Last Wednesday I slammed the S&P 500 for its dreadful close. Then the index proceeded to show me up by setting three record closes in a row. Funny how that works.
This reversal highlights just how nimble we need to be as traders. We cannot allow ourselves to get hung up on opinions. Even reliable trading signals can lead us astray. (An impossibly high accuracy rate of 80% is still wrong one out of five times!)
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting taking risk off the table last Wednesday afternoon was a mistake. In fact, it was the only sensible decision to make. But just because we took risk off the table last Wednesday doesn’t preclude us from adding that money back in Thursday morning when the worst failed to materialize and prices bounced back.
I took my lump Thursday morning and I’m better for it. And even though I lost some money in the exchange, I’m more than happy to pay a small price now to avoid a bigger loss later. Remember, this isn’t about getting every trade right. It is about making more money than we lose. Sometimes that means taking small losses and I’m always fine with that as long as it allows me to be in the right spot at the right time when the big moves happen.
This is also a good opportunity to talk about position sizes. While a lot of people think in binary terms and move all-in and all-out of the market, that often is an expensive approach that magnifies mistakes and compounds regret.
I like moving in partial positions. Start with a quarter, third, or even half position. Only add more if that initial trade is working. If you are wrong, you only lost money on a partial position.
And even more advantageous, this risk management strategy allows us to be even more aggressive with our initial trades. We no longer need to wait for confirmation. Instead, we jump on the first hints of a selloff or bounce. I sold 1/3 last Wednesday afternoon and I bought 1/3 back Thursday morning. While my ego was a little bruised, my trading account hardly missed a beat.
TSLA is positively on fire. Good thing readers of this blog have been hanging on since the $600 bounce off of support and have been moving up their stops up ever since.
This price action is getting downright silly but it usually does with these extreme highfliers. Impossibly high gets even higher and that’s definitely the case with TSLA. As I wrote last week:
Now don’t get me wrong, I am most definitely not a TSLA bull and this looks as sustainable as all those dot-com names back in 2000. But I’m a trader and it doesn’t matter to me where this stock will be five years from now. If it is going up today, I want to be aboard and enjoying the ride. We can worry about all of that other stuff when it eventually becomes an issue. Until then, “don’t worry, be happy.”
Well, last week’s $1k breakout turned into $1,200 Monday and who knows what Tuesday holds. No doubt this will get really ugly at some point, but until then, keep holding for higher prices and lifting our stops. Stick to this simple strategy and we will be sitting on a pile of cash when everyone else is wondering what happened to all of their amazing profits. (Remember, we only make money when we sell!)
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Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and financial analyst that has successfully traded stocks and options for nearly three decades. He has an undergraduate engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and two graduate business degrees from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes engineering at Fortune 500 companies, small business consulting, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two children.