Update on Apple Suppliers: 'Mind Your Stops!'

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Everyone who owns Apple ( AAPL) shares has been celebrating as the share price hit another all-time high on Tuesday above $701. Congratulations are in order for the brave believers like Jim Cramer.

Apple, according to Piper Jaffray and its research team led by Gene Munster, has the ability to sell six to 10 million iPhone 5s during this coming weekend's launch. That would equate to a 100% year-over-year growth from Apple's iPhone 4S launch. Piper thinks Apple will issue a press release on Monday regarding sales over the weekend.

The other happy group of investors are those who've been buying shares of three well-run companies that supply AAPL with the smart-chips and other essential technologies to make the iPhone and the iPad work so famously.

Broadcom ( BRCM), which recently peaked on Sept. 14 at $37 a share, Qualcomm ( QCOM) and Cirrus Logic ( CRUS) have all seen their share price move up very nicely in the past few months. The six-month comparison chart below helps us see that CRUS has outperformed BRCM and QCOM during this rebound period.

BRCM Chart BRCM data by YCharts

CRUS, with its $2.84 billion market cap, is a "fabless" semiconductor company that develops and sells high-precision analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits (ICs) for audio and energy markets worldwide. The company also offers analog and mixed-signal audio converter and audio digital signal processor (DSP) products, which include analog-to-digital converters (ADCs); digital-to-analog converters (DACs); microchips for integrating ADCs and DACs into an IC; digital interface ICs; volume controls; and digital amplifiers, as well as audio DSPs for consumer electronics applications.

Though it has no debt and almost $167 million of total cash (in its most recent quarter), CRUS saw its earnings per share fall almost 25% in the quarter ending June 30. This is most likely no cause for alarm, but let it serve to remind not only CRUS shareholders but also BRCM and QCOM shareholders that now is a good time to tighten our stop losses or our trailing stop losses.

What, you're not even sure what a trailing stop loss is and you're reluctant to place such an order with your brokerage firm?

While I'm not a big fan of entering stop-loss, stop-limit or trailing stop-loss orders with my broker, I do feel it's essential to protect your gains and your principal by using them. A stop loss is an order placed with a broker to sell a security when it reaches a certain price. A trailing stop loss is a stop-loss price set at some fixed percentage below the market price.

When you enter them with your brokerage firm, the market maker may see your willingness to sell at a price below the current price and conveniently match your order up with some big client who is looking to buy at that price.

In other words, I don't want the market makers to see my stop-loss or trailing stop-loss orders.

So I like to use a service like Tradestops, which just launched its latest version with many new bells and whistles including a position-sizing calculator and interactive charts so you can "back-test" different percentage trailing stop losses and see how they'd performed on your favorite stock holdings.

You can set trailing stop-loss alerts that will send you an email when your shares have reached the level where you've decided ahead of time that you want to sell them in order to lock in gains or prevent unacceptable losses.

As it says on its Web site, and we've probably all experienced, many investors experience two kinds of challenges: "Holding onto a loser too long in the hope of it one day recovering, only throwing in the towel when the loss finally becomes intolerable," or, "Making nice gains, only to get nervous during the pullback and sell for a small profit -- or even a loss -- and then watching the stock take off to new heights without you."

The only way I know to keep those two bad things from happening is to utilize the disciplines involved with carefully setting either a trailing stop-loss strategy or a stop-limit that protects you on the downside. You can also use this system to get alerts when the stocks you want to buy have corrected down to levels where you want to begin nibbling.

I'd encourage you to watch the video at TradeStops and to visit its home page linked above. Familiarize yourself with all its features, benefits and tools that will help make you a more disciplined investor. It helps to be able to override our emotions (especially fear and greed) and to set some of our investment goals when we're not in the thick of battle and suddenly pressed to make a decision.

Speaking of Apple stock: If you would have used a 25% trailing stop-loss you'd probably still own your shares through this amazing move skyward in the price of AAPL shares, as the chart below illustrates. Trailing stop losses can help you "stay in the game" with your favorite stock positions, especially when they suddenly move higher than you could have anticipated.

They'll also help you from selling too soon.

AAPL Chart AAPL data by YCharts

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the companies mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real money portfolio for his charitable trust- enjoy advance notice of every trade, full access to the portfolio, and deep coverage of the latest economic events and market movements.

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