The market has continued to move higher as it corkscrews its way higher in rotational style. Nevertheless, it is a rally, and the NASDAQ Composite Index, along with most of the other major market indexes, continues to forge new all-time highs.
The S&P 500 Index also continues to move to new highs, in sync with all the other major market indexes. The only index that did not make a new high today was the Russell 2000 Index, which pulled back -0.3% on the day.
With the indexes now up several days in a row, a pullback to support, either at the 10-dma or the prior new-high breakout point of last week is not out of the question. As usual, it’s a matter of what individual stocks do, and it has been a bit of a mixed bag, with some volatility within the individual chart patterns, as we will see further below.
The truly “hot” stocks in this market as of late have been two of the slowest earnings growers in their respective industries, Intel (INTC) and General Motors (GM). INTC has been moving on the promise of its recent move into self-driving technology after acquiring Mobileye and is now considered to be taking on Nvidia (NVDA), the undisputed leader in the space. The stock posted a pocket pivot at its 10-dma six trading days ago on its daily chart, below, and I must admit I saw it clear as a bell on that day.
The only issue for me at the time was my skepticism based on tepid estimates of 11% earnings growth in 2017 and 3% in 2018. The lesson I take away from this is that in an environment where stocks have become the new bonds, forget fundamentals, just focus on technicals, particularly when money is looking for a stable home. INTC certainly would fit that bill.
General Motors (GM), meanwhile, has been streaking higher on news that it is moving into self-driving auto technology and expanding its line of electric vehicles (EVs). This is somewhat puzzling since the company loses about $9,000 on every Chevy Volt it sells, and the only upside here is that it hasn’t sold very many Volts relative to its other models.
A surge in September auto sales has also contributed to the stock’s movement lately. However, that was mostly due to the need to replace thousands of vehicles damaged during the floods in Houston that came in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Nevertheless, it has merely added fuel to GM’s recent fire.
Perhaps GM has learned a big lesson from Tesla (TSLA). Money-losing EVs aren’t an issue if one just places a major focus on EVs and autonomous driving technology! That’s what they’ve done, and bingo, GM is the new TSLA. From a purely technical perspective, GM posted a strong-volume base breakout in late August, which I ignored for the simple reason that the company is growing earnings at 6% and sales at negative 1%.
In addition, 2017 estimates call for 1% growth while earnings will contract -negative 3% in 2018. So much for fundamentals! But if we value GM the same way investors value TSLA, then perhaps the stock is worth $400 now that it is emphasizing autonomous driving technology and money-losing EVs!
In my view, the torrid price runs in INTC and GM over the past couple of weeks just highlights the irrelevance of CAN SLIM™ in this market. Having failed to pull the trigger myself on both names, despite seeing them clearly on my charts and screens on the right day and at the precise point of impact where they were actionable, this is still a lesson I need to take more to heart!
One area of the market that I have favored on the long side lately, and which does have a fundamental basis for doing so, would be the financials. The Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF) has been edging higher since breaking out on a buyable gap-up type of move last week. It is now extended.
Big-stock banks like Citigroup (C) and J.P. Morgan have also continued higher, and as I discussed over the weekend, JPM was in buyable range come Monday morning. I show the chart of JPM in lieu of the XLF since the two are more or less interchangeable. It too is extended, and would only become buyable on pullbacks to the 10-dma.
Yesterday I blogged that members should keep an eye on gold here, as the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) begins to probe its August lows. My view is that precious metals, including silver, are best bought when nobody loves them and everybody hates them. That is certainly the case right now, as investors are convinced the Fed is on a steady path of interest rate increases.
There are two key lows to be aware of here. The lowest low is the 120.58 low of August 15th, with a higher low at the 121.29 intraday low of August 25th. So far, the GLD remains wedged between these two lows, where a move above 121.29 would trigger the first U&R long entry. A move lower from here that undercuts the 120.58 low would then have to move back above that low to trigger a U&R long entry. Play it as it lies!
A proxy for gold, as I blogged yesterday, would be the miners. One way to play this would be the Vaneck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), or, as mentioned by one member in the blog comments section, the Vaneck Vectors Junior Gold Miners (GDXJ), which currently pays a 4.4% dividend.
Another way to play any move in gold might be through a more direct route, by purchasing the shares of a gold miner. My favorite in the group is Franco Nevada (FNV), a gold name I’ve discussed in prior 2017 reports, mainly because it is a more precise proxy for gold given that it owns interests in gold production streams rather than mining the yellow metal itself. I’ve discussed this name in earlier reports.
The interesting thing here is that if we look at the weekly chart of FNV we can see that it has moved back to the top of a big cup-with-handle formation that extends back to August of 2016. On the daily chart, not shown, FNV cleared its 50-dma today on below-average volume. However, this could be treated as a moving-average undercut & rally set-up using the 50-dma as a tight selling guide.
Another interesting name in the group, as I blogged yesterday, is Kirkland Lake Gold, Ltd. (KL). The company previously traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange but began trading on the NYSE on August 16th. Since the listing, which certainly gave the company added credibility, the stock has moved steadily higher before forming a four-week flag formation in September.
Yesterday it posted a trendline breakout on a pocket pivot move off the 10-dma, and today held onto those gains tightly as volume receded. This can be considered actionable here, using the 10-dma at 13.09 as a tight selling guide. Pullbacks closer to 13.09 would also be welcome.
KL is a smaller, thinner gold miner, but has strong fundamentals relative to its peers. In the most recent quarter, KL reported 240% earnings growth on a 107% increase in sales. This year annual earnings are expected to increase 258% to 68 cents a share, and then 66% in 2018 to $1.13 a share. I generally view gold stocks as leveraged vehicles for playing any undercut & rally long set-up that might occur in the metal itself, via the GLD. So, the action in the GLD is my primary trigger.
Big-Stock NASDAQ Names:
Obviously, the de factor big-stock leader currently is Intel (INTC), as most of the other big-stock NASDAQ names I follow are just trundling back and forth within their bases or macro-chart patterns. This is not to say that the action has been entirely boring, since the daily movements themselves are often fascinating.
Yesterday, Tesla (TSLA) gapped down at the open after it reported that it delivered a mere 220 Model 3s in the third quarter despite its earlier estimates that 1500 cars would be produced in September, and presumably delivered as well. I tweeted early in the day that the stock had already been in a decline since mid-September, perhaps a sign that the market already “knew” Model 3 deliveries would be weak.
I also tweeted that one should look at the chart position, which on Twitter is code for Gilmo members to look for possible Ugly Duckling buy set-ups emerging. That is precisely what happened after the stock reached an intraday low of 331.28, undercutting the prior 331.85 low of August 21st. At that point, once the stock moved back up above the 331.85 low, a technical U&R long set-up was triggered.
The stock then pulled a big outside reversal to the upside on very heavy volume, crushing any “I told you so” shorts piling on the stock after the poor Model 3 news. Today it cleared the 50-dma today on a bottom-fishing type of pocket pivot and held an intraday pullback to the 20-dema. While TSLA’s fundamentals may be suspect, the overall pattern is just a swing-trader’s delight as the thing zips back and forth.
This latest move, based on yesterday’s U&R long set-up, remains a long set-up by virtue of today’s pocket pivot. For now, the 50-dma would remain a selling guide, and any breach of the line could potentially trigger the stock as a short-sale as well, so be aware of this as a two-sided situation. The rally over the past two days has been helped along by some buy recommendations, not the least of which is Instinet’s buy call with a rich $500 price target.
And we also have some interesting action in Netflix (NFLX), which closed below its 50-dma on above-average volume Monday. Of course, in this market, a breach of support like the 50-dma is now a quaint concept, a relic of “Technical Analysis 101.” Hence such a breach merely becomes a buy point!
And so, yesterday’s moving average undercut & rally (MAU&R) move yesterday brought the stock back into an actionable long position at the line, while using it as a tight stop. Today the stock launched back up to through the 10-dma on a buy recommendation and $225 price target from UBS Securities.
The move did not qualify as a standard ten-day pocket pivot, but did qualify as a single five-day pocket pivot. Technically, yesterday’s MAU&R was the optimal entry point, although perhaps less tantalizing because of the weak action and close below the 50-dma on Monday. Sometimes you must think like an Ugly Duckling. Earnings are expected on October 16th, after the close.
Apple (AAPL) is running into resistance along the 10-dma, and has spent the last six trading days chopping back and forth in a narrow range. This is occurring after the stock staged a logical rally after filling to the “window sill” of its prior August 2nd gap-up “rising window” last week. It is possible that AAPL is setting up as a Wyckoffian Retest type of set-up, using the 152 price level as a selling guide.
Amazon.com (AMZN) regained its 20-dema today on a Wyckoffian Retest type of move that is now an MAU&R at the 20-dema, using the 10-dema as a tight selling guide. Earnings are expected near the end of the month.
Facebook (FB) is flopping around its 50-dma after regaining the line last Friday. Today it closed below the 50-dma on slightly higher, but below-average selling volume, and remains in an unresolved position.
Alphabet (GOOGL) can be watched for any test of its 10-dma at 956.73 as potential lower-risk entry point following last week’s roundabout pocket pivot up through the 50-dma.
Nvidia (NVDA) is holding tight along its 10-dma as volume comes in quite low. Right now, the stock looks buyable on tests of the 10-dma, closer to the 177.21 price level.
Micron (MU) remains a long as it continues to move higher following last Wednesday’s buyable gap-up (BGU) move after earnings, as I discussed in my report of that day. The stock is now pulling back slightly, but only a situation where it either pulls back to the 10-dma or meets up with the rapidly rising short-term moving average would provide the best, lower-risk entry opportunity from here.
What I like most about MU as a semiconductor play is that the buyable gap-up occurred on earnings, and so “earnings roulette” is now out of the way. The stock was actionable on the long side last Thursday per my comments in last Wednesday’s report. Pullbacks to the rapidly rising 10-dma from here would offer the best entry opportunities.
Broadcom (AVGO) was a short at the 20-dema on Monday, per my discussion of the stock over the weekend, and it is now hanging along its 10-dma. The stock rallied back to the upside on an outside reversal today on lighter volume, but may be set for a move back up to the 50-dma.
Skyworks Solutions (SWKS) is wedging back up to the 20-dema, but if the general market continues higher watch for this to pull a “LUie” type of move and rally back up through its 50-dma. Both AVGO and SWKS may also key off any move higher by AAPL from current levels.
Arista Networks (ANET) is holding tight along its 10-day moving average with volume drying up to voodoo levels today. This may make it buyable here using the 10-dma as a tight selling guide.
Lumentum Holdings (LITE) rallied today on a buy recommendation and cleared its 20-dema, but ran into resistance at the 50-dma. This looks somewhat two-sided to me, as it could have been viewed as shortable today right at the 50-dma. The flip side of this is that as long as it can hold the 20-dema and/or the 10-dma, it could remain viable as a roundabout situation where the stock might be forming the lows of a potential new base.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) rallied of the 50-dma on Monday and is now holding tight along its 10-dma. This puts it in a nice entry position here, using the 10-dma as a tight selling guide.
The iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index Fund (IBB) broke out to new highs on Monday on strong volume. So far it has worked well as a proxy for the bio-tech sector in general, while avoiding the news risk associated with individual bio-techs, both large and small. This was last buyable along the 20-dema per my comments last Wednesday.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) has been probing the lows of its current ten-week base without undercutting the absolute low in the base at 147.18. Instead, it posted a roundabout pocket pivot on Monday as it regained its 10-dma, but remains below the 50-dma. However, this can be considered actionable here along the 10-dma, using it as a tight selling guide. We would then look for a move back up through the 50-dma as confirmation. This would also present a new entry in the form of an actionable MAU&R at the 50-dma, and is something to watch for.
Alibaba (BABA) was wedging up into its 10-dma as of Monday, where it stalled on weak buying volume. However, in this market, what happens on one day may not provide any real clues as to what will happen the next, and BABA launched up through the 10-dma yesterday on increased, but below-average volume. It is now extended as sits up near the highs of mid-September.
Sina (SINA) is pulling back towards it 10-dma after posting a new closing high yesterday. The stock pushed back above the 10-dma on Monday on light volume, and yesterday’s breakout occurred on a pocket pivot volume signature. This pullback can be considered buyable as close to the 10-dma as possible while using it as a tight selling guide.
Weibo (WB) was looking a bit distressed last week as it began to dwell below its 20-dema, but in this market, any time a stock moves below a key level of support, such as the 20-dema, it’s just setting up to plow right back up through the moving average! Yes, I’m being a bit facetious, but we can see from the daily chart that the stock was giving no indication that it wanted to do anything but roll lower as it churned along the 10-dma and 20-dema on Monday on weak volume.
At the time, that looked like a wedging rally that was running out of gas at the two short-term moving averages. But that didn’t prevent the stock from moving higher yesterday as it approaches its earlier September highs. I would watch for the stock to pull in a little closer to the 20-dema, where I would then be willing to take some shares while using the 20-dema as a tight selling guide.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW) is holding its gains from last Friday’s bottom-fishing pocket pivot coming up through the 10-dma within a v-shaped formation. A little consolidation from here would be healthy, particularly if it involves a low-volume test of the 10-dma. If we see that, then I am a buyer of the stock as close to the 10-dma as possible.
So far selling volume over the past two days has been extremely light, but PANW tends to be a volatile name. For that reason, ’d be patient and look to be opportunistic on any pullback closer to the 10-dma and/or 20-dema.
Over the weekend I discussed the idea of covering any short in Fortinet (FTNT) taken at the 50-dma a week ago per my comments on the stock in last Wednesday’s report. That short worked, but as I noted over the weekend, took the stock below the prior early August low, which would likely trigger an undercut & rally move from there.
As I wrote, “For that reason, I would cover my short here based on the U&R, looking to possibly re-enter closer to the 200-dma, assuming I got the chance.” Well, the stock did pull the U&R rally up into the 200-dma, and here it sits right up against the underbelly of the 200-dma on a bearish-looking wedging rally.
Technically, this could be shorted here using the 200-dma as a tight upside stop. The flip side is, of course, the possibility that the wedging rally means nothing, and FTNT simply plows back up through the 200-dma in a 200-dma MAU&R long set-up. This certainly wouldn’t be the only stock I’ve seen do this in this current market environment. Wedging rallies up to a moving average (see FB as an example) just mean the stock is about to push back up through the moving average.
Cloud Software Names:
Salesforce.com (CRM) has rallied off its 50-dma after becoming actionable as a long at the line over the weekend, as I discussed in my weekend report. The stock is now extended near-term, and should be watched for orderly action along the 20-dema where it could set up again.
ServiceNow (NOW) has held tight the past three days as it moves up to all-time closing highs on very light volume. This looks suspect here as a long entry, so I’d want to see how any pullback to the 10-dma at 115.68 played out. A low-volume pullback to the 10-dma or the 20-dema could present a lower-risk entry at that point.
Square (SQ) is now way extended from its mid-September breakout as it now moves above the $30 price level.
The longer Tableau Software (DATA) continues to hold tightly along its 10-dma and 20-dema, the more I like it as a long entry, using either of the two short-term moving averages as tight selling guides. Dips into the 10-dma over the past two days have offered lower-risk entries. Today volume dried up to “voodoo “levels at -50% below average, so I consider this a voodoo entry at the 10-dma using it as your selling guide.
Workday (WDAY) last week went from a “confirmed” late-stage failed-base (LSFB) short-sale set-up to a moving average undercut & rally (MAU&R) long set-up at the 50-dma by Friday, changing character in a New York minute, maybe a little less. But this is part and parcel of the Ugly Duckling QE market, where technical “reality” is no reality at all, but just an excuse for a rally, the uglier it gets.
Following last Friday’s MAU&R long set-up, WDAY flopped below the 50-dma on Monday, but then regained the line yesterday. Today it held an intraday pullback to the line on a nice “voodoo” volume signature that was -46% below average. From here, any further pullbacks to the 50-dma are buyable, using the 10-dma down at 102.88 as a maximum selling guide.
Yelp (YELP) was a U&R long set-up last Wednesday when the stock rallied back above its prior September lows. On Friday, it piled on with an MAU&R long set-up at the 20-dema, as I discussed in my weekend report. It then followed-through with a move higher and back above the 10-dma. This then led to base breakout today on below-average volume.
What I find extremely interesting here is that all of YELP’s rally off the lows of last week has occurred on below-average volume. But that hasn’t kept the stock from just breaking out to higher highs. An instructive example of the alternate reality this market provides, where volume means nothing. Perhaps this will make out chart-reading simpler, since it appears we can just ignore volume and let the U&R and MAU&R set-ups trigger on price action alone! ;-p
GrubHub (GRUB) is another example of this as it bottomed out last week on a high-volume breach of the 50-dma. It has since rallied back above its 50-dma in classic MAU&R fashion, with no strong volume the entire way. Now this becomes actionable along the 50-dma, using it as a tight selling guide.
Over the weekend I talked about First Solar (FSLR) as being the type of pattern that in the “old days” would be considered a slam-dunk short. And so, we might continue to think so as the stock wedges up into its 50-dma on weak volume, closing eight cents below the 50-dma today on very light volume.
This looks like a short here, using the 50-dma as a tight upside stop. That may turn out to be the case, and the stock breaks lower from here. But there is also the possibility that the stock moves back up through the 50-dma, triggering an MAU&R long entry at that point, using the line as a tight stop.
Who wants to bet on whether this resolves as a classic, shortable wedging rally into resistance, or an Ugly Duckling, QE market MAU&R set-up, with or without strong volume? In all seriousness, I would tend to view it as a toss-up. So just play it as it lies, depending on how it resolves in real-time.
SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG) remains within technical buying range of last week’s strong-volume base breakout. However, we can see that the 10-dma is moving fast to catch up to the stock here, so a more optimal entry would occur if we saw any kind of orderly pullback to the 10-dma, so that is what I would be watching for here.
The video-gamers are a mixed bag, with Activision Blizzard (ATVI) back below its 50-dma, which doesn’t seem to act as much of a reliable guide for support or resistance. Over the past week the stock has been on either side of the line, and triggers as a short or a long depending on which way it is breaking.
Today ATVI broke below the 50-dma, triggering a short-sale at that point this morning while using the line as a tight upside stop. This is so far, a typical “up is down and down is up” type of situation, where the stock has been a short on strength and a buy on weakness. The result is an incoherent pattern that is not tradeable.
Electronic Arts (EA) is holding along its 50-dma here, which puts it in a lower-risk entry position using the intraday lows of today at 116.41 as a selling guide. Those wishing to play things tighter can use the 50-dma as a selling guide.
Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) is trading back above its 10-dma, where it closed last week, but hasn’t put enough time along the line to make me comfortable jumping on the stock here. Not that it can’t just go higher, but I’d like to see it spend just a little time setting up here along the 10-dma and 20-dema given how extended it is from its early August buyable gap-up (BGU).
For newer members: Please note that when I use the term “20-day moving average,” “20-day line,” or “20-dema” I am referring to the 20-day exponential moving average. I use four primary moving averages on my daily charts: a 10-day simple (the magenta line), 20-day exponential (the green line), 50-day simple (the blue line) and 200-day simple moving average (the red line). On rare occasions, I will also employ a 65-day exponential moving average (thin black line).
The market still strikes me as a swing-trader’s environment. Stocks have strong moves one day or for a few days, and then get into sharp moves in the opposite direction. Sometimes this works both ways, as the example of Cavium (CAVM) shows below. Two weekends ago I discussed the stock as a long idea near the 10-dma as it was dipping below the 200-dma.
At that time, it was showing “voodoo” action at the 10-dma as volume dried up nicely. But it didn’t hold and broke all the way back to where it started the prior strong upside run. At that point, the stock found support and launched sharply back to the upside, right up to the prior mid-September highs. That entire move is about 10% in both directions, volatility that is often hard to deal with without getting stopped out in either direction.
This action is somewhat common in this market, which is why I think it is more of a swing-trader’s market. But speaking for myself, I’ve had quite a cold streak over the past month or so after posting some nice upside earlier in the summer. Suddenly, it seems like anything I do is the wrong thing to do, and in many cases doing the opposite would have been more profitable!
I thought it would be instructive for me to discuss this in a frank manner, since I think every trader runs into this problem from time to time. In the old days, if I got tagged for a 5-10% drawdown I’d just go right ahead and continue taking 400% aggregate positions and blasting away. That strategy worked well in the 1990’s, but as noted in the book, In the Trading Cockpit with the O’Neil Disciples, (Wiley, 2012), that approach doesn’t work so well anymore in a non-parabolic market.
So, what to do? These days when I run into a cold streak the first thing I do is back down and stop using margin, end of story. I might cross the line into margin territory on an intraday basis, but everything is being run with only the tightest of leashes. The important thing is to stop beating one’s head against the wall, and simply back away. Making mistakes is bad enough, but compounding mistakes is counter-productive.
This does not, however, mean, that I go into some sort of avoidance behavior, where I stop trading altogether. That, to me, is silly, since I believe one must have some feel for the market at all times, which means monitoring things closely and yes, taking a position when you see something actionable, even if it is smaller than normal.
For me, at least, the visceral feedback gained by having actual positions is key to understanding what the market is doing at any particular time. What is changed is exposure in terms of position size and use of margin. I got into a lot of trouble in early 2009 by staying short too big and too long as the market turned off the lows in the face of the oncoming QE tidal wave, which I missed entirely.
Over the past four years, I’ve had something of a “hot hand,” averaging 41% a year, including one triple-digit year in 2014. So, I can accept that I after such a strong run I might encounter a cold streak. After all, I’ve taken a lot of money out of the market over the past four years. The key is in not allowing a cold streak to kill you, like I let it in early 2009. That is the lesson I learned from that fiasco way back then.
So, if you occasionally find yourself in an analogous situation, rest assured that you’re not alone, and it happens to the best of us. I’ve seen Bill O’Neil take some hits, at least one of which had people in the firm wondering if we weren’t about to go out of business. The fears turned out to be exaggerated, and within a couple of years Bill and the rest of his internal portfolio managers were making money hand over fist.
When faced with such a situation, just cut back on your risk-profile, e.g., take smaller positions, and work yourself back steadily and deliberately. I’ve already had to do this once over the past four years, since in 2014, when I was up 115%, I was in fact down about 15% early in the year before turning things around in a big way. I credit that to the fact that I kept things under control when I was screwing up early in the year.
Nice turnaround, eh? But that’s what you allow for if you take the approach that I take today. Hyper-aggression has its place, at least in my style of investing and trading, but not during a cold streak! In any case, I wanted to put this out there, since it is always my intention to remain genuine as a trader, and not prone to hype and self-aggrandizement in the pursuit of scoring marketing points.
To me, that’s the proverbial B.S., plain and simple, and flies in the face of the ethics and morality of being a true trader, which I consider myself to be these days. Trading and investing is tough business, and to portray it as being “As Easy as 1-2-3” is in my mind unconscionable.
With the indexes extended to the upside, we could see a pullback heading into Friday’s jobs number, which I’m guessing will be weak based on a weak ADP jobs report this morning. Some of this may have been due to the hurricanes that hit a couple of weeks ago, so it’ not clear how the market will react to a weak number.
It’s still a matter of watching the set-ups in real-time and being willing to act on them, even when things look ugly. This is the great paradox of the QE market, because even as the market continues to rally higher your best long entries on individual stocks tend to come at points where one is psychologically the least comfortable buying them.
This has obviously presented me with some problems as I have been crossed up at various points lately. But this is not something that cannot be overcome if one is willing to be persistent and remain focused on the set-ups at hand, particularly those crazy, but trusty, Ugly Duckling set-ups. Play it as it lies!
CEO and Principal, Gil Morales & Company, LLC
Managing Director and Principal, MoKa Investors, LLC
Managing Director and Principal, Virtue of Selfish Investing, LLC