Stock Screens & Scans for Traders & Investors

As a part time trader & investor, I strictly use end of day data for my screens and scans as I don’t have the luxury of watching the tape all day long (nor do I want to). With that said, I do receive text alerts if a buy signal is made or if a sell signal has been violated. Using my smart phone or tablet, I can and do trade during business hours (when absolutely necessary) but it’s not imperative.

I encourage investors and traders in all time frames to evaluate stocks for investment using both fundamental and technical analysis. A day trader and even a swing trader can get away with avoiding fundamental analysis but I highly recommend both methods of analysis for intermediate and longer term trend traders and investors. Both tools are equally important in making serious decisions with your hard earned CASH!

Let’s start with a list of the key fundamentals that I require to be filtered within my mechanical screeners (please note that you should use your screener of choice):

Simple Fundamental Screener Criteria:
The criteria listed in this section can be used together or arranged in a variety of ways to generate multiple screens containing all possible opportunities. Get a feel for specific screens and determine which are the most successful during certain market conditions.

Most Important Fundamentals:

  • Increasing Earnings (current, past: quarterly, yearly and future estimates)
  • Increasing Sales (current, past: quarterly, yearly and future estimates)
  • Increasing Net Income (current, past: quarterly, yearly)
  • Increasing Institutional Sponsorship
  • Increasing and strong Relative Strength ratings vs. general market

Most Important Price Data:

  • Stocks making New Highs
  • Stocks within 15% of New Highs
  • Stocks trading slightly above or within 5% of the 50-d ma
  • Stocks within 10% of the 200-day moving average (in weaker markets)

Less Important Metrics:

  • Increasing Return on Equity (ROE)
  • Price / Earnings Growth (PEG) – less than 1 is preferable
  • Accumulation/Distribution ratio (up days vs. down days)
  • Up / Down Volume over past several months

Fundamental screeners will scan thousands of stocks narrowing down the universe to a couple dozen to a few hundred each night or weekend. The more bullish the market, the larger the list of stocks will be and vice versa for weak markets. From here, the savvy investor turns to technical analysis to identify “when” and “where” to place a new position for the ideal risk-to-reward ratio.

General Market Metrics & Technical Analysis:

  • Determine if overall market is in a specific trend (up, down or sideways). Use multiple moving averages to quickly determine the trend.
  • Evaluate sister stocks or stocks within the same industry group (strength travels in groups so the probability of success rises when buying into a strong industry).
  • Study the one year weekly chart (preferably candlesticks)
  • Study the six month daily chart (preferably candlesticks)
  • Look for increasing accumulation days (stock up on above average volume)
  • Evaluate the Point & Figure chart for clean support and resistance levels
  • Look for basic chart patterns such as flat bases, cup bases, saucer bases, triangle breakouts, obvious trends along a moving average, etc…
  • Properly forming bases
  • Pivot points
  • Breakout areas
  • Extended stocks
  • Stocks pulling back to key support lines
  • Favorable risk-to-reward setups
  • Check volume action when bases are formed

Market Breadth – Using Screens
It is extremely important to pay attention to the quantity of stocks making your screeners from time to time. The length of the list alone will tell you how healthy or how weak the market currently is, without even checking another factor.

For example, a standard screen of mine searching quality stocks making new highs should be full of candidates during a fresh up-trending market. The list should be full of candidates as long as the trend continues. As soon as this list starts to thin out on a daily and weekly basis, become cautious that the breadth is weakening.

Example of my most successful screens:
When scanning these screens, I will view the stocks in descending order starting with the day’s largest price percentage change and occasionally starting with the day’s largest volume change versus 50-day average.

1. Quality Stocks that are trading within 15% of 52-week Highs

  • Current price is within 15% of the 52-Week High
  • Earnings increasing qtr-over-qtr and year-over-year
  • Relative Price Strength greater than 80% of the general market
  • Current 50-Day Average Volume is at least 100k shares per day
  • % Increase in Volume (Current Day) vs. 50-Day Average Volume: Volume 50% larger than the 50-d average

2. Quality Stocks making New 52-week Highs:

  • Current price is trading at a new 52-Week High
  • Earnings increasing qtr-over-qtr and year-over-year
  • Relative Price Strength greater than 80% of the general market
  • Current 50-Day Average Volume is at least 100k shares per day
  • % Increase in Volume (Current Day) vs. 50-Day Average Volume: Volume 15% larger than the 50-d average

3. Institutional Sponsorship Increasing

  • % of the number of Institutions for Current Quarter vs. Prior Quarter have increased by 10%
  • % of the number of shares owned by Institutions for Current Quarter vs. Prior Quarter have increased by 5%
  • Earnings increasing qtr-over-qtr and year-over-year
  • Relative Price Strength greater than 50% of the general market
  • Current 50-Day Average Volume is at least 100k shares per day

4. Quality Stocks with a new IPO’s within the past two Years

  • Current price is greater than or equal to $10 per share
  • Earnings increasing qtr-over-qtr and year-over-year
  • Relative Price Strength greater than 80% of the general market
  • Market Capitalization is greater than or equal to $100M
  • Current 50-Day Average Volume is at least 50k shares per day
  • % Increase in Volume (Current Day) vs. 50-Day Average Volume: Volume 50% larger than the 50-d average
  • IPO Date within past 5 years (sometimes use 3 years)

Although I run these screens at least once per week, one or two will come into favor while others fall out of favor depending on the market environment or situation. Over time, the strength and weakness of certain screens will also give you a hint as to what the overall market is doing (another breadth signal).

For example, a screen that locates quality stocks making new 52-weeks highs is best used when a market is forming a new up-trend and the overall movement is still fairly fresh. This screen is less important near the end of a strong up-trend because at this point, many of the stocks making new highs are exhausted. The trader will see more failed breakout attempts, reversals and late stage bases so the odds are no longer in favor of this screen.

In strong up-trending markets, one cannot expect to buy every stock that makes the screens so it comes down to developing a risk-to-reward calculation to grab shares in the equities that show the greatest upside.

Lastly, it’s important to understand that no investor is perfect and losses are part of the game when it comes to investing and trading. Most traders will have as many winners as they do losers (using successful screeners) so having sell rules is critical for sustainable success. Learn to cut losses short while letting winners run, no questions asked.

By cutting losses, you account will not blow-up and you will be around to trade another day, especially when your screens are screaming buy!

13 Stocks for 2013 – 2nd Half Portfolio

The original #13for2013 will remain but due to the popularity on twitter and stocktwits, I have decided to put together a new list of names, 13 to be exact, for the 2nd half of 2013. I’m a bit hesitant to develop a new list half way through a year, without using any buy rules, sell rules or the typical money management techniques that I would employ for actual positions but this is the social web, so let’s do it.

The market may be headed for an extended correction due to the weakening NH-NL ratio and also due to the great run it had during the first six months of the year but you never know (trends last a lot longer than anyone can imagine). In addition, the stocks that I have decided to put together are all young, growth companies that can be extremely volatile at times so please proceed with caution and perform your own due diligence. Several of the names listed below are definitely extended from proper buy-points but this is for fun, so what the hell.

Ultimately, I will be looking to place positions in several of these stocks over the next 6 months or longer because I love their products or services and believe that they are in the beginning stages of a prolonged run over the next several years.

For example, I love the idea of gyroscopes and their potential for handheld devices, wearable technology and industrial capabilities. INVN is my top play in this category.

3D technology fascinates me. Some say it’s a bubble but I believe the industry is just scratching the surface. Now, with that said, the stocks in this industry appear to be extended but I am including three candidates on the 2nd half list: XONE, PRLB and DDD (SSYS remains on the original #13for2013 list).

Data, big data and instant data analysis: this category appears to be all the rage these days so why not jump on the train. SPLK is extended from a proper buy-point but “why not”, let’s see if it continues to run higher with strong and increasing institutional support.

Fracking – love it or hate, good or bad, it’s most likely here to stay and may provide the necessary natural resources for centuries to come. Silica is used as fracturing sand in connection with oil and natural gas recovery so SLCA covers this base. OAS is engaged in the exploration and production of oil and gas in the northern US so I have decided to include them on the list as the chart may be gaining some slight momentum.

I own Visa (love the business model) and have for years so why not pick up on two younger companies engaged in a similar business, such as VNTV and XOOM. Whether making an electronic transaction or sending money via the web (to a foreign country), this industry will continue to profit and expand (paper money is a thing of the past). And with all the online & electronic transactions taking place, why not protect your identity and insure yourself from fraud with LOCK.

These are some of the reasons as to why I put this 2nd half list together. The stocks on this list will probably perform well beyond the market if we took a look a few years down the road but for this exercise, we only have 6 months so let’s see how they turn out. The first six months was a huge success so why not repeat that performance with some great companies and even better technologies/ products/ services!

2013_06-30_Week 01

Portfolio Prices on June 30, 2013:

$INVN – 15.38
$SLCA – 20.78
$LOCK – 11.71
$NOW – 40.39
$SPLK – 46.36
$DDD – 43.90
$KORS – 62.02
$PRLB – 64.97
$XONE – 61.72
$REGN – 224.88
$XOOM – 22.92
$OAS – 38.87
$VNTV – 27.60

2013_06-30_DDD

2013_06-30_INVN

2013_06-30_KORS

2013_06-30_LOCK

2013_06-30_NOW

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13 Stocks for 2013 Mid-Year Results

In the blink of an eye, 26 weeks have flashed by and we’re already at the mid-year point. At the start of the year, I posted a partially owned, partially mock-portfolio that I said I would throw out there on the “twitter-world” and let it ride. No new buys, no sells and no rules – just ride the ups and down on 13 stocks that I felt were poised for big things in the 2013.

Here are the results at the end of Week #26 for my #13for2013 portfolio:

2013_06-29_Week 26

  • 11 of the 13 stocks show a gain
  • Collectively the group of 13 stocks is up 18%
  • The 11 positive stocks are up an average of 28.54%
  • 9 of the 13 stocks have current gains above 20%
  • Comparatively, the Dow, S&P, and NASDAQ are all up between 12% and 14% so this mock buy-and-hold portfolio easily beat the market averages
  • Several of the stocks hit performance highs much greater than their current levels, for example, FLT and LNKD peaked above 60% while SLCA peaked above 50%.
  • Two stocks bombed out with RAX a total bust, currently down 49%.

All-in-all, it’s a solid portfolio of stocks as we stand here today. Take a look at the performance snapshot and daily (year-to-date) charts below. Several of these stocks will make my 2nd Half #13for2103 portfolio, because I believe their upside still has more to come.

Disclosure: as of today, I own shares in INVN, DNKN and V.

Portfolio Prices on January 1, 2013:
$DDD – 35.57
$DNKN – 33.18
$FLT – 53.65
$INVN – 11.11
$KORS – 51.03
$LNKD – 114.82
$MOV – 30.68
$NTSP – 11.82
$RAX – 74.27
$SCCO – 37.86
$SLCA – 16.73
$SSYS – 80.15
$V – 151.58

Charts:

2013_06-28_DDD

2013_06-28_DNKN

2013_06-28_FLT

2013_06-28_INVN

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New High New Low Data (NH-NL) Warns of 1987 Crash

I received a comment questioning if the 1987 Market Crash was detected by the NH-NL data following my blog post titled Nail Market Tops and Bottoms by Doing this, Guaranteed!.

When viewing the NH-NL data, much of the first half of 1987 was stable. Readings were mostly positive with a few bouts of light pink (negative readings) in April and May. Although there was some negativity in the NH-NL readings, the 30-d Differential (Diff) did not turn negative in April 1987. It did however turn negative for seven consecutive days in May 1987. The number of days with 100+ New Lows for the year up until the end of May was two (one on April 14, 1987 and one on May 20, 1987, 112 and 109 NL’s respectively).

July 1987 NH-NL Readings for NYSE:
1987_07 - July

By June, the readings were back to the positive side, averaging a +70 Differential for the summer (June, July and August) with the only negative daily reading coming on June 2, 1987 at 21 NH’s and 28 NL’s or a negative 7 Differential. The next negative day did not occur until September 2, 1987 with a 24-31 reading or negative 7 Differential.

August 1987 NH-NL Readings for NYSE:
1987_08 - August

Prior to dissecting the NH-NL data, I must iterate that all SEASONED investors should know that they must follow PRICE and VOLUME first and that the DJIA was flashing distribution days throughout the month of September. The NH-NL red flags only back-up the story that price and volume is telling (the NH-NL confirms what the market is doing). In addition to the DJIA showing multiple distribution days, the index closed below its 50-d MA in September. It attempted to cross back above the moving average late in the month but quickly crashed back below it in early October, prior to the crash.

DJIA 1987 – Distribution & NH-NL Red Flags:
2013_03-26_DJIA_1987_Crash

The first big NH-NL clue signaling weakness came in September 1987. For the month, 18 of the 21 trading days recorded a negative Differential reading (the month averaged a negative 15 Diff, marking the weakest month of readings since July 1984 when every day was negative).

September 1987 NH-NL Readings for NYSE:
1987_09 - September

The average daily Differential reading for the first 8 months of the year, through August 31, 1987 was +69.9. As mentioned, the average Diff reading in September 1987 was -15. By contrast, the average reading for October turned out to be a whopping negative 226. The average reading from October 1st through October 16th was negative 70, a complete 180 from the first 8 months.

Below are the key dates that pop out waiving red flags for the longer term trader:

  • On September 2, 1987: The NH-NL Differential (Diff) goes red
  • On September 10, 1987: The 10d Average Diff goes red
  • On October 7, 1987: The 30d diff goes red
  • On October 12, 1987: The 1st 100+ New Low (NL) day is recorded
  • On October 16, 1987: The NH-NL Diff goes DARK RED which means more than 300+ NL’s

The October 16, 1987 NH-NL reading of 5-327 or a negative 322 was the weakest NL reading since Monday, September 28, 1981 when 590 NL’s were recorded (with only 1 new high).

This was a MAJOR RED FLAG – but was it too late because data is recorded “end of day”?

We all know what happened the following Monday – markets crashed and NH-NL reading settled in at 10 NH’s and 1,068 NL’s for a -1,058 Diff. Tuesday, October 20, 1987 was even worse as the Diff closed at 1 NH’s and 1,174 NL’s for a Diff reading of -1,173.

October 1987 NH-NL Readings for NYSE:
1987_10 - October

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Identify Market Tops and Bottoms by Doing this, Guaranteed!

Can major market tops and bottoms be identified with accuracy? Yes, they can! And I will present data that will argue that identifying “major” market bottoms is easier than any other change in market direction. Market tops can also be identified but it’s a bit more difficult than bottoms.

No one can guarantee an “exact top or bottom” but this data will pinpoint an overall change in trend. There’s plenty of time to get out of the market before a devastating fall and even more time to jump on a new up-trend after a bottom.

To support my findings, I will use extensive New High and New Low (NH-NL) data extracted from the NYSE in 2008 and 2009. This data phenomenon is not exclusive to the market bottom of 2009 as studies will show the exact, yes exact, same results can be extracted from every other major market bottom stretching back as far as the NH-NL data is available.

New High – New Low data is historically the most accurate indicator for identifying a major change in trend by highlighting extreme readings and the change in underlying market breadth.

The images contained in this article will identify the following data points:

  1. NYSE New Highs: The number of stocks making New Highs on a specific date
  2. NYSE New Lows: The number of stocks making New Lows on a specific date
  3. New High –New Low Differential: This is simply the number of stocks making new highs minus the number of stocks making new lows.
  4. NH-NL 10d Diff: This is a simple 10-day moving average representing the number of stocks making new highs minus the number of stocks making new lows.
  5. NH-NL 30d Diff: This is a simple 30-day moving average representing the number of stocks making new highs minus the number of stocks making new lows.
  6. NH-NL % Ratio: To calculate the percentage correctly, use this formula: (New Highs – New Lows) / (New Highs + New Lows) * 100 = X%
  7. NH-NL % Ratio 10d Ave: This is a simple 10-day moving average representing the percentages listed in the column terms #6 in this list

I follow the progress of stocks making new highs and new lows on the NASDAQ and NYSE and pay specific attention to turning points in the differentials and ratios. I am particularly interested in the extreme highs and lows of the readings, especially after a long trend, as they start to drop hints of an impending change of trend (positive to negative and negative to positive).

The image below shows that New Lows had dominated the market for nearly 18 months when extreme readings started to appear in October 2008. In fact, the readings in October 2008 were the most extreme that my NYSE NH-NL data contains which goes back to the early 1980’s.

010509_NHNL_wkly_18months

October 2008 NH-NL Readings for NYSE:
2008_10 - October

As the second image shows, the daily New Low readings were well above 1,000 with a peak of 2,901 on Friday, October 10, 2008. The market was screaming exhaustion as the selling pressure of the past 18 months was hitting its max. All other readings were in extreme territory including the basic NH-NL differential, the 10d & 30d differentials and the % ratio. The extreme readings continued through the end of November 2008 when they final subsided in December but remained negative.

November 2008 NH-NL Readings for NYSE:
2008_11 - November

December 2008 NH-NL Readings for NYSE:
2008_12 - December

Heading into early 2009, “blood was running in the streets” as Baron Rothschild once declared and most investors had been knocked to their knees while two of the most prestigious investment banking firms in America disappeared. The greatest value investors of all time state that the best time to buy is when this type of extreme environment occurs. The problem with that statement is that it’s based purely on fundamentals and I just can’t blindly jump-in and grab shares without some form of technical guidance. Think about that for a second, blood had been running in the street for the duration of 2008 so I suspect that many value investors were buying and saw more pain before the market decided to turn. Buyers in early to mid 2008 had to endure quite a ride before the market turned up in the spring of 2009. I prefer to catch a trend on the up-swing, not the bottom; besides, pinpointing the exact bottom is virtually impossible.

January 2009 NH-NL Readings for NYSE:
2009_01 - January

Bernard Baruch was quoted as saying: “Don’t try to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. This can’t be done–except by liars.”

January 2009 was much like December 2008 as the market remained negative. Then in February 2009, the market dropped again as the NH-NL readings started to head back towards more extreme levels. However, they didn’t reach the levels of October 2008 so this signified a “higher low” for the readings, a second clue that the market may be looking to reverse direction.

February 2009 NH-NL Readings for NYSE:
2009_02 - February

NH-NL Readings making higher lows for NYSE:
040609_NH_NL_trend change

March 2009 was the turning point. The extreme readings subsided (light red and dark red readings on my graphics) and the FIRST positive reading was registered since May 2008 (represented by “blue figures” on my graphics). On March 26, 2008, the NYSE logged a reading of 10 New Highs and 0 New lows, the first time a “0” New Low reading was logged since February 27, 2004. By contrast, the NYSE logged 11 additional days with “0” New Lows in 2009 and 20 days with “1” New Low for that same year. The year 2008 had one day with “1” New Low and the years 2005, 2006 and 2007 had zero days with “1” New Low. Amazing stats!

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