Iron Butterfly explained Skip to Content

Iron Butterfly explained

In this article, I will explain a very common options passive income strategy that allows you to generate a passive income often.

What is an Iron Butterfly?

The iron butterfly spread is a neutral strategy that is a combination of a bull put spread and a bear call spread.

It is a limited risk, limited profit trading strategy that is structured for a larger probability of earning smaller limited profit when the underlying stock is perceived to have a low volatility.

To setup an iron butterfly, the options trader

  1. buys a lower strike out-of-the-money put
  2. sells a middle strike at-the-money put
  3. sells a middle strike at-the-money call
  4. buys another higher strike out-of-the-money call

This results in a net credit to put on the trade.

How Maximum Profit and Maximum Loss in an Iron Butterfly is Achieved

Maximum profit is attained when the underlying stock price at expiration is equal to the strike price at which the call and put options are sold.

At this price, all the options expire worthless and the options trader gets to keep the entire net credit received when entering the trade as profit.

Maximum loss is also limited but significantly higher than the maximum profit. It occurs when the stock price falls at or below the lower strike of the put purchased or rise above or equal to the higher strike of the call purchased.

In either situation, maximum loss is equal to the difference in strike between the calls (or puts) minus the net credit received when entering the trade.

An Iron Butterfly Case Study

Suppose XYZ stock is trading at $40 in June. An options trader executes an iron butterfly by buying a JUL 30 put for $50, writing a JUL 40 put for $300, writing another JUL 40 call for $300 and buying another JUL 50 call for $50. The net credit received when entering the trade is $500, which is also his maximum possible profit.

On expiration in July, XYZ stock is still trading at $40. All the 4 options expire worthless and the options trader gets to keep the entire credit received as profit. This is also his maximum possible profit.

If XYZ stock is instead trading at $30 on expiration, all the options except the JUL 40 put sold expire worthless. The JUL 40 put will have an intrinsic value of $1000. This option has to be bought back to exit the trade. Thus, subtracting his initial $500 credit received, the options trader suffers his maximum possible loss of $500. This maximum loss situation also occurs if the stock price had gone up to $50 or beyond instead.

To further see why $500 is the maximum possible loss, lets examine what happens when the stock price falls below $30 to $25 on expiration. At this price, only the JUL 30 put and the JUL 40 put options expire in-the-money. The long JUL 30 put has an intrinsic value of $500 while the short JUL 40 put is worth $1500. Selling the long put for $500, and factoring in the intial credit of $500 received, he still need to fork out another $500 to buy back the short put worth $1500. Thus his maximum loss is still $500.
Commissions

It is important to note that commission charges weigh heavily in an iron butterfly trade. This is because there are 4 legs involved in this trade compared to the simpler options strategies like the long call or vertical spreads which only involve 1 or 2 legs. To reduce the impact of commissions on profits, one may wish to trade options that expire in 2 to 3 months instead of trading the near month options.

Sign up with the new SG broker Futu SG today till before 31th May and you can receive one FREE Apple share and 3 months of Commission-free trading. All you have to do is open the account and deposit SG$2700 into the account and you can get this welcome package estimated to worth SG$170!

Here are the easy steps that allow you to qualify in less than 2 hours.

Do Like Me on Facebook. I share some tidbits that is not on the blog post there often. You can also choose to subscribe to my content via email below.

I break down my resources according to these topics:

  1. Building Your Wealth Foundation – If you know and apply these simple financial concepts, your long term wealth should be pretty well managed. Find out what they are
  2. Active Investing – For active stock investors. My deeper thoughts from my stock investing experience
  3. Learning about REITs – My Free “Course” on REIT Investing for Beginners and Seasoned Investors
  4. Dividend Stock Tracker – Track all the common 4-10% yielding dividend stocks in SG
  5. Free Stock Portfolio Tracking Google Sheets that many love
  6. Retirement Planning, Financial Independence and Spending down money – My deep dive into how much you need to achieve these, and the different ways you can be financially free
  7. Providend – Where I currently work doing research. Fee-Only Advisory. No Commissions. Financial Independence Advisers and Retirement Specialists. No charge for the first meeting to understand how it works
The Butterfly vs. the Broken Wing Butterfly
← Previous
Iron Condor explained
Next →

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.