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Butterfly Spread


A Butterfly Spread is an advanced options strategy that involves a combination of a bull spread and a bear spread. It involves the purchase or sale of four options of the same type with three different strike prices. The goal of a Butterfly Spread is to take advantage of volatility in the market and profit from a stock’s price staying put or moving less than anticipated.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword ‘Butterfly Spread’ is: ‘ˈbʌtəflaɪ sprɛd’

Key Takeaways

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  1. Butterfly Spread is an advanced options strategy that combines purchasing and selling options with various strike prices. It involves two option contracts with the same expiration date and underlying asset but different strike prices. It is designed to achieve a high return if the price of the underlying asset remains near the middle strike price.
  2. There are two types of Butterfly Spreads – long and short. A long Butterfly Spread involves buying a call at the lowest strike price, selling two calls at the middle strike price, and buying a call at the highest strike price. Conversely, a short Butterfly Spread involves selling a call at the lowest and highest strike prices, and buying two calls at the middle strike price.
  3. The maximum profit for a Butterfly Spread is obtained when the stock price is equal to the strike price of the short calls (the middle strike price) at expiration. Maximum loss is limited to the initial cost of the trade (the premium paid for the options).



A Butterfly Spread is important in the realm of finance and business because it is a neutral option strategy that is used when the expected volatility of the underlying asset is low. The strategy involves employing a combination of bull and bear spreads with three different strike prices, ideally resulting in limited risk and potential moderate reward. Particularly useful for experienced options traders, this strategy can be an efficient way to generate limited profits while keeping maximum risk minimized. Therefore, the importance of understand and utilizing Butterfly Spread lies in the potential risk moderation and profit-making benefits it can provide under low volatility market conditions.


The Butterfly Spread is an advanced trading strategy primarily designed to profit from a stock or other financial security’s price staying the same or only changing slightly. This strategy aims primarily to limit the overall risk by decreasing the potential cost. To execute a butterfly spread, an investor combines bull and bear spread strategies – it involves purchasing or selling four options with three different strike prices. The investor would sell two options at the middle strike price and buy one option at a lower and one at a higher strike price. It is designed to have a high reward-to-risk ratio, especially when the trader’s view is that the underlying asset will trade in a narrow price range in the near future.The main purpose of a Butterfly Spread is for the trader to profit from minimal movement in the underlying asset’s price. If the asset’s price stays the same or is within a very narrow window of the strike price, the trader would realise the maximum profit. Investors apply the butterfly spread in situations where they anticipate minimal market volatility and expected low movement in the asset’s price. This makes the butterfly spread an excellent strategy for volatile markets where the price may move drastically but the direction is uncertain. It is hence not suitable for beginners but could be an effective tool for advanced traders who are adept at predicting market behavior.


1. Stock Options: Suppose an investment firm believes the price of a certain stock, say ABC Inc., will stay around its current price of $50 per share up to a specified date in the future. To potentially profit from this assumption, the firm could implement a butterfly spread strategy using call options. The firm would buy a call option for ABC Inc. with a strike price of $40 and another call option with a strike price of $60. Then they would sell two call options for ABC Inc. with a strike price of $50. If the price does stay close to $50 at the option expiration date, the firm would gain profit.2. Commodity Market: A commodity trader believes that wheat prices are going to stay relatively neutral over the next few months. To prepare for this, the trader could set up a butterfly spread using commodity futures contracts for wheat. The trader might buy a futures contract with a delivery date three months away at a particular price, as well as another contract with a delivery date five months away at a slightly higher price. Meanwhile, they would sell two contracts with a delivery date four months away at a mid-way price. If the price of wheat stays relatively neutral as anticipated, the trader stands to gain.3. Currency Exchange Market: An investor thinks that the exchange rate between the euro and the U.S. dollar will stay stable within a certain range in the next six months. To create a profit from this, the investor sets up a butterfly spread using currency options. They buy a call option for EUR/USD with a strike price below the current exchange rate and another call option with a strike price above the current rate, then sell two call options at the current rate. If the exchange rate ultimately stays within the anticipated range, the investor could earn a profit from the strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Butterfly Spread in finance and business terms?

A Butterfly Spread is an advanced options strategy that includes a combination of bull and bear spreads. It involves three strike prices and aims to profit from low volatility in the underlying asset. It works best when the underlying asset trades within a narrow price range.

How does a Butterfly Spread strategy create a profit?

The profit from a Butterfly Spread strategy is generated when the underlying asset experiences very little movement. Ideally, the asset price should equal the middle strike price at expiration, which would maximize the investor’s profit.

What are the components of a Butterfly Spread?

A Butterfly Spread includes four options contracts or ‘legs: a long call at a lower strike price, two short calls at a middle strike price, and a long call at a higher strike price. These positions form the ‘wings’ and ‘body’ of the ‘butterfly’.

What is the risk associated with a Butterfly Spread strategy?

The risk in a Butterfly Spread is limited to the total premium paid for the options contracts. This risk happens when the stock price is above the highest strike price or below the lowest strike price at expiration.

How does a Butterfly Spread differ from other options strategies?

Unlike other options strategies, a Butterfly Spread profits from low volatility and a lack of price movement, rather than a directional price move. This makes it unique and potentially profitable in the right market conditions.

Can a Butterfly Spread be executed with put options?

Yes, you can execute a Butterfly Spread using either call or put options. The methodology remains similar but the view on the underlying asset’s future direction changes.

What’s the ideal market condition for implementing a Butterfly Spread?

The ideal market condition for the implementation of a Butterfly Spread is when the market is expected to remain relatively stable. This strategy thrives on less volatility and narrower price movement within a specific range.

How complex is the Butterfly Spread strategy?

The complexity of the Butterfly Spread strategy is considered to be on the higher side. It is a strategy used by more sophisticated investors who are confident about their prediction of a stock’s future volatility.

What is the maximum potential profit from a Butterfly Spread?

The maximum potential profit from a Butterfly Spread is calculated as the difference between the middle and lower strike prices minus the net debit (or plus the net credit) taken to enter the trade.

: Why is the strategy named Butterfly Spread?

The term ‘Butterfly Spread’ is related to the appearance of the strategy’s probability profit/loss graph, which somewhat resembles a butterfly— large wings and a small body. It derives from the overall shape of the profit/loss potential for the position.

Related Finance Terms

  • Options Trading
  • Non-Directional Strategy
  • Limited Risk
  • Call and Put Options
  • Breakeven Points

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