In trading the stock market, no-one has a crystal ball. The price of stocks can go down, as well as up. What is needed is an exit strategy that will enable you to survive the bad stocks, and make a good profit on the good stocks.
The method that I have found to work the best is a trailing stop loss. For those who don’t know what a stop loss is, I shall explain briefly. A stop loss is an order for your stock broker to sell your shares if the price dips to the level that you have specified.
There are two ways of doing this. The simplest method is to decide on how much you are willing to lose as a percentage of your investment. A good rule is not to go less than 10%. Work out the price of the stock at this level and set that as your stop loss. As the price of the stock increases, keep moving the level of the stop up to keep the percentage gap the same. Some brokers offer a trailing stop loss service, where you tell them what percentage to set the loss at and they do it for you.
The second method is slightly more complicated, and comes from “Nicolas Darvas” in his book “How I made $2,000,000 in the Stock Market”. The markets tend to flow in stages. a stock on the rise will reach a peak, and then dip back down. It may do this several times at each stage. The idea is to follow the chart of the stock and see where the dips are the lowest, and set the stop loss just below them. A second part which Nicolas propounds is that when the stock breaks out of the sideways trend, to buy more of the stock, and when the stock starts going sideways again to move the stop loss up again to just below the lowest part of the dip.
Using the stop loss as an exit strategy, only works if you stick to it, and not lower it, thinking that the price will go up again in a few days. In a few cases you will be right, but what usually happens is the price keeps moving against you, and you loose even more money. As a secondary to this, the money still tied up in the first stock that is falling can’t be used on another trade.
Finally, a word of warning about using the stop loss system to protect your capital. There are times when the markets undergoes a fast fall in price, there are regulations about how far a price can fall in one-day. If it falls this maximum distance, it can bypass your stop loss, and you may be unable to sell. Although these situations are rare, it is better that you know about them. So that they are not a shock when they do happen to you.