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Selling your stock: Is it the right time?

By Charles Hopkins Published 03/13/2006 | Finance

Selling your stock is the most important step in the entire investment process for it will determine your profit or loss. If you plan your strategy before you invest you can minimize your loss and maximize your gains. Some investors wish to ensure maximum profit and hold on to their shares, they fear if they prematurely sell off their stocks they might stand to lose. What they fail to realize is that the stock market is never stable and if it crashes they could incur a huge loss. There is no full proof strategy to prevent loss but the following will help you decide when to sell off your stocks. 

Ask yourself:  Am I in need of cash? 

If you find yourself needing cash and the market is in your favor you can sell off. But after you   sell off, the share price may continue to rise, it is then that you regret your decision. The only precaution possible is not to invest money that might be required in recent future. 

Is the company performance under question? 

As an investor you look for stability, excellent management and reputation of a company when you invest. The company strategies could be   revised or the management overhauled, then you might reexamine your investment and decide to sell off your stocks if the company no longer holds promise.  

Is the stock being over valued? 

Stocks may be over valued at times. The prices soar much beyond their original value and plunge all of a sudden, the intention is to buy back the shares when the market falls. If you wish to sell off an over valued stock it is more desirable than procuring an over valued one. The prices may keep rising after you sell off but then again you could have incurred a loss had you held on to your share. 

Has the money doubled? 

The general rule in the market is that you should sell off half your share once a stock doubles. Many investors follow this approach. It provides you with a sense of comfort that you have recovered the money that you invested .You play safe  and at the same time  have funds in the market  to take risks with. 
 
Is the stock price ever going to rise in the future? 

Plummeting stock prices can be another reason to sell off. There are stocks that undergo a lot of fluctuation, prices reach a high or low instead of a steady increase. If you are unsure about the future of the stock and you have a niggling doubt so as to whether the stock price would rise or not, you might consider selling off. An intelligent decision would be not to have highly unpredictable holdings. 

Do I have a better   investment opportunity? 

As far as market returns are concerned if you sense a better opportunity sell off your current holdings in order to invest in a new company. You need to be well informed about the new company and compare your present holdings, analyze possible future returns and then sell off.  

Have I reached my goal? 

When you invest you have a certain target in mind. Once that financial objective is realized you can start selling off your holdings. If your investment plans have been successful its time to enjoy your profits. 

The above-mentioned strategies are not full proof as mentioned earlier but the cardinal rule is to weigh all the consequences before you sell your stocks. You must decide after surveying all other alternatives and do not hesitate to sell if they no longer hold promise.