How do you figure where to put trailing stop losses? Do you use one of the moving averages? For example Juniper closed at 184 today. How would I know where to put my stop loss? I bought it at 159 7/8 on Monday as it bounced. I would rather let it run if it is going to, but I've let too many profits go south in the last 4 months. (November 15, 2000)

  Great question for these times. Much depends upon why you bought. Is this a long term position, or is it a short term position to take advantage of a run up on a reflex bounce? For longer term positions, on a stock such as JNPR, give is room to run if you want to let the stock go up to $250 over the next 4 months or so. It could go higher, it could move lower, but it is a leader that is really growing those revenues and it is taking market share. The main thing is that you do not want to let it turn into a loss on you after you have seen it build an 11% gain for you in three days.

If it is a short term play, setting trailing stops is a matter of personal preference and risk tolerance. Some put the stop at the previous session's low as a matter of course. Note how the past two sessions JNPR has tapped right at 171 on its low. The last sentence in your question says a lot: this market is moving up, down, up and down. It has not been able to move higher and it has not yet shown it is ready to move up and out from here. You bought well. If your goal is short term, watch those profits. On short term positions, if we get the move and the market is crappy, we are inclined to move up the stop positions just in case. If it tanks, we get the profit, and we are ready to play again as opposed to having to hope for another move up. If the market firms and shows good institutional support, that changes the game, and we can let a stock such as JNPR run up and pullback. When things are healthy, the runs up are bigger than the moves down. When the market is acting as it has of late and is trending down, we are inclined to bank the profit on short term positions as the market has continually sought lower levels. Until it changes that trend we are inclined to take profits on our short term plays when the stock seems to have run out of steam, content to take some profit and maybe miss some more profit.


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