As outlined above, the long butterfly can be constructed using only calls. However, there are several alternate ways to set up this strategy. These include:
- Long put X, short two puts Y, long put Z
- Long put X, short put Y, short call Y, long call Z
- Long call X, short call Y, short put Y, long put Z
The decision as to how to construct the long butterfly will be influenced by several factors.
The cost of the strategy may vary depending on the component options used. The trader may need to examine the most economical way of entering the position.
The liquidity of the various series of options should be considered as the long butterfly may be difficult to trade at the best of times.
While the use of the long butterfly implies a neutral view of the market's direction, any leaning towards bullishness or bearishness will influence the choice of component options. Since the strategy always involves the sale of options around-the-money, there is always the risk of exercise as the market price moves away from the central strike price. Whether this risk is present in the case of a market rise or a market fall, will depend on whether calls, or puts, or a combination of the two, have been sold. If the trader has built the long butterfly using only calls, a rise in the market introduces the risk of exercise. If only puts have been used, a fall in the market exposes the trader to the same risk. Therefore, any directional view of the market the trader holds may suggest one way of structuring the long butterfly in preference to another.
The second of the three alternatives listed above suggests the long butterfly can be thought of as an extension of the short straddle. The outer wings act as protection in case of a sharp move in the market. A sharp market move can be devastating to the short straddle, whereas the loss is limited for the holder of a long butterfly. Once the stock price moves beyond the strike price of one of the outer legs, the trader is protected from any further loss.