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I think the decision of when to sell is an individual one and you'll probably find more differences of opinion on it than on when to buy.

All of the reasons you listed are perfectly good ones, but it doesn't hurt to get feedback from others to help give perspective or confidence that you aren't missing something. Here is my take:

"1. I made a killing on a stock, wouldn't I want to make some of those gains real and take some (not all) profits from the table?"

I've heard it said that no one ever went broke selling at a profit, and that is true. But if the company is still doing the things that made you want to buy it in the first place, you may be missing out on future growth. By way of example, I have two positions in NFLX that are up more than 2,300% and, as a result, now occupy a large part of my portfolio. It would certainly have been safer to sell some after it doubled or tripled (or whatever random metric resonates with you) but I sure would have missed out on the best investment I've made to date.

So it really comes down to your own ability to sleep at night. I sleep fine with a large position in NFLX, but that's me.

"2. A good stock went down and is a great buying opportunity. I need to come up with cash, so wouldn't I sell some positions with less growth potential?"

If you believe that the second company and stock have greater growth potential than the first, I would call that a completely rational decision.

"3. I need to start taking income from my investments (they have now served their purpose)"

Only you know the purpose of your investments. If they have served that purpose, absolutely. Of course, you typically shouldn't use money you need immediately, or even in the next few years, to invest.

"4. Things just don't look as good or are more uncertain for a stock, so wouldn't I want to cut my losses and wait for a turnaround or look for a better stock?"

That is probably the only reason that a stock gets put on the "sell" list by David and Tom and it's obviously the exact counterpart to why you bought. The only clarification I would make is that things don't look as good for the COMPANY, as they once did. Stocks tend to take on a life of their own, often completely untethered from the actual prospects for the company they represent.

Best of luck, stay inquisitive, and Fool on!

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