The S&P 500 Index pulled the obvious on Friday by dipping just below its 50-day moving average early in the day and then turning to bounce off the line in what I consider to be a very logical move. The market had already been down for the better part of the last eleven trading days and almost all of our short-sale target stocks were well-extended to the downside by Friday.
The takeaway from Friday was that the index basically found support at the 50-day line as sellers failed to swarm the market. While the scent of blood was perhaps in the air early in the day as the index dipped below the line, it was not enough to draw a big increase in selling. Thus the index was able to reverse and drift back into positive territory on lighter volume.
The S&P 500 wasn’t the only major market index that found support at its 50-day moving average. The Russell 2000 Index, as represented by the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM), also found support right at its 50-day moving average. Volume was light as the pullback has seen a decline in momentum over the past three days, which could be viewed as a constructive pullback.
The NASDAQ Composite Index is more or less trying to hold support along the highs of its mid-January to mid-March price range. The index was down 10 out of 11 days in a row by the time Friday rolled around. Ultimately the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs number, which came in weak at 160,000 versus estimates for 207,000 new non-farm payrolls, probably was not all that relevant given that the indexes were in logical technical positions from which to stage an oversold bounce on Friday.
Certainly, the jobs number kept alive the prospect of a Fed that remains on hold based on the current data points. But the general oversold condition of the indexes as well as many of our short-sale target stocks, combined with the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 meeting up with their 50-day moving average, provided enough context for the small rally on Friday.
I would not necessarily assume, however, that the market is out of the woods simply because the S&P 500 was able to hold its 50-day moving average. It did so on light volume Friday, not unlike the way the NASDAQ was able to regain its own 50-day five days ago on the chart above. That lasted for one day before volume picked up again and the index broke to lower lows for the rest of the week. What might give the market a better chance of pulling off a more significant bounce is the fact that so many short-sale target stocks are quite extended to the downside.
Precious metals moved slightly higher on Friday in reaction to the weak jobs number, although the U.S. dollar continued its oversold bounce off of the lows of this past Monday. The iShares Silver Trust (SLV) merely bounced off of its 10-day moving average and pushed back to its prior highs as the correlation between the dollar and precious metals was broken for at least one day on Friday.
With volume increasing in the SLV on Friday, the action appears as supporting action off of the 10-day moving average. The SLV remains somewhat extended from its prior range breakout in early April, but its pullback into the 10-day line presents a lower-risk entry for the white metal. However, given the upside extension in the SLV, I would prefer to take a more opportunistic approach and hang back for any pullback into the 20-day moving average at 16.11, should that occur.
The SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) pulled in to test its 10-day moving average and the prior range breakout, but volume just kept drying up on the orderly pullback going into the jobs number. As I wrote in my Wednesday mid-week “This would constitute the most opportunistic potential entry point on any continued pullback.”
On Friday the GLD pushed back up towards its highs near the 124 price level and held in positive territory as volume picked up on the day. Pullbacks to the 10-day or 20-day moving averages at 121.46 and 120.58, respectively, would still constitute your best lower-risk entry points.
Silver Wheaton (SLW) acted more or less in line with the metals as it held its pullback to the 10-day moving average on light volume Thursday. On Friday it then followed the metals’ lead and bounced back to the upside.
Not all of the action in precious metals’ names has correlated to the prices of the metals themselves. Take a look at a chart of Randgold Resources (GOLD), not shown, to see a nice example. I have preferred SLW based on its exposure to both gold and silver production streams. The company is paid royalties on the production of other companies with which it has contracted.
This takes variables such as the cost of production out of the equation and makes the name more of a pure play on the prices of silver and gold. Take note that SLW is expected to announce earnings Monday before the open, so we will what sorts of opportunities might arise as a result of this earnings roulette event.
The bounce of course brings up the idea of what to try and play on the long side just in case it carries further than might be expected. As I wrote in my Wednesday mid-week report, I would look to keep things simple by focusing on big-stock names that act normally and might be in lower-risk buy positions. In addition, I prefer to look at names that have already announced earnings.
My #1 big-stock leader in this regard would of course be Facebook (FB). The stock has more or less shrugged off recent market weakness to hold up in a tight flag formation following its buyable gap-up of seven trading days ago on the chart. As a basic long trade, the parameters are quite simple. You simply buy it in this current price range and use the 116.25 intraday low of the BGU day as your selling guide. If you like, you can add another 1-2% of downside porosity.
LinkedIn (LNKD) is also one I tend to favor on the long side of any oversold bounce with the idea that it may have further upside to 130 or better if the oversold bounce has any short-term legs at all. LNKD’s gap-up move following earnings last week never held up as it worked out better as a short into the gap-up than a long as I blogged at the time.
Now the stock has pulled all the way back to its 20-day moving average, where it found some minor volume support at the line as volume picked up slightly. In this case, one takes an extremely opportunistic view here by going long the stock and then looking to use the 20-day moving average at 120.66 as a guide for a tight stop. I should also point out that LNKD is an Ugly Duckling bottom-fishing type of long set-up. But it definitely needs to build off of this supporting action at the 20-day line this coming week if it wants to remain as such a set-up.
Of course, if you want to get really radical you can invoke the Ugly Duckling and look at some of our short-sale targets in reverse. Remember that we remain open to the idea of playing rallies in short-sale target stocks when there is a clear technical rationale for doing so.
In the case of something like Apple (AAPL) we can consider that the stock is some 20% away from the initial short-sale point at the 200-day moving average back on April 15th. As I have discussed in recent reports, it appears to be in position for a possible reaction rally as it undercuts the prior January through February lows.
On Friday AAPL undercut the lowest of these January through February lows, the 92.39 low of January 28th. On Friday AAPL got as low as 91.85 before turning back to the upside and closing about mid-range on the day as volume picked up to above average. We might consider this to be evidence of some supporting action along a major support level. Given that the stock is well-hated at this point, and even its biggest cheerleader, the de facto AAPL pump and dump king Carl Icahn, revealed earlier this week that he had sold his entire stake in the company.
We all remember his calls for a $240 upside price target for AAPL when he was already loaded up with the stock last year. Now that he’s out of the stock, it may be set up for at least a natural undercut & rally move back up towards the 10-day moving average at 96.48. The easy way to test this is to take a position here using the 91.85 low of Friday as a very tight stop.
AAPL’s configuration is something that might be called an Ugly Duckling type of set-up. Ugly Duckling set-ups on the long side are not necessarily something that be described with a simple template. Bottom-fishing pocket pivots, roundabout pocket pivots, bottom-fishing buyable gap-ups, undercut & rally moves that are also shakeout-plus-N types of moves, and Wyckoffian retests can all qualify as Ugly Duckling long set-ups.
What distinguishes these from the usual base breakout that everyone sees is the fact that these occur lower in the pattern or even off of or very near to the absolute lows after a sharp decline. The edge that these set-ups give any trader is rooted in the fact that they are not so obvious to the crowd.
Some Ugly Duckling set-ups are also something of a corollary to my work on the short side, as I’ve discussed in many past reports. In my research of short-sale examples I’ve recognized that these stocks can have very sharp and sometimes very playable rallies even within longer-term downtrends.
So while they are primarily short-sale targets, there are occasions where they can provide some decent long trades if one is willing to take a short-term view.
I’ve been talking about taking a short-term swing-trading approach for the better part of the past couple of years, and it is part and parcel of playing Ugly Duckling set-ups in most cases. AAPL is therefore one example of a possible Ugly Duckling set-up for a short-term long trade off the lows. Now back to the stocks.
In my Wednesday mid-week report I discussed looking for any potential short-sale opportunities on a gap-up open in Tesla Motors (TSLA) following its earnings announcement on Wednesday after the close. On Thursday morning, the stock opened up right below its 50-day moving average, a perfect short-sale entry point. From there the stock broke down hard on the day and undercut its 215 low of March 24th. That constituted a short-term undercut & rally point, but the stock was only able to muster a small rally on about average volume.
From here one would look at a rally up into the 200-day moving average at 225.44 as a fresh short-sale entry point.
We can also see how Alphabet (GOOGL) is rallying after undercutting its prior early March low. The stock looked shortable at the 200-day line on Friday, but it proceeded to clear the line on increased buying interest. The undercut & rally move looks logical within the context of the prior sharp breakdown off the peak of three weeks ago. Now it is a question of where the stock runs into resistance. With GOOGL clearing the 200-day line, the 20-day moving average at 734.40 becomes your next point of reference for potential overhead resistance.
Alternatively, it could rally as high as the 50-day moving average at 746.69. In this manner it could provide a decent upside trade, and my guess is that it would likely reach the 50-day line IF the general market’s current oversold rally sustains for at least a few days.
Adobe Systems (ADBE) is punching up into the confluence of its 10-day and 20-day moving averages on very light volume. This brings it into short-sale range using the 20-day line as a guide for a tight stop. Given that the stock closed above the 20-day line but below the 10-day line at 94.48, that could be used as a guide for a very tight upside stop. Keep in mind that ADBE would most likely reverse here at the 10-day/20-day moving average confluence IF the general market rolled over early this coming week.
Otherwise it could attempt to move higher and even break out if the general market’s current oversold rally were able to generate some meaningful upside momentum.
Workday (WDAY) has moved further below its 50-day moving average, but on Friday found support along the lows of the short flag formation it formed during the month of March. This led to a push back up near the highs of the day as volume picked up slightly. Earnings are expected on May 24th, but if the stock were to rally back up to the 50-day moving average at 73.93 well before then, it could become shortable again at that point.
WDAY is also a former Ugly Duckling long set-up that I originally bought as it was gapping and running up through its 50-day moving average back on March 1st. That move was a bottom-fishing buyable gap-up, or BFBGU, and is therefore an example of one type of Ugly Duckling long set-up.
Now WDAY is showing signs of an Ugly Duckling that is morphing back into a short-sale target. The first clue, as always, is the breach of the 20-day moving average, which occurred about two weeks ago. That then led to the stock busting below the 200-day and then the 50-day moving average, although selling volume never got above average.
Salesforce.com (CRM) is an example of another BGBGU Ugly Duckling set-up after it gapped up off of its lows in late February. However, that move did not generate any strong upside momentum as the stock slowly trended higher from there over the next two months. On Tuesday of this past week it reversed back down through the 20-day line in a shortable move for anyone who was alert to it at the time. It has now come down to the 50-day moving average where it found some volume support on Friday.
CRM is expected to announce earnings on May 18th. While a rally up to the 20-day moving average at 75.13 that occurs well before then would potentially be shortable, the stock can also be seen as being in a lower risk buy area given Friday’s supporting action at the 200-day line.
ServiceNow (NOW) was a would-be BFBGU (bottom fishing buyable gap up) that failed rather quickly. As I wrote last weekend, the stock was a sell based on its violation of the 200-day moving average. Since then it has continued lower and has made a decent short-sale target stock from that point.
Notice, however, that on Friday NOW pulled down to fill the “rising window” of April 21st as I’ve highlighted on the chart. I would like to see this trigger a rally back up to the highs of the window, perhaps as far as the 10-day moving average at 70.66. Beyond that, the 200-day line at 72.62 would loom above as more solid resistance.
If one were alert to the gap-fill on Friday, then one could have stepped in to buy shares on the basis of the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 holding their 50-day moving averages. Generally, if I can pair something like this, in this case a gap-fill, in an individual stock with a potential bounce in the indexes, then it can become actionable for a long trade. And it is precisely this sort of long trade in the form of a bounce up into the 10-day or 200-day moving average that would also bring the stock back into shortable range. This is swing-trading at its most expedient!
Members will recall that in my last report I discussed my view of Panera Bread (PNRA) as more of a short than a long given its inability to generate any significant upside after beating on earnings last week. My comments were somewhat prophetic as the stock broke below its 50-day moving average early on Friday before rallying back to close a mere four cents above the line.
The preferred short-sale entry would have been on the Friday morning reversal back down through the 20-day moving average. Here, sitting right on top of the 50-day line, the stock is more or less in no-man’s land. A rally back up into the 20-day line at 212.38 might be shortable with the idea that the stock will eventually bust the 50-day line on the downside for good.
Priceline.com (PCLN) was good for a short scalp on Thursday morning as it found resistance right at its 200-day moving average. The stock had gapped down on Wednesday after missing on earnings but traded right back up to the 200-day line which put it in an optimal short-sale position. This will likely move lower IF the general market rolls over, but notice a couple of things about this chart. The first is that the big post-earnings gap-down traded huge volume and the stock found support off the lows, closing in the upper part of its trading range.
Of course, this only tells half the story, since the total gap-down was far more than the recovery off the intraday lows on Wednesday. On Friday, however, PCLN pulled down a little further but was able to hold and rally off the intraday lows to close up on the day.
This is a sort of “Wyckoffian Retest” where the stock comes back toward the lows but volume dries up as sellers disappear. If the stock pushed back up into the 200-day line with no volume, then I would lean towards shorting it at that point. Given that it has undercut all the lows in the pattern since its big gap-up move in February it could push up through the 200-day line and make an attempt at getting as far as the 50-day moving average.
Below are my journal notes on other names I’ve discussed as short-sale targets in recent reports:
Alaska Airlines (ALK) – looking for a rally into the 10-day line at 71.25 or the 20-day line at 74.17 as potential short-sale entries.
D.R. Horton (DHI) – shortable here using the 50-day line at 29.89 as a guide for a tight upside stop.
Delta Air Lines (DAL) – since the 10-day line is too close to the stock I would prefer to see a rally up to the 20-day line at 44.06 as a potential short-sale entry point.
Hawaiian Holdings (HA) – after bouncing off the 40 price level, which is the top of the prior base as I discussed in my last report, HA is heading back up towards its 10-day and 20-day moving averages. I would prefer to see a rally up to the 20-day line at 44.47 as a more optimal short-sale entry point.
Las Vegas Sands (LVS) – would like to see another rally back up into the 200-day line at 46.83 as the most optimal short-sale entry point.
Lennar (LEN) – any kind of a bounce into the 10-day line at 45.63 or the 20-day line at 46.06 would present reasonably optimal short-sale entry points. Otherwise the 50-day line up at 46.39 would be the most optimal short-sale entry point should the stock rally up that far.
Microsoft (MSFT) – pushing back up towards the 200-day line at 50.73. If it gets there that would provide a viable short-sale entry point.
Netflix (NFLX) – sputtering along the lows in the 90 price area. A lack of selling volume down here would seem to imply that some sort of reaction rally could occur. In that case, a rally up into the 20-day moving average at 95.03 would provide a potential short-sale entry point. Otherwise, the 50-day line at 98.92 would come into play if the rally carries beyond the 20-day line.
Nike (NKE) – stock is trying to find support along a series of lows that extend back to early March. I would continue to look for any rallies up into the 20-day moving average at 59.34 as your most optimal short-sale entry points.
Skechers (SKX) – stock came apart over the past two days but was able to hold support at the 50-day moving average on Friday as it also filled the April 22nd gap-up “rising window.” A rally up into the 10-day line at 33.01 or the prior highs around 34 would be the most optimal short-sale entry points.
Southwest Airlines (LUV) – hanging right at the 200-day moving average after coming apart at the 50-day moving average earlier in the week. From here rallies into the 50-day line at 44.15 would be your most optimal short-sale entry points.
Splunk (SPLK) – announces earnings on May 26th, but was already shortable at the 20-day line on Wednesday. The ensuing breakdown has now taken the stock below the 50-day moving average, which it technically violated on Friday. From here, rallies up into the 50-day line at 48.42 that occur well before earnings would present potential short-sale entries.
Starbucks (SBUX) – looking for a rally into the 20-day line at 57.88 or the 200-day line at 58.72 as potential short-sale points.
Under Armour (UA) – has continued to move lower after coming completely unglued early in the week. From here, only rallies up into the 50-day moving average at 42.43 would present viable short-sale entry opportunities. At this point it is quite extended on the downside given that the stock is now just under 20% below the highs of two weeks ago just under the 48 price level.
Verisign (VRSN) – would love to see a rally up into or near the 50-day line at 88.34 as a potential short-sale entry point.
For your reference I show the list of stocks on the “Gilmo Short 50 Index” along with their respective moving averages and other vital data. The moving averages would of course represent areas of potential overhead resistance on any rallies up into said moving averages. Remember that you can click on the image to make it larger for easier inspection.
While I discussed FB and LNKD as long ideas towards the beginning of this report, the fact is that there isn’t much in the way of strong long set-ups to be found in this market. But there are at least a handful of names to look at. It is far better to be prepared for anything than trying to force the short side when so many short-sale target stocks are extended to the downside. That’s why I’ve remained constructive on big-stock names like AMZN, FB, and LNKD, for example.
Acuity Brands (AYI) continues to defy the general market as it held tight sideways all week long, even as the general market continued lower. So far it has never moved below the 239.08 intraday low of the April 6th buyable gap-up. It has also pulled back to and is holding right at the top of the prior base, as I’ve highlighted on the chart. There is one slight wrinkle here, and that is that the stock is also living beneath its 20-day moving average. Often, on a potential late-stage base-failure the first sign of such a failure is a breach of the 20-day line.
This could theoretically be played as a short here using the 20-day line as a guide for an extremely tight upside stop. But it could also be played on the long side with the idea that it must hold the 239.08 BGU intraday low and the top of the prior base which is roughly at the same price level. How this resolves itself will likely be dependent on where the general market goes from here.
Amazon.com (AMZN) appears to be trying to build a handle along the left-side highs of its current cup formation. The stock came down as low as 656.01 on Friday, which brought it into a very low-risk buy position since it was only 2 points above the 654 BGU low of six days ago on the chart.
As I noted in my Wednesday mid-week report, AMZN was “slightly extended from last Friday’s buyable gap-up, but could be considered buyable as close to the 654 intraday low of the BGU day [as possible].” The test of the BGU low was successful and the stock pushed back up towards the highs of its five-day price range.
The 10-day moving average is rapidly rising in an attempt to catch up to the stock and is now at 647.03. Keep in mind that even at Friday’s closing price of 673.95, the stock is still only 4% above its 10-day line and less than 3% away from the 654 BGU low. The real question here is whether AMZN has the ability to break out to all-time highs and begin a significant price move up towards the 800-1000 price level. In a strong general market that would be quite possible, I believe.
Fabrinet (FN) has dipped below the 34.79 intraday low of this past Tuesday’s buyable gap-up move. This sort of behavior seems to be the norm for buyable gap-ups in this current market environment. The question is whether the ensuing pullback, which is no doubt due at least in part to the general market weakness over the past week, makes the stock buyable.
The rising 10-day line is now at 33.57, and this would represent your first reference point for a pullback. FN is a thin, smaller name that is naturally going to be more volatile. Friday’s close at 34.49 puts it about 1% below the 34.79 BGU low which is quite acceptable downside porosity. A pullback all the way back to the 10-day line would represent about 3% of downside porosity below the 34.79 BGU low. This would be the maximum allowable porosity for a stock like FN.
It is interesting to note that while FN gapped up strongly following its earnings announcement on Monday after the close, its close cousin, Lumentum Holdings (LITE), suffered a much different fate. After announcing earnings on Wednesday after the close, it was hit with heavy selling volume.
LITE announced an earnings increase of 191% on sharply expanded sales growth of 16% vs. single-digit and negative sales growth over the prior 14 quarters. Next quarter LITE is expected to post earnings of 36 cents a share, a 140% increase over the same quarter last year. If FN is able to hold up on this current pullback, then LITE may have a chance at an Ugly Duckling sort of recovery. On Thursday it undercut the prior 24.01 low of April 19th and found some support as it closed mid-range on heavy volume.
One could try and look at this as a “shakeout-plus-three” situation but that would put the so-called buy point at 27.01 which in my view is way too high if not just outright late. My preference would be to look for the stock to hold above the 24.01 low of April 19th, about 2% below Friday’s close.
LITE has shown a tendency to undercut prior lows in its pattern and then rebound to higher highs, which it has done at least twice in 2016. As a smaller, thinner stock (although it does trade nearly 600,000 shares a day) it may therefore be smarter to try and buy this on weakness. In hindsight we know that FN has also worked in a similar manner.
The cyber-security names endured some mixed action following two key earnings reports from FireEye (FEYE) and CyberArk Software (CYBR) this past week. FEYE came completely unglued and gapped down hard after earnings. This of course puts the kibosh on the stock, but CYBR was able to hold up after earnings and flash a stalling bottom-fishing pocket pivot.
The stock initially sold off after earnings but was able to recover back above the confluence of its 10-day, 20-day, and 50-day moving averages. The action is slightly stalling, but there may be a viable trade here made simple by using the 50-day line at 39.94 as a very tight 2% stop.
Fortinet (FTNT) was caught between the cross-fire of FEYE and CYBR and essentially decided to sit tight. Over the past several days since last week’s post-earnings gap-up move, FTNT has drifted into and found support at its 20-day moving average. On Friday volume picked up as the stock bounced off the line, and in my view the stock is probably in a low-risk entry area on the long side. The 20-day line is currently at 31.38, about 2% below where the stock closed on Friday at 32.
FTNT is also just a little over 1% below its 32.42 BGU intraday low of eight days ago on the chart. Given the action of the general market over that period, its pullback into the 20-day line is not surprising. However, the 20-day line itself looks about 3% below the 32.42 BGU low, which is acceptable downside porosity for a stock like FTNT.
The market lies at an interesting crossroads as we finish up the first trading week of May. The S&P 500 Index is down about 3% off of its peak, which doesn’t even qualify as a minor short-term correction. The NASDAQ Composite Index, however, has declined 9% off of its peak, which most certainly qualifies as a short-term to intermediate correction.
I tend to view a 3-5% as a short-term correction, so it is clear that the S&P and the NASDAQ are diverging in terms of the magnitude of their respective corrections. This highlights the possibility that we remain in a bifurcated market of sorts, although over the past two weeks one would have likely been pushed more towards the short side based on the set-ups seen in individual stocks.
Now we are at a point where many short-sale targets are extended to the downside and in need of at least some short-term rallies to bring them back into optimal short-sale range again. Meanwhile, on the long side, there may be some trade-able situations, but my guess is that they would most likely offer short-term swing-trading opportunities more than anything else.
Recent economic data points to a slowing environment, both domestically and globally, and in more normal periods this might be construed as a negative for the market. But in this market the irresistible force of a global economic slowdown always runs into the immovable object of more central bank intervention around the world.
If we are headed for a real bear market, then I would think that it will need a catalyst of some sort. Something that might serve as the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. But thus far that hasn’t happened, and we are left with a market that goes from hot to cold and back again. What this market seems to lack most of all is new merchandise. In this current environment there is really nothing that would qualify as a new, dynamic, and entrepreneurial company with a compelling fundamental theme to fulfill this role.
Square (SQ) looked like it might have a chance at doing so, but those hopes were dashed in the most brutal way this past Friday when the stock blew apart after announcing earnings Thursday after the close. And so once again we see a nice breakout that produced a 32% total gain from the breakout point, and, as Porky Pig might say, “Tha-tha-tha-tha-tha-that’s all folks!”
I can remember way back when I ran money for Bill O’Neil and would come up with a new rule or method to use. He would always chastise us that “You can’t tweak the system – it’s how the market works!” But now we see that IBD has gone and tweaked the system by advocating a swing-trading approach.
While I might consider imitation to be the most sincere form of flattery, the bottom line is that this merely confirms what I’ve already known for the past 1-2 years. This is a market for active traders looking to swing-trade set-ups in individual stocks.
For me, this includes the short side as well as the long side. So, unless one is going to throw in the towel and wait for the market to start trending again, a short-term, swing-trading approach is called for. And I know from my own experience so far in 2016 that it can in fact produce material and positive results in one’s account.
So, we carry on as we have. Maintain a bifurcated approach and operate on the basis of what the set-ups in individual stocks are showing you in real-time long or short. In addition, look to utilize a less orthodox approach on the long side, which essentially means seeking alternate buy points and instituting some Livermorian and Wyckoffian creativity.
The short side, fortunately, remains consistent with the way it has always worked, which I admit is something of a relief! Over the past two weeks that has been the place to be, but we may see something of a reaction rally this coming week. Either way, keep a wide open mind at all times and operate on the basis of what the individual stocks are telling you, rather than trying to tell them what they should be doing.
CEO and Principal, Gil Morales & Company, LLC
Managing Director and Principal, MoKa Investors, LLC
Managing Director and Principal, Virtue of Selfish Investing, LLC