Feb 26: Bracketed Orders in Stock Trading

by David Jenyns on February 26, 2007

If you are planning to buy stocks as a long term investment you might want to consider placing a bracketed order on it. A bracketed order goes one step further than a trailing stop order. Remembering that a trailing stop order, you are in control of your investments because you are able to limit the amount of your losses by setting stop price. With a bracketed order, you are able to not only set a limit on your losses, but you are able to set a limit on your profit, that when reached, your stock will be sold.

This type of order is best illustrated with an example. Your broker places a bracketed order for 100 shares from Linens-n-Things, a department store, priced at $50 per stock, placing a sell limit order at $100 and a sell stop order at $45. If the price per stock moves down to $45 or up to $100, the stock will be sold. Therefore, the investor will either earn a $5,000 dollar profit, or take a $500 loss in profits.

The main advantage of bracketed orders is that you, the investor, determine how much you will earn or lose when getting involved in stock trading. If you have a total investment amount of $150,000 and you determine that you do not want to lose more that 20%, then your total losses should not be set below $30,000.

However, if you invest $150,000 into the stock market and you would like to earn a 15% profit, then you should set your profit margin to equal $172,500. With bracketed orders you, the investor, are in total control of your investment.

The two main disadvantages with bracketed orders you must place a limit on how much profit that you will make and you could possibly lose a large sum of money. First of all, when an individual decides to invest in the stock market, he or she probably wants to make as much money as possible. By setting a bracketed order on stocks that the investor purchases, the investor is placing a limit on how much profit is able to be earned. Also, to be noticed, by placing a bracketed order on your stock you run the risk of losing money.

For example, you decide to buy 1500 shares from Company N, a new and upcoming business, at $625 each, for a total investment of $937,500. You decided to purchase such a large amount of shares after consulting with your stockbroker because your broker was confident that Company N would be able to expand into a big business in which would create massive profits for your stock trading investment. You placed a limit on your profit at $5 million, however, you did not place a limit on your losses because your stockbroker was so sure of Company N’s success. However, after only 3 months, Company N was forced to claim bankruptcy, where Company N is seeking a court order to discharge all of their incurred debt. Obviously, you can kiss your $5 million profit good-bye along with your initial $937,500 investment. Unfortunately, as an investor, you were willing to take a risk based on the expertise of your stockbroker, however, with this risk; you lost a large lump sum of money.

As with any type of order, you must become educated in order to determine what orders are right for your risk tolerance. Due to the fact that the bracketed order is mostly successful, this is actually a low risk order even though some detrimental risks are involved. Seeking the professional advice of you stockbroker definitely has the possibility of earning you, the investor, an ensured, set profit. However, for some reason, if the company in which you purchase stocks from is forced into bankruptcy, not only do you lose your initial investment, but, you also lose your hoped for profit in which you set. Again, it is highly recommended to shop around for a stockbroker in whom you feel will genuinely put your needs ahead of his or her desire to make a profit.

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