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When the **** Hits the Fan

I got stopped out of part of one position. That's forgivable, however it made me rethink how I use stops.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have purchased more -- a lot more -- on the crash. If nothing else, it had the makings of an excellent day or swing trade. Instead, I sold all of my call options for a loss and some of the stock that did not get stopped out for a gain (my cost basis was around $280).

I should have doubled down.

First, there was no way the drop was the function of a "normal" market. Second, the reasons some folks gave for the selloff -- such as the rumor Steve Jobs was in the hospital -- were little more than short-term noise.

As much as I worry about Apple in a post-Steve Jobs world (that, along with post- flash crash jitters and other factors prompted me to sell AAPL prematurely in March), I knew, with hindsight as my guide, that the stock would recover if not immediately, over the next few trading sessions.

But this clear-thinking logic did not come through when I panicked. That was a setback during a time when I thought I had experienced enough market hysteria to react to it with clarity, not a hasty, anxiety-fueled decision.

In this case, there was no reason for AAPL to plummet. And if one existed, it wasn't good enough to warrant even partial liquidation. In that moment, however, I do not think I had much, if any, control over my actions.

Flip ahead to the summer of 2011, particularly August. We experienced considerable volatility.

Recall the PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ) ending July at $58.00, only to tank by as much as 14% over the first nine days of August.

During this period, I bought stocks, particularly media and telecommunications names.

I remember reading reports from loads of folks who sold in a panic. Of course, it helps to have had more time to react than you do during a flash crash, but it takes control and discipline to not only stay the course, but double down.
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