What is it ?
- A long call spread, also known as a bull call spread is the purchase of a call option while simultaneously selling a call on the same underlying with a higher strike price.
How is it constructed ?
- Both call options are sold and bought on the same underlying with the same maturity (thus known as a vertical spread)
- The purchase of the call is partly financed by the sale of the second call.
- At time zero, the transaction is established generally at a debit (net cash outflow)
- Near identical positions can be created by a short put spread, where the investor sells a put and buys another put at a lower strike.
Max profit: DIfference between strikes minus the net premium paid.
Max loss: Net premium paid
When is used ?
- Used when investors want leveraged exposure to the potential stock upside, but also see a cap to the future levels.
- Constructed often when clients have a long position in a stock, by adding a risk reversal to an existing long position (selling a call and buying a put with a lower strike) – enabling investors to continue to participate in some upside, but also to lock in YTD gains.
- Sometimes used because an investor is bullish but wants less exposure to the future movements of implied volatility – vega is usually small.
What are the benefits ?
- Cost of setting up this strategy is lower than cost of purchasing a vanilla option.
- Losses are limited to net premium paid, thus the loss doesn’t depend on the size of the market fall.
- Delta is initially quite flat meaning that any potential mark to market losses come slowly.