One advantage of a stop-loss order is you don’t have to monitor how a stock is performing daily. This convenience is especially handy when you are on vacation or in a situation that prevents you from watching your stocks for an extended period.
The main disadvantage is that a short-term fluctuation in a stock’s price could activate the stop price. The key is picking a stop-loss percentage that allows a stock to fluctuate day-to-day, while also preventing as much downside risk as possible. Setting a 5% stop-loss order on a stock that has a history of fluctuating 10% or more in a week may not be the best strategy. You’ll most likely just lose money on the commission generated from the execution of your stop-loss order.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for the level at which stops should be placed; it totally depends on your individual investing style. An active trader might use a 5% level, while a long-term investor might choose 15% or more.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, once you reach your stop price, your stop order becomes a market order. So, the price at which you sell may be much different from the stop price. This fact is especially true in a fast-moving market where stock prices can change rapidly. Another restriction with the stop-loss order is that many brokers do not allow you to place a stop order on certain securities like OTC Bulletin Board stocks or penny stocks.
Stop-limit orders have further potential risks. These orders can guarantee a price limit, but the trade may not be executed. This can harm investors during a fast market if the stop order triggers, but the limit order does not get filled before the market price blasts through the limit price. If bad news comes out about a company and the limit price is only $1 or $2 below the stop-loss price, then the investor must hold onto the stock for an indeterminate period before the share price rises again. Both types of orders can be entered as either day or good-until-canceled (GTC) orders.