Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 11 2014 Long-Term Timer Signals a Move to Cash

Read here first, then come back ...

All my timers are now in cash with the close of markets on Friday:

Note that this latest transition of the 13/65 day MA timer could be "late", e.g., the markets recover on Monday and shoot upward, or it could be the start of something relatively painful.

As this timer is my last line of defense, I'm out of the markets as of the close of business on Monday.  I have placed orders on all accounts that I manage to move into cash or cash equivalents.

My performance this year has been flat.  Our TSP account is up about 3% for the year to date.  One of my equity accounts is up +1%, while another is flat.  For the accounts that I manage, I'm down between -1% and -4%.

The NASDAQ index is performing the worse of the major indexes and is rapidly approaching the 200d MA.    It is below the 20d and 50d MAs, if it doesn't find support there it will be ominous for the longer haul.  Our close Friday at 3999.73 now sets a mental resistance at 4000 AND the 200d below at 3936 isn't too far away at about 2%.  The fact that the 20d MA is below the 50d MA is a problem all onto itself -- this is a huge boat anchor going into this earnings quarter.

The DJIA is also in the same shape, with the 20d MA below the 50d MA.  Next stop is the 200d MA which is only 2% below present value at 15,747 (we are at 16,026).

The S&P500 is holding up the best, relative to the three.  It closed at 1815.69, and the 200d is sitting down at 1761, about 3% away.

These are major support levels.  We will test them once or twice and if they hold, we'll see a good buying opportunity.  If they do not hold, well, "sell in May and go away" ...


With respect to buying, it's too early.  This being stated, I always keep track of what I would buy if a signal occurred tomorrow.

Here's my "green screen":

As always, right click on the image to open in a new tab or window.

As a group these are holding up nicely.  As a larger group, e.g., the one that existed last week, these are the remaining survivors.  Last week saw nearly 100 stocks on both lists, now you can see the full list above.

Stocks of this quality will most likely comprise the new leadership once the markets turn (or more accurately, stocks meeting the green screen criteria will be the first to break out -- not THESE stocks per se).

Compare these two charts.  The top is chart is the performance chart of all stocks meeting my fundamentals screen but failing the moving average criteria (e.g. quality stocks that have been hit very hard in the last couple of weeks) vs. those stocks that meet both my moving average criteria as well as the fundamental criteria:


Winners bucking the trend:

Right-click on the figures to open in a new tab or window.

Of course, you'll want to pick stocks that comprise the bottom chart when the next signal comes.

If you want to subscribe to this list simply send me an email at pduncan [at] vt {dot} edu with the word "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line and I'll add your email address to the Drobox access folder.  You'll also be forced added to a Yahoo! group called GGT, as I need to communicate with the dropbox subscribers from time to time and that is the only way I can do it.


As always, you are responsible for your own investment decisions and I am not.  Do your diligence, take ownership for your actions, and make sure you think through your action in terms of your long-term goals.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Short- and Medium-Term Timers Move to Cash, but...

This has been a tough market environment this week in context of attempting to re-enter.

The end of March saw a renewed surge in equity prices across the board, on increased volume, indicating that traders and investors were attempting to get back into the market.  The challenge of course is that every one of these signals is prone to collapse -- we simply do not know whether that will occur until it actually does.  I've seen signals fail after about 5 days of up trends -- this one failed on the 4th or 5th day, depending on how you count.

Adding a bit of timing confusion to this is that my methods want me to jump into the market when a number of criteria line up, as they did on Wednesday and Thursday of this past week.  So, I started entering, per normal, as my system indicates.

So here we are -- we have a collapse and I'm back to nearly 100% cash in my trading accounts.  Note that I am still about 63% long overall.

Looking above at the figure, the Intermediate-termed timer snapped back to cash before the short-term timer.  This is unusual but not unique.  It occurs because the intermediate was just above positive threshold, and the markets did not move higher before it transitioned back.  This was a warning that was fired Thursday night, but due to family obligations, I didn't get to see it until mid-day Friday.

On a long-term basis we're still long (but weakening, of course), but my short-term timer as well as intermediate-termed timer have both flipped back to cash.  The UWM slope, which is the slope of the 65d moving average on the Russell 2000 2x ETF, has also moved negative again, and this bodes badly overall if this condition continues.   Because this is leveraged it has higher sensitivity than the general market, and is a good "canary".  Note though that 1 day of negative slope for UWM does not mean "sell".  It simply means "wake up".

Overall, as of Friday close I lost -1% in this last round of jumping in, and have a paper loss of another -0.3% pending if I exit Monday morning at Friday's close.

Bottom line:  my GGT tracking index is indicating that we should get out of newly-entered short-term positions altogether, and for intermediate-termed positions, that they should be considered on a case-by-case basis.  Long term holdings should remain in place.  I'm well on my way to this state.

Friday was a Distribution Day - So What?

(Right click on the image to open in a new tab or window)

According to publicly available online fodder, Friday notched another set of distribution days for the major indices.  The DJ is now up to 5 in the last 25 trading days, the NASDAQ is up to 8, and the S&P500 is up to 6.  These have not been going down relative to the past 25 days -- on the contrary -- and in a historical sense, the DJ and S&P are in their historical mid-range area for distribution-day count, with the NAS being a bit lofty than it's average.

Overall, I watch Distribution Days, but I don't get too excited about them. In an UP market they don't really matter -- they are part of a normal reset process that occurs and I feel they are generally healthy.  Yes, they indicate that considerable volume was occurring and that the big-lot players were selling, but if prices continue higher within the 25 day period, okay then.  This is more/less what we have with the DJIA and the S&P500- take a look at the above figure at the far left and far right graphs.

The NASDAQ ($COMPX) is a bit different here though, so I'm starting to pay a bit more attention.  I'm not so much concerned about distribution days -- I *am* more concerned about LOWER HIGHS.  In fact, let me make this clear:

Note that we're not able to take out the high of March 7th, and the local highs of March 21st and April 3 are successively lower.

Interpretation:  The NAS is eroding faster than the S&P500 and DJIA, and since a normal occurrence is to rotate from high-beta technology (NASDAQ) to lower-beta blue chips (DJIA, S&P500), we may be seeing a significant defensive posture developing as we head into the next earnings season.

If this is true we want to to experience continued growth in the DJIA and S&P500 as we march through next week.

Major ETFs are Still Aligned on the LONG SIDE

Take a look at the following graphic:

(Right click on the image to open in a new tab or window)

This shows my GGT indicators for the major market ETFs -- these are the mini-indexes that can be traded by everybody.  As you can see, the SPY, QQQ, IWM and a few others have huge volume associated with them -- nothing "thin" about these equities.

The first thing to note is that the major LONG ETFs:  SPY/SSO/UPRO, DIA/DDM/UDOW, and IWM/UWM/TNA, are all still recommended as long.  Only the NASDAQ ETFs are indicating a move to the CASH side.

What is more telling is that within the QQQ/QLD/TQQQ complex, the TQQQ, which is the 3x of the QQQ, is still LONG.  It did not follow the QQQ/QLD change, yet is more sensitive.  This is telling you the NAS has issues but certainly, there is no reason to sell at this time.

The other telling aspect is that the short side of the NAS -- PSQ/QID/SQQQ -- are still all in CASH.  They haven't made the change over.

Until I see a change of the long side across the board to CASH, and a corresponding CASH to LONG of the short side, I do not intend to exit the market on the long side.  I will remain in hunt mode, and this is my plan for the upcoming week.

Sectors to Watch for the Week of April 6th

Real Estate

Take a look at the following graphic:

(Right click on the image to open in a new tab or window)

This shows Real Estate ETFs that are transitioning to the long side, most doing so over the last week.  Some of these are leveraged ETFs, so do your diligence (you've been notified).  You can see that two weeks ago the SHORT real estate ETFs (DRV and SRS) were exited, with 44.6 % and 31.9% yearly gains with fairly good reward-drawdown ratios (known as the Calmar Ratio -- CR) of 2.6 and 2.8.  Value of 3.0 or grater are considered very good.  Note these values are calculated on CLOSING values, not intraday.  You can also see that shortly after the shorts were exited the longs started firing.

IYR is the largest traded ETF of the lot.  It is also a 1x ETF, with no leverage.  Past performance is no guarantee of future performance but over the past year this ETF has returned 9.1%, not counting dividends.  It currently yields 1.84%, and pays dividends quarterly.  It just paid a dividend at the end of March.

IYR just fired a "New Long" status.

TWO stocks are on my "green screen" list that are in this industry group:  HF, which is HFF, Inc., and HHC,  which is Howard Hughes Corporation.

(Right click on the image to open in a new tab or window)

I'm not overly excited about the failure this past week of HF to keep above the $34.74 value, which was a prior 52-week high.  It closed Friday down at $34.09.  Volatility has been increasing too, and when this occurs on negative price advances, is generally considered poor behavior.

Nevertheless, I have an alarm set to alert me on prices above $36.10 and projected daily volume in excess of 200% of the 21d average volume, around 350K.

HHC is behaving a bit better in the Real Estate group:

(Right click on the image to open in a new tab or window)

HHC is within 2.08% of hitting my by level of $147.86 on volume that is projected to be above 320K or so.    Volatility has been decreasing, which I like.

Despite the Real Estate group going up according to the ETFs, and the strong overall performance from these two stocks, HHC has issues.  The primary one is that over the last 3 days the buying/selling has been at the retail level, e.g., the large-lot transactions have been selling and the retail boys and girls (you and me) have been buying.  This is opposite of what we want to see:

(Right click on the image to open in a new tab or window)

As always, go to to read more on the SEV/LEV indicators.  Simply put, we want  SEV DROPPING and LEV INCREASING, and we have the exact opposite right now.  This is a warning, hence why I like to buy on increasing prices and volume.

European-Asian-Far Eastern (EAFE)

EFA is another equity worth watching.  $67.90 seems to be local resistance ceiling for this one, but it continues in a general uptrend and volatility has been dropping significantly.  While Friday's drop in price was on increased volume relative to the previous 3 days, GGT has it as an Affirmed Long with a recent "New Long" occurring this past Monday, so take a look.  There is nothing exciting here about EFA, but the past year have returned 9.3% not including dividends, which are currently yielding 2.53%.

The effective volume charts for EFA are attractive:

Note in the chart above that even though prices have been horizontal to down that LEV (large effective volume -- the big boys) has been quite positive.

Some other quality stocks worth watching:



As always, you are responsible for your investment decisions, and I am not.  Please do your homework, and please take ownership for your actions.



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New Long Signal for 4/2 Entry

A technical glitch delayed my analysis until late this morning.

With the close of markets on Tuesday, 4/1, my intermediate timer has signaled that I should enter the market today on the LONG side.

The table above shows the performance statistics for this timer since 11/21/08 and overall, it's a good signal when to get in to the markets.  It's not perfect, but no system is.  The important thing is to have a system.

I'm watching the following stocks closely this morning and any breakout, then rebound off the VWAP (Volume Weighted Average Price) will most likely force me to take the bait.  There have been numerous entry points the past two days.


Here's what that looks like for a stock on my list, PVTB:

Another stock on my watchlist that I didn't get into (darn) yesterday was HPJ:

My combined leaders list is part of my Dropbox share folder and nightly GGT postings, so if you subscribe, you should be able to use my information for getting into some quality positions.

Projected volume for today needs to be estimated to be over 200% of the largest down-day volume over the past 10 days (a Pocket Pivot).  If I see a breakout on low volume I won't bite.

To put this in perspective, FEIC floated around 700% volume all day and was up nearly 3%.  Only in the last hour of the day did volume jump to over 1800%.  I have a position in FEIC.

The distribution counts for the major indexes remains high across the board.  I don't like jumping in with both feet when this is the case, but my system does not account for distribution count in terms of dollars to commit:

Right-click on the image to open in a new window or tab.

But, with the DOW and the SP500 closing at new highs, the momentum cannot be ignored.

In full disclosure, I presently hold positions in the following equities:


All positions are in positive territory.  My stops are relatively tight so if the market reverses I'm out again.

I have day-limit orders pending at the open this morning on the even 100-share boundaries so that they are easy to pick up.  If executed, they will be at deep discounts to their close.  I give it a 50/50 that they will execute.


As always, do your own diligence, and take ownership for your actions.  You are responsible for your efforts, and I am not.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Not Out of Woods Yet - Close of Tues, Mar 25

The "New Long" on the short-term timer is most likely going to fail; I'll know more tonight after all the numbers crunch.

Another "nail" in the coffin is the following chart and what it indicates:

Right-click on the chart to open in a new tab or window.

Let me explain what you're looking at.

The top signal is a 5-min view of the exchange traded fund (ETF) that tracks 2x the movement of the S&P 500.  It's symbol is "SSO".  So if the S&P 500 goes up 1%, ideally, the SSO should go up 2% that day.  The converse is true too: if the S&P 500 drops -1%, then the SSO should drop -2% on that day.

The SSO is a "leveraged fund".

Leveraged funds are interesting as indicators because they move faster in one direction or another than the underlying asset that they track.  This can be useful when looking deeper into the market.

The 2nd signal in the figure, as well as the bottom signal, are bar charts, again at 5-minute intervals.  They are constructed differently so in order to interpret what you're viewing you need to read on ...

The middle plot is of the relative performance of 9 other sector 2x ETFs, compared to the SSO.  On the very right is an axis:  this is the average percentage change of the 9 other 2x ETFs, relative to the percentage change of the SSO.

The bottom plot is of the relative performance of 10 CONTRA 2x ETFs, again compared with the SSO.

(A CONTRA ETF is an instrument that goes OPPOSITE of the underlying asset.  For example, for the S&P 500, the -2x contra ETF is the SDS.  When the S&P 500 goes up +1%, the SDS (ideally) goes down -2%.)

Again, the right axis shows the average percentage change of 10 contra 2x ETFs, relative to the SSO.

For the 2nd signal (middle plot), when we have a sea of red, like today, the algebraic average of the 9 remaining sector 2x ETFs UNDERPERFORMED the SSO.  On average we underperformed by about -1.45% relative to the performance of the SSO.  Put another way, even though the SSO was up 1.17% today (Tuesday, March 25), the other 2x ETFs that are sector ETFs, as a group, all underperformed the basic SSO ETF a fairly significant amount.  This means we have a divergence AND more importantly, that the underlying market is NOT supporting what we saw as an increase in the S&P500.

The middle trace "bleeding red" tells me, relative to the SSO, the underlying ETFs which represent other markets dramatically underperformed on the long side despite the major indexes moving higher today.  Trader's hearts were not in the long side.


The bottom trace is the CONVERSE of the middle trace, that is, if the markets are heading down relative to the performance of the SSO, we should see it as STRENGTH in the bottom trace.  You see this YESTERDAY, with massive green as the SSO dipped and the contra markets moved upward.  Yesterday, relative to the SSO, from an average perspective contra ETFs outperformed the SSO at the peak nearly by +3%.

With respect to yesterday, the second signal (middle trace) sold off at the same level (rate) as the SSO, so everything was in sync for the first half of the day.  In the latter part of 3/24 the SSO recovered, but the long ultra ETFs did not recover at the same rate, hence why you see more red showing as the SSO recovered.  This is an underlying weakness.

With respect to the bottom trace, TODAY (3/25) shows that the contra ETFs were underperforming the SSO early, but started to fight back by 11:00 as the SSO dropped.  This is why you see a patch of green between 11:00 and 13:00 ET for 3/25 -- the contra markets were actually gaining faster than the SSO was losing.  After lunch (13:00 ET), the SSO recovered somewhat, but the contra ETFs didn't give up much ground, e.g., even though they underperformed the SSO, they did not do so at nearly the rate that the long leveraged ETFs of the middle plot did.

Conclusion?  I conclude that the SSO (and S&P 500), while up for the day, has no foundation as the CONTRA ETFs did not lose nearly the same relative percentages as the LONG ETFs did.

For me, this points to lower markets in the near term.

We'll see -- your crystal ball is as good as mine.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Short term timer moves LONG


Here is the status of my various timers:

Short Term Timer
Intermediate Term Timer
Long Term Timer
NEW LONG (3/21)
Cash (Whipsawing Started 3/11)
Long (2/14)

Since 2008 the signals on the short-term timer have been fairly robust, as can be seen in the statistics shown below.  The equity used is the GGT index, which closely resembles the Russell 2000.

The values that are meaningful are the average winning trade value (+3.49% per trade), average losing trade value (-1.47%), and the t-Test/SQN value (2.52).  SQN values above 1.8 indicate more than chance is occurring, so this 2.52 metric indicates that the timer should keep you on the right side more than not.

Additional values that are meaningful are the ME value (0.58) and the PRR value (0.88).  ME values above 0 indicate a positive expectation that the system will make money in the long haul.  PRR values above 1.0 are desired, so the 0.88 value is indicative of the need to “tread lightly”.  Certainly, now is NOT the time to jump back into the market with both feet.

Caution is advised.  The high count of distribution days across the major indices, in combination with the whipsawing of the intermediate timer, both give me pause.  Throw in the quadruple witching day on 3/21 and the result is higher daily volume on uncertain prices.  Nevertheless, the Long-Cash Ratio (LCR) moved upward and is now reflecting a new short-term buying cycle, so entry into positions, however risky at this point, is enabled. 

It’s important to note that the short-term timer will generally precede the intermediate and long-term timer signals.  This is by design.  I have no intention of committing all my money at this time.  10-25% of a full position is about my maximum level of risk tolerance with the present timer status.

From a longer-term point of view, I like the following stocks in that they all have dividend payments, although some are not very exciting on the dividend front:

The "yellow" rows are due to data at TradeStation not populating this morning; this is common and when trading starts they do some magic on their end and the data will complete.

The list is sorted most favorable effective volume ( stocks at the top descending.

A description of the columns can be found here.  Note that the 2nd column from the RIGHT is new and is not yet in the document -- this is the change in dividend on a year-over-year basis.

Overall, my combined leaders list is looking relatively strong:

Again, the 2nd column from the right is DIVIDEND change on a Year-Over-Year basis and is not in the description document.  I'm becoming more interested in the combination of my screen with accelerating dividends so I've added that data.

Key stocks that have my attention this morning (Monday) are the following:

These stocks have been seeing significant price + volume decreases yet some are experiencing significant inflow of large effective volume ( .

For the indicated stocks, I'm watching for a breakout in price action to occur that would trigger me to jump in.

Of course, none of these listings are a recommendation to purchase.  Do your own diligence, take ownership for your actions, and ensure that your timeframes are consistent with mine or my timers simply will not work for you.



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Intermediate Timer moves to Cash with Close on March 11

My intermediate-termed timer has transitioned to CASH with the close of markets on Tuesday, March 11.  I will not be purchasing stocks until this timer reverses to a LONG position.

As timers go, this one is quite stable in signal quality. Here are the stats if we used the GGT index, which most closely resembles the Russell 2000 Index (or use the proxy ETF IWM):

The intermediate timer, also called "combo timer", has a really good stability as the number of trades has increased.  Financial author Van Tharp has a metric for this, termed "SQN", and per his various publications, a value above about 1.5-1.7 is considered good.  Values at 1.5-1.7 are considered "chance".  The higher the SQN the better.  The present SQN here is 2.77, and here's a graph of all the trades of this system to date:

As you can see, we're bouncing on the higher range of readings, indicating that this timer is "in tune", and it has been for the last 20 or so trades.  Note that this is since 2008.

No timer is perfect, nor is this one.  Relative to my long-term timer (the 13/65 day timer I wrote about elsewhere) this timer underperforms in terms of total gain for the markets:

The long-term timer is in puke-green; the Combo timer is in purple.  They both are normalized to a value of 1.00 on 1/2/2009.  Over the course of 5+ years the Combo timer has underperformed the long-term timer by about 20% total.  The reason for this is simple:  the Combo timer takes you out of the markets when things go south, protecting gains and keeping you away from drawdown.  As you can see, the 13/65 timer does NOT do this, e.g., you experience the drawdowns, and they can be psychologically damaging.

As a point of reference, the long-term timer SQN is 1.89 on only 6 trades total since 2008.  Apples to potatoes comparison but you get the idea.

Whatever you decide to do is obviously up to you.


The question is what to do with present holdings?

For those holdings that are GGT Longs, I intend to hold them but will lighten up to 50% positions, including any gains.  I will do this with a 1% Trailing Stop Loss that will become active at 9:45 (to miss the early open bounce).  If the positions rise today (unlikely, as futures are very, very negative) then no harm.  If positions continue to fall I'll exit with some gains in all except one position.

My position in DL just signaled a move to "New Cash" last evening so I'm placing a 1% Trailing Stop Loss on it and will be exiting for a loss this morning.  I can't win them all.

As always, do your diligence, and take ownership for your actions.  You are responsible for your decisions and I am not.



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Short-Term Signal to Raise Cash - EoD Mar 8 '14

The long term trend, as determined by a simple moving average crossing of the 13d and 65d is UP.

The intermediate term trend, as determined by the slopes of a number of moving averages of stocks in the general market, is UP.

The short-term trend has signaled CASH as of the close of 3/8/14.  What does this mean?

A number of folks I interact with zip in and out of the market.  They like to be "early" on the longer signals, and they like to realize short wins.  If this fits your style you probably entered the market about 2/7 (a month ago), have seen some great increases in the broad markets (over 5% typically), and now we're seeing a stalling.  If this is you I'd lock in the gains on these short-term positions come Monday.

On the other hand, if you're like me and like the long-term and intermediate-termed trends, you do not have to do anything.  You literally can ignore the short term timer and do just fine.

Of course, there is a caveat:  the short term timer is the fastest timer, so when it goes south, the intermediate and long term timers could follow.  The intermediate timer will be next, and I'll post if it changes state.

For you mathematically minded folk, here is a historical performance of the short term-timer, as applied to the GGT index (which is closely approximated by the IWM - Russell 2000):

The short term timer, in isolation, is not a hit-the-ball-out-of-the-park system, but it isn't bad.  It gets you into winning trades quickly, and more importantly, it gets you out of losing trades very quickly.  See the "Avg Winning Trade" vs. "Avg Losing Trade" stat.  For those of you familiar with Van Thorp, the SQN value of 2.52 is a very good number.

This being said, your crystal ball is as good as mine.  I intend to stay the course until my timers indicate otherwise.  I do not trade the short term timer because of my personal schedule.  I am more of an intermediate and long-term investor.

Here are my positions and gains:

DL, up 13%
DLPH, up 2%
FB, up 3%
ILMN, up 105%
ILMN, up 4%
PKG, 2 positions, both up 5%
SAVE, up 14%
TRN, up 23%
XRS, up 63%
XRS, up 23%

I have about 9% cash right now and am on the hunt to put that capital to work.

If you follow my Dropbox files each night you've been able to track my holdings, as they are fully listed by account.  If you want this info, send a message to pduncan [ at ] vt {dot} edu with the subject DROPBOX and I'll add you.


As far as "what is looking good", here's my list for Monday, sorted by most favorable effective volume descending:


"Smart money" is flowing into the stocks at the top of this list, but all of these stocks pass my screening criteria as of the close of 3/7/14.

As always, do your diligence, and take ownership for your actions.