Automating Sell Stops

Reader Joe is trying to use some of the finance.yahoo.com features to make it easier to track his sell stops. He had this to say:

I have a related question. I too am familiar with finance.yahoo.com. In a blog post a few weeks ago, you stated the user could download information into a spreadsheet and make adjustments from there. I note finance.yahoo.com allows the user to set alerts.

Yahoo also maintains daily price history for several years. Wouldn’t it be easier, and just as effective, to determine the high price during the user’s holding period, determine the stop limit, 6% / 7%, etc. and then set an alert in finance.yahoo.com? Apparently the program sends alerts to the user’s email address.

This can work for you as long as you are aware of a few shortcomings with this approach:

1. When you set the alert price, you need to adjust it whenever the market rallies and your old high price gets taken out. Remember, this is a trailing stop loss point and not a static one.

2. In the case of ETFs, Yahoo’s alert will get triggered whenever your alert price is hit, even on an intraday basis. I use only day-ending prices as a basis for my stops.

3. When distributions occur, your trigger prices need to be adjusted to reflect this distribution as I wrote in Honing In On Bond Funds And Sell Stops.

If you are aware of these shortcomings and can live with them, by all means, use these Yahoo features. While technology is wonderful, it is not perfect, which means you can’t count 100% on receiving you email alerts on time.

About Ulli Niemann

Ulli Niemann is the publisher of "The ETF Bully" and is a Registered Investment Advisor. Learn more
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