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5 Buyable Tech Sector Trades - views
BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- The tech sector looks like it's turning around -- and five names look best positioned to benefit in November.
The past few months have been tough on tech stocks. While the S&P 500 has managed to eke out a 3% rally over the course of the last six months, for instance, tech has fallen like a rock, down more than 12% on average over that same period. That's sent investors fleeing from tech to spare themselves from poor performance in 2012. But the industry looks like it's finally turning around.
Let's take a technical look at five tech sector names that are just starting to reverse off their lows.
For the unfamiliar, technical analysis is a way for investors to quantify qualitative factors, such as investor psychology, based on a stock's price action and trends. Once the domain of cloistered trading teams on Wall Street, technicals can help top traders make consistently profitable trades and can aid fundamental investors in better planning their stock execution.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at five technical setups worth trading now.
First up is First Solar (FSLR), one of the most well-known names in the solar business -- and as a result, one of the stocks that's gotten hit the hardest as solar technology lost its allure on Wall Street. FSLR should be a familiar name to regular readers of this column -- we took a look at this stock a couple of weeks ago.
Now, though, with the technical setup in shares further along, it's worth a second look.
First Solar is currently forming an ascending triangle setup, a pattern formed by horizontal resistance to the upside and uptrending support below shares. As shares bounce between those two technical price levels, they're getting squeezed closer and closer to a breakout above resistance. For FSLR, the buy signal comes when shares push through that $26 resistance level.
The last time we looked at this stock, it had only made contact with $26 resistance a couple of times, but now, it's hit its head on that level a couple more; that indicates that there's still selling pressure up at $26. Even so, shares are consolidating right underneath that level right now, so a breakout may not be far off. When it happens, I'd recommend buying with a protective stop just underneath the 50-day moving average.
AU Optronics Corp.
Taiwanese flat panel display maker AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) is forming a similar setup right now. Just like FSLR, AUO is sporting horizontal resistance just above $4 and uptrending support below shares. Unlike FSLR, though, AU Optronics is testing a breakout above its resistance level this week -- here's how to trade it.
First, it's valuable to think about how this pattern works in real terms -- after all, patterns like the ascending triangle don't work because of magic or geometry. Instead, it all comes down to supply and demand in the market. The resistance level at $4 and change is a price where sellers have recently been more eager to sell and take gains than buyers were to buy. But a breakout above that level indicates that all of the excess selling pressure at $4 has been absorbed by increasingly committed buyers.
That's why it makes sense to buy a breakout through a resistance level.
Momentum, measured by 14-day RSI, adds some extra confidence over this trade -- momentum has been in an uptrend since back before shares made their bottom in August, and it remains in one. Since momentum is a leading indicator of price, that's a good sign for AUO bulls. I'd recommend waiting to see if shares follow through in today's session before jumping into this trade.
"Reversing" may not be the best word to describe what's been going on in shares of Crown Castle International (CCI) -- shares of this wireless tower firm have been in rally mode for all of 2012, climbing more than 48% since the first trading session of the year. Since June, though, the rally in CCI has become more orderly, giving traders a chance at more predictable price action. So, how do you trade this name?
When I say that trading has become "orderly," I mean that Crown Castle has been trading within a well-defined trend channel. That channel has helped to identify the likely price action in this stock for most of six months, and in particular, it's helped to identify the last four swing lows in shares. With CCI coming down to test trendline support this week, buyers have a chance to jump in when risk is low.
It's important to actually wait for the bounce off of trendline support before buying this stock. Clearly, the best time to buy a stock that's in an uptrending channel comes at support -- it's the place where shares have the furthest to move back up to resistance (the top of the channel) and where they have the least distance to move through support. Waiting for a bounce ensures that CCI can still catch a bid at that trendline.
Since a breakdown below support means that the channel is broken, support is also a logical place to put a stop below to ensure minimal risk.
Healthcare IT firm Catamaran Corp. (CTRX) has been slugging it out sideways for the last six months, but that could be about to change thanks to the setup that it's been forming along the way.
As Catamaran consolidated sideways, it's been setting up an inverse head and shoulders pattern, a price pattern that indicates exhaustion among sellers. And after the 70% climb that this stock has been on year-to-date, it's easy to see why sellers are exhausted right now. The inverse head and shoulders is formed by two swing lows at approximately the same level (the shoulders) that are separated by a deeper low called the head.
For CTRX, the buy signal comes when shares push through the neckline at approximately $52. When that happens, it's time to jump onboard this stock with the buyers. I'd recommend sitting on the sidelines in the meantime.
Last up is Indian IT services firm Wipro Limited (WIT), a stock that's dropped more than 18% year-to-date. Even though WIT's price action so far in 2012 has been less than auspicious, this stock could be ending the year on a high note -- here's what to look for.
Right now, Wipro is forming a double bottom, a reversal pattern that's formed by two swing lows that hit a price floor at approximately the same level. The buy signal comes when shares push through the resistance level that separates the two bottoms; for WIT, the price is $9.25. Until that price gets taken out, this stock is still definitively in a downtrend.
In a reversal, it's tempting to try to catch a stock like WIT when it's at an extreme -- like the bottom that shares put in at the start of November. But that doesn't mean you should do it. When you try to catch a low, you're consciously buying a stock when it's at its weakest; that's an incredibly difficult time to get right consistently. Instead, by waiting for WIT to move above its $9.25 breakout level, we get to see if this stock can still catch a bid above a previous price ceiling before we jump into shares.
As a trader, remember to buy strength, not weakness.
To see this week's trades in action, check out the Technical Setups for the Week portfolio on Stockpickr.
At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.
Jonas Elmerraji, CMT, is a senior market analyst at Agora Financial in Baltimore and a contributor to TheStreet. Before that, he managed a portfolio of stocks for an investment advisory returned 15% in 2008. He has been featured in Forbes , Investor's Business Daily, and on CNBC.com. Jonas holds a degree in financial economics from UMBC and the Chartered Market Technician designation.