Chart Patterns: Flags and Pennants

By Steve Hill

Founder, WinWayCharts

Stephen Hill is Founder of WinWayCharts. For the past 12 years he has been involved in all aspects of WinWayCharts, from support and sales to programming and education. Steve is a frequent speaker at events in the U.S. and Europe, talking on subjects as diverse as Portfolio Simulation TechniquesAdvanced Chart Pattern Analysis and Trading System Design.

Chart pattern analysis, often thought of as part science part art is a key element in many traders decision process. Common patterns like double tops and bottoms are somewhat self-fulfilling, given that most of us can see these patterns occurring. Measures of what constitutes a double top or bottom in good analytical terms we’ll save for another article. In this this article we are focussing on two of my favorite chart patterns; Flags and Pennants

Flags and Pennants are Consolidation or Continuation Patterns

These patterns break out in the direction of the previous trend, confirming the existing trend, suggesting that investors are considering whether the market is overbought or oversold but ultimately deciding to confirm the existing trend. Flags and pennants are of two types, bullish or bearish

Flags and pennants are generally considered continuation patterns as they breakout in the prevailing trend direction. They represent a brief pause especially after a steep run up in an active ticker. They are a fairly common and useful for short term trading.

Bullish Flags – formation

Lower tops and lower bottoms bounded by two parallel trendlines with pattern slanting against the prevailing trend are considered bull flags (figure 1).

Figure 1Bullish flag pattern

Bearish Flags – formation

Higher tops and higher bottoms bounded by two parallel trendlines with pattern slanting against the prevailing trend are considered bear flags. (figure 2).

Figure 2Bearish flag pattern

Elements of bullish flags

  • A rapid and steep price rise of around 20% from bottom of the pole to top.
  • Decreasing volume during the formation of the flag.
  • Breakout occurs to the upside with resumption of increase volume levels
  • Flags length excluding the pole classic should be around 10 days, can be less but not more than 20 days.
Figure 3. Whole Foods Market, Inc (WFMI) bullish flag

Bulkowski noted that the high and tight flag performed best. (source Encyclodpedia of Chart Patterns by Thomas Bulkowski).
Some 25% of the patterns are horizontal notes Markos Katsanos. (source Measuring Flags & Pennants: Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities vol 23 no 4) bullish flag breakout on increased volume note the pole length is 20% + of the price action and the diminishing volume on the flag.
Elements of bearish flags

  • A rapid and steep price decline of around 20% from top of the pole to bottom.
  • Decreasing volume during the formation of the flag.
  • Breakout occurs to the downside with resumption of increase volume levels.
  • Flag length excluding the pole should be around 10 days, can be less but not more than 20 days.
Figure 4 shows MNST classic bearish flag breakout on increased volume note the pole length is 20% + of the price action and the diminishing volume on the flag.

Bullish Pennants – formation

Pennants look very much like symmetrical triangles, on the end of a pole, typically they are smaller in size and duration (figure 5).

Bearish Pennants – formation

An upside down bullish pennant, the triangle is at the bottom of the pole. (figure 6).

Elements of bullish pennants

  • A rapid and steep price rise of around 20% from bottom of the pole to top.
  • Decreasing volume during the formation of the pennant.
  • Pennants look like symmetrical triangles on a pole, price action is converging.
  • Diminishing volume as pennant forms.
  • Breakout to the upside with re- sumption of volume levels.
  • Pennant length excluding the pole should be around 10 days, can be less but not more than 20 days.Figure 7 shows CDW classic bullish pennant breakout on increased volume
Figure 7CDW Computer Centers (CDW) bullish pennant

Elements of bearish pennants

  • A rapid and steep price drop of around 20% from top of the pole to bottom.
  • Decreasing volume during the formation of the pennant.
  • Pennants look like symmetrical triangles on a pole, price action is converging.
  • Diminishing volume as pennant forms.
  • Breakout to the downside with resumption of volume levels.
  • Pennant length excluding the pole should be around 10 days, can be less but not more than 20 days.

How do you trade flags and pennants?

Katsanos study of Flags and pennants revealed that the average breakout was 45% over an average period of 11 days. Bulkowski noted a 63% average gain. to trade these breakouts, set tight stops at low of day before breakout and use trailing stops once breakout occurs.

Target prices are more difficult to predict as these are continuation patterns, but after 11 days you are beyond the average move in days.

AIQ tip

Once a breakout occurs, use AIQ space on right of the chart (rtalerts only) and advance 11 days into the future. Draw a trendline parallel to the pole trend from the breakout point.

NASDAQ dive

Working on some slides for a seminar last week, it was apparent that breadth indicators on the NASDAQ signaled a divergence from the price action of the market.
Looking specifically at AD Ind and HI/LO, although other breadth measures told the same tale.

The AD indicator explained

 

The Advance/Decline Indicator is an exponentially weighted average of the net advancing versus declining issues. With this indicator, the direction of the trend is of importance and not the actual value of the indicator. When the indicator is increasing, advances are outweighing declines, and when it is decreasing, there are more declining is­sues than advancing.
The  Advance/Decline Indicator is a breadth indicator very similar to the Advance/Decline Line.  However, this indicator tends to be more sensitive and at times will signal a move earlier than the Advance/Decline Line.
The breadth was telling us something was amiss from last week. Take a look at this chart of the NASDAQ clearly a divergence was in place before the downturn.
Today’s (10-10-18) 316 point drop in the NASDAQ a 4% drop and nearly 9% drop from the high is close to the 10% corrective point and some buyers may come in over the next few days and keep the decline in check or not.
The markets are down between 6 and 10% in 5 days. Keeping good stops is a must in your portfolio to protect you from the worst of this. Using trailing stops between 7 and 10 % on stocks that are moving and protective stops 5 to 7 % below initial investment for example can easily reduce your losses in these volatile markets.

Volume-Weighted Moving Average Breakouts

The WinWay code based on Ken Calhoun’s article in the February 2017 issue of Technical Analysis ofSTOCKS & COMMODITIES, “Volume-Weighted Moving Average Breakouts,” can be found at http://aiqsystems.com/Volume-Weighted-Moving-Average-Breakouts.EDS 
Please note that I tested the author’s system using the NASDAQ 100 list of stocks on daily bars rather than intraday bars from 12/31/2008 thru 2/10/2017. Figure 7 shows the resulting equity curve trading the author’s system with the cross-down exit. Figure 8 shows the ASA report for this test. The annualized return showed about a 17% return with a maximum drawdown of 19%.
Sample Chart

FIGURE 7: Here are sample test results from the WinWay Portfolio Manager taking three signals per day and 10 concurrent positions maximum run on NASDAQ 100 stocks (daily bar data) over the period 12/31/08 to 2/10/07.
Sample Chart

FIGURE 8: This shows the ASA report for the system, which shows the test metrics and settings.
The code and EDS file can be downloaded from http://aiqsystems.com/Volume-Weighted-Moving-Average-Breakouts.EDS , and is also shown below.
!Volume-Weighted Moving Average Breakouts
!Author: Ken Calhoun, TASC Apr 2017
!Coded by: Richard Denning 2/11/17
!www.TradersEdgeSystems.com

!INPUTS:
smaLen is 70.
vwmaLen is 50.

SMA is simpleavg([close],smaLen).
VWMA is sum([close]*[volume],vwmaLen)/sum([volume],vwmaLen).
HasData if hasdatafor(max(smaLen,vwmaLen)+10)>max(smaLen,vwmaLen).
Buy if SMA < VWMA and valrule(SMA > VWMA,1) and HasData.
Sell if SMA > VWMA.

rsVWMA is VWMA / valresult(VWMA,vwmaLen)-1.
rsSMA is SMA / valresult(SMA,smaLen)-1.
—Richard Denning
info@TradersEdgeSystems.com

With Retailers, it’s ‘When’ Not ‘What’

I’ve been seeing a number of panicked missives lately regarding the retailing sector.  They typically go something like this:
“Despite new highs for most of the major market indexes, the retailing sector has been struggling – and in some cases hit hard – therefore it is clearly (paraphrasing here) THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT, AHHHHHHHHHHHHH……………………..”
Or something along those lines.  And the truth is that they may be right.  But as it turns out, with the retailing sector it is typically more a question of “when” and not “what” (or even WTF
Recent Results
The concerns alluded to above are understandable given recent results in certain segments of the retailing sector. Figure 1 displays the stock price action for four major retailers.  It isn’t pretty.
(click to enlarge)
1
Figure 1 – Major retailers taking a hit (Chart courtesy WinWay TradingExpert)
So if major retailers are performing poorly one can certainly see why someone might extrapolate this to conclude that the economy is not firing on all cylinders and that the recent rally to new highs by the major averages is just a mirage.  And again, that opinion may ultimately prove to be correct this time around.
But before swearing off of retailing stocks, consider the following.
Retailers – When not What
For our test we will use monthly total return data for the Fidelity Select Retailing sector fund (ticker FSRPX).  Figure 2 displays the growth of $1,000 invested in FSRPX only during the months of:
*February, March, April, May, November, December
2
Figure 2 – Growth of $1,000 invested in ticker FSRPX only during the “favorable” months since 1986
For the record:
*An initial $1,000 grew to $50,274, or +4,927% (this test does not include any interest earned during the months out of FSRPX).
*# of years showing a net gain = 27
*# of years showing a net loss = 4
*Average UP year = +17.0%
*Average DOWN year = (-3.4%)
*Maximum UP Year = +50.0% (1990)
*Maximum DOWN Year = (-5.9%) (1994)
The Year-by-Year Results appear in Figure 3
Year % +(-)
1986 26.2
1987 15.8
1988 12.2
1989 16.9
1990 50.0
1991 45.5
1992 8.0
1993 4.6
1994 (5.9)
1995 3.0
1996 26.1
1997 18.1
1998 45.7
1999 4.0
2000 1.8
2001 12.5
2002 (0.1)
2003 18.5
2004 11.3
2005 10.3
2006 0.1
2007 (2.8)
2008 (4.7)
2009 44.9
2010 24.5
2011 4.6
2012 10.8
2013 16.6
2014 11.5
2015 6.1
2016 9.2
Figure 3 – Year-by-Year Results for  “Favorable” Months since 1986
The Rest of the Year
If for some reason you had decided to skip the months above and hold FSRPX only during all of the other months of the year, your results appear in Figure 4.4
Figure 4 – Growth of $1,000 invested in ticker FSRPX only during the “unfavorable” months since 1986
For the record:
*An initial $1,000 grew to $1,037, or +3.7% (this test does not include any interest earned during the months out of FSRPX).
Summary
Is the retailing sector guaranteed to generate a gain during our “favorable” months in 2017?  Not at all.  Still, given that retailing is presently beaten down a bit and the fact that the worst full year loss during the favorable months was -5.9%, it may be time to think about taking a look (although – as always, and for the record – I am not “recommending” retailing stocks, only pointing out the historical trends).
Still, as the old saying goes, the results below are what we “quantitative types” refer to as “statistically significant”.
*Favorable months since 1986 = +4,927%
*Unfavorable months since 1986 = +3.7%
 Jay Kaeppel

Chief Market Analyst at JayOnTheMarkets.com http://jayonthemarkets.com/ and TradingExpert  client.

It’s all relative you see

The markets have been shall we say been less than inspiring recently. Brexit came and went with a brief hiccup in the action and only in the last week or so has the volatility picked up. The Dow as you can see in this weekly chart is back the same level as December 2014

 

 

The VXX shows clearly the decline in volatility since the high back in 2011

 

The summer doldrums may be over, but during periods when the market is range bound, segments within the market are often performing very well or very poorly. One AIQ Report that can show the strength within segments is the Relative Strength Strong – Short Term. This report shows stocks in 3 month trend up and is a great report for those who trade with ‘the trend is your friend’. Here is Friday 9-16-2016 report. The report is ranked by the stocks with the best trend.

 

 

I highlighted 6 stocks in the top of this report. All have good trends in place, and all in the Oil and Exploration S&P 500 group. The group has performed quite well recently. The top 2 OILEXPO stocks CHK and DVN have both had a small pullback to their uptrend line. We’ll see how they do this week.