Basic Charting Patterns in Stocks


I don’t do a great deal with charting.  While there are some who search through charts for price patterns, I’ve found that charting is useful for telling you where you are, but not that useful for telling you where you are going.  Nevertheless, every investor should know the basics about charting, if for no other reason than to understand what other people are looking at and the predict their reactions. Today I wanted to go over some of the basics.  I’ll expand this thread as time goes on.

Here are some of the basic definitions:

Chart:  A chart is a graph of price over a period of time.  The most basic form of a chart is a line chart, which consists of a plot of the closing prices.  A more useful chart is a OHLC chart, which plots the Open, High, Low, and close for each day (or week or month).  This chart is more useful since it shows where a stock traded during the period, rather than just a point in time, which tells more of the story.  Candlestick charts, which as colored or open boxes depending on whether the stock moved up or down during the day, are another refinement.

time frame:  There are different time frames, which correspond to the length of time represented by each point on the chart.  For example, a chart that plotted a point each 15 minutes, and spanned a day, would be a very short-term chart.  A chart that plotted one point per day and extended a couple of months would be a short-term chart.  An intermediate-term chart would have points that represented a few days or so and cover several months.  Finally, a chart where each point was a week or a month, and covered a few years to a decade, would be a long-term chart.  I’m typically concerned with the long-term trends, so I look at charts of several months to a few years or a decade in length.

(Note, a great book that includes charting is Trader Vic: Methods of a Wall Street Master.  I would recommend picking up a copy if you are serious about technical investing.)

Trend:  A trend is the current movement of a stock.  A stock will always be in an uptrend, downtrend, or drawing lines.  We’ll cover these in a later post.

pattern (Bull or Bear): Certain patterns are commonly seen that foreshadow specific price movements.  One that would indicate the stock is ready to go up would be a “bull pattern”; one that indicated a decline in price a “bear pattern”.

floor or support level:  A price at which the stock traded at for a while before moving higher.  When the stock hits that price, it tends to not move below it.

ceiling:  The opposite of a floor.  Here the stock price is below the ceiling, and it may be difficult for the stock to get above the ceiling.

moving average:  An average in which the closing price for a specified number of days are added together and averaged.  Each day a new day is added and the earliest day in the average dropped.  Moving averages tend to smooth out the price of a stock and provide a clearer picture of what is happening.  Also, a stock above its average may be pricey, one below it inexpensive.  A 90-day moving average is a commonly used average.

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Have a question?  Please leave it in a comment.  Follow me on Twitter to get news about new articles and find out what I’m investing in. @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

The Evil of Income Taxes


When America was founded, there were no income taxes – just taxes on goods and on trade.  It wasn’t until about 150 years after the country’s founding, there was no income tax.  And there is a good reason for it.

Have you ever really thought about income taxes, and what a country is doing by imposing an income tax?  Most other taxes involve doing something.  You want to buy something, so you pay a tax when you make the purchase.  The tax helps fund the protections that allowed that marketplace to function.  You want to travel somewhere, so you pay a tax when you make the trip.  The taxes help cover the cost of the roads and protections along the route.  In both cases you want something that involves help from the government and use of government services.

With an income tax, you really aren’t doing anything or asking anything from anyone.  All you are doing is producing things.  And you have not even necessarily gotten anything for the items you produced yet – you just have a bunch of IOU’s that will allow you to purchase things later.  People just come to your home (symbolically, unless you don’t pay your taxes), see that you have produced something, and demand that you give up a share of what you have made.

Imagine if you had spent all summer growing corn.  In the Spring you dig up the ground and get everything ready.  You plant the seeds and spread fertilizer out.  All summer long you water, pull weeds, and chase off crows.  Finally, in the fall, you spend hot afternoons and evenings picking the corn and storing it away, until your barn or silo is full.

Then someone comes along and says, “You owe me 15% of that corn.”

Now I’ll agree that part of your money goes towards things that government provides that enable you to make an income.  The government provides the protections that are needed to allow you to focus on running a business or working in a factory.  The government provides roads and infrastructure that allow you to ship goods and travel to and from work.

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And actually, my example isn’t quite right.  If you just grew the corn and then stored it away, I don’t believe you would owe income taxes.  Things you produce for yourself are generally not taxed.  And that’s the really strange thing.  When you do things selfishly for yourself – build a home for yourself, grow food for yourself (and you family), or make clothes for yourself, you pay no taxes.  You could even make yourself a yacht or a private plane, and you would owe no taxes (if you produced all of the materials yourself).

If you do things for other people, however, like grow food for them, build houses for them, or make clothes for them, you are taxed.  And the more you do for other people, the more you are taxed!  If you make a few clothes per week and maybe provide clothes for 100 families during the year, you’ll be taxed at 10%  If you manage a group of people, making clothing for 10,000 families a year,  you are taxed at 25%.  If you run a company that provides clothes for hundreds of thousands of people, you’re taxed at 40%!

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So think about that – the more you do for others, the more you produce, the more you make the lives of others better, the more you are taxed.  Does that sound like a good system?

Please contact me via vtsioriginal@yahoo.com or leave a comment.

Follow me on Twitter to get news about new articles and find out what I’m investing in. @SmallIvy_SI

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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

Picture Credits:  Kevin Abbott , downloaded from stock.xchng.

What Affects the Prices of Individual Stocks?


So what determines the price of a stock?  If a stock’s earnings are predictably growing and a stock will be making 20% higher earnings four years later, why doesn’t the stock just increase in value by 20% immediately?  As I’ve said before, one cannot take advantage of news for near-term trading because as soon as the news is released, it is already priced into the stock.  So why is this not true of the long-term.

The reason is that the future earnings, while often predictable, are not known for certain.  There is risk and uncertainty involved.  When one buys a stock, while one may believe that the earnings will increase and the stock price increase accordingly (because the stock would then be able to pay a bigger dividend), one does not know for certain.  It is not like putting money in a bank account with a fixed interest rate.  In the case of the bank, the interest will almost certainly be paid.  If it isn’t, one can sue the bank or the Federal Government may even make the payment.  With stocks, one cannot sue if earnings do not grow as expected, or even if the stock price drops and one loses money.

The rate of return of any asset, be it a bank account, bond, stock, or real estate will be based on the risk involved.  The more risk involved, the greater return individuals will expect to receive before they will take the risk.  Because bank accounts offer a way to safely store money, individuals will put money in even though they lose a couple of percentage points to inflation each year.  Before a person will buy a stock, the possible return, measured by dividends paid currently and price appreciation potential, must be large enough to justify the risk.  If stocks did not return several percentage points better than a bank account, why would anyone not just keep their money in the bank for the certain return?  They wouldn’t!

So, the price of a stock is based upon current earnings and current dividends (if any are paid), earnings growth rate (how large a dividend is likely to be paid in the future), and the perceived level of risk to the share price due to various factors and the predictability of the earnings growth.  If the predicted earnings growth rate for a stock is about 10% and there is good certainty that the company will meet expected earnings, the price of the stock may increase until the effective rate of return for new investors in the stock (based on predicted earnings) is about 8% per year if bank account interest rates are around 2%.  This means that investors are willing to take the increased risk of investing in the stock as long as they get at least 6% better return then they would get in the bank.  If bank interest rates increase, the price of the stock would drop until the rate of return was again about 6% greater than that of the bank.

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If uncertainty of earnings increased, for example if a stock that had been producing steadily growing earnings entered a period where earnings were unpredictable, the stock price would drop until the rate of return was higher, perhaps 8% or 10% higher than that of a bank account.  Because an investor in the company now is less likely to actually get the 6% return, he will not invest unless the stock price is low enough that he will receive 8% if things do work out.  Note that this is why companies see the price of their shares drop when uncertainty increased, such as when Congress is proposing legislation that may affect their business or a lawsuit is pending.  The uncertainty makes it more difficult to predict future earnings, so people expect a higher possible return.  When the event actually happens, even if it ends up being detrimental to the company, the price usually increased when the news comes out because the uncertainty has been erased and investors can start to more easily predict future earnings.

So, this all means that if one picks companies that have fairly reliable long-term earnings growth trends, one can expect to generate a good investment return.  Even though the fact that earnings will probably grow is known by everyone, the full effect of the future earnings is not instantly priced into the price of the shares, as it is with near-term investing.  So, a serious investor, who really wants to make money, will take the long-term road.  The person who jumps in and out of stocks is just playing around and eventually the odds will catch up with him.

Have a question?  Please leave it in a comment.  Follow me on Twitter to get news about new articles and find out what I’m investing in. @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

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