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What Is a Pair Trade?

A pair trade is a trading strategy that involves matching long and short positions in two highly-correlated securities. Essentially, you make opposite bets on different but related securities in the hopes that their opposing price movements yield a profit. 

Pair trades, explained

Pair trading is a strategy wherein a trade bets that two securities will diverge or converge in price. (Correlation measures how closely two assets move together. The higher the correlation, the more likely securities will move in the same direction under the same conditions.) 

You can trade pairs in stocks, bonds and commodities or even between asset classes. Most of the time, these securities are in the same industry or sector, though not always. 

Profiting from pair trades

Specifically, pair traders seek highly correlated assets they believe have strayed from their “true” price. They take a long position in the asset they believe is undervalued and short the asset they think is overvalued. Then, when the securities (hopefully) return to their “true” price, they snag a profit. 

Pair trades: an example

For instance, consider Coke and Pepsi. On paper stocks are nearly identical – they’re both mature companies that sell similar products. In theory, they should share a high correlation. 

Now, let’s say that Coke stock drops 25%, while Pepsi stock rises 25%. As a pair trader, you might approach this in two ways:

  • Convergence traders want to see prices grow closer. Therefore, you’d buy Coke thinking it will rise and short Pepsi thinking it will fall. 
  • Divergence traders want to see prices drift apart. Therefore, you’d short Coke thinking it will fall further and buy Pepsi thinking it has more growth potential. 

If you make the right call, you stand to profit from both stock movements. But even if you’re wrong about one stock, you can still make a profit – or at least avoid a loss. 

How to approach pair trading

Pair trading is less a specific strategy and more a type of trade. Essentially, you’re buying one asset and shorting another while hoping to profit off both transactions. As such, there’s no “right” way to approach pair trading. 

For instance, some investors take a quantitative approach, using numbers, historical charts and statistical analysis to determine the “best” pairs. Others rely on sophisticated ideas about business strategies, market cycles and competitive advantage to make pair trades. (For example, buying GM and shorting Ford because you think GM has a better business model this year.) 

What this means for you

Pair trading is widely seen as a market-neutral hedging strategy that allows you to “straddle” a trade while profiting against any move the market makes. Unfortunately, while it sounds easy on paper, in practice, it takes a skilled trader with experience, time and money to pull off.

But you don’t have to be an expert to profit on pair trades. In fact, many of’s Investment Kits take advantage of AI-backed pair trades, including our Gas Spike, Outperformance, Bond Spread and Tech Rally Kits. 

All you have to do is choose your preferred Kit, risk tolerance and investment size – we’ll take care of the rest. 

Disclosures is the trade name of Quantalytics Holdings, LLC., LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quantalytics Holdings, LLC ("Quantalytics"). Quantalytics offers automated financial advice tools through Quantalytics Investment Advisors, LLC ("QAI"), an SEC-registered investment advisor. QIA’s investment advisory services are ONLY available only to residents of the United States. Disclosures concerning QIA’s investment advisory services are available on its Form ADV filed with the SEC. The content in this newsletter is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a comprehensive description of's investment advisory services.

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