Investors can utilize a stop-limit order to purchase or vend a security (e.g., a stock, bond, or ETF) at a specified price. It’s designed to sell a security when its price reaches a certain level and is executed at a specified limit price or better. Stop-limit orders can help investors avoid emotional decisions, protect profits, and limit potential losses.
Investing can be a great way to build wealth over the long term, but it’s not without its risks. One of the biggest challenges investors face is managing risk — that is, finding ways to protect their investments from losses while still allowing for potential gains. One tool that can help investors manage their risk is the stop-limit order.
If you’re new to investing or if you’re looking for a more disciplined approach to managing your investments, stop-limit orders are worth considering. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what stop-limit orders are, how they work, and the potential benefits they can offer investors.
What is a stop-limit order?
A stop-limit order is a type of order that investors can use to buy or sell a security (such as a stock, bond, or ETF) at a specific price. The order consists of two parts: a stop price and a limit price.
- The stop price is the price at which the order is triggered. When the price of the security reaches the stop price, the order activates and the investor executes the trade. However, the trade will only execute if the security trades at or below the limit price that the investor has set.
- The limit price is the price at which the investor is willing to buy or sell the security. If the security falls to the stop price or below, the order is triggered, and the trade is executed at the limit price or higher.
Let’s say an investor owns shares of XYZ Company, which currently trades at $50 per share. The investor wants to protect their investment by placing a stop-limit order at $45 per share with a limit price of $44 per share. If the stock falls to $45 or below, the order triggers, and the order to sell the shares is executed at the limit price of $44 or higher.
It’s worth noting that stop-limit orders do not guarantee that the trade will happen. If the security falls quickly and the limit price isn’t reached, the trade may not occur at all. However, stop-limit orders can be a useful tool for managing risk and protecting investments from sudden price drops.
What is the difference between a limit order and a stop-limit order?
The main difference between a limit order and a stop-limit order is the way in which they’re executed. A limit order is executed at a specified price or better, while a stop-limit order is triggered at a specified price and then executed at a specified limit price. A limit order is typically used to buy or sell a security at a specific price, while a stop-limit order can limit losses or protect profits.
Pros and cons of stop-limit orders
Stop-limit orders can be a powerful tool when investing, but they also come with their fair share of risks. While they may not be appropriate for every investor or every situation, they’re worth considering as part of a comprehensive investment strategy.
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
- Managing risk
- Protecting profits
- Avoiding emotional decisions
- Execution risk
- Missed opportunities
- Difficulty in setting the right price
- Managing risk. One of the primary benefits of stop-limit orders is that they can help investors manage risk. By setting a stop price that is below the current market price, investors can protect their investments from sudden price drops. For example, if an investor owns a stock that trades at $50 per share, they can place a stop-limit order at $45 per share to protect themselves. If the stock falls to $45 per share, the order triggers and the shares sell at the limit price, minimizing the investor’s losses.
- Protecting profits. Stop-limit orders can also protect profits. If an investor owns a stock that increased in value, they can place a stop-limit order above the current market price to lock in their gains. For example, if a stock trades at $50 per share, an investor could place a stop-limit order at $55 per share to ensure that their shares are sold if the stock reaches that price. This allows the investor to capture their gains while still protecting against potential losses.
- Avoiding emotional decisions. Another benefit of stop-limit orders is that they can help investors stay disciplined and avoid making emotional decisions. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement or fear of a rapidly moving market, but setting a stop-limit order ahead of time can help investors stick to their investment strategy and avoid making impulsive decisions.
- Execution risk. There’s a possibility that the stop price will trigger before the limit price is reached, and the order won’t be executed at all. This can happen if the price of the security moves quickly or if there is low liquidity in the market.
- Missed opportunities. In a rapidly changing market, a stop-limit order can cause an investor to miss out on potential gains. After all, if the security continues to rise after the stop price triggers but the limit price isn’t reached, the investor could miss out on profits.
- Difficulty in setting the right price. Setting the stop and limit prices can be challenging, and there’s a risk of setting them too close together or too far apart. If the limit price is too close to the stop price, the order may execute too quickly, potentially resulting in a loss. If the limit price is too far away from the stop price, the investor may miss out on potential gains.
To better understand whether a stop-limit order is right for your trade, you may want to speak with an investment advisor.
How to place a stop-limit order
Placing a stop-limit order is a relatively straightforward process, but it helps to have the steps laid out.
- Choose your broker. The first step in placing a stop-limit order is to choose a broker that offers this type of order. Most online brokers and traditional brokerage firms offer stop-limit orders as a standard feature, but it’s always a good idea to check with your broker first.
- Choose your security. Next, you’ll need to choose the security that you want to buy or sell. This can be a stock, bond, ETF, or any other security that your broker offers.
- Set your order details. Once you’ve selected your security, you’ll need to set the details of your stop-limit order. This will include the number of shares you want to buy or sell, the stop price, and the limit price.
- Submit your order. Finally, once you’ve set the details of your stop-limit order, you’ll need to submit the order to your broker. The order will execute automatically if the security reaches the stop price and the limit price is met.
So, while stop-limit orders can be a valuable tool for managing risk and protecting investments from sudden price drops, they may not be appropriate for every investor or every situation.
- A stop-limit order is an order placed with a broker that combines the features of a stop order and a limit order. Using this order, investors can limit potential losses by selling the asset at a specified price.
- To place a stop-limit order, investors need to choose their broker, select their security, set the details of their order, and submit it to their broker.
- Stop-limit orders have limitations, and may not be appropriate for every investor or every situation.
- Investors should research their broker’s policies and procedures and consult with a financial advisor if needed before using stop-limit orders.
View Article Sources
- Stop-Limit Order — U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- Is a stop limit the same as a stop order? — American Institute of CPAs
- 5350. Stop Orders — Financial Industry Regulatory Authority