We’ve seen a flurry of after-market and pre-market trades regarding ANET. My comments are not ANET specific. Rather, I wanted to share a few observations gleaned over the years:
Trades outside of open market times are tricksy for a number of reasons. First, the trading volume may be minuscule (I’m talkin’ about fewer than 100 shares traded). I’ve seen it happen often. What I’ve also seen is that some off-hour trade leads to a significant change in price. Investment boards such as StockTwits light up with hyperventilations about the stock. Could be glee, could be panic, but such commentary makes waves. What to do? FIRST, check the actual stats. A number of sites post off-hour trade data. I prefer Nasdaq.com. The off-hour trades are posted in detail, noting both off-hour highs and lows. All too often, I’ll see a significant price change only to learn that a trade of 100 shares was the reason. Best to just ignore.
Sometimes, though, the number of shares traded is significant. There may, in fact, be a significant downturn on heavy volume. What to do? A great many traders would suggest following the “Three Day Rule.” Tune into CNBC and you’ll hear the term often. Here’s how folks at The Street describe it:
Day 1: The smart, big money sells.
Day 2: The semi-smart, kinda big money sells (like … at 9:30 a.m. ET) because they see what happened yesterday and realize that it’s prudent to lighten up.
Day 3: The not-so-smart, small money sells because … they’ve been watching the carnage over the past two days and have been largely frozen. And after two days of declines, they can’t take it anymore. So they sell! Note that this Day 3 dumb-money selling can often occur at the end of Day 2…
On the flip side, if a stock surprises to the upside, I prefer to wait until the market opens the next day. Why? Because price discovery in off-hours can be wildly affected by liquidity problems. If I’m sure I want shares of a surging company, I’ll put in a trade about a half-hour into the trading day. More often than not it will be a limit order.
I prefer to let dust settle before I go charging in.
Hope someone found this helpful.