Heading South

Ulli Uncategorized 8 Comments

The markets continued to stumble yesterday as downward momentum accelerated. Much has been written about a potential market top and one of the more interesting observations and references was made by Mish at Global Economic Trends in a post titled “Multi-year Stock Market Top could Be In.”

With yesterday’s action, several sell stops were triggered, and the affected holdings will be liquidated today. The position of the Trend Tracking Indexes (TTIs) relative to their long-term trend lines is as follows:

Domestic TTI: +7.14%
International TTI: +11.18%
Hedge TTI: +0.54%

Over the past month, continued reader feedback regarding sell stops was a topic of great interest. A few days ago, reader Bob had this to say:

Market is getting a bit testy right now. I noticed that my holding in Russell 2000 ETF is down 5.69% from its high today.

My question is do you recommend using 7% or 10% stop for this type of holding since its Beta is 1.19 compared to S&P; 500 per Morningstar?

Another though I had was to use a stop of 8.5% (7% x 1.19) to account for its increased volatility. In fact I am considering doing this for all of my holdings. It is easy to do & follow with spreadsheet I have set up. I would probably round all exit calculations to the nearest 0.5% (as I did above) to make it easier to follow in the sell zone.

While that is a different way of applying the sell discipline, it does not really matter. My preference is to use the 7% rule for all domestic and international funds and 10% for the more volatile country and sector fund arenas.

You should use whatever approach you are most comfortable with. In the bigger scheme of things, using any type of sell stop discipline is better than using none at all.

Remaining exposed to the whims of the market place with no clear exit plan has proven to be disastrous in the past and may very well be the downfall for many investors again in the future.

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Comments 8

  1. Ulli, EWZ has a big rebound from yesterday's sell signal to this morning's 6+% rise. I'm going to hold on to that one. Do you ever change your mind (from strict sell stop discipline) on any like that?

  2. Yes I do. Once a sell stop has beent triggered, I watch the next day's activity to be sure that the trend continues down. Today, the marekt is showing a sharp rebound, and I will hold my positons for another day or so.


  3. Ulli, I currently hold a position in VEIEX (Vanguard Emerging Mkts Stock Idx). Since this is a mutual fund I cannot watch the "close of day" price for the sake of deciding to sell out.

    However, Vanguard also has VWO, which is the ETF version of the same fund. So, for now, I am watching it at close for any signals to sell VEIEX or maintain the position.

    Do you think this is a fairly reliable way to accomplish the task of deciding when to sell a mutual fund, or could it be a trap? BTW, VWO is a high trading volume ETF, however it rose over 4% today while VEIEX rose only 2.7%.


  4. GH,

    That's a reasonable approach that I have used from time to time as well. Again, the idea is to have a consistent plan and even if the actual sell stop may differ slightly, it does not matter as long as you get out when the time is right. Whether that is at 7% or 8.5% is not as important in the bigger scheme of things.


  5. Okay, I put in some sell orders yesterday. Needless to say they executed today.

    So question is, if markets now starts rallying I know I need to get back. But when? After they have recovered their high point?

  6. That sounds like a Plan. To start with, I will remove the hedge I put in place for those holdings I didn't want to OR couldn't sell (my 401k plan only allows ONE trade per day, is this legal?).

    Thanks as always.

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