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Paul Tracy

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Prior to starting InvestingAnswers, Paul founded and managed one of the most influential investment research firms in America, with more than 2 million monthly readers. While there, Paul authored and edited thousands of financial research briefs, was published on Nasdaq. com, Yahoo Finance, and dozens of other prominent media outlets, and appeared as a guest expert at prominent radio shows and i...

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Updated August 5, 2020

What is a Sell-Off?

A sell-off is the rapid selling of a security leading to a sharp decline in its price. 

How Does a Sell-Off Work?

When a substantial number of shareholders sell a specific stock, it is called a sell-off.  Generally speaking, prospective buyers sit on the sidelines until the conditions that caused the sell-off to occur are over. So because there are few buyers and many sellers, the stock price declines, sometimes dramatically.

A sell-off may be caused by an event within the company, like a report of lower than expected earnings. A sell-off can also be caused by external forces. For example, a spike in grain prices may trigger a sell-off in food stocks because of the increases in raw materials costs.

Why Does a Sell-Off Matter?

Sell-offs are important market events. Savvy investors should try to sell a security well before a dramatic sell-off so as not to be the last one holding the stock. At the same time, investors can take advantage of sell-offs, especially broad market sell-offs, to buy fundamentally goods stocks at very affordable prices.

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