Understanding market structure is nothing more than realizing markets do only two things, they trend or they consolidate. When trending the buyers are clearly in charge (assuming it is trending upwards otherwise it is the sellers who are in control). Consolidations or basing is where bulls and bears are in balance. Not perfect equilibrium mind you, but rather a place where neither has control and price action reflects the back and forth choppy fight. We are interested in bases is because eventually they into a new trend and a potential home for cash awaiting deployment.
I wanted to bring to light a couple of current client account holding examples (those that hold individual stocks) where basing took place over a period of time (8-10 weeks) and broke out strongly higher this past week. The first is AMD
The current run was started back at the end of January when the price gapped higher as it blew out the doors on its earnings report. You can see the big (institutional) buying volume (bottom pane) that initially stepped in caused the gap. Since then, price has been trending higher but for the past 43 days has been trading sideways, forming a nice cup and handle pattern. Big buying volume once again stepped up and pushed the price higher, out of the base. Looks to me it wants to test prior highs from September of last year. Notice also that after the earnings gap, the (green) 50 day moving average has acted as support. This is quite typical of momentum stocks.
The next stock, Mongo db, has a similar look to AMD. It too, gapped higher on excellent earnings (note institutional buying volume in bottom pane), moved strongly higher and then began a new base. It took 53 days of sideways “no action” before it broke out to the upside last Friday, climbing more than 15% in a day (check the buying volume confirmation in the lower pane). Like AMD it looks like it wants to go higher, maybe much higher as it has broken out to new, all-time highs from that same cup and handle pattern.
While frustrating, basing action is critical as it unwinds frothy, overbought conditions and allows buyers a chance to take a breather and round up the troops for the next push higher. It’s important to remember, not all stocks move higher after consolidation. But your probability of investment selection success can be improved by looking for those companies who produce outperformance in earnings (and revenue) and confirmed with high volume buying participation.
So remember, when investing, it’s all about the base. No trouble.