When to Sell Stock(s)

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Over the years, as soon as people meet me or learn that I am a long time experienced investor, they start bragging about a stock that they have that as done very well because it has increased in value (Very few talk about the many that they have lost money on).

And I always ask, “So, did you sell enough shares to at least prevent you from losing your original investment when the stock goes back down?”

Always with a puzzled look on their faces, they reply, “You mean take some profit?” No, I reply, you always want to leave your profit in the market. What you want to protect is your principal, your hard-earned money, your original investment. By taking out you original investments, you can sit back and not have to worry about the wild emotionally driven up-and-down swings in the stock markets. Even better, if the stock you own pays at least a quarterly dividend, your profit can be keep growing over time collecting reinvest dividends.

And with that explanation you can see the imaginary light bulbs go on over their head, “Oh, I get it, then all that is at risk is my gain, not my initial money!”

However, most people always find it hard to sell a stock that is doing very well (and sometimes even one that is clearly is a loser that will never recover). Sunk-cost fallacy.

I will share a true story here. I remember meeting this guy who asked me for free advice on a stock he had bought, he paid $30,000 for 2,000 shares of this stock that cost him $15 per shares. When I met him, the stock had gone up to $25 per share, so it was now worth $50,00. I said. “If I were you I would take out $31,000 and leave $19,000 in the market, so no matter what happens, you can never lose your $30,000 in this stock.”

He looked at me as if I was telling to give up his first born, and that I was crazy because this stock, his stock only has one direction–UP!

Anyway, and about six months later he called me on the phone and said he wish he had listened to me because the stock was now down to 36% and he now only had $32,000.

He came back to visit me unannounced because the stock had now dropped down to less than $1.80. But, as it keeps dropping, he kept buying to where he had over 30,000 more shares for a total of 32,000 shares at a total cost of over $80,000–he had used credit cards and equity in his home, and he was really upset with himself because this has caused a lot of stress with his wife..

After he had left, I did some in-depth research on the stock. It was a medical stock, that was going through FDA rejection after rejection, but I did notice it was not due to the product, but the sloppy medical trials. I called him back and explained this to him; he was still not happy has his home life was not the best.

About two years later I noticed that stock price had gone back up to over $9.80, and I called him, and I said your value is now over $300,000. I told him to sell at least half and pay off the credit cards and his home equity loan, he said no he would not because they were one more step away from possible getting approval by the FDA and the stock would go up even more. And he was right; the stock went to $38 per shares, and when he call me I said you were right you are now a millionaire with over $1.2 Million.

He asked me what to do and, again, I said to sell at least 25% and diversify your portfolio by putting some in mutual funds. He said he would and schedule and appoint to meet with me, but a week later but he kept rescheduling it until he just did not show up.

Then the dot com bubble burst and even though it was not a technology stock, the tech bubble crash was so bad that it took down all types, over 90% of companies saw their share price plunge by over 50%.

I called him a few times as the market kept going up then down and with wild swings, but he always found and excuse. The last time we spoke he still had over $400,000, but he told he is going to wait until the market recovered.

And then 9/11 came along, and the market continued to fall and so did most stocks and no one was having a good time, especially for people in the stock market business. I gave up on him, and about two years later he called me and I told my assistant just to take a left a message because I was in a meeting.

Later that day I look at the stock, and I was shocked to see that it was down to $.25 per shares because even though the product work it was more of discretionary medical devices and due to the back economy people just did not buy it and sales were poor.

I called him back to see if he had sold any and he said no, he was now going through a divorced and his life was in shambles because he add borrow more money and bought more shares at $.25 he now own 92,000 shares and the price of the stock was now $0.07 total value $6,440.00!

I have never heard from him then, and the stock price has never recovered; there are reasons for this story.

*ALL investments have risk, especially equity investments such as shares of company stock
*At some point, you must sell shares of stock you bought

When to Sell Stock:

First of all buy only stock that pays at least quarterly dividends: (with one exception Amazon.com: More on this please read “Why I Changed My Mind on Amazon”)

Here are My 5 Rules to When to Sell Stock

1) SELL, whenever you have a stock that the price has gained more than 20% in less than year: Sell enough shares so you can take out your original money invested plus 10% of your gain. For example, say you invest $20,000, and it gained 20%–now you have $24,000, so you would sell enough shares to take out $20,000, plus $400 so now you have $3,600 left in the market.

Do you see the beauty of this investment strategy? Your original investment of $20,000 is no longer at the risk of the market, plus you pocket $400 for a bit of fun money. You can now relax knowing that no matter what happens in the market going forward, you can never lose any of your original money, but you still have money in the market collecting dividends that are being reinvested to buy more shares in a down or an upmarket.

2) SELL, If a company reduced their dividends payout amount before your investment shows a gain of 20% or more. When a company reduces, suspends, stops or cuts their cash dividends, something is not working, and you should be alarmed! Always, remember this; a company that is paying a minimum of a quarterly dividends is usually a profitable company, and when management and the board of directors cut or reduce dividends payout, you should also reduce your holdings.

This is 100% certain, when a publicly traded company cuts or reduces their dividends, the stock price will immediately dive down, be patient wait for a few days and sell a minimum of 70% of your total shares, even if it does not bounce back. If they cut the dividends payout 100%, do the same but sell 90%. I believe that if you do your research right, you should never sell 100% of you stock unless something really bad happens to the company, where you know it is a matter of time before they file for bankruptcy.

3) SELL whenever everyone one is really happy. If all your friends, family members, coworkers and general media is saying how well they are doing in the stock market that’s when to sell stock. Look at the stocks that are in your portfolio that have doubled within a year and sell 30% of those shares.

4) SELL if you will need the money in less than five years and keep the money in cash until you need to spend it. (Read more about this in “Your Buckets of Money”)

5) And my last rule on when to Sell Stock: SELL to keep your portfolio in balance so that all times you have only 70% in stocks and 30% in cash. If you do this, a remarkable thing happens; your will take the costly emotion out of investment, because when the market is doing very well, you will be forced to sell shares to put more in cash, and when the markets are correcting/crashing, you will be forced to buy more shares which mean you will be selling when the stock markets are going up and buying when the stock markets are going down.

Very Important NOTE on Selling: Never sell 100%–try to keep at least one to five percent: Here is one of the founder of Apple sold off 100% of his shares of stock for only $800 and bought gold to be safe, he now admitted in 2015 that his gold is worth only $1,750 but if he had kept his shares of Apple it would be worth over one billion USD (Read more Here)

Thanks for your time and attention and remember to learn more by getting a copy of one of my powerful personal finance books that are sold everywhere e–books or paperbacks books are sold.

Or you can just simply click this link

Sherwin Brown

About Sherwin Brown

Sherwin has been an entrepreneur since he was twelve years old. He currently teaches, writes, and speaks to people about how to improve and safeguard all aspects of their financial portfolios.

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