How to Set and Revise Realistic Price Targets for Your Stocks

Posted on September 25, 2012 | Investing

An investor over time attaches some validity to his or her initial price objective, meaning that modifying that expectation becomes difficult for reasons totally contained only between one’s ears.

But stocks go where they want to, despite what any participants think is justified and despite what investors might wish would happen. Investors unable or unwilling to let go of original price opinions are doomed to lose, either through losses in positions that never come back, and/or from better opportunities elsewhere that have been lost.

There are two primary ways that investors get into trouble when setting price objectives:

The initial idea, including the selling-price objective, may have been wrong from the start.
If correct at first, the original idea can become outdated and, therefore, inaccurate as subsequent events transpire.
How, then, does one develop a realistic price target?

As we shall see in this article, selling-price targets should be based on logical analysis, which includes several dimensions and several elements. Hope, an emotion, is absolutely not a valid part of investment decisions (to buy, sell, or hold), and should never play any part in setting a realistic exit target. Price goals based even in part on a position’s original cost basis should be avoided, since they are based on the hopes of not losing money and of being able to feel happy or smart. That being said, however, investing is an art rather than a science, so investors should work diligently to do well, but not agonize over the impossibility of achieving perfect results.

Three Key Elements
Price objectives, both when set initially and when reconsidered later, should have three elements:

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