CWS Market Review – August 29, 2014

“The market can do anything.” – Jesse Livermore

It finally happened! Shortly after the opening bell on Monday morning, the S&P 500 broke 2,000 for the first time in history. Of course, breaking through some arbitrary number doesn’t mean anything for the stock market’s future, but it’s a good time to reflect on how amazing this rally has been. To give you some perspective on what 2,000 means, consider that each point in the index is worth about $8.8 billion.

Less than three years ago, the S&P 500 stood at 1,100. We’re now closing in on double that number. Measuring from the big low in March 2009, the index has tripled in a little less than five and a half years. Add in dividends, and we’re up more than 230%! That’s more than 24%, annualized. It took just 94 days to go from 1,900 to 2,000. The index got as high as 2,005 on Tuesday before settling back to 1,996.74 by the close of trading on Thursday.

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Without question, this has been one of the greatest bull markets in history. It’s also been one of the most hated. From the day it started, people have predicted its imminent demise. Of course, the current bull market came about after a long and painful bear market. But this shouldn’t be too surprising, since bull markets have a habit of starting with a low. Even adjusting for inflation, the S&P 500 is still below its high from March 2000. That’s why I always keep in mind the wise words of Mr. Livermore: “the market can do anything.” Not only can it…it probably has.

In this week’s CWS Market Review, we’re going to take a look at some of the recent economic news. Slowly, things are improving. This week, the government revised higher its estimate of Q2 GDP growth. Next Friday is the big jobs report for August, and we could extend our streak of adding 200,000-plus jobs to seven months in a row. Let’s hope these good numbers continue.

Of course, hope is not an investment strategy. Around here, we focus on cold, hard facts. The good news is that our Buy List has been rallying with the overall market. Fiserv just hit a new all-time high. Ross Stores continues to float higher after its strong earnings report; the shares just broke out to a nine-month high. Microsoft is nearing a 14-year high. Heck, even Bed Bath & Beyond is moving up. In fact, I’m raising BBBY’s Buy Below this week. I didn’t see that coming a few weeks ago. But first, let’s look at the latest news on the economy.

Q2 GDP Revised Higher

I always try to be careful when discussing the broad economy because at CWS Market Review, we’re primarily focused on the business end of things: profit, loss, debt and margins. We can lose sight of the fact that there’s still a lot of weakness in the economy, especially in the labor market. There are also many people with homes that are under water, even years after the crisis. So when I point to signs of improvement, I don’t want to feel that I’m gliding over the distressed areas.

On Monday, the Census Bureau reported that new-home sales declined for the third month in a row. I should add context here by saying sales are up more than 12% compared with one year ago. Look at any numbers from housing: you’re struck by how much things fell apart during the recession. Even though sales are up, they’re still running at the rate we saw during the lows in previous recessions. Economic recoveries are typically led by housing, but there was so much over-building before the crash that it’s taken us years to burn off the excess inventory. Only recently have new-home sales started to pick up.

Now let’s look at the price side. On Tuesday, the Case-Shiller Index said that home prices, as measured by the 20-City Index, rose by 8.1% in the 12 months ending in June. Once again, we’re better than where we were, but still below the crazy bubble peak. The 20-City Index is still more than 17% below its high, but it’s more than 24% above its crisis low. To borrow from Stealers Wheel, we’re stuck in the middle with you. Home prices are still rising, but the pace of increases appears to be slowing down.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department said that durable goods soared 22.6% in July. That’s the biggest percentage increase on record. However, it was driven by a surge in orders for new aircraft. I like to keep an eye on orders for durable goods because these are the kinds of things companies wait to pay for when they think times are going to be good. During a recession, companies usually put off their plans to buy big-ticket items.

Digging into the durable-goods report, once we exclude aircraft, durable-goods orders dropped by 0.8% in July. But the number for June was revised upward to 3%. Compared with a year ago, orders are up 6.6%. Like housing, the trend looks good, but there’s been a summer slowdown.

On the technical side of the report, orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft (there’s a mouthful), fell 0.5% in July. But the June figure was revised up to 5.4%. The year-over-year increase is 8.3%. The message from these stats is that companies are out there buying things. They only do that if they see more revenue coming to cover the costs. This should also hint that more hiring will follow later this year.

We’ve seen a bunch of folks on Wall Street raise their forecasts for Q3 GDP. As many of you know, I’m not exactly a big fan of these forecasts, but it gives us a sense of what the institutions are thinking. Morgan Stanley just raised their estimates for Q3 GDP from 3% to 3.5%.

This Tuesday, we’ll get the ISM Index for August. These reports have a pretty good track record of lining up with recessions and expansions. The last few reports have been quite good. In July, the ISM hit 57.1, which is its highest point since April 2011. Any reading above 50 means that the economy is expanding. The ISM has dropped below 50 just once in the last five years.

Last month, Wall Street was shocked when the government’s initial report for Q2 GDP came in at 4%. That was well above what most people were expecting. On Thursday, it was time for the government to revise that report, and obviously people thought it would be revised down an inch or two. Not at all. It was revised higher, to 4.2%.

Breaking into the details, I noticed that gross domestic income rose by 4.7% last quarter. That’s the biggest increase in more than two years. I like to look at this metric because it better reflects the financial health of consumers.

Now that August is coming to a close, we’re already two-thirds of the way through Q3. In mid-September, earnings season will begin again. According to figures from Standard & Poor, Wall Street expects Q3 earnings for the S&P 500 of $30.11. Remember, that’s the index-adjusted figure (one point is $8.8 billion). This would be the highest quarterly total ever, and it would be the first time the S&P 500 has earned more than $30 in a single quarter.

For context, we earned $57 for the whole year in 2009. Wall Street’s estimate for Q3 earnings have been falling over the past few months. At the start of the year, the Street had been expecting Q3 earnings of $30.89. The falling estimates are actually much more modest than the big earnings cuts we saw in previous quarters. In fact, the estimates for Q4 have actually been increasing by a small bit. The Street now sees earnings of $32.39 for Q4. That’s up $0.22 since the start of the year.

The results are almost all in for Q2, and it looks like the S&P 500 earned $29.45. That’s up 11.7% over last year’s Q2. (Note that the earnings numbers from S&P sometimes differ from those of other media outlets.)

The S&P 500 is currently on track to earn $119.27 per share this year, give or take. That’s an increase of 11.2% over last year. Through Thursday, the S&P 500 is up 8% for the year. That roughly translates to a 12% rate for the entire year. In other words, stocks and earnings have been rising at about the same rate. That’s why I’ve ignored all this silly talk about another stock bubble. The market is going for 16.7 times this year’s estimate earnings. That’s in the dead center of historic valuations. Now let’s look at some of the news impacting our Buy List stocks.

The AT&T/DirecTV Merger Is Moving Along

We finally got some news on the big AT&T ($T) merger deal with DirecTV ($DTV). The New York Post reported this week that AT&T is working closely with the government on what it needs to do to win approval for its deal for DTV. I’m assuming this means they’ll have to ditch some assets to appease anti-trust regulators. The article didn’t have many details, which probably means negotiations are still going on. But this news was enough for UBS to raise its price target from $82 to $95 per share.

The merger deal is for $95 per share for DTV. Once we get past the “will it happen” question, the next hurdle is “when.” Shares of DTV are currently about 10% below the $95 deal price. That probably means that the market sees some risk in the deal falling through. The news this week is good for DirecTV. AT&T has too much at stake to let this deal fall through. DirecTV remains a buy up to $95 per share.

Three New Buy Below Prices

Trading hasn’t merely been low lately, it’s been absurdly low. Stocks prices simply don’t move around very much each day. Perhaps that will change once all the Wall Street Poobahs get back from their beach cribs.

Despite the low volume and volatility, I want to raise my Buy Below prices on a few of our Buy List stocks. Two weeks ago, I raised my Buy Below on Fiserv ($FISV) from $64 to $66 per share, and it’s already threatening to climb above that. FISV recently rallied 10 times in 12 days. This week, I’m raising my Buy Below on Fiserv to $68 per share.

One of the rules of the Buy List is that our stocks are locked and sealed for the entire year. No matter how badly we want to, we can’t make any changes until the end of the year. This rule has probably helped us far more than it’s hurt us. When Bed Bath & Beyond ($BBBY) plunged this year, I’m sure a lot of nervous investors bailed out.

Ever since BBBY reached its low in late June, the stock has rallied impressively. Two months ago, I lowered my Buy Below to $61 per share. Later on, I raised it to $65 per share. The stock got as high as $64.70 on Wednesday, which is a four-month high. Fiscal Q2 earnings are due on September 23. The company said they expect earnings to range between $1.08 and $1.16 per share. I’m raising our Buy Below to $70 per share.

Express Scripts ($ESRX) is another good example of why we stay with high-quality stocks even when the market doesn’t. The shares had been having a rough year. But last month, the pharmacy-benefits manager beat earnings by a penny per share. ESRX also narrowed their full-year guidance to a range between $4.84 and $4.92 per share. The stock gapped up after earnings and continued to rally for most of August. I’m raising my Buy Below on Express Scripts to $79 per share. This is a solid stock.

The Elfenbein Theory

I wanted to draw your attention to a long post I did earlier this week on the blog site. I discussed my view for how different parts of the market behave.

I encourage you to read the entire piece, but the basic idea is that there are two important “dimensions” of the stock market. The first is between Cyclical and Defensive stocks. The other is between Value and Growth stocks. The first dimension is correlated with long-term interest rates, while the latter is correlated with short-term rates.

The idea that different sectors do well at different points in the economic cycle isn’t new. But by adding a larger framework to this cycle, I hope to give investors a better idea for what drives equity returns. You can read the post here.

That’s all for now. The stock market will be closed on Monday for Labor Day. In the U.S., the Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the end of summer, and trading volume typically picks up in September. We’ll get the ISM report on Tuesday. July Factory Orders are on Wednesday. Friday will be the big jobs report for August. Nonfarm Payrolls have topped 200,000 for the last six months in a row. Let’s see if we can make it seven. Be sure to keep checking the blog for daily updates. I’ll have more market analysis for you in the next issue of CWS Market Review!

- Eddy


  • Morning News: August 29, 2014
    Posted by on August 29th, 2014 at 5:19 am

    How Draghi Seeking QE Trade-Off May Find Austerity Trap

    Euro Sags Ahead of Inflation Test, Ukraine Nerves Weigh

    Yen at 120 Seen Needed by UBS Wary of Weimar-Japan Redux

    US Economy Grew at Brisk Rate in 2nd Quarter

    Wanda Teams With Tencent, Baidu to Challenge Alibaba

    Instagram Like2Buy Merges Social Media and Shopping

    Malaysia Airlines to Eliminate 6,000 Jobs Amid Overhaul

    Abercrombie & Fitch Sheds Once-Prized Logo From Clothing

    Tesco Slumps as Retailer Slashes Dividend 75% on Forecast

    Jessica Alba ‘The Honest Co’ Valued at $1 Billion

    Virgin Raises Private-Equity Cash to Keep Qantas Pressure

    Morgan Stanley Plans Natural Gas Export Plant in New Commodities Foray

    Businesses Are Winning Cat-and-Mouse Tax Game

    GaveKal Capital: The Modern Day Widow Maker Trade

    Ben Carlson: How Framing Affects Investment Decisions & Outcomes

    Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

  • Industrials and Long-Term Rates
    Posted by on August 28th, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    This time, here’s a look at the relationship between industrial stocks and long-term interest rates.

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    The blue line is the Industrials ETF divided by the S&P 500 ETF. The black line is the yield on the 30-year Treasury.

  • Value Stocks and Short-Term Rates
    Posted by on August 28th, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Here’s a small addendum to yesterday’s post on how the stock market behaves. This chart shows the Vanguard Value Index divided by the Vanguard Index 500 fund. That’s the black line and it follows the right scale. The numerical value of the black line is irrelevant, but what’s important is that whenever the black line is moving up, it means that value stocks are outperforming the overall market. When it’s declining, value stocks are lagging.

    The red line is the yield on the 90-day Treasury (left scale). Note how the two lines have a decently strong correlation. As I tried to stress in yesterday’s post, these cross-market relationships are far from overwhelming, but something is clearly going on. The correlation is especially strong in the near-term. Rising rates are good for value. Falling rates are not.

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    I think it’s interesting to note that ever since the Fed brought interest rates to the floor, there doesn’t seem to have been any great trend toward growth or value. I could be wrong, but to my eyes it mostly looks like noise.

    I would think that over the very long term, value stocks would outperform the stock market, but there’s no reason to expect short-term rates to rise indefinitely. At least, I hope not.

  • Q2 GDP Revised to +4.2%
    Posted by on August 28th, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Some good economic news this morning. Wall Street was surprised when the initial report for Q2 GDP came in at 4%. Today it was revised higher to 4.2%. A lot of economists had been expecting a downward revision.

    Domestic demand increased at a brisk 3.1 percent rate, instead of the previously reported 2.8 percent pace. It was the fastest pace since the second quarter of 2010 and suggested the recovery was becoming more durable after output slumped in the first quarter because of an unusually cold winter.

    Third-quarter growth estimates range as high as a 3.6 percent rate.

    Economists polled by Reuters had expected the second-quarter GDP growth pace would be revised down to 3.9 percent. The economy contracted at a 2.1 percent pace in the first quarter.

    Gross domestic income, which measures the income side of the growth ledger, surged at a 4.7 percent rate, consistent with strong job gains during the quarter. That was the fastest increase since the first quarter of 2012.

  • Morning News: August 28, 2014
    Posted by on August 28th, 2014 at 4:43 am

    Russian Hackers Said to Loot Gigabytes of Big Bank Data

    Philippine Q2 GDP Growth Fastest in Five Quarters, Rate Hike Likely

    SEC Shelves Plan for Private Asset-Backed Bond Disclosure

    Lending Club Could Be One of Silicon Valley’s Biggest Tech IPOs of 2014

    Vivendi receives GVT bids from Telecom Italia, Telefonica

    Kia Struggles as Sibling Hyundai Speeds Ahead

    Kia Motors To Build $1 Billion Car Assembly Plant In Mexico

    Market Basket Revolt Ends as Arthur T. Demoulas Wins Bid

    Are Uber’s Aggressive Recruitment Tactics Legal?

    Qantas Result Challenges Alan Joyce Leadership

    Weaker Corporate Tax Receipts Worsen U.S. Budget Picture

    Snapchat Founders Likely Billionaires With New, Reported Investment

    Drones Could Rule the Skies Over Disney

    Cullen Roche: Malkiel’s Mendacity

    Roger Nusbaum: Is This Bull Market Real?

    Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

  • Ross Stores Reaches Nine-Month High
    Posted by on August 27th, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Ross Stores ($ROST) is finally getting some love from investors. ROST has been as high as $75.53 this morning. The shares were at $62 just six weeks ago.

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  • The Elfenbein Theory Which Explains the Entire Stock Market
    Posted by on August 27th, 2014 at 8:11 am

    I had a little extra time this morning, so I’d thought I’d do a quick post which explains the entire stock market for you.

    Before I begin, let me stress that I’m discussing generalities of how the stock market behaves. As you read this, I urge you to focus on the larger themes I’m discussing instead of getting bogged down in nitpicky details or in excessive demands for precision. Out of necessity, my explanation is over-generalized.

    The first thing to understand is that the stock market is overwhelmingly influenced by interest rates. It’s difficult to overstate this key fact. Interest rates are the bone and marrow of the stock market. More specifically, the stock market is ruled by long-term and short-term interest rates. Of the two, long-term rates are more influential.

    When the bond market rises, the stock market eventually follows. When the bond market falls, the stock market isn’t far behind. The two assets are in constant battle for investors’ love. Their perpetual tug-of-war is at the heart of financial markets. Short-term rates are also important, and that’s why the Federal Reserve is so closely watched.

    The movement of short-term and long-term rates also determines which types of stocks do well. When long-term interest rates rise, cyclical stocks tend to outperform the overall market. When long-term rates fall, defensive stocks tend to lead the market. Importantly, this is a short-term relationship that grows weaker as time wears on.

    With short-term rates, we see a similar but slightly different effect. When short-term rates fall, value stocks tend to outperform the market. When short-term rates rise, growth stocks tend to do well.

    These are the two primary “dimensions” of the stock market (Cyclical/Defense, Value/Growth). These categories have some similarities, and they’re easily confused, but I want to highlight their differences. The Cyclical/Defense divide is fought over the future of the production part of the economy. Are we producing more than we’re consuming, or consuming more than we produce? The Value/Growth divide is about the financial part of the economy. How much inflation will there be, and what are real rates doing?

    By Cyclical stocks, I mean stocks in sectors like Energy and Materials which are closely tied to the economic cycle. The Defensive sectors are Staples and Healthcare, which are areas that aren’t so hurt in downturns.

    The value stocks are generally in high-dividend areas like REITs and Utilities. As short-term rates drop, investors naturally gravitate towards those dividends. The growth sector stocks tend to be in low-dividend areas like Tech and more inflation-sensitive sectors like Commodities and Gold Mining.

    As I said, these two dimensions are related. They’re cousins in much the same way that short-term and long-term yields are cousins. Now with this background, let’s envision the market as a matrix with short-term rates on the horizontal axis and long-term rates on the vertical.

    You can probably see where I’m going with this. We now have four quadrants. The upper right is when both long-term and short-term rates are rising. The lower left is when both ends are falling. The lower right is when short-term rates are rising and long-term rates are falling. In other words, the yield curve is getting narrower. The upper left is the opposite; the yield curve is getting wider.

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    When long and short rates both rise, inflationary stocks do well. When both rates fall, dividend stocks do well. When the yield curve narrows, financial stocks do well. When the yield curve widens, industrial stocks do well. Importantly, we’ll also see that when a particular quadrant behaves one way, one of its opposing quadrants will do the exact opposite. Earlier this year, for example, growth started to lag right as value started to shine.

    Let me add a clarification. It may be the case that industrial stocks lead the market, not when short-term and long-term rates are literally moving in the opposite direction, but when the spread is increasing. What the market is concerned with is the relative standing of short and long rates against each other. Not that long ago, 4% was a very low yield; now it’s very high.

    It may sound counter-intuitive that financial stocks do well as the yield curve narrows. After all, a bank is basically the yield curve with incorporation papers. In the same way that lower short-term rates are good for dividend stocks, it’s the closing of the yield curve that causes investors to appreciate financial stocks.

    With the four quadrants, the general stock market moves counter-clockwise around the matrix. First, short-term rates fall as the Fed tries to help the economy; then long-term rates start to fall; and finally the stock market takes off. Things are rarely so neat, but this pattern played itself out in 1981-82.

    In the late stages of an economic expansion, short-term rates are the first to rise as the Fed wants to control inflation; then long-term rates will move up; and eventually the stock market breaks down. That’s how 1986-87 went. In the latter stages of that rally, dividend stocks badly lagged the market, while gold mining raced ahead. In essence, investors were fleeing safe assets.

    On the matrix, the stock market will start to rally around 11 o’clock and continue counter-clockwise towards its peak around 5 o’clock. That’s why cyclical stocks tend to have a double-whammy effect; they outperform the market during bull markets. Hence the name cyclicals.

    Bear in mind that few stocks are pure breeds of any one quadrant. Typically, they have mixed DNA. For example, a stock like Chevron is a classic energy stock, but it also pays a generous dividend. You’ll also see healthcare stocks, which are classic defensive stocks, that are partly related to tech stocks.

    As I mentioned before, these classifications are most important in the short term. As time goes on, the part of any stock which reflects its individual nature will become more prominent. Each day, two biotech stocks may track each other closely, but after five years, they can be miles apart. The more times that passes, the stronger this effect is.

    The idea that different sectors do better or worse at different points in the economic cycle is nothing new. It’s been pointed out many times before. The Elfenbein Theory, however, is a way for investors to see an overriding framework for what drives this behavior.

    (You can sign up for my free newsletter here.)

  • Your Handy Guide to Stock Orders
    Posted by on August 26th, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Here’s a post that’s geared towards new investors, but experienced investors may find it helpful as well. I want to discuss the different types of orders you can make when buying or selling a stock. Investors have lots of options at their disposal, and each decision has an upside and a downside. Let’s start with your basic market order.

    Market Orders

    This is the most common type of stock order. In essence, it’s a request to buy or sell a stock at the current market price—hence the name. A market order does not guarantee a particular price; it merely picks up, or dumps, the stock at the current going rate.

    What does this mean in concrete terms? Well, for large-cap stocks with heavy volume, you can expect that because market orders are executed more or less instantaneously, there shouldn’t be much of a gap between the price at the moment you execute the trade and the actual price you pay. If you see on your computer screen that the current price is $30 and you execute a market buy order, you might pay $30.10, you might pay $29.50, but the price will generally be close to the one you saw when you pulled the trigger.

    The danger, however, lies in trades executed after hours. If you place a market order after the 4 p.m. closing bell, you may find the stock has moved significantly by the time the market opens the next morning. You can easily end up paying a price you didn’t bargain for. A $30 stock may have gapped up to $35 due to an earnings report or a merger announcement. News stories can cause prices to soar, or tank, so be wary: you don’t want to be on the receiving end of one of the market’s irrational spikes.

    Another tip: don’t be distracted by irrelevant information. The last-trade price is no guarantee of anything. Ignore it. Instead, if you’re buying, keep your eye on the ask price. If you’re selling, look at the bid price. Also important is the spread between the bid and the ask, which can be very wide indeed on thinly-traded stocks.

    With these less-popular securities, you may find the following conditional orders more helpful:

    Limit Orders

    A limit order is an order to buy or sell a stock at a price that you yourself stipulate. Basically, it tells your broker to execute the trade once the stock goes above or below a specified threshold. You can use it to sell a stock once it climbs to a certain peak (thus guaranteeing you a profit) or to buy a stock once it dips to a certain low (thus guaranteeing you a good purchase price).

    For example, you’re interested in security XYZ, but you think it’s currently overvalued at $40. You can place a limit order to pick it up at $38. If the stock falls below that threshold, the order will automatically execute and the stock is yours. Later, having acquired the stock, you can execute a limit order to sell it at $45. This order, too, will execute automatically if the stock gaps up, thus ensuring you a tidy profit.

    Limit orders have advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, you can keep them open for a set period of time, and they’re useful for investors who don’t have the ability to monitor their portfolios 24 hours a day. On the downside, if the limit price you set is way off the mark, it’s possible the stock may never reach the threshold and the order will never execute. For that reason, many brokers charge more for limit orders: failed execution means no commission for them.

    Also, remember that orders are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you set that limit order at $45, you have to wait till the other orders at that price are executed. Some traders like to snip at the edges and place limits at, say, $44.99, thinking they’re getting an edge on the competition. You can never be guaranteed that your order will be filled.

    Stop-Market Orders

    Stop-market orders are very, very similar to limit orders—so similar, in fact, that many investors have trouble telling them apart. The difference is that they’re used to cut losses, as opposed to maximizing profits.

    Like limit orders, stop-market orders (sometimes called stop-loss orders) cause a stock to be bought or sold automatically upon reaching a given threshold. When this happens, they turn into standard market orders and execute at the going market rate. The goal: damage control, pure and simple.

    Suppose you buy a stock at $35, and it starts to tank. You can execute a stop-market order at $30 to cut your losses. This means that if the stock falls past that threshold, it’s as though you suddenly placed a sell market order. The final sell price may be $29.50, or it may be $31, but in either case, you’ll have reduced the effects of the sudden dip.

    Conversely, if you’re interested in another stock trading at, say, $40 and are waiting for it to drop, but you don’t want it to get away from you, you can execute a stop-market order at $42. If the price shoots up, you might end up paying $42.50, or perhaps $39, but you’ll have achieved your end of minimizing your losses in purchasing a security that you’re especially hot to get hold of.

    Stop-loss orders are useful, but be careful. A sudden rumor, or a rapid but temporary drop in the stock price, can cause you to get frozen out of a stock against your will.

    Stop-Limit Orders

    Stop-limit orders are stop-market orders’ identical twins—with one difference: when the threshold price is reached, the order changes into a limit order, not a market order.

    Why does this matter? Because in theory, the stop-limit order gives you much more control over the actual price at which the stock is bought or sold. When you place the order, you have to specify both a sell price and a limit price, and the combination helps to eliminate the wild-card factor that creeps in with stop-market orders. The drawback, of course, is that as with all limit orders, the trade may not get executed at all.

    Consider the following situation. You’ve got your eyes on a stock currently trading at $25. It starts to show some upward momentum, so you place an order with stop and limit prices of $22 and $23, respectively. Once the stock rises above $22, the limit order kicks in. However, if the stop gaps above $23 due to a fast-moving market, the order will remain unfilled.

    Trailing-Stop Orders

    Trailing-stop orders are yet another variation on the stop-market theme. Here the difference lies in the fact that instead of setting an absolute threshold, you set an order to buy or sell if the stock rises by a certain percentage (or, in some cases, a specified dollar amount). Other than that, all the same rules apply as with other stop orders.

    Trailing-stop orders seem to provide some folks with a sense of security. There are traders who set 20% trailing stops on every order they place. Remember, though, that like all stop orders, the brokerage fees are higher than with market orders, so you need to ask yourself if that psychological advantage is worth it.

    Order Options: Day vs. GTC

    When you execute a limit or stop order, you can specify one of two options: Day or GTC (good till cancelled). A day order is only valid for the rest of that trading day, while GTC indicates that the order can be carried over into the next trading day and may remain in effect until one of two things occurs: (a) the stock reaches the specified threshold; (b) the investor decides to cancel the order. Be sure to check with your broker about these options: some of them limit the number of days that the GTC option can be in effect.

    Order Options: All or None

    Another condition you can set on a buy or sell order is AON: the command to fill the order completely or not at all. In other words, the broker must buy all the shares at the price you specify, or cancel the order altogether.

    Let’s say you place an AON order for 100 shares of stock XYZ at $9 apiece. If the broker can find 100 shares that fit the bill, well and good. If not, the order is canceled at the close of trading, and the investor must re-submit it the next day. With an AON order, the investor never receives an order that is half-filled—hence the name. In a standard limit order, by contrast, the broker might buy 60 shares at $9, watch the stock gap up, and then have to wait till it dips back down to $9 to fill the rest of the order.

    Order Options: Fill or Kill

    This option instructs a broker to fill an order entirely and immediately or not at all. Its purpose is to guarantee that the investor picks up a stock at the desired price, and it is usually used when buying a large quantity of stock. In practice, this type of trade doesn’t happen very often. Much more common is the good-till-canceled option discussed above.

    One piece of closing advice: if you’re a long-term investor, don’t worry too much about paying a price that’s a little bit off target. There are day traders who fight over every last penny, but this is madness. The market is too fast-moving to allow for that kind of precision. Consider that a stock like Bank of America can average 10,000 shares traded every second over the course the entire 6.5-hour trading day. It’s much better, if you’re in it for the long haul, to do your homework, set your orders, and then sit back and watch your portfolio grow.

  • Morning News: August 26, 2014
    Posted by on August 26th, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Europe Bank Cleanup Driving $1.72 Trillion of Asset Sales

    Nene Sees 1.8% South African Growth With Budget Under Strain

    Napa Mops Up Wine and Tallies Its Losses After Quake

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