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Monday, August 13, 2012

AAPL: A Possible Short Trade?

Apple (AAPL) is currently on the high end of investors' line of attraction. A picture of Marketwatch's overview of the company is pretty clear: 


Almost everyone is more or less bulish on the stock. While I do admit this fuels growth of the stock price, this is not a sustainable condition. Such an overly bullish sentiment may come as a huge warning sign from a contrarian perspective.

Since the beginning of 2012 the stock's price experienced an interesting move. After going rapidly to about $640 it fell with almost $100 down to $540 level for about a month. Since the second half of May 2012 it is again on the rise and now trying to reach its previous high. 

What seems like a hope-fueling mode although, could prove to be nothing more than a normal reaction of a correction when all the people who have left the previous uptrend are getting on the train with renewed hopes. Hence this could be a false move given the newcommers are not strong enough to sustain the demand in near- to long-term perspective. It has happened before, in all kinds of markets and shares and since it's connected with human behavior, this type of market movements will continue to happen.

Let's look at the charts and some sentiment tools.

This is the daily chart of AAPL. What's noticeable here is the lower volume the recent upward movement relies on. This is especially true for the price increase since the dividend day. On theory a lower volume combined with a price increase speaks of exhausted buyers. This is a technical warning sign. The stock might still see some upward movement close to the previous high at $640 but the low volume suggest  there would not be enough demand to go much farther.

Schaeffer's Research website gives an insight on the option players' mood concerning AAPL. Put/Call open interest ratio is close to the highest value in one year so this suggest prevailing pessimism toward the stock. Viewed as a contrarian indicator this would suggest a further increase in the AAPL stock price might be possible because of an overly pessimistic mood.  Such a mood however might be present only inside the option players because of the price reaching the previous high and seems to not be supported by neither the analysts recommendations, nor the general market participants as shown by the picture in the beginning of this article.

The short interest on the stock however has been falling since the second half of June 2012 which would partly explain the increase in price experienced since then. What that falling short interest would suggest is that there would be a smaller possibility for a price increase due to short covering.

The open interest configuration shows there is a concentration of put options around the $640-670 level which could serve as a resistance. The calls are concentrated in the $500-640 range.

With all those remarks a further strong increase of the Apple's stock price like the one we witnessed till the April 2012 could not be so probable in near term. 

In any case a suitable stop loss order would limit the possible loss on either side of the trade.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

40 bits of trading wisdom

Here is another post aimed at spreading practical wisdom about trading. Similarly to the 38 steps to becoming a trader one, I found this again in my remarks. After some google-ing the original source link seems to point to Traders-Talk forums at

Most of the items below are really valuable. The point is they have to be followed in real to bring value. Any comments are welcomed.

Forty Bits of Trading Wisdom
Condensed from Capitulation's 40 posts.
  1. If you want to stay in this business, leave "hope" at the door and stick to your stops.
  2. When you get into a trade, start looking for signs right away that you are wrong. If you see them, then get out before your stop is hit.
  3. Trading should be boring, like factory work. If there is one guarantee in trading, it is that "thrill seekers" get their accounts grinded into nothing.
  4. It helps to just follow a handful of stocks on any given day. Don’t jump on the “next hot thing.” Develop your plan and stick to your plan.
  5. You are trading other traders, not the actual stock. You have to be aware of the psychology and emotions behind trading.
  6. Be very aware of your own emotions. Irrational behavior is every trader's downfall. If you are yelling at your computer screen, imploring your stocks to move in your direction, you have to ask yourself, "Is this rational?" Ease in. Ease out. Keep your stops. No yelling.
  7. Watch yourself if you get too excited—excitement increases risk because it clouds judgment.
  8. Don’t overtrade—be patient and wait for 3-5 good trades.
  9. If you come into trading with the idea of making “big money,” you are doomed. This mindset is responsible for most accounts being blown out.
  10. Don’t focus on the money. Focus on executing trades well. If you are getting in and out of trades rationally, the money will take care of itself.
  11. If you focus on the money, you will start to impose your will upon the market in order to meet your financial needs. There is only one outcome to this scenario: you will hand over all of your money to traders who are focused on protecting their risk and letting their winners run.
  12. The best way to minimize risk is to not trade. This is especially true during the low-volume “chop and slop” found during the afternoon trading session. If your stocks are not acting right, then don't trade them. Just sit and watch them and try to learn something. By doing this you are being pro-active in reducing your risk and protecting your capital.
  13. There is no need to trade 5 days per week. Trade 4 days per week and you will be sharper during the actual time you are trading.
  14. Refuse to damage your capital. This means sticking to your stops and sometimes staying out of the market.
  15. Stay relaxed. Place a trade and set a stop. If you get stopped out, who really cares? You are doing your job. You are actively protecting your capital. Professional traders actively take small losses. Amateurs resort to hope and sometimes prayer to save their trade. In life, hope is a powerful and positive thing. In executing a trade, hope is a virus that can infect and destroy.
  16. Be right on day one or get out. Don’t take a “red” position home overnight.
  17. Keep winners as long as they are moving your way. Let the market take you out on a trailed stop.
  18. Money management is the secret to success. Don’t overweight your trades. The more you overweight a trade, the more “hope” comes into play when it goes against you. Hope is to trading as acid is to skin. The longer you leave it in place, the more painful the outcome will be.
  19. There is no logical reason to hesitate in taking a stop. Re-entry is only a commission away.
  20. Professional traders take losses. Being wrong and not taking a loss does damage to your equity and your mind.
  21. Once you take a loss you forget about the trade and move on anyway, especially if it is a small one. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of any opportunity to clear your head by taking a small loss.
  22. Never let one position go against you by more than 2% of your account equity. The larger the position, the tighter the stop.
  23. Use daily charts to get an idea of the 30-day trend, hourly charts to get an idea of the 1-day trend, and 5-minute charts to establish your entry points.
  24. If you are hesitating to take a position, that indicates a lack of confidence that is not necessary. Just get into the position and place a stop. Traders lose money in positions everyday. Keep them small. The confidence you need is not in whether or not you are right, the confidence you need is in knowing you will stick to your stop no matter what. Therefore you can actually alleviate this hesitancy to “pull the trigger” by continually sticking to your stops and reinforcing this behavior.
  25. Averaging down on a position is like a sinking ship deliberately taking on more water.
  26. Build up to a full position as it goes your way.
  27. Adrenaline is a sign that your ego and your emotions have reached a point where they are clouding your judgment. Realize this and immediately tighten your stop considerably to preserve profits or exit your position.
  28. Look for opportunities not to trade.
  29. Most of the time, you want to own the stock before it breaks out, then sell it to the momentum players after it breaks out. If you buy breakouts, realize that professional traders are handing off their positions to you in order to test the strength of the trend. They will typically buy it back below the breakout point—which is typically where you will set your stop when you buy a breakout. Greed comes into play when the stock breaks out again, and the momentum players are forced to chase it and “pay up” for the stock. Be aware of how trends are established and use that to your advantage to enter and exit positions.
  30. Embracing your opinion leads to financial ruin. When you find yourself rationalizing or justifying a decline by saying things like, “They are just shaking out weak hands here,” or “The market makers are just dropping the bid here,” then you are embracing your opinion. Don’t hang onto a loser. Cut your losses. You can always get back in.
  31. Unfortunately, discipline is typically not learned until you have wiped out a trading account. Until you have wiped out an account, you typically think it cannot happen to you. It is precisely that attitude that makes you hold onto losers and rationalize them all the way into the ground.
  32. Siphoning out your trading profits each month and sticking them in a money market account is a good practice. This action helps to focus your attitude that this is a business, and your business should generate profits on a monthly basis.
  33. "Professional traders only place a small portion of their assets into 1 position. Or if they take on a large position, then they strictly limit their risk to 1-2% of their current equity. Amateurs typically place a large portion of their assets into 1 position, and they give it "room to move" in case they are actually right. This type of situation creates emotions that ruin accounts, while professionals are able to make decisions and cut losses because they strictly define their risk."

  34. More pro and amateur differences…

  35. Professional traders focus on limiting risk and protecting capital. Amateur traders focus on how much money they can make on each trade. Professionals always take money away from amateurs."
  36. Don't be a hero…
    In the stock market, heroes get crushed. Averaging down on a losing position is a “heroic move.” The stock market is not about blind courage. It is about finesse. Don't be a hero.
  37. School of hard knocks in the only way...
    Sadly, traders never learn the importance of “the rules” until they have blown their account out of the water. Until you “lose it all” it never seems that important to have to follow the basics of professional trading. (Cut your losses, let your profits run, etc).
  38. The market reinforces bad habits…
    The market reinforces bad habits. If early on you held onto a loser that went against you by 20%, and you were able to get out for breakeven, you are doomed. The market has reinforced a bad habit. The next time you let a stock go against you by 20%, you will hang on because you have been taught that you can get out for breakeven if you are just patient and hang on long enough. It doesn’t matter if the stock has just been upgraded or had a favorable write up in Forbes. You still need to protect your capital. In reality, today’s price is the true indication of the value of the stock, as it is the price people are willing to pay. Instead of rationalizing, control your risk by sticking to your stops.
  39. Who is accountable for your trades?
    The true mark of an amateur trader who is never going to make it in this business is one who continually blames everything but his or herself for the outcome of a bad trade. This includes, but is not limited to, saying things like:
    • The analysts are crooks
    • The market makers were fishing for stops.
    • I was on the phone and it collapsed on me.
    • My neighbor gave me a bad tip.
    • The message boards caused this one to pump and dump.
    • The specialists are playing games.
    The mark of a professional, however, sounds like this:
    • It is my fault because I traded this position too large for my account size.
    • It is my fault because I didn’t stick to my own risk parameters.
    • It is my fault because I really don’t know how to trade.
    • It is my fault because I know the market makers can legally take some of my money, and I knew that going into this.
    • It is my fault because I know there are risks in trading, and I didn’t fully comprehend them when I took this trade.
    The obvious difference here is accountability. For amateurs, everything having to do with the market is “outside their control.” That is not reasonable thinking, and really just points to an individual who has, probably for the first time, had to confront their “real self” as opposed to the perfect self or idealized self they have constructed in their mind. This is also known as “living in a fog.” A person can drift around through life in their own private world, where they are pretty special and can do no wrong. Unfortunately, trading rips off this mask, because you cannot dispute what has happened to your account. This is also known as “confronting reality.” For many people, when they start trading they are suddenly confronting reality for the first time in their lives. Just to see the world as it really is requires a lifetime of training, and for many people trading the stock market is their first real step in this journey. Some people say that traders are born, not made. Not so. If you choose to see the world as it is, then you can start trading successfully tomorrow.
  40. Pro vs. amateur trader difference…
    Amateur traders always think, “How much money can I make on this trade!” Professional traders always think, “How much money can I lose on this trade?” The trader who controls his or her risk takes money from the trader whose head is in the clouds.
  41. Focus on controlling risk...
    At some point traders realize that no one can tell you exactly what is going to happen next in the market, and that you can never know how much you are going to make on a trade. Thus the only thing left to do is to determine how much risk you are willing to take in order to find out if you are right or not. The key to trading success is to focus on how much money is at risk, not how much you can make.
And yes folks, that concludes the 40 bits of trading wisdom. I hope everyone enjoyed them and most importantly, I hope one person out there has taken these bits to heart and that they have made a difference with someone.
To summarize the important points:
  • Control your risk by setting your parameters BEFORE you get in the trade.
  • Have a plan with each and every trade and stick to your plan.
  • Stick to your stops.
  • Don't blame others when a trade goes bad, but rather learn from it so it hopefully won't happy again.
  • Don't bet the farm! Allocate only a small percentage of your capital to each trade.
  • Set a stop with each and every trade.
  • Leave hope at the door and stick to your stops.
  • Never add to a losing position....averaging down is like a sinking ship deliberately taking on more water.
  • Do not yell at your screen trying to "will" the markets in your direction. Be calm, ease in, ease out, no yelling.
  • Trading should be boring like factory work. If you are looking for excitement then trading is not for you because you will wipe out your trading account.
  • If you get stopped out, so what? Professional traders actively take small losses all the's part of the game. Re-entry is only a commission away.
  • Once you are in a trade, immediately begin looking for signs that you are wrong. If something doesn't look right or the reasons that you entered the trade have changed GET OUT before your stop is hit.

Originally posted by Capitulation