Robbie Burns
Robbie Burns's columns :
17/05/2011EXCUSE ME
13/12/2010OIL BE BLOWED

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Robbie Burns – The Naked Trader

Robbie has been trading full-time since 2001. His book "The Naked Trader" (which also has useful information on how to use advfn) has become one of the biggest-selling finance books, reaching the top 150 books on Amazon - order it here. Trades made for Robbie's website have amassed profits of more than £300,000. You can read about his buys and sells daily at





Thanks a lot first of all for the feedback on my  new spreadbetting book. Seems to have helped a lot of you and glad about that.


The one aspect of spreadbetting that still causes problems is stop losses. Where to place them and how to handle them?


Especially with some of the very volatile shares.


How do I use them? Well, I don't use sealed in cement stops with brokers for example for my normal share buys. I have some written down but I use advfn's level 2 and other factors to decide whether to exit those shares (often smallcaps).


The last thing I want is for my broker to sell something that has only gone down briefly or the spread has widenened temporarily. I want to make my own firm sell decision.


And I don't use automated spreadbet stops either with smallcap spread positions. This is to stop me getting stopped out on a treeshake or some such and again I want to make the final call.


Where I do use them is with spreadbetting the more volatile FTSE 250 and 100 stocks.  But I would never ever keep a stop where it was after I first placed it and I move them all the time.


The one thing I think not to do is simply place a stop loss somewhere near the current price and that's it. Because more than likely you will get stopped out and lose every time.


Stop losses ought to be moved about depending on what is happening with the share. If your share is going up it can be moved up to then make it a "bank profits" stop. Also known as a trailing stop.


If you set a stop but it looks likely to be go lower temorarily because of say a rights issue or a placing or an ex dividend so you see a temporary dip but want to stay with it, move the stop lower before the market opens.


So never sit there with a static stop. Check your stops every night: move winning positions stops up a bit. On losers check again whether you should be in the share and maybe cut the position, or if you think a temporary circumstance will move it lower but you want to stay with it move it.


One example would be if your share is about to go ex dividend. Some shares go ex for big amounts. This could hit your stop! Move it down before the market opens because of course a share opens lower by the amount of the dividend but usually a dividend will be credited to your account.


Maybe there is a rights issue say 30 points lower. You don't want to be stopped out because you will get new shares at the lower price.


When you check your stops at night think: could I get stopped out at 8am if there is a silly wide spread or a temporary spike down for a couple of mins at the start of the day?


Most spreadfirms will show you the current price and the price of your stop so it's easy to check.


It only takes me a minute or so every night to go through and amend them as those at my seminars have seen me do.


By moving stops and checking them every day you will avoid taking losses that you shouldn't have taken and will also help you to take profits unemotionally.


A quick example (more in the book) - say you hold a volatile share trading at 300. Stop should probably kick off at 250 to avoid a sudden spike. if the stock moves to 350, reset the stop to 300. And keep moving it up 40-50p under the current price.


You can of course use charts to help set your stop and if so, best to set it a little under a support point so it is a bit below other people's!


As you get more experienced, it gets easier.


One thing to remember though is I am around a screen all day. You may have a job and can't see what's going on much of the time.


So it is perfectly ok for you to have "proper" stops on everything unlike me. But if doing it on smallcaps do remember: keep the stops well, well away from the entry price.


Those of you who read my website it must be noted I don't change the stops on there as it would just be too much effort for me to do. So if you are looking at stops on my trades there, remember they have probably already been moved because of a changing share price or events.


Hopefully once you have been trading for a while you will find a stop strategy that suits you.


Finally I don't use guaranteed stops - the extra spread on using them to me is too much for the occasional time they may pay off. However again I am at home all day but you may find the protection reassuring if you can only for example look once or twice a day.


So good luck with stop setting but remember the one overriding element! Never set too tight! Lots more on this is my new spreadbetting book.

You can read Robbie’s daily market comments together with his latest buys and sells at his website

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