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5 Stocks With Breakout Potential This Week - views
BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Well, it’s official: Greece has formally defaulted on its debt, according to the folks at Standard & Poor’s. And the market couldn’t care less.
The news makes Greece the first eurozone country to get a default classification from a ratings agency, a distinction that frankly comes as little surprise to investors right now. If nothing else, the market’s reaction to the news is a more palpable example of how different equities look now from just a few months ago; toward the end of 2011, Mr. Market would take any excuse from the eurozone to sell off. Now, stocks have essentially priced in what were considered fat-tail risks not long ago -- and they’re plowing higher.
The S&P 500 bucked off a lower open yesterday to close above 1365 yesterday, a move that confirms Friday’s push through that technically-significant resistance level. Even though the much-watched Dow Jones Industrial Average is still shy of the 13,000 level, the S&P’s move has more direct implications for the broad market.
To take advantage, we’re focusing in on attractive technical trades forming in five stocks this week. 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.
Here’s a look at a handful of technical setups that could deliver breakout gains to your portfolio this week.
Leggett & Platt
First up is industrial manufacturing stock Leggett & Platt (LEG). Shares of this fixture and furniture company have been forming a long-term ascending triangle setup for the last few months.
Now this setup could be about to trigger some additional upside in shares.
An ascending triangle is a price pattern that can be identified by a horizontal resistance level above shares (for LEG, that comes in at $23.75) and an uptrending support level below them. Essentially, as LEG’s price bounces between those two technically-relevant price levels, they’re getting squeezed closer to resistance, and the probability of an upside breakout increases dramatically.
This setup works because it tips off traders to the point where demand for shares absorbs a big pocket of supply that’s previously acted like a “price ceiling” of sorts. That’s important context to keep in mind when you’re watching for a breakout above $23.75. When the move happens, consider a protective stop just below the 200-day moving average.
L&P shows up on a list of the 10 Best Dividend Aristocrats for 2012.
2012 is shaping up to be a stellar year for social game developer Zynga (ZNGA), a $9.3 billion firm that went public back in December. Despite a rocky start to life as a publicly traded company, shares of the firm have rallied more than 40% in the new year.
Now that there’s some trading history behind shares, traders should feel a bit more confident about taking on the setup in Zynga.
There’s more to trading a recent IPO than meets the eye (for more on how to trade an IPO, check out Stockpickr’s primer on the subject). In Zynga’s case, the firm just completed a short-term ascending triangle, breaking out above the $13 resistance level in yesterday’s session. Remember, that’s the same pattern that we just looked at in LEG.
Right now, there’s a strong short-term setup in buying Zynga in anticipation of a test of $14.50 resistance. That said, the much more attractive setup comes if Zynga can successfully push above that $14.50 all-time high. Because it’s a place where shares have historically stalled a couple of times, a move above $14.50 sends a strong signal that buyers are in control of ZNGA right now. More risk-hungry traders can be buyers now.
Typically, industries trade as groups. By that, I mean that when one bank is moving higher, they all tend to move higher unless an individual name has a more specific catalyst to cause it to do otherwise. Typically, that means that the stocks in a single industry group tend to have similar technical setups to one another.
That hasn’t exactly been the case with big banking name JPMorgan Chase (JPM), a firm that holds the title of the largest banking company in the U.S. by assets and market capitalization. Instead of trading like its somewhat more volatile peers, JPM has been doing its own thing for the last few months -- and that has bullish implications for shareholders right now.
Back at the start of 2012, JPM completed a double-bottom pattern, a bullish setup that was first formed when the firm made nearly identical bottoms in early October and late November. The buy signal came into play about a month later, when shares pushed above the breakout level that separated those two bottoms. But since breaking out, shares haven’t done much.
Instead, they’ve been consolidating for most of February, trading sideways in a tight range as investors got a chance to think about the big moves JPM had just made. But that changed yesterday with a break outside of the firm’s consolidation range.
That second breakout sends a buy signal out for JPM in this morning’s session. If you decide to buy this bank, I’d recommend keeping a protective stop just on the other side of that breakout level at $37.
Last up this week is Microsoft (MSFT), a stock that’s showing a similar setup to JPM, just one that’s delayed a bit. Microsoft has enjoyed a stellar rally in 2012, pushing more than 20% higher following a breakout above longstanding resistance at $27.
In the past week or so, however, shares have been consolidating in a tight range as investors justify the size of the move. That consolidation is creating an if/then Setup in shares of MSFT right now.
Essentially, an if/then Setup is a trade whose direction is contingent on the direction that shares move outside of MSFT’s horizontal channel. Put a different way, if MSFT pushes above resistance at $31.68, then it becomes a buy. Otherwise, if shares fall below support at $31, then the stock is a short candidate.
The narrowness of the range (just 68 cents) means that traders won’t have to wait long for a signal.
Microsoft, one of Greenlight Capital's top holdings , shows up on recent lists of 10 Companies in the "Ultimate Stock Pickers" Portfolio and 3 Booming Tech Stocks to Own for 2012 .
Let's take a quick look back at one of the trades from last week’s column. A week ago, we were looking at shares of Chinese web company SINA Corporation (SINA) as our sole short candidate for the week.
Sure enough, the trade panned out as a way to book gains of around 9% from SINA's shedding points.
Essentially, we were looking for this stock to bounce lower off of trend line resistance and then take a short position as shares traded down through the channel to trendline support. Taking a short position in SINA last Tuesday would have resulted in gains of approximately 9% as of this morning.
So where should you go from here?
Right now, SINA is catching some support at the 50-day moving average. For risk-averse traders, now looks like a good time to take gains. Otherwise, trend line support at the bottom of the channel is still the logical exit target for the SINA trade.
If you’re going to hold out for a push further down the channel, consider putting in a trailing stop to protect your gains.
To see these plays in action, check out the Technical Setups for the Week portfolio at Stockpickr.
-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.
At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.
Jonas Elmerraji, based out of Baltimore, is the editor and portfolio manager of the Rhino Stock Report, a free investment advisory that returned 15% in 2008. He is a contributor to numerous financial outlets, including Forbes and Investopedia, and has been featured in Investor's Business Daily, in Consumer's Digest and on MSNBC.com.