The art of stop placement

Before I get into my trades today... I want to talk about the art of stop placement. I know it's strange to talk about "art" in a world where NUMBERS rule, BUT it seems to me stop placement is just that... an art.

Some traders just have a natural feel for this... they're Picasso. Then people like me, well... we get stopped out all the time only to watch the stock reverse and take off without us. 

Sometimes I feel like a kindergarten finger painter in a world full of Monet's.

Take SNDK for example, last Friday I went long at $79.57. Per my trading plan, I set my stop at the low of the day which was $78.45. Now, here's where the "art" comes into play. Most of the time if a stock continues sideways I leave my stop in place. I want to give the trade a chance to work. However, once the stock begins to move up... I then follow my stop up to the next LOD. But there's a "feel" that comes with this decision. When do you leave the stop in place and when do you move it up? The answer to this question is what separates GREAT traders from average ones.

Alright so back to SNDK... I bought Friday, rode it up Monday and then after the bell moved my stop up to Mondays' low - $79.80. But that wasn't an easy decision. I thought on it for a minute... wondering if SNDK was really ready to run, or if it needed to consolidate some more. Monday's candle looked pretty weak, so I decided I'd move up my stop to the LOD and protect my position.

Yesterday I got stopped out.

Of course today the thing BLASTS off! Here's the frustrating part - had I left my stop loss at the LOD Friday - I'd still be in the trade today. In fact I would have sold for a nice gain, instead of breaking even! 

So moving on...

Today I opened new positions in AMAT, MPEL and ABBV. I was stopped out of my BBRY short and my IRM long for small gains.

I'm holding and moving up stops in RDN (15.97) and AER (43.50). I've got stops in AMAT at 23.90, ABBV at 58.95 and MPEL at 23.70.

Lets hope these stops don't betray me!