Atlantic Capital Management

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Tuesday, 20 March 2018 13:44

The Value of a Stop-Loss Strategy

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Why you may want to have one in place in any market climate.

What is a stop-loss strategy, and how can it potentially aid an investor? Savvy investors use stop-loss orders as a kind of “insurance” against stock market losses. Simply explained, a stop-loss order is an order you give to a brokerage to sell a stock when the share price falls to a certain level.

A stop-loss strategy may be used to preserve gains and alleviate downside risk. Say you buy 10 shares at $60 a share, and eight months later the price is at $68 a share. You place a stop-loss order with your broker, telling your broker you want to sell if the share price dips to $66. One day, the share price falls to that level, and the stop-loss order becomes a market order authorizing a trade. If the market (or market sector) dives quickly, you may not be able to sell your shares for $66, but you will likely be able to sell them near that price.1

You can also employ trailing stops as part of a stop-loss strategy. This can be useful with a growth stock. As an example, suppose you buy into a company at $20 a share, and two years later, the share price stands at $35 and seems poised to rise further. Is it time for profit-taking, or should you hang on to those shares a bit longer?

A trailing stop may provide an answer to this dilemma. When you put a trailing stop in place, you authorize your broker to sell the stock when the price dips a certain percentage below the current market value – say, 10% under market price. So if shares move up to $50, then fall to $45, you are able to sell at or near $45, and you profit more than you would had you sold at $35.2

The trailing stop moves up as the share price moves up. Obviously, you do not want to set the trailing stop only a handful of percentage points below the current price, because that could mean activating the stop too soon.

Profit targets are also part of stop-loss strategies. When the price of a stock reaches a certain level – a target price – you sell. In setting a profit target, you know when to get out, and you know your degree of profit as you close the trade.

How much gain do you need to break even or profit? Here is the key question in a stop-loss strategy. Reaching a price target represents a win, and a stop-loss represents a loss. At a glance, it seems easy to gauge whether your stop-loss strategy is a success: the wins merely have to exceed the losses. The evaluation is not quite that simple. You can use relatively simple math to figure out your break-even percentage: (Stop Loss ÷ (Target + Stop Loss)) x 100.3

For the sake of simplicity, say your average loss is $100 and your average target $200. The calculation becomes: (100 ÷ (200 + 100)) x 100, or 0.33 x 100 = 33%. Commissions aside, you need to win on 33% of your trades to break even. Win more trades than that and you are profiting.

When exactly will you break even or profit? Time will tell, but the answer may directly relate to the difference in your loss level and your target level. If your target level is way above your loss level, in theory you will have to win very few trades to profit – but in reality, you may have a hard time winning any trades, and your strategy could fail. When your target level is closer to your loss level, you must win more often to break even, but winning may become easier for you.

A stop-loss strategy could help you sustain the income stream from your portfolio. A little reflection will reveal why. When Wall Street slumps, a buy-and-hold investor can become a buy-and-fold investor, hanging onto losers too long and then selling them at or near a market bottom. Alternately, an investor may fall in love with a winner so much that no profit is ever taken – he or she learns a tough lesson when its share price falls and the opportunity to sell high is lost. Having price targets and stop orders in place takes some of the emotion out of trading in these circumstances, helping to mitigate losses and lock in gains.

Sure, there are potential drawbacks to a stop-loss strategy. Some people prefer price alerts to automatic stop-losses, because they want to stay hands-on and not cede control of trades to software and algorithms – and in a steep market drop, those algorithms may quickly drive a stock’s price well under a stop in the blink of an eye. An opportunity cost can also be paid with the use of price targets – maybe this or that stock clearly has more upside, and it really feels like you are selling too soon when the target is reached. These points aside, a well-considered stop-loss strategy may have real value for an investor, especially one who does not actively trade stocks on a day-to-day basis.  

  

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

  

Citations.

1 - investopedia.com/ask/answers/06/stoplossorderdetails.asp [1/4/18]

2 - thebalance.com/trailing-stop-1031394 [7/25/17]

3 - thebalance.com/calculating-your-break-even-percentage-1031085 [10/14/16]

Wednesday, 07 February 2018 19:24

Bad Money Habits to Break in 2018

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Behaviors worth changing for the New Year.

Do bad money habits constrain your financial progress? Many people fall into the same financial behavior patterns year after year. If you sometimes succumb to these financial tendencies, the New Year is as good an occasion as any to alter your behavior.

#1: Lending money to family & friends. You may know someone who has lent a few thousand to a sister or brother, a few hundred to an old buddy, and so on. Generosity is a virtue, but personal loans can easily transform into personal financial losses for the lender. If you must loan money to a friend or family member, mention that you will charge interest and set a repayment plan with deadlines. Better yet, don’t do it at all. If your friends or relatives can’t learn to budget, why should you bail them out?

#2: Spending more than you make. Living beyond your means, living on margin, whatever you wish to call it, it is a path toward significant debt. Wealth is seldom made by buying possessions; today’s flashy material items may become the garage sale junk of 2027. That doesn’t stop people from racking up consumer debts: a 2017 study conducted by NerdWallet determined that the average U.S. household carries $15,654 in credit card debt alone.1

#3: Saving little or nothing. Good savers build emergency funds, have money to invest and compound, and leave the stress of living paycheck-to-paycheck behind. If you can’t put extra money away, there is another way to get some: a second job. Even working 15-20 hours more per week could make a big difference. The problem of saving too little is far too common: at the end of 2017, the Department of Commerce found the U.S. personal savings rate at 2.9%, a low unseen since 2007.2

#4: Living without a budget. You may make enough money that you don’t feel you need to budget. In truth, few of us are really that wealthy. In calculating a budget, you may find opportunities for savings and detect wasteful spending.

#5: Frivolous spending. Advertisers can make us feel as if we have sudden needs; needs we must respond to, needs that can only be met via the purchase of a product. See their ploys for what they are. Think twice before spending impulsively.

#6: Not using cash often enough. No one can deny that the world runs on credit, but that doesn’t mean your household should. Pay with cash as often as your budget allows.

#7: Gambling. Remember when people had to go to Atlantic City or Nevada to play blackjack or slots? Today, behemoth casinos are as common as major airports; most metro areas seem to have one or be within an hour’s drive of one. If you don’t like smoke and crowds, you can always play the lottery. There are many glamorous ways to lose money while having “fun.” The bottom line: losing money is not fun. It takes willpower to stop gambling. If an addiction has overruled your willpower, seek help.

#8: Inadequate financial literacy. Is the financial world boring? To many people, it is. The Wall Street Journal is not exactly Rolling Stone, and The Economist is hardly light reading. You don’t have to start there, however: great, readable, and even entertaining websites filled with useful financial information abound. Reading an article per day on these websites could help you greatly increase your financial understanding if you feel it is lacking.  

#9: Not contributing to IRAs or workplace retirement plans. Even with all the complaints about 401(k)s and the low annual limits on traditional and Roth IRA contributions, these retirement savings vehicles offer you remarkable wealth-building opportunities. The earlier you contribute to them, the better; the more you contribute to them, the more compounding of those invested assets you may potentially realize.

#10: DIY retirement planning. Those who plan for retirement without the help of professionals leave themselves open to abrupt, emotional investing mistakes and tax and estate planning oversights. Another common tendency is to vastly underestimate the amount of money needed for the future. Few people have the time to amass the knowledge and skill set possessed by a financial services professional with years of experience. Instead of flirting with trial and error, see a professional for insight.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 -.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2017/12/12/five-things-you-need-to-know-today-and-why-were.html [12/12/17]

2 - reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy/strong-u-s-consumer-business-spending-bolster-growth-picture-idUSKBN1EG1J2 [12/22/17]

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