy the 60 call and sell the 60 put:

    BUY September 60 call 2.00

    SELL September 60 put -1.52

    Net cost $0.48

    This does not include transaction costs, so a real-life example has to be adjusted to reflect the actual net cash outlay. The chart below summarizes the values of each option at expiration, compared to the value of 100 shares of stock at different closing prices:

    Price at September 100 shares

    Expiration 60 call 60 put Net of stock

    $65 + 3.00 + 1.52 + 4.52 + 4.61

    64 + 2.00 + 1.52 + 3.52 + 3.61

    63 + 1.00 + 1.52 + 2.52 + 2.61

    62 0 + 1.52 + 1.52 + 1.61

    61 - 1.00 + 1.52 + 0.52 + 0.61

    60 - 2.00 + 1.52 - 0.48 - 0.39

    59 - 2.00 + 0.52 - 1.48 - 1.39

    58 - 2.00 - 0.48 - 2.48 - 2.39

    57 - 2.00 - 1.48 - 3.48 - 3.39

    56 - 2.00 - 2.48 - 4.48 - 4.39

    55 - 2.00 - 3.48 - 5.48 - 5.39

    The slight differences in outcome between the net option positions and the equivalent stock values are caused by the net difference of both stock values and option cost:

    Cost of the synthetic stock position 0.48

    Minus: Stock current value at opening price

    adjusted to strike price of 60 - 0.39

    Net difference 0.09

    This net difference accounts for the nine-cents per share difference at each price point, between synthetic long stock and the value of 100 shares of stock.

    The synthetic long stock position costs under $100 even with brokerage fees for the two sides of the position. In comparison, you need over $6,000 to buy 100 shares. However, the options position acts exactly like the stock for much less capital at risk. This is a truly effective application of leverage, but with much less risk. Synthetic positions are easily overlooked or ignored in the options world. But it opens up a range of potential for swing traders and would-be stock investors. The synthetic short stock position also offers a relatively low-risk alternative to shorting stock.

    Synthetics deserve careful consideration. These positions can solve many problems relating to both risk and capital management.

    To gain more perspective on insights to trading observations and specific strategies, I hope you will join me at where I publish many additional articles. I also enter a regular series of daily trades and updates. For new trades, I usually include a stock chart marked up with reversal and confirmation, and provide detailed explanations of my rationale. Link to the site at to learn more.

    I also offer a weekly newsletter subscription if you are interested in a periodic update of news and information and a summary of performance in the virtual portfolio that I manage. All it requires is your e-mail address. Join at Weekly Newsletter I look forward to having you as a subscriber.

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