The NASDAQ Composite Index ended the week with another new all-time closing high on Friday. Volume was lightest seen since Monday, however, and the index closed below where it opened, resulting in a narrow-range churning day. With the index posting only two down days over the past three weeks, the odds of a pullback increase.
Adding some weight to this argument would be Thursday’s stalling and churning off the highs on much heavier volume. That day also constituted a reversal off the highs, and while the percentage decline wasn’t enough for a technical distribution day, in my book it did qualify as churning and stalling on higher volume.
Unlike the NASDAQ, the S&P 500 Index did not post a new all-time closing high on Friday. Instead, it attempted to make a new high not too long after the open on a gap-up move. It eventually closed below its opening price level, about even volume on Friday. Like the NASDAQ, it closed below its opening levels for a small reversal off the highs, which is churning action coming on the heels of Thursday’s churning action on higher volume.
J.P. Morgan (JPM) and Citigroup (C) reported earnings on Thursday morning, and both started the day to the upside. But a tidal wave of selling hit both stocks as they posted huge outside reversals to the downside on heavy volume. C was the uglier of the two, breaking below its 10-dma and 20-dema on volume that was 163% above average. C found support today at the lows of its prior late September gap-up move on heavy volume. This is also well above the prior base breakout point which coincides with the 50-dma.
JPM broke below its 10-dma but remains above its 20-dema and the prior base breakout point. It is possible that both C and JPM will turn into late-stage failed-base situations, but the takeaway is that things are not as rosy as they might seem for the big banks, despite an expected December Fed rate hike.
Bank America (BAC) and Wells Fargo (WFC) reported their earnings on Friday morning, and the results were mixed. BAC dove, then rallied after finding support at the top of its base near the 25 price level on heavy, pocket pivot volume. WFC, meanwhile, gapped all the way down through its 200-dma before finding support at the 50-dma on heavy volume. You can check their charts out on your own.
The action of these four stocks, C, JPM, BAC, and WFC, which are also large components of the Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF), aggregates to a big pocket pivot supporting day at the 20-dema on the ETF’s chart, below. Taken at face value, this looks like a buyable pullback. It might be worthwhile to look at JPM, C, or BAC this coming week as potential long ideas based on their supporting action today.
The SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) continues to rally, clearing its 50-dma today on a five-day pocket pivot move. This also takes the GLD back above the prior range breakout of late August, and the GLD could be added to here using the 50-dma as a tight selling guide.
As I blogged two Tuesday’s ago, you must buy gold when everybody hates it, and everybody was hating it last week as it undercut its prior mid-August low and then rallied. That set up an undercut & rally long entry at around 121, and the GLD has continue to move higher from there. By the time it gets to 128 again, everybody will no doubt be in love with it.
While Vaneck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) and Franco Nevada (FNV) both mimic the GLD as they push further above their 50-dmas, Kirkland Lake Gold, Ltd. (KL) got hit with heavy selling volume on Thursday. The company reported its third quarter production numbers, which were positive and indicated that the company was on track to achieve its full-year guidance of 570,000 to 590,000 ounces of gold.
That turned out to be a sell-the-news situation, and KL came flying back to the downside as sellers ran out of the stock. This is one of the fun aspects of dealing with smaller, thinner stocks. While the stock was on fire late last week and earlier this week, it did get extended once it broke out to new highs, and so was perhaps ripe for profit-taking. Its thin nature worked both in its favor and then against it with big moves in both directions.
An entry two weeks ago near the 10-dma would have kept one out of trouble. Now KL is back inside its prior base and near the 50-dma, which could put it in an Ugly Duckling long position here, using the 50-dma as a selling guide. Unlike other gold stocks, KL has not correlated to the GLD, and should be played appropriately as a higher-octane but thinner name in the sector.
It also provides a good example of why I normally don’t buy breakouts, and instead prefer to buy on pocket pivots or other long set-ups within the base. And with the stock up 15% from its 10-dma on Monday, one could have also elected to take some profits into the breakout.
Big-Stock NASDAQ Names:
Both Netflix (NFLX) and Nvidia (NVDA) remain the two hot names among the big-stock NASDAQ crowd, and both are currently extended from recent lower-risk entry positions. NFLX is expected to report earnings on Monday after the close, so there is nothing to do with the stock ahead of then. NVDA was last buyable near the 10-dma per my discussion of the stock in last weekend’s report.
Most big-stock NASDAQ names are slated to report earnings in the next 1-2 weeks, so in most cases there is little to do with the stocks. Taking an initial entry position in any of them now, before earnings, implies that one would be looking to bag a nice profit cushion before the reports. If not, then one is obviously going to be playing earnings roulette, of which I am not a fan.
Apple (AAPL) is still stuck in no-man’s land underneath its 50-dma and just above the 20-dema as volume remains low. I would not be surprised if the stock just continues to bide its time ahead of earnings, which are expected on November 2nd. If it decided to push up through the 50-dma, however, that would trigger a moving-average undercut & rally (MAU&R) long entry at that point.
Amazon.com (AMZN) moved to a higher high on Friday, and is currently extended from the 50-dma after clearing the line seven trading days ago. Only a pullback to the 10-dma at 982.92 would offer a lower-risk entry from here, but keep in mind that earnings are expected on October 26th.
Facebook (FB) has now failed on two attempted breakouts this past week. After reversing on Monday, the stock then made another breakout attempt on Friday, but that also stalled to close near the lows of the intraday trading range.
Both days showed higher volume that was not above average. The stalling breakouts seem to be more a function of caution by investors ahead of the early November earnings report. Pullbacks to the 10-dma or 20-dema are your best bets as lower-risk entries if you are keen on playing “earnings roulette,” which I of course am not.
Alphabet (GOOGL) probably needs a rest after rallying for three straight weeks since posting a roundabout pocket pivot at its 50-dma. That was about 40 points, or 4%, below where the stock is trading now. With earnings expected on October 26th, I don’t see much to do with the stock ahead of then.
Intel (INTC) is backing and filling along its 10-dma, but I’m still watching this since I tend to think it needs more time to base, particularly since earnings are expected on October 26th.
Tesla (TSLA) remains on the fence here, so to speak. The fence, in this case, would be the 50-dma, where the stock settled down on volume that was -37% below average on Friday. That would qualify as a “voodoo” day for the stock since I generally look for volume of -35% below-average or less as a “voodoo” volume signature. Thus, this is actionable here using the 50-dma as a tight selling guide. However, if it takes a position in the stock here, one would need to see a sharp move to the upside given that earnings are expected on October 25th.
Micron (MU) finally ran into some selling volume on Thursday, and ended the week just a nickel below its 10-dma. Selling volume declined substantially on Friday, but still came in just above-average. Overall, the stock is extended here and I would be watching for pullbacks to the 20-dema as more opportunistic entries. Another issue to consider is whether the stock has put in its move for now as a slower, large-cap name, and will now spend some time correcting and perhaps base-building.
There have been a number of breakouts in smaller semiconductors lately, including ACLS, AEIS, BRKS, COHU, ENTG, IIVI, ICHR, NVMI, UCTT, and others. Most of these are somewhat extended from lower entries, mostly in the form of roundabout pocket pivots, deeper within their bases, which in my view is the place to be buying them. Some became buyable, such as AEIS, after sharp pullbacks following initial shows of strength.
One point I would make is that I consider it my job to empower all of you to find stocks on your own using the methods that I teach. For the sake of avoiding too much clutter in my reports, I try to focus on a small handful of names in a particular group, but the broad movement in semis has been quite interesting to see. My favorite semi has been and remains the biggest of the big-stock chip leaders, NVDA.
I am not here to spoon feed members fish, but to teach them enough so that they can make decisions on their own to catch their own fish. My goal is to empower investors, not create dependency on me. That, in my view, would be less than the right thing to do. For that reason, I would encourage all of you to look around at the market, if you have the time, because when a group is moving, you will find many choices within that group.
I do not buy into nor do I advocate this idea that there are infallible market gurus out there who can guide your every movement into and out of stocks. Learn to think for yourself first! Ultimately, the guru is within you, all you need to do is find it. And for me there is nothing more gratifying and rewarding than seeing my members do exactly this, because then I know that I’ve done my job.
So, don’t be afraid to test your stock-picking muscles on your own. There are many fish in the sea, and if you focus on learning to fish rather than being served a fish, you will be able to catch many more than those I discuss in my reports. And that, my friends, is what makes investing so rewarding. For those without extra time, then I think the names I cover work just fine.
Within this train of thought, I come back to a name discussed a couple of weeks ago, Cavium (CAVM), which is another one of these smaller chip stocks. The stock was initially a bit volatile after a sharp move off the lows and I was stopped out after taking a position at the 10-dma about three weeks ago.
However, persistence is always the name of the game in the stock market, and often one can be stopped out of a stock and then find that it is setting up again. In such a case, I have no issue coming back into the stock, even if I’m buying slightly above where I was previously stopped out.
So here we see CAVM starting to settle down along its 200-dma after posting a pocket pivot at the line two weeks ago. Since then it has backed and filled slightly and is now testing the 20-dema, which lies just above the 200-dma. In my view, this brings the stock back into buying range, using the 200-dma as your selling guide.
One thing to keep in mind is that all these chips, big and small, will be reporting earnings over the next 2-3 weeks, with CAVM expected to report on November 1st. MU, another favorite of mine, has already reported earnings. While buying CAVM here implies one is looking for a sharp move ahead of earnings, I would keep all of these names mentioned above on my radar for possible secondary entry opportunities that might occur after earnings are reported.
Broadcom (AVGO) is pulling back down toward its 50-dma following Wednesday’s roundabout pocket pivot. It closed Friday 0.5% above the 50-dma, putting it in buying range while using the 50-dma as a guide for a tight stop. Earnings are not expected until December 7th.
Skyworks Solutions (SWKS) pushed to higher highs on Friday on a pocket pivot volume signature, but the stock is too far extended above its 10-dma to be buyable on this basis. It was last buyable near the 50-dma as a MAU&R long set-up per my discussion of the stock in prior reports.
Universal Display (OLED) posted a pocket pivot on Thursday as it launched off the confluence of its 10-dma and 20-dema on strong volume. That came the day after my discussion of the stock in Wednesday’s report, when we saw tight “voodoo” action at the two moving averages with volume declining -46% below average that day.
On Friday OLED held tight as volume declined sharply. Your chance to buy this was at the moving average confluence per my comments in the last two reports. Earnings are expected on November 2nd, so catching a brief pullback closer to the 10-dma and 20-dema might set one up for a nice long trade from here ahead of earnings.
Arista Networks (ANET) is acting a bit sluggishly as it continues to sit along its 10-dma with selling volume picking up slightly but remaining below average. This does put it in a buyable position at the 10-dma, using the 20-dema as a maximum selling guide.
Lumentum Holdings (LITE) got hit with some selling on Friday after its cousin, Applied Optoelectronics (AAOI), pre-announced weak earnings and was crushed on a gap-down break through the neckline of a head and shoulders formation. LITE sold off in sympathy, but volume was not heavy.
LITE is pulling back down toward its 50-dma, but remains well above the line. I would watch for constructive pullbacks closer to the confluence of the 10-dma, 20-dema, and 50-dma, around the 56.40 price level, as potential lower-risk entry opportunities.
Like AAOI, LITE may also pre-announce earnings, which can get the stock moving in either direction, and very rapidly. So, while LITE is expected to report earnings on October 26th, a pre-announcement could be forthcoming at any time. For that reason, I am inclined to avoid the stock until after the upcoming earnings news events are out of the way.
Speaking of Applied Optoelectronics (AAOI), I might note that the stock is a textbook head and shoulders top. It has all the elements, the first of which is the massive price run it had from earlier in the year. I first began discussing the stock when it was in the 20’s, and it eventually topped out in late July near the $100 Century Mark.
The gap-down break off the peak in early August came on heavy volume, forming the textbook right side of the head in the eventual H&S formation. Back in late August I wrote that members should watch for a rally up to the 50-dma which would help to form a right shoulder in an H&S pattern that at the time was missing a right shoulder.
In mid-September, we got that rally, and it ran right up near the 50-dma before stalling out and reversing back to the downside. AAOI then kept drifting lower as it approached the neckline of what was becoming a full-fledged H&S topping formation.
On Friday, AAOI gapped down through the neckline on huge selling volume. This was a shortable gap-down type of move as well as a downside neckline breakout. Friday’s intraday high was 49.77, and the stock closed at 47.01. That would make it a shortable gap-down using the 49.77 high as a stop. Optimally, one would seek to short any weak rally back up toward 49.77 as a lower-risk entry.
So, even in this market, where the indexes seem to view new highs as a God-given right, there are still some textbook H&S topping formations to be found. They are, however, far and few between, to be sure, but very interesting to see when they do appear.
With many bio-techs I follow, including Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN), Bioverativ (BIVV), and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), expected to report earnings in a little over a week, I’m not suggesting that one consider buying into these names ahead of earnings. I prefer to wait and see what these stocks do after earnings, so keep them on your radar for now.
And with big-stock names like Amgen (AMGN), Biogen Idec (BIIB), Celgene (CELG, and Gilead Sciences (GILD) also expected to report earnings within the same time frame, the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index Fund (IBB) may remain dormant as well. Here we see it pulling into the 20-dema on above-average volume Friday. Technically, I’d prefer to see volume drying up on such a pullback.
The IBB will likely show movement in response to upcoming earnings reports, and I am more interested in seeing what happens after earnings with these bio-tech names than I am in playing earnings roulette into earnings.
Alibaba (BABA) finally succumbed to some selling on Thursday and Friday after pushing to new highs on Wednesday in what was a wedging rally at the time. The 10-dma was the first reference for an orderly pullback, but this cannot be viewed as being necessarily orderly given the higher selling volume. We would prefer to see volume declining on pullbacks into the 10-dma or the 20-dema.
If BABA can hold the 20-dema, then this pullback would become buyable along the line if we also see volume dry up at the same time. Notice that since late August, BABA has had much higher volume selling relative to buying volume, even as it has continued to zig-zag its way to higher highs.
For now, the 20-dema serves as a tight selling guide and trailing stop, with the 50-dma your maximum selling guide. Earnings are expected on November 2nd.
Sina (SINA) survived its high-volume break below the 20-dema on Tuesday by rallying back above the 20-dema and the 10-dma over the next three days. I jokingly called the high-volume break below the 20-dema a “buy signal,” but in this market, that wasn’t too far-fetched. The action since then proves my point. Now, if it can hold along the 10-dma where it closed on Friday, then it can be considered buyable using the 10-dma as a tight selling guide.
Weibo (WB) is holding tight along the confluence of its 10-dma and 20-dema as volume dried up to -58% below average on Friday. On the weekly chart, not shown, WB is finding support right at its 10-week moving average, so this could be considered a lower-risk entry here using the 10-week line at 98.32 or the 50-dma as your selling guides. Either works as a way of keeping risk to a bare minimum.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW) is holding the breakout to highs on a big-volume gap move Tuesday. The most optimal entry would occur on a pullback to the 10-dma at 147, but that may not happen. Technically, the fact that the stock held on the gap-fill yesterday where it found support indicates that one could take a position here and then use the 10-dma as a tight selling guide based on the gap-fill over the past two days.
Fortinet (FTNT) remains extended from its 50-dma and any kind of lower-risk entry position. Earnings are expected on October 26th.
Cloud Software Names:
Salesforce.com (CRM) is extended from the 10-dma and hence out of buying range. Pullbacks into the 10-dma would constitute lower-risk entries from here.
ServiceNow (NOW) is sitting at all-time highs and out of buying range for now. Pullbacks to the 10-dma would offer lower-risk entries from here
Square (SQ) is one of the best-performing cloud names on my list, and just keeps trucking to new highs. It is now up 14 days in a row and remains well-extended from any kind of lower-risk entry point.
Tableau Software (DATA) is probably best bought on pullbacks to the 20-dema. It posted an all-time closing high on Friday but volume was weak and the stock churned around in a narrow range. Nevertheless, this is a cloud leader, and I think taking an opportunistic approach here, looking for a better entry on a pullback, is best.
Workday (WDAY) is perhaps the prettiest of the clouds in terms of being in a buyable position along its 10-dma as it sits within the handle of a miniature cup-with-handle pattern. This is within buying range of Wednesday’s pocket pivot, using the 10-dma as a tight selling guide.
Yelp (YELP) failed on a recent breakout attempt from a one-year long-term base formation last week, but the current action makes sense when viewed on the weekly chart. Here we can see that last week’s breakout was an attempt to clear the highs of a roughly one-year base after a short three-week consolidation.
That was likely not enough time for the stock to digest its prior gains off the lows and hence the pullback on lighter weekly volume here makes sense. The closer the stock is to the 50-dma at 43.03 the better as an entry point, but the 10-week line at 43.34 can also work as a selling guide. YELP is expected to report earnings on November 2nd.
First Solar (FSLR) is sitting in “voodoo” land along the confluence of its 10-dma, 20-dema, and 50-dma as volume dried up to -59% below-average on Friday. The stock closed the week just 0.2% below the 50-dma, but roughly the same percentage above its 10-dma and 20-dema.
FSLR exemplifies the type of action that sets up “LUie” formations. The first element is the failed breakout in late September, which gives the pattern a decidedly ugly look. That ugliness is generally a prerequisite for an appearance by the Ugly Duckling as the stock sets up in an L-formation, as FSLR is currently.
Earnings are expected at the end of the month, which gives the stock a couple of weeks to re-launch and turn the current L-formation into a full-fledged U-formation, completing the LUie pattern. For now, the idea here would be to take a long position while using the recent lows in the 46.70 to 46.80 price area as a selling guide.
SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG) posted a pocket pivot at the 10-dma on Friday, but the stock was already in a lower-risk entry position at the 10-dma per my discussion of the stock in Wednesday’s report.
Activision Blizzard (ATVI) is acting more like a typical late-stage failed-base (LSFB) short-sale up after undercutting the prior lows in the base earlier in the week. That undercut led to a rally, hence a U&R long set-up, but it turned out to be only a quick trade.
ATVI ran into its 10-dma on Friday and then reversed back to the downside on above-average volume. This is more typical of how an LSFB will act, with any initial bounce after undercutting a prior low in the pattern or bouncing off the 50-dma or 200-dma, for example, quickly running into resistance.
Electronic Arts (EA) regained its 50-dma on Friday, triggering an MAU&R long set-up at the line while using it as a tight selling guide.
Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) is in a short L-formation after gapping down from its prior all-time highs following an analyst downgrade on Monday. That sent the stock down to the 10-dma, but notice how it traded heavy volume yet closed in the upper part of its daily trading range. That constituted supporting action along the 10-dma.
More supporting action was seen on Friday when the stock traded slightly above-average volume and held at the 10-dma early in the day. TTWO is expected to report earnings on November 11th, it could attempt to pull a “LUie” type of move and rally back up to the high of two Fridays ago. In this case it would be buyable here along the 10-dma while using the 20-dema as a maximum selling guide.
An old friend of ours that was a nice winner in the early part of the year when I was discussing it in the reports at that time, Veeva Systems (VEEV) is hitting my radar once again. The stock is making a comeback after spending nearly two months healing itself after a brutal, high-volume gap-down break in late August following its last earnings report. Interestingly, all that selling appears to have washed out any and all weak hands in the stock back in August, because it never moved much lower from there.
In late September, the stock undercut the late August low and then turned back to the upside, triggering a U&R long set-up at the point. VEEV quickly regained the 10-dma, and then the 20-dma. After a downside break on Monday, the stock quickly found its feet in Ugly Duckling style and on Thursday flashed a nice roundabout pocket pivot coming back up through the 50-dma on strong volume.
On Friday, VEEV pulled into the 50-dma in what looks like a normal reaction after such a strong move the prior day. Volume declined significantly from Thursday’s levels, coming in at -30% below average vs. Thursday pocket pivot volume that was 82% above average. This would be actionable here as a long entry, using the 20-dema as a selling guide. VEEV isn’t expected to report earnings until November 28th.
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). In all cases I will mostly use the shorthand version of “10-dma,” “50-dma,” etc.
It’s difficult, if not entirely inadvisable in some cases, to take entry positions in leading stocks with earnings coming up in the next 2-3 weeks, unless one is looking to catch a quick and decent upside move ahead of earnings.
In the case of something like NFLX, if one waited for the base breakout to buy the stock, one has a relatively thin profit cushion. However, if one bought shares on the MAU&R at the 50-dma two weeks ago, as I tweeted one could at the time, one has a bit more cushion to sit through earnings.
That’s pretty much the story for any stock as we head into the thick of earnings season. If you have a decent profit cushion, the decision to play earnings roulette and hold through earnings is less problematic. One can also elect to play on the fence, so to speak, by taking partial profits and letting the rest ride through the report.
Meanwhile, we should be alert to opportunities in stocks after they report earnings, which can come in the form of buyable gap-ups (BGUs) such as we saw in MU after earnings, or Ugly Duckling types of pullbacks. There have been many times in this market where a pullback after earnings has simply resulted in an Ugly Duckling entry opportunity.
Perhaps one of the most amazing examples of this that I’ve ever seen was BABA after it reported earnings in May of this year. The stock gapped down hard after the report, but then undercut a prior early May low and rallied back above it, triggering a U&R long set-up at that point.
That was buyable, and would have resulted in a nice gain by the end of the day as the stock pushed back into positive territory. This is one type of set-up to watch for after an earnings report where the stock responds with a gap-down price break.
The indexes look to me like they could pull back in here at any time, but I would not make that your focus, unless you’re trading leveraged index ETFs, which I will do from time to time as a hedge or even an outright profit vehicle if appropriate.
Instead, as always, focus on the action of individual stocks. Right now, I see some extension on the upside in certain names, but where there is extension in one area of the market there are set-ups in another, sometimes within the same industry group or sector, sometimes in an entirely different one. 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