Green line breakout (GLB) explained; GMI remains Green

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I have been writing for some time about the value of the green line break-out, GLB, for identifying strong stocks breaking to all-time highs. Almost every growth stock guru I have valued talks about buying stocks after they have advanced, formed a base and then break out. The idea is to not be a pioneer—one does not want to be the only one interested in a stock. The deep pocketed institutions need to be showing buying interest, evidenced by up days with above average volume. I therefore try to find very strong CAN SLIM type stocks that have rested by forming at least a 3 month base and that then break-out to all time highs, preferably with increased trading volume.

I begin by looking at a monthly chart for each stock that hit a new all time high recently and draw a green horizontal line at the highest price reached at any month, that has not been surpassed for at least 3 months. In other words, I want a stock that reached an all-time high and has then rested for at least three months. When a stock moves through the green line or is above its last green line I become interested. I only buy stocks that are trading above their last green line tops. Stocks that form a multi-month (or multi-year) base at an all time high, especially recent IPOs, often go on to large gains after they break out. (The great Jesse Livermore made a similar observation.)

While it may seem strange, I also like the stock to have already doubled from its lowest price over the past year. This attribute helps, but is not always required, especially for IPOs. The great Nicolas Darvas alerted me to the idea that a stock that has recently doubled is likely to double again. As a psychologist, I have learned that the best predictor of a person’s future behavior is his/her past behavior. The same can apply to stocks.

Why do I buy stocks at all-time highs? Because there are no buyers who bought at higher levels, had a loss, and are waiting to sell out if they can get even. On the other hand, a stock that has advanced to an all time high, rested or declined a little to form a green line top (a base),  and then overcomes any overhead supply or resistance to break through to a new all time high (GLB, see blog glossary), is showing real technical strength.

When I speak publicly to audiences of investors I often begin by asking them to raise their hands if they buy stocks at new yearly highs. Typically, fewer than 10% say they do. I then tell them that I only buy stocks at all-time highs! By the end of the semester my undergraduate students have all embraced this strategy.

To show you the evidence that GLB’s can work, I am providing below a set of examples using weekly charts. I find that weekly charts are preferable for viewing trends and for keeping me from being shaken out of strong stocks. (I have been told that the great William O’Neil preferred weekly charts.)

Of course, not all GLBs work out. One can never know in advance if a GLB will lead to a significant advance. It does help if the stock showed above average volume at the break-out. I have a strict rule to sell a stock immediately if it comes back below its green line. If I buy because of a GLB, I must get out immediately if the signal fails. It is folly to hang on if the primary reason for buying fails! No hesitation or remorse, because I believe that each loss brings me to the next gain. In some of the examples below there was a GLB failure and a subsequent successful GLB. I find buying back a stock that I exited, after it shows a new buy signal, can be very profitable. It makes sense to buy back a stock that I have evaluated and researched and not to abandon it just because my initial timing failed. (There must be no ego in trading–I accept and study my mistakes.)

Because there have recently been more than 200 stocks hitting yearly highs each day, I have reinitiated the GLB Tracker list to the right to this page. This is a list of stocks that had a GLB in the past week that I will monitor. The date in the table is Friday and not necessarily the day of the GLB. I keep this list as an indicator of how likely recent initially successful GLBs are continuing to rise, not to serve as a buy list. Stocks on the GLB Tracker list need to be researched and evaluated for possible purchase and are not automatic buys. Moreover, I do not have to buy on the exact day of the GLB. The examples below clearly show that if a GLB stock is followed by a few weeks of advance there are many new opportunities to hop on (perhaps at the 4 or 10 week moving averages), as long as I set reasonable sell stops to protect my capital. (Setting stops and exiting is based on one’s personal tolerance for risk and cannot be rigidly defined for everybody, so don’t ask me how to do this.) Study these examples:

 

One more observation–if one is fortunate enough to hop on a successful GLB stock and pyramid one’s position, it might be a good strategy to stay aboard until it closes below its rising 30 week average (solid red line in charts). It takes patience and discipline; that is how fortunes can be made….

The GMI remains at 6 (of 6) and on a Green signal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performance of GMI and $QQQ since 2006; Re-entering market

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As you know, each weekend I post stats for my General Market Index (GMI), a collection of 6 indicators that help me to gauge the market’s trend. The GMI signal turns green after two consecutive days above 3. It then turns red after two consecutive days with readings less than 3. I am posting below two charts showing the QQQ during the periods when the GMI signal was red or green. I do not necessarily act quickly on a change in the signal, but the GMI does influence my trading greatly.

With the GMI signal turning Green, and the SPY breaking out of its descending trend line and above its 10 and 30 week averages, I started wading back into the market in my trading account and my university pension last week.

And here is the GMI table.

 

 

 

 

Pivotal week coming up–Stage 3 top?

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The current earnings report season is supporting this market while rising interest rates weigh it down. What happens after earnings season is over in a few weeks? Sell in May? The GMI2 is at 3 (of 8), indicating that only 3 of my very short term indicators are positive. A weak close of the QQQ on Monday could turn the QQQ short term trend count down after only 3 days of a new short term up-trend. I know that I timidly went to 100% cash early without waiting for the indexes’ 30 week averages to turn down. Was I wrong to exit? The jury is still out….

This weekly chart shows that the SPY is sitting right on its still rising 30 week average (red solid line) but below its 10 week average (blue dotted line). A close back below the solid red line would indicate to me considerable technical weakness and that a possible Stage 3 top is forming. Note the 4 week average (red dotted line) is below the 30 week and 10 week averages. Compare this to the pattern from last September through January, when the 4wk>10wk>30wk average, the pattern of a sustained up-trend (component #5 in GMI2) when holding stocks or index ETFs was likely to be profitable. When that pattern comes back I will be comfortable getting back into the market in my university pension and my trading accounts. (No, I never get in at the bottom, only after I think one is in  place—the fate of a trend follower.)

 

How I track stocks at all time highs; GLB: $LULU

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During weak markets like the one we have had recently, I find it useful to mine the daily new high list to create a watchlist of stocks hitting all time highs. A stock that can come through market turmoil and still hit an all time high is a stock that might take off when the market strengthens. That is how I found and wrote about the leader GMCR in April, 2009, when it emerged to an all time high early in the new bull market. Unfortunately, I cannot easily use TC2000 to search for stocks at all-time highs because that system returns a null result on a filter if the stock did not exist in the time period examined. For example, if I wanted to write a formula that gives me all stocks that hit a 10 year high, any stock that was not trading for the full 10 years would drop out. This is a major problem for stocks that came public in the past few years.

To get around this limitation I use barchart.com. I go to that site and click on “Stocks” at the top left,  then select “New highs and lows.” When the table comes up, I change the 1 month default drop down to say all-time high. Once I get the spreadsheet of stocks at all time highs, I drag down across all stocks and copy the information. I then open an Excel spreadsheet and paste the information into it. Then I select the column of symbols, copy them and open TC2000. I create a new watchlist for all time highs and paste the symbols into it. I now have a new watchlist containing all stocks that hit an all time high that day. I repeat this process periodically creating a larger watchlist of stocks.

Next I open my all time high watchlist and go to a monthly chart and perform two procedures. First, the barcharts.com list is not perfect and I delete from my watchlist any stock that is not really at an all time high. Second, I draw a horizontal green line at a monthly high that has not been surpassed for three months (3 bars). I then look at each of the stocks to find gems to focus on.  I monitor this watch list daily to see if any of the stocks exhibit any of my set-ups for purchase.

As an example, one stock on my recent all time high list had a green line break out to an all time high last Wednesday on above average volume and a green dot signal on Thursday — LULU.

As the GMI is on a Red signal and we remain in a QQQ short term down-trend (D-5), if I buy anything, I will set a very close stop loss to get out if the stock falters.

Time for cash, GMI=1 (of 6), turns Red

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The technicals for the major indexes are pretty weak even though tonight’s futures indicate an up opening on Monday.  Friday was the first day of a new QQQ short term down-trend. About 40% of these short term down-trends last under 5 days. This is a good time for me to retreat to cash in my trading accounts. However, the put/call ratio on Friday was 1.25, about as high as it gets. This means that many more put than call options were traded–relatively more traders were betting on a decline or buying insurance for their holdings. This is a contrarian indicator–extreme bearishness tends to precede a short term bounce up in the markets. Another contrarian indicator, the Worden T2108 is at 26% but it reached a more extreme 8.6% during the February decline. A T2108 below 10% is a really good sign for me of an oversold market. Finally, the 10.4 daily stochastics indicator is at 9, a level at which the market indexes I monitor tend to bounce. The QQQ has advanced in only 2 of the last 10 days. This daily chart shows the QQQ’s recent failed break-out and subsequent decline. Re-test of the February lows coming?

 

With the end of quarter coming this week, we may see some mutual fund window dressing and a respite from this decline. We could then subsequently see a rise into earnings in mid-April, leading to the “Sell in May and go away and come back at Halloween” maxim. This strategy may actually work this year, or it may not.  Either way, it appears to me that the multi-year bullishness we witnessed since 2016 (2009?) has dissipated. It amuses me when media pundits say there is no problem for stocks now because the economy still looks fine. The market always discounts the future. There were very few media bulls in 2009 when the market bottomed and began to move up. There will be few media bears at the top……..

I have not transferred from mutual funds into money market funds in my university pension— yet. I typically do so when the market indexes enter a Weinstein Stage IV decline. That has not happened yet. If it does, it might signal the beginning, not the end, of a major decline.  It is troublesome to me that the DIA and SPY have closed below their critical 30 week averages for the first time since 2016.  The QQQ remains above its 30 week average but is heading down towards it. The 30 week average is the solid red line in this chart.

In comparison, here is the SPY. The SPY may be leading the techs down. The market may be getting ready to slaughter the multitude who were told to seek refuge in this “safe” market ETF.

When the 30 week average for the QQQ curves down, it is a sign for me to exit the market even in my university pension.  That signal got me out before the 2000 and 2008 market debacles. I am a chicken and would rather retreat and reinvest later when the 30 week average turns up. Trend followers rarely exit/enter at the exact top or bottom. We follow the trend.

This weekly Guppy chart shows the market was in a strong RWB up-trend (see glossary)  for most of the time since 2013. There was a period in 2015/2016 when the market leveled off and the white band in the middle disappeared. Perhaps we are entering such a period. With the strong advance we had  since 2016, we got spoiled and it is easy to forget that the market can go sideways (or down) for many months. Perhaps we will enter such a period again.

The truth is that no one knows how long this decline will continue. It is up to all of us to analyze our tolerance for risk and to protect our capital. Contrary to popular advice, I do not have to remain in the market at all times. I am a boomer,  too close to retirement.

Meanwhile, the GMI (see glossary) is now down to 1 (of 6) and has flashed a Red signal. The Red signal can sometimes occur at a brief market bottom of a decline or at the beginning of a long term down-trend. Time will tell.