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Guide to Jade Lizards

By Dan Miller · February 22, 2022 · 5 minute read

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Guide to Jade Lizards

A Jade Lizard is an advanced options strategy that requires taking three different positions. It is a slightly bullish strategy typically used by traders who want to profit from high levels of market volatility.

Traders who use the Jade Lizard strategy must monitor their position and have a plan for exit to avoid the potential for significant losses. The maximum profit for a Jade Lizard strategy is the initial premium received when opening the trade.

What Is a Jade Lizard Option Strategy?

With a Jade Lizard trade, you will enter into three different options positions on the same underlying stock through your brokerage account. The first two positions require selling a call spread, which involves selling a call option at one strike price and buying a call option with the same expiration at a higher strike price. The third and final option position is a put at an even lower strike price.

With a Jade Lizard, these options are usually at out-of-the-money strike prices. The strikes should be selected such that the total premium received from selling the call spread and selling the put option are greater than the width of the call spread. Don’t worry — if it’s not clear what that means, we’ll illustrate in the example that follows.

How Does a Jade Lizard Work?

A Jade Lizard option trade is a neutral to bullish options strategy, which means that you should anticipate the price of your underlying stock to stay the same or go up. With a Jade Lizard options strategy, you are hoping to capture the premium that comes with higher levels of implied volatility, so the ideal environment to execute the trade is one where volatility is elevated.

Setting Up a Jade Lizard

When you set up a Jade Lizard, you should initially be collecting premium from both the call spread and put that you are selling. The key concept of setting up a Jade Lizard is that you want the total amount of premium that you collect initially to be more than the width of your call spread.

As an example, say that stock ABC is trading around $60. You could sell a 58/62/63 Jade Lizard, at these hypothetical prices, on options expiring in 30 days:

•   Sell ABC 62 Call for 1.25

•   Buy ABC 63 Call for 0.90

•   Sell ABC 58 Put for 0.75

Your net credit is $1.10 ($1.25 minus $0.90 plus $0.75), so you collect $110 for each contract that you implement (since one contract typically controls 100 shares of the underlying stock). In our example, you have no risk should the stock move to the upside. To illustrate how, suppose the stock trades above 63 on expiration day. The put option expires worthless, and your maximum loss on the call spread is $100, which is less than the $110 you collected up front. On the other hand, you do have nearly unlimited downside risk if the underlying stock goes to 0. This is the main reason that the Jade Lizard options strategy only makes sense for stocks where you have a neutral to bullish outlook.

Maximum Profit

You will achieve your maximum profit if the options expire with the underlying stock having a price in between the strike price of your put option and the strike price of your lower call option. In our example above, if the stock closes between $58 and $62, then all three options expire worthless and your profit is the $1.10 in initial premium that you collected.

Maximum Loss

In a Jade Lizard strategy, you have nearly unlimited downside exposure, since you are selling a put option. A put option increases in value as the price of the underlying stock goes down. Since you are short the put option, as the stock price goes down you could be on the hook for the difference between the strike price of the put and the price of the underlying stock.

Breakeven Point

The breakeven point for a Jade Lizard on the downside is the difference between the strike price of the put option and the initial premium collected. In our earlier example, we collected $1.10 in net premium, so our breakeven point is $56.90 (the difference between $58.00 and $1.10).

There is also a potential breakeven point to the upside. Ideally with a Jade Lizard, you collect more in initial premium than the width of your call spread. In our example, we collected $1.10 in initial premium and our call spread is only $1 wide (between $62 and $63).

So if the stock closes anywhere above $63 when the options expire, your put will be worthless and your call spread will cost you $1 to close out, or $100 per set of contracts. That will leave you with a profit of $10 per set of contracts.

Exit Strategy

The exit strategy for a Jade Lizard involves purchasing back the options you sold using a buy to close order. When setting up the trade, it’s a good idea to set target profit at which you would buy back the options.

In our example, where we received $1.10 per share, you might look to close out the Jade Lizard when you could buy your options back for around $0.55 per share, 50% of the initial premium you received. The options may decline in value due to movement of the underlying stock, or time decay as the options get closer to their expiration.

Maintaining a Jade Lizard

A Jade Lizard is not a set-it-and-forget-it options strategy. Because of the unlimited downside risk, you’ll want to monitor your position, especially if the price of the underlying stock starts to go down. In that scenario, you may want to close out your position or roll down the strike prices of your short call spread.

Pros and Cons of the Jade Lizard Strategy

Here are some pros and cons of the Jade Lizard strategy:

Pros of the Jade Lizard strategy

Cons of the Jade Lizard strategy

No risk of losses from upward price movement in the underlyingSignificant risk of downward price movement in the underlying
Immediate collection of the net premiumProfits capped to the amount of premium initially received

Alternatives to Jade Lizards

One alternative to the Jade Lizard strategy is a strategy called the Big Lizard. With a Jade Lizard, you typically sell out-of-the-money options. With a Big Lizard strategy, the options that you sell are at-the-money, meaning that their strike price is close to the price of the underlying stock.

Investing With SoFi

The Jade Lizard strategy is an advanced strategy that options traders use when they have a bullish to neutral outlook on a stock. The strategy’s maximum upside is equal to the premium received when opening the trade, while the downside risk is essentially uncapped.

Learning about different options strategies can be a great way to further understand the stock market and how to invest. While SoFi does not currently offer options trading, it’s a great way to start investing. By opening a brokerage account on the Sofi Invest® investment app, you can put together a portfolio of stocks, exchange-traded funds, cryptocurrency, and initial public offerings right from your phone.

FAQ

How are Jade Lizards managed?

When opening a Jade Lizard options strategy, you want to make sure to keep an eye on the underlying stock until the options’ expiration date. Since a Jade Lizard comes with no upside risk, you should especially monitor negative moves in the stock price. In that case, you could close out your position or roll your call spread to a lower stock price, earning more premium.

How do reverse Jade Lizards differ from Jade Lizards?

In a reverse Jade Lizard, also known as a twisted sister option, you sell a put spread, being long the put option with the lower stock price. Additionally you sell a call with a higher strike price.

As the name suggests, a reverse Jade Lizard is the opposite of a regular Jade Lizard, and makes sense when you have a neutral to bearish outlook on a stock. You have risk of losses due to downard price movement and unlimited loss potential from upward price movement, due to the short call.

What is the maximum payoff of a Jade Lizard?

The maximum payoff or profit of a Jade Lizard is capped to the total initial premium that you receive when you open the position. This is equal to the amount you get for selling the put and short leg of the spread minus the amount of premium for the long leg of the call spread.


Photo credit: iStock/ipopba

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