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Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to choose stocks for trading

Regular readers of this blog need not feel let down by the subject of today’s post. I am a firm proponent of generating wealth through long-term investment by carefully choosing stocks, using both fundamental and technical analysis.

Though I occasionally indulge in longer-term trading in cyclical and FMCG stocks, intra-day or short-term trading remains a strict no-no. The odds for success are too low and the scales are heavily tipped towards the professional traders.

So, why write a post about how to choose stocks for trading? Last week, I had written a post explaining why good investment stocks may not be good trading stocks – and vice versa. The chart patterns of Titan and Reliance were used for comparison. The concluding statement in the post was: “Whether you are a trader, or investor, or both – it improves your chances of making big money if you do your homework in selecting stocks.”

I have already written a series of three posts on how to pick stocks for investment. If you haven’t read those posts, I would strongly recommend that you do so. But because of my antipathy towards trading, I had refrained from writing about choosing stocks for trading.

Why then the sudden change of heart? Let me explain. I have been working on this theory about suicides: If any one is hell-bent on committing it, it should be my duty to guide that person towards the least painful method.

If some one is planning to commit financial suicide (which I reckon a few readers may already have attempted), then it is also my duty to guide them towards the process that may be less painful.

Enough preamble. Now let us get down to brass tacks. Though any stock can be chosen for trading – regardless of its fundamentals – it helps to have a plan and some background knowledge.

High value stalwart stocks typically do not fall too much during down trends, neither do they rise much during up trends. That makes them good picks for stability in one’s long-term portfolio. Not so great for trading.

Penny stocks (i.e. those trading below Rs 10) tend to be irregularly and thinly traded most of the time. Only a few hundred shares being bought and sold can change the stock’s price by a significant amount. While that may appear attractive for trading, being able to buy or sell any decent quantity when you want to can pose a problem.

Mid-priced stocks – say those trading between Rs 30 – 80 – may be the best bets for trading success. Of course, such stocks should trade regularly and with decent volumes. Make a list of such stocks, and start studying their chart patterns. Short-list the ones that are most volatile (i.e. the ones that give big swings from high to low in short periods of time).

Even after going through the above exercise, you may have a short-list that is not so short. Checking the charts of more than 20 or 25 stocks on a regular basis can be a daunting task unless you are doing it full-time. Use the ‘Circle of Competence’ concept to drill down to about 20 stocks, and then spend a period of ‘paper trading’ to fine tune your short-list.

Drop the ones where your paper trades turn sour. Add a few more from the original short-list till you are comfortable with the final choice of the stocks you would like to trade.

Happy trading! (Don’t blame me if you get killed – you are the one attempting to commit financial suicide.)


sharestar said...

Can you suggest one or two stock with trading range history and a brief understanding why it will continue trading that way. Also if a stock is selected for positional trading, how should entry and exit be planned. An example with chart will really help in better understanding.

Thanks for your time.


Subhankar said...

Since I don't trade in the short-term, I don't have a list of specific stocks that are good for trading. Even if I did, you wouldn't expect me to give it to you for free, would you? ;-)

You can take a look at the chart of Kingfisher Airlines as a possible example. Entry and exit points are planned near support and resistance levels.

sharestar said...

Thanks , will have a look at kingfisher chart. A single example is enough to understand the logic and there is no need for any free list. But anything available free is taken everywhere for sure...whether it is suitable for the personality or not is another explanation. Like you I am an astute long term investor. But learning never stops... ;-))

sharestar said...

I could not see Kingfisher chart on your blog. Will check the chart on other sources. Thanks Subhankar..