box trading strategy

Although the Darvas box strategy is largely based on technical analysis methods, Darvas combined it with some fundamental analysis to determine what stocks to trade. Without a doubt, the Darvas box strategy works best in strong bull markets. The market simply goes higher and you just keep buying the strength. If you are swing trading and you can catch the right symbol, profits can get out of hand quickly. Darvas boxes are a fairly simple indicator created by drawing a line along lows and highs.

box trading strategy

The top half of the table tests exchange traded funds and the bottom half tests a portfolio of stocks. The only parameter varied is
the time required for a new high to appear. When price rises to a new high in October, it signals a buy, which I show in blue. The actual purchase would be made at the market open the next day. Since price has made a new high,
the search for a box top would begin and be found a few days later. I raised the peak on the black box to show a new high (that is, I lengthened the black candle on the first box top in October).

Why is volume important in the Darvas Box Theory?

If the market does not move in the expected direction, the strategy may result in a loss. In this case, you purchase put options at ₹30 and sell put options at ₹20, paying and receiving ₹2 and ₹4, respectively as premium. You purchase call options for ₹20 per share from a seller and sell call options to a buyer for ₹30 per share. Therefore, for purchasing the call option, you will be paying and receiving a premium of ₹5 and ₹ 1 for purchasing and selling call options respectively. Purchasing options require a buyer to pay a premium to the seller.

The April 2007 issue of Active Trader magazine also looked at the Darvas box in their Trading System Lab. They concluded, “The Darvas Box system is very simple and has the
potential to beat the market with proper money management.” This does not include the stock selection process or what type of volatility measure to use to give the you the odds that the breakout has the potential to succeed.

  • Darvas’ initial strategy was created at a time when information flow was much slower and there was no such thing as real-time charting.
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  • If the prevailing market price during expiration is lower than the strike price during expiration, then the contract stands unexercised and expires worthless.
  • Without a doubt, the Darvas box strategy works best in strong bull markets.

A long box will always expire at a value worth the distance between the two strike prices utilized. A short box, however, may be subject to early assignment risk when using American options. While box spreads are commonly used for cash management and are seen as a way to arbitrage interest rates with low risk, there are some hidden risks.

Darvas dove into hundreds of stock charts and learned about the movement of price in each stock. He simply bought an upward moving stock using his Box theory- trading with the trend of the stock (trend following). It is reported that Darvas , using his box method while travelling the world dancing, turned $36000 into over $2 million in 18 months trading the stock market. By not honoring the stop, you actually could end up in a catastrophic situation. Remember, you are trading stocks that are trending strongly, so when things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong. Essentially, if a stock on his watchlist was bouncing around inside a “price box” of say $35 and $40, then he knew if it broke to $40.50, it was time to buy.

This approach’s strength lies in its simplicity, discipline, and its focus on price action and volume. If a stock is trading at $50, a $45 call is purchased, and a $55 call is sold. As the profit from the box spread is very small, the brokerage and taxes involved in this strategy can sometimes offset all of the gains. It’s very important to consider the trading cost (brokerage, fee, taxes etc.) before trading in this strategy.

Steps to Take When a Stock Moves Out of the Box

Day trading is defined as an approach to trading where the trader opens and closes the trade during the same trading day. Day trading is sometimes referred to also as scalping or intra-day box trading strategy trading…. There is also a spot on the chart which says “no entry.” This is because the breakout was not convincing and Darvas requires the price to leave the box by a few points.

  • These specific, highly practical methods can serve as a useful guide to every individual investor.
  • The two spreads have the same strike prices and expiration dates, which creates a “box” around the stock price.
  • The strategy aims to exit the options at the full value of the spread width between the debit spreads.
  • There’s also a risk of false breakouts, where the price breaks above the box but quickly reverses.
  • A long box is, in theory, a low-risk strategy that is sensitive primarily to interest rates.

Note that the total cost of the box remain same irrespective to the price movement of underlying security in any direction. The expiration value of the box spread is actually the difference between the strike prices of the options involved. For example, if a stock is trading at $50, a $45 call is purchased, and a $55 call is sold. If pricing is efficient, the box spread would be bought and sold for $10.

Understanding the Darvas Box Theory

The reward in this strategy is the difference between the total cost of the box spread and its expiration value. The long box strategy should be used when the component spreads are underpriced in relation to their expiration values. In most cases, the trader has to hold the position till expiry to gain the benefits of the price difference. Being risks free arbitrage strategy, this strategy can earn better return than earnings in interest from fixed deposits. The earning from this strategy varies with the strike price chosen by the trader.

box trading strategy

This is because you will find yourself buying the breakout and then consequently selling the breakdown at the bottom of the box. To construct a box spread, a trader buys an in-the-money (ITM) call, sells an out-of-the-money(OTM) call, buys an ITM put, and sells an OTM put. In other words, buy an ITM call and put and then sell an OTM call and put. Box spread trading requires ample market knowledge to anticipate market momentum. Hence, it is generally suited for seasoned traders with market trade experience. We will discuss what box trading strategy is, how it works and its benefits and risks.


The payoff diagram for a long box spread is simply two long debit spreads with the stock price somewhere between the long and short strike prices. The strategy is unaffected by the movement of the stock price, as the spreads will cancel out when closed at expiration. What is more important with a long box spread is the price to enter the position relative to the width of the legs in the two debit spreads. For the strategy to be profitable, the bull call spread and bear put spread must be purchased for a price less than the width of the spreads when the position is opened. A long box spread is made up of a bull call debit spread and a bear put debit spread. The two long spreads have the same strike prices and expiration dates.

The trader avoids losses, but this risk reduction comes at a cost because they must forfeit some profits. In practise, the Darvas box theory is designed to help investors have performance that surpass the overall market performance. This theory is based on monitoring the growth of an industry by using the performance of selected stocks, their market prices and trading trends overtime.

Breaking a trading strategy down is a good learning tool for developing traders. In the end, it may be too much work (plus you need to learn how to properly test it WITHOUT over-optimizing) and if you find that to be the case, reach out to In the end, it is up for every trader to test any trading strategy that they are interested in. The Darvas Box trading strategy goes back decades but the key idea is that it is a strategy complete with trading rules including where and when to enter.

What is a Darvas Box?

To that end, anyone using the risk-free long box options strategy must first be aware of the possibility of incurring large losses that come with assigning the options before their expiration. The time to take off a long box spread is when the economy has stabilised. The reason is that the long box options strategy is only used when the economy is just beginning to recover from a financial crisis, at the turn of a depression. The Darvas Box Theory is a unique approach to trading, built on the concept of “boxes” or trading ranges. It is a momentum strategy used to identify stocks trading within defined price ranges and captures the trend as it moves from one box to the next. Box spreads are usually only opened with European options, whose exercise is not allowed until the option’s expiration.

box trading strategy

Since options are more volatile, you see that many traders generally apply a box spread strategy in options trading compared to futures trading. The Darvas Box Theory is a trading strategy that follows the momentum of stocks. The momentum theory simply states that stock prices that increased previously are more likely to increase in the future. Conversely, stock prices that were decreasing previously are more likely to decrease in the future.

Now let’s review the hard part of the system, which requires tremendous discipline — the ability to not only pick the right stock but to also understand when market conditions are ripe. For example, Darvas clearly says buy the new 52-week high, so the look-back period is honestly irrelevant. Do what feels right to you, but we would recommend you stick as close as possible to Darvas’s original intent to see what part of the strategy works for your trading style. Darvas used three bars consolidating under the first high bar to construct the box. However, you can now configure the boxes to your liking with a few clicks of the mouse.

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