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Breakout Stocks and Surge Pattern Scans

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Breakouts, Price Reversals, and Stock Surge Patterns

We scan thousands of stocks to find breakouts, price reversals, and stocks that are surging in price. These patterns are very attractive to traders. Stocks that have just had a breakout have overcome overhead resistance. Investor interest in them is very high. There are enough new "believers" in the stock to more than buy up all the shares being sold by those wanting to get out at the area of "resistance." For that reason, breakouts attract attention and even more buyers. Prices often accelerate or surge on a breakout.

We scan for price reversals because they also attract attention. For this scan, we are most interested in stocks that are starting to surge after their short-term moving average has changed from trending downward to trending upward. When a stock has been in a prolonged downtrend, a great deal of pessimism has been factored into the stock's price. Usually long trends generate downside momentum and the selling has become somewhat overdone. Changing the stock's direction is like changing the direction of an ocean liner. Therefore, when a price reversal occurs, traders are interested. Why? Because the reversal means there has been enough new buying interest to absorb and reverse all that negative momentum. By definition, a price reversal occurs at the early stage of a new trend. Most people want to buy at the beginning of a new trend, especially if the price begins to surge.

Price surges are located by our scanner because stocks that are surging in price also draw new attention. A price surge results when there is a sudden influx of new buy orders. New buying interest may be the result of higher earnings expectations, a new product, a favorable FDA ruling, a new cure or discovery, or some other exciting news. The price surge is the mark of new investor enthusiasm for the prospects of a company. Traders love to buy a stock that has just had a price or momentum surge because a surging stock enables them to obtain a greater return in less time with less risk.

The price reversals and surge components of this scanner do not require that a stock be in a trading range with upper and lower boundaries just before the alert is given. However, our algorithm has a subroutine that does look for that kind of breakout. The subroutine looks for stocks that have been in consolidation. Those stocks have repeatedly been turned back by resistance at the upper boundary of the trading range. Because they are the subject of considerable investor interest, they do not decline far when they are turned back by that resistance. In other words, they are in a relatively narrow trading range (chart illustrations are at the bottom of this page). Eventually, buying interest builds until the stock is able to break through that overhead resistance. This scanner looks for all of the above (reversals, surges, and breakouts). Therefore, some stocks may be listed because they have broken out of a trading range, some may have just had a non-trading range "breakout," and others may be listed for reasons other than a breakout (as described above).

Note: Because the algorithms are scanning for several patterns, you may find that a stock is included on the alert list that had a breakout a week or more ago, and you might consider the alert to be a little late. In that case, ask yourself if the alert was generated for some other reason. For example, the stock may have made the list because of a recent price surge rather than because of a breakout. A breakout or reversal may have happened a week or more ago and may have generated an alert at that time, but the stock may be back on the list for another reason that would make the alert timely. Our algorithms can detect several patterns that would make a stock an "item of interest." Stocks that surge after a recent reversal or after exceeding a previous high would definitely be items of interest. The alerts are not buy signals. They are intended to draw attention to situations that warrant a closer look. It will be up to you to decide whether or not the pattern is of sufficient interest to you to act on it. To see how current these lists are, click on New or Old?

The Lists

The following list is an out-of-date example and should not be considered current.  The market had been struggling for over a month and in a fairly steep decline for nearly a week when the list was generated.  The purpose of the example is to show the layout of our reports, not to give current purchase candidates.  Stocks are listed in the order of their volume surge (% Ch Vol).  Those with the greatest volume surge are at the top of the list.  The subscriber lists consist of up to 90 stocks. ["Mom" is 25-day momentum]

As of (Day) XXX p.m. After Close  Sym Close % Ch % Ch Vol Mom
HERITAGE FINANCIAL GROUP HBOS.O 30.88 1.2 2352.6 13.20%
FIRST FINANCIAL NORTHWEST FFNW.O 12.30 1.8 2077.1 1.65%
HOUSTON WIRE AND CABLE HWCC.O 9.99 2.4 1599.4 9.54%
COVISINT COVS.O 3.16 6.8 1550.1 33.33%
MIDSOUTH BANCORP MSL 15.55 4.4 1458.3 11.15%
BIOLINERX ADR REP 10 BLRX.O 2.55 15.9 1237.5 37.84%
SPARK ENERGY CL A SPKE.O 15.86 8.9 1067.3 16.28%
LIBERTY TRIPADVISOR HOLDIG SRS A LTRPA.O 33.43 1.6 985.5 12.03%
CORELOGIC CLGX.K 40.71 6.1 867.3 2.34%
2U  TWOU.O 32.37 5.9 857.8 18.70%
YUME  YUME.K 5.60 1.8 857.1 8.53%
DEXCOM DXCM.O 79.60 2.4 850.3 16.63%
FIDELITY NATIONAL FINANCIAL FNFV.K 15.80 0.9 815.0 5.47%
FIRST CONNECTICUT BANCORP FBNK.O 16.11 1.4 770.7 9.00%
BNC BANCORP BNCN.O 19.25 1.7 721.3 3.00%
COMCAST CL A SPCL CMCSK.O 61.14 1.0 682.4 6.87%
ATLAS FINANCIAL HOLDINGS AFH.O 20.31 1.5 595.7 7.01%
PREMIERE GLOBAL SERVICES PGI 10.51 0.8 572.0 2.44%
CHEROKEE CHKE.O 28.25 0.9 567.4 24.18%
SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS TRK 23.24 3.7 558.2 2.74%
FIRST CITIZENS BANCSHARES CL A FCNCA.O 263.16 0.9 528.4 6.41%
LIONBRIDGE TECHNOLOGIES LIOX.O 6.40 2.1 501.1 10.92%
THIRD POINT REINSURANCE TPRE.K 15.33 0.2 434.8 5.80%
ASCENT CAPITAL GR SRS A ASCMA.O 44.00 4.3 433.7 9.95%
DERMIRA DERM.O 17.00 0.1 403.6 13.26%
FCB FINANCIAL HOLDINGS CL A FCB 32.01 1.0 400.4 11.34%
INDEPENDENCE CONTRACT DRILLING ICD 9.12 4.3 394.7 16.48%
HUDSON VALLEY HOLDING HVB 28.79 1.4 394.5 11.68%
HERITAGE FINANCIAL HFWA.O 17.99 0.6 393.1 3.57%
NUVERRA ENVIRONMENTAL SOLUTIONS NES 6.19 6.0 377.1 5.99%
Q2 HOLDINGS QTWO.K 28.01 1.0 373.0 12.08%
FIVE STAR QUALITY CARE FVE 5.06 4.5 368.4 17.95%
NIELSEN NLSN.K 46.22 1.4 365.9 1.05%
PENSKE AUTOMOTIVE GROUP VTG PAG 53.97 1.8 365.4 4.86%
BOSTON PRIVATE FINANCIAL HOLDING BPFH.O 13.72 0.7 361.5 7.10%
VCA  WOOF.O 54.87 0.3 358.0 4.08%
DAKTRONICS DAKT.O 12.23 1.6 345.7 13.77%
MSCI  MSCI.K 63.75 0.7 328.0 1.17%
SIERRA BANCORP BSRR.O 17.38 1.0 325.0 2.78%
FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS FISI.O 25.50 1.2 323.7 8.14%
SEACOAST BANKING OF FLORIDA SBCF.O 15.93 1.9 307.6 4.60%
LAKELAND FINANCIAL LKFN.O 44.26 1.8 304.9 10.02%
CAPITOL FEDERAL FINANCIAL CFFN.O 12.29 1.2 293.2 3.97%
STEINER LEISURE STNR.O 56.15 3.7 291.7 14.10%
RESTORATION HARDWARE HOLDINGS RH 99.35 3.8 282.4 7.94%
AEGIO  AEGN.O 19.61 4.9 281.3 4.09%
UNITED FIRE GROUP UFCS.O 33.39 1.5 274.5 9.15%
LYDALL LDL 30.84 6.1 271.4 8.98%
ARROW FINANCIAL AROW.O 27.37 1.1 270.1 4.11%
SCHNITZER STEEL INDUSTRIES CL A SCHN.O 19.83 4.8 252.8 6.16%
VIRTUSA VRTU.O 51.78 1.7 245.3 14.03%
TOMPKINS FINANCIAL TMP 55.48 1.2 243.6 8.13%
LUXOFT HOLDING CL A LXFT.K 59.60 2.6 237.4 13.20%
BEACON ROOFING SUPPLY BECN.O 34.01 3.3 234.8 7.76%
MARKEL MKL 811.00 1.6 225.0 4.53%
S AND T BANCORP STBA.O 30.05 0.8 219.8 11.63%
TRUSTCO BANK TRST.O 7.18 0.7 218.2 5.43%
HAYNES INTERNATIONAL HAYN.O 51.70 2.5 212.4 5.81%
TOTAL SYSTEM SERVICES TSS 42.72 0.5 212.3 2.50%
EVERBANK FINANCIAL EVER.K 20.10 1.1 212.2 8.65%
JONES LANG LASALLE JLL 173.92 1.5 210.6 1.96%
ORITANI FINANCIAL ORIT.O 16.28 0.7 207.9 10.22%
EXPONENT EXPO.O 45.00 0.9 207.0 4.47%
NACCO CL A NC 62.37 3.6 206.9 3.43%
COBIZ FINANCIAL COBZ.O 13.49 1.1 204.7 11.95%
MIDDLESEX WATER MSEX.O 22.98 1.4 197.7 4.50%
BJS RESTAURANTS BJRI.O 48.95 0.1 197.4 6.00%
BRYN MAWR BANK BMTC.O 30.96 0.5 193.9 4.67%
SHOE CARNIVAL SCVL.O 29.77 4.3 193.5 6.89%
UNITED FINANCIAL BANCORP UBNK.O 13.77 0.4 192.4 8.08%
SAFEGUARD SCIENTIFICS SFE 19.81 1.7 183.1 10.12%
PAC CONTINENTAL PCBK.O 13.95 1.2 180.0 8.14%
CONMED CNMD.O 59.11 0.7 177.2 6.16%
FIRST FINANCIAL BANKSHARES FFIN.O 35.26 1.6 177.0 17.49%
TILE SHOP HOLDINGS TTS.O 15.20 2.0 171.9 21.50%
AAR  AIR 32.60 1.4 171.2 4.96%
LEGGETT & PLATT LEG 49.72 1.0 170.7 4.65%
FOOT LOCKER FL 67.31 1.9 169.4 5.17%
SNAP ON SNA 162.19 1.1 152.3 2.82%
UNITEDHEALTH GRP UNH 123.25 0.8 149.9 2.32%
VIAD  VVI 28.14 1.3 147.1 2.29%
BERKSHIRE HILLS BANCORP BHLB.K 28.99 1.8 146.7 4.21%
AGCO  AGCO.K 56.33 3.6 142.9 8.47%
INGREDION INGR.K 82.87 1.0 141.7 0.94%
CELANESE SR A CE 72.99 1.8 139.6 7.18%
STEVEN MADDEN SHOO.O 43.14 1.3 135.4 10.14%
HURON CONSULTING GROUP HURN.O 71.50 1.0 134.4 11.44%
GLOBAL BRASS AND COPPER HOLDINGS BRSS.K 18.88 0.9 134.2 9.96%
CAPITAL BANK FINANCIAL CL A CBF.O 30.45 1.4 132.3 5.88%
CHARLES SCHWAB SCHW.K 33.53 0.8 129.8 6.51%

Although we do not provide charts, we want to illustrate the kind of patterns that are detected by our algorithms. The following charts are of the stocks that were found in a scan conducted on a single day.  The names were omitted from the charts to provide more space for the chart and because the names are not really important. There are all kinds of great setups here. We have drawn a few lines to help you see them, but the algorithm will often report cup and handle formations, new highs, consolidation-surge combinations, or breakouts through resistance. Sometimes there will be a breakout reported, then the stock will test support, and subsequently break out above the high reached just before the stock declined to test support.  The scan picks up other interesting patterns, including the inverted head and shoulders pattern. Most of these patterns can be extremely good vehicles for profit. 

You can see many interesting patterns here, all found by our algorithm.  The algorithm may select cup and handle formations, new highs, consolidation-surge combinations, or breakouts through resistance.

These charts show some of the other patterns that have been found by the algorithm.

On any given scan date, there may not be any stocks that fit a specific looked-for pattern (even though we scan thousands). Remember that the purpose of a scanner is to save time. To find all the stocks that have had a breakout, for example, would be an overwhelming task without using a search algorithm. However, the scanner cannot find a pattern that does not exist in the market at the time. Another point worth mentioning is that algorithms are mathematical equations. They cannot "see" nuances that are obvious to a human. Two patterns may look the same to a human, but the algorithm may find one and not the other. This can happen because the missed stock falls just outside the parameters of the algorithm. The algorithms have been tested and refined so that they represent a good compromise in the search variables. For example, changing a single variable a little may permit the detection of another attractive stock but allow far too many others through the screen that are not attractive at all. No algorithm is perfect.

Below we had an image that was accidentally deleted from our server, and we have not found a replacement.  It showed a stock that remained in a narrow trading range for 58 days before breaking out. Volume surged on the breakout for two days. The scanner would detect the stock on either of the last two days. The chart also showed the little red arrow pointing at a false breakout in which the closing price was above the highest closing price during the previous 30 trading days. However, the stock would not have appeared on the scanner's list at that time because the volume did not surge on that day. If volume had surged, it would be an example of a false breakout. False breakouts can happen. If the volume had surged, the scanner would have listed this stock that day.  If we were to change the algorithm so that it requires a greater penetration of the upper boundary, false breakouts would still occur. They can be identified only by hindsight. Think about stop losses for a moment. No matter where you put them, you will still have a few stops triggered just before a rebound. Breakout signals are like that. No matter how you define a breakout, there will occasionally be false signals. Of course, you could require additional filters. For example, on noting the appearance of a stock on our breakout list you could require it to push through the overhead resistance a little further, require that the breakout condition continue for two or more days, or require the satisfaction of some other screening condition before considering it to be a purchase candidate. Another option is that you could wait for a pullback to the breakout level to see if it rebounds off the support and climbs again. All we can do is note that the breakout has occurred. In the missing illustration, no signal was given on the day of the false breakout. On the following day, volume did surge but the stock had already closed lower. The volume surge requirement prevented a false signal. 

Another lost chart showed a stock that had previously been higher, plunged, consolidated, and then had a breakout with an increase in volume.  The algorithm is designed in such a way that it will keep listing a stock that has had a "breakout" until a pullback occurs. Some traders who miss an initial breakout prefer to buy after a pullback and purchase if there is a confirmation of the original breakout. The continued reporting helps such traders remain updated about the stock's progress. However, as soon as the pullback begins, the stock will cease to be listed in the reports because it will no longer satisfy the breakout filtering conditions looked for by the algorithm. The stock will not appear on the list again until its closing price exceeds the closing high reached before the pullback (confirming that the previous breakout has "legs"). 

See a list of the stocks we scan for our reports.

More... ..


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