Share pair trading


Share pair trading is a trading strategy based on trading two different shares at the same time. In pair trading, the investor takes a long position with one share and trades a short position with the other share. 

Share pair trading
Share pair trading

In this way, the stocks cover each other and the risk is reduced. In pair trading, we select two stocks with historically correlated (similar, correlated) price movements, usually from the same sector. We assume that their prices are moving in the same direction, but they have moved away from each other (a wider spread has developed between them) and the investor expects the prices to return to similar levels. So one security rises faster and the other slower, or the other security falls. This creates a spread between the two securities. The trader bets on eliminating this spread and takes a long position with the security that has "lagged behind" while "shorting" the security that has risen faster.

Pair trading is often used by professional traders, for example in so-called hedge funds. Professional traders test a number of potential pairs of stocks. The method used to select stocks for pair trading is called backtesting - it retrospectively evaluates historical price data and looks for price divergences - moments when stock prices move apart and form a spread. These price divergences lend themselves to entry trading. This is because pairs trading is based on the assumption that divergences are mostly short-term consequences of market inefficiencies and that stock price relationships will eventually return to average historical values. These divergences are mostly caused by temporary changes between supply and demand, reactions to important corporate news, etc.

Statistical methods are used to select pairs, which is why pair trading is sometimes called "statistical arbitrage".

Once an investor has an open pair trade, one of 4 variants can occur:

  • The stock he bought (long) goes up and the stock he sold (short) goes down. This is the best option as the investor will make a profit on both trades.
  • Both shares will go up, but the share bought will go up faster and the share sold will go down slower. In this case, the long position generates a profit, while the short position generates a loss. However, the profit from the long position is greater, so the total profit is positive.
  • Both shares will fall, but the bought share will fall faster, the sold one slower. The long position results in a loss, but the short position results in a profit. However, the profit from the short position is less than the loss from the long position, so the overall result will be a loss.
  • In the worst case, the price of both shares can move against the investor. The share he bought falls and the share he sold rises. The loss on this trade is then greatest. Therefore, great care must be taken when selecting pairs of shares.

Example: An investor chooses two stocks from the technology sector, International Business Machines (IBM) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). In pair trading it is important that both positions are of equal size - otherwise the trade is unbalanced and the risk of loss increases. In our case, it is about $5,000 per position. A purchase looks like this: On 16/02/2023, an investor opens a long position - buying 25 shares of IBM at a price of $198/share (total $4950) and a short position - selling 270 shares of HPQ at a price of $18.5/share (total $4995).

The investor closes the trade on, say, 16.06.2023. A long position on IBM shares was closed after the price rose from $198 to $210; the profit is (210-198)x25 = $300. A short position on HPQ shares was closed after the price fell from USD 18.5 to USD 14.5. The profit is (18.5-14.5)x270 = 1080 USD. The total profit from the pair trade is 300+1080 = 1380 USD.

Example of a pair trade:

  • Coca-Cola and PepsiCo: These two companies are strong competitors in the beverage industry and are often traded together as a stock pair. For example, if Coca-Cola's share price rises significantly, traders may be interested in selling these shares and buying PepsiCo shares, which are still relatively cheap.
  • ExxonMobil and Chevron: This is another example of a stock pair in the energy sector. The two companies are strong competitors and often trade together to reduce risk and take advantage of market opportunities.
  • Nike and Adidas: These two companies are big players in the sportswear and footwear industry. Traders can trade these two stocks together to avoid the impact of volatility in either company and take advantage of market opportunities.

Compared to other strategies, the pair trading strategy is more "hedged" as the positions hedge each other against sector or market risks. If an entire sector collapses, a short position under this strategy minimises losses. But even this strategy is not without risk.

Latest posts

Be the first to read what's new!

The 3 Black Crows candlestick pattern is a candlestick pattern that signals a possible market reversal from an uptrend to a downtrend. This pattern consists of three black (or red) candles that have a long body and close at lower prices than the previous candle.

Share pair trading is a trading strategy based on trading two different shares at the same time. In pair trading, the investor takes a long position with one share and trades a short position with the other share.

Stock options


Stock options are the most common equity derivative. They are traded both on the stock exchange and on the over-the-counter (OTC) market. Options give their holder (the buyer) the right, but not the obligation, to settle the underlying instruments in the future. Simply put, a stock option serves as a "warrant" to buy or sell shares at a...