Stop-Loss Strategies with Serial Correlation, Regime-Switching, and Transaction Costs

Stop-loss strategies are commonly used by investors to reduce their holdings in risky assets if prices or total wealth breach certain pre-specified thresholds. We derive closed-form expressions for the impact of stop-loss strategies on asset returns that are serially correlated, regime switching, and subject to transaction costs. When applied to a large sample of individual U.S. stocks, we show that tight stop-loss strategies tend to underperform the buy-and-hold policy in a mean-variance framework due to excessive trading costs. Outperformance is possible for stocks with sufficiently high serial correlation in returns. Certain strategies succeed at reducing downside risk, but not substantially.