About tight stops

Someone had said that he is jumping on stocks, moving with 100 mph with an inch stop for protection. There is a lot of wisdom behind these words. They reveal two essential elements of many systems for consistent profits: momentum and risk management.

Being right and being profitable in trading are two very different definitions. You could be right in 90% of your trades, making a $1 per share. Then you could be wrong on the 10th trade and lose $10 per share there. The final result is -$1 per share from all the ten trades. Percentage of winners is not what traders should be paying attention to.

You might decide to use a tight stop of 10 cents to exit quickly trades that don’t go in the desired direction. As long as you make 50 cents per share on your winning trades, you could afford the luxury to be wrong 4 out of 5 times and still be in a profitable position. The point is to jump on stocks that are moving and have the potential to provide much bigger reward than your initial risk.

Blindly using a tight stop might be useful in the begining stage of the learning curve of a developing trader, as it will teach you to lose. Sometimes you have to lose the battle in order to win the war. Losing will always be painful. The point is to use that pain as a catalyst to work harder and smarter next time. The point is, when you lose to lose small, so you could recover faster.

Using 10 cents as a stop is only an example to illustrate a point. Stop losses should be defined by the individual volatility of each stock and its supply and demand dynamics. 10 cents represents 5% of a $2 stock and it might be a proper stop, but 10 cents is only 0.1% of $100 stock, which is a normal move and might not be a stop that makes sense. Certainly this will depends on your trading horizon and trading skills. Use tight stops, but make sure there is a reason behind that stop. Don’t just randomly chose a number. Let the stop be the signal that will tell you that you are wrong and you should exit in order to chase other trading opportunities with better odds of success.