HOW TO SELL A STOCK BY KELLY GREEN

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1 HOW TO SELL A STOCK BY KELLY GREEN

2 HOW TO SELL A STOCK In our first report, How to Buy a Stock, we took you step-by-step through selecting a broker and making your first trade. But we also pointed out that buying a stock is only the first half of making money in the stock market. When you buy shares, you have bought a little piece of that company. As the shares move up and down, the value of your holdings changes. But until you sell those shares and have cold, hard cash in your account, those gains (or losses) are just hypothetical. These are called open gains or losses. In this issue, we ll walk you step-by-step through placing your first sell order, whether you are taking your gains or taking your losses. 2

3 FIGURE 1 STEP 1 Identifying the Shares You Want to Sell The first thing you ll want to do is enter your username and password to log on to your account (figure 1). This will open to an overview of your accounts. Click on your account to open an overview of that specific account. You ll see all the important information about your stock portfolio. For example, in the account shown (figure 2), there are two stock positions and a placeholder for cash, even though there is no cash available. This screen gives a quick overview about all open positions. SYMBOL: This is a unique identifier (or ticker symbol) that the position trades under. Remember that some of the ticker symbols aren t obvious for identifying the company they represent (such as T representing AT&T). You can click on the ticker symbol to be taken to the screenshot page of the company. FIGURE 2 3

4 BUY/SELL: These clickable links allow you to quickly move from your portfolio to an order form for the company under that ticker symbol. We ll come back to the sell quick link. LAST TRADE: This is the price shares of this company are currently selling for. CHANGE: This shows the difference between the current price and the previous day s close. This difference is shown in both dollars and as a percentage. Most brokers will also color-code these numbers, green showing a positive day s gain and red showing a negative (loss). DAY S GAIN: This is the dollar change in the value of the entire position for that trading day. This number is calculated by taking the change in stock price for that day and multiplying it by the total number of shares of that stock in your portfolio. FIGURE 3 QTY: This is short for quantity. In this column, you ll see the number of shares of that position that you have in your portfolio. PRICE PAID: This is your entry price for that position. If you bought the shares in different blocks (at different times), it will show the average price that you paid for all your shares. You might be wondering in the screenshot above how the price paid for NCQ is showing as zero. This is the case because those shares were part of a spin-off. In this case, NovaGold awarded shares of new company NovaCopper to shareholders. They automatically appeared in the account without any action or price being paid. TOTAL GAIN: This set of columns shows the change (dollar and percent) since you purchased the investment, meaning from the second you purchased the shares to the most recent price. It s shown both in dollars and in percentages. You ll notice that for the position with no entry price, there is no % gain listed. MARKET VALUE: This is calculated at the last trade price multiplied by the quantity of shares you have. This shows you the total worth of your position in this company at the last trade price. 4

5 FIGURE 4 STEP 2 Setting Up Your Sell Order Once you know which of your positions you want to sell and have an idea of the price you want to receive for those shares, the next step is to place the sell order. To get to the order form, you ll want to click sell next to that position in your portfolio (figure 4). Just like when you buy a stock, selling isn t as easy as just clicking one button. There are a handful of options you have to make decisions about. We are going to break them down one by one so you will be able to place your order confidently. First up is order type. This is simply the type of order you want to place. The four options found here are the same as when you place a buy order. The first two are simple: buy and sell. Since you re selling, you ll want to select sell. The other two, sell to short and buy to cover, are for more speculative investors. The next box you ll fill in is quantity. This is the number of shares you want to sell. You don t have to sell your entire position at one time. You can sell any number of full shares that you want to, provided you have that number of shares. Again, we ll point out that a round lot is 100 shares. This is the most common unit used to trade a block of shares, but that doesn t prevent you from putting in an odd lot order for a number that s not a multiple of 100. As we continue across, the next box is already filled in with the stock s ticker symbol. You ll want to confirm that you clicked on the right stock so that you re not placing an order for the wrong position in your portfolio. Our last two decisions affect how our order will be filled and how long it will take for it to be filled. The choices are some of the same ones available when we buy a stock. Price type describes any parameters you want to place on the price that you receive when selling your shares. 5

6 The three basic price options are: MARKET: This means you ll receive whatever the market price is for the shares at the time your order is filled. Generally, these orders get filled right away since you re agreeing to whatever price the buyer is bidding as the market price. Just remember that the trading price can move in the blink of an eye, meaning the price of the shares could change while you re filling out your order page, and then again before your order is actually filled. MARKET ON CLOSE: This means that the broker will try to sell your shares as close as possible to the end-of-day closing price of these shares. Your order will then be filled in after-hours trading or the following day. FIGURE 5 LIMIT: This option allows you to set a specific price as the minimum amount you re willing to take per share. You may end up receiving more if there is any available open buy order above your limit. Since you re setting a limit price, your order may not be filled immediately, and may not be filled at all. Just as with buying your shares, you ll also want to select a time period to keep your order open. Term describes the length of time the brokerage firm will keep trying to fill your order if you select a price option other than market. GOOD FOR THE DAY: This option will keep your order open and looking for a buyer until the close of the market, which is 4 p.m. GOOD FOR 60 DAYS: This option will keep your order open for 60 days. This means that at any point during that time, if the broker finds a buyer, it will execute your order. FIGURE 6 IMMEDIATE OR CANCEL: When selecting this option, you re telling your broker to only look if there is a buyer at the time the order is placed. If there is an available buyer for all or even part of your order, your order will be executed. If not, the order will be canceled. FILL OR KILL: This is similar to Immediate or Cancel. The difference is that Fill or Kill doesn t allow for an order to be partially filled as Immediate or Cancel does. 6

7 STEP 3 Placing Your Sell Order Once you ve filled in all the blanks, you re ready to press the place order button at the bottom. You ll want to triple-check all the information here. When you click place order at the bottom, this order becomes a live market order. This means you ll want to be sure all the information is correct. You ll then click the place order button, and your broker does the rest! You should get a confirmation that your order has been placed. And then another when your shares are actually sold. If you placed a market order or a limit order that was below the market price, your order may have gotten filled right away. This means that if you go back to your account overview, you ll see cash in your account instead of those shares. If you placed a limit order, you probably won t sell your shares right away. Instead you ll wait for share prices to meet your limit price. When this happens, you ll receive an from your broker letting you know your order was executed. Remember, because everything is electronic now, the cash will immediately be in your account and the shares removed from your portfolio. Congratulations, you ve now sold your shares. You ve officially locked in the profits (or potentially the losses) of your position. 7

8 GLOSSARY Dividend: Part of the company s profits that management has chosen to distribute to shareholders either as cash or additional shares. Not all companies issue dividends. Equity: Ownership stake in a company. Exchange: Market on which a particular stock is bought and sold. Fill or Kill Order: Order that must be immediately and completely filled or will be canceled. Good for the Day Order: Order that will only stay open until the end of the day. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC): Regulatory body that governs the securities market. Stock: Equity stake in a corporation. Ticker Symbol: One- to four-letter/number combination that designates shares of a stock on an exchange or other market network. Volume: Amount of shares that have been traded of a stock in a certain amount of time. Yield: The income return on an investment. Good for 60 Days Order: Order that will stay open until filled, up to 60 days. Immediate or Cancel Order: Order that must be partially filled or will be canceled immediately. Index: Measurement of a specific section of the stock market. Market Order: Order that will be filled at the current market price. Market on Close Order: Order that will be executed as close as possible to the day s closing price. Limit Order: Order that will be executed if the market price is within the limit parameters. Liquidity: Ease of being able to access money or a stock. NASDAQ: National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation system, the second-largest stock exchange in the U.S. NYSE: New York Stock Exchange, the world s largest stock exchange, located on Wall Street in New York. Over-the-Counter (OTC) Market: A market of stocks that trade via a dealer network instead of on a centralized exchange. Portfolio: A group of stocks that a particular individual owns. Quote: The current price a stock is trading for on the open market. 8

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