Jeff Miller

About the Author Jeff Miller

Jeff is the President of NewArc Investments Inc., manager of both individual and institutional investments. Jeff is a registered investment advisor, and portfolio manager for NewArc's investment programs. Jeff is a former college professor with a hands-on, real world attitude. His quantitative modeling helped inform state and local officials in Wisconsin for more than a decade. A Public Policy analyst, he taught advanced research methods at the University of Wisconsin, and analyzed many issues related to state tax policy. Jeff began in the financial business as Research Director for trading firm at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. He investigated anomalies in the standard option pricing models, taught classes for beginning options traders, and developed new forecasting techniques. In 1991 he established a general research consultancy, working with professional traders at all of the Chicago financial exchanges. In 1998 he started NewArc Investments, Inc. Jeff has a commitment to the specific needs of individual investors. NewArc offers five different programs. It is not a one-size-fits all approach, but one that emphasizes the unique circumstances of each client. Jeff also serves on the board of two small technology companies (currently Chairman at one). He is occasionally as an expert witness in legal cases involving financial markets and hedging.

Palo Alto Networks Inc (PANW), Paypal Holdings Inc (PPYL), Zions Bancorp (ZION): How to Find New Trading Ideas

Last week’s Stock Exchange was about the need for focus and discipline in your trading. Even with the help of systems and models, the human trader needs to maintain confidence. The inevitable rough patches present a challenge.

This week I turn to a very common trading problem – finding fresh ideas. Sometimes the muse does not appear. In a recent WTWA I used the trading section to highlight a great exchange between Brett Steenbarger and Adam H. Grimes. Both are worth checking out for ideas about getting ideas.

Another effective approach is a screen based upon important fundamental criteria. Marc Gerstein is a leader in developing and using these tools. A recent column about a screen on for “Trump stocks” provides an interesting example.

The discussion led me back to the rule-based approach of the Turtles, a famously successful group of rookie traders trained by Richard Dennis. Most of the rules still make great sense. While secret for many years, they are now in the public domain. This method had very specific rules for entering new positions. The trader did not “reach,” but instead waited for the market to provide opportunities.

Sometimes there are not any attractive trades. Does this have meaning for our models? Let’s start with a look at their current ideas:

Finding Fresh Ideas

Holmes

By now you probably know that I love great stocks that have broken down and look to be bottoming. This week my pick is Palo Alto Networks Inc (NYSE:PANW). I love big down moves, followed by directionless ups and downs. To me, this distribution from weaker hands to stronger hands. These types of moves have nicely defined risk/reward ratios. In this case, 120 is my sell stop, while I’m look for a short term rebound to 140, with possible more room to move back towards the 160 level.

J: Do you think this stock is more attractive because of the Russian cyberattacks?

H: I understand cyberattacks, but who is Russia?

J: I know, I know. You do not read news; you just look at charts. But you might be onto something here. The company is an aggressive choice and reasonable based earnings growth. You must be willing to ignore the short history and lack of a dividend. Chuck Carnevale’s F.A.S.T. Graph provides this information.

H: My choices do fine whether or not they have earnings growth. As for dividends, I will not own it long enough to worry about that.

J: It is another interesting example of how different methods can arrive at the same conclusion. Do you have a shortage of new ideas?

H: Yes, mostly because of the strong market. My strategy requires some dips to buy. I am a patient watchdog.

Athena

Zions Bancorp (NASDAQ:ZION) caught my eye this week. I admit we’re starting to see some leveling off of the price after a big jump the last few months. At the same time, the sustained nature of the rally here is encouraging. There may still be room to jump on the bandwagon – but not for more than a few weeks.

J: I am a big fan of regional banks, but this one seems to have gone too far, too fast. The FAST graph shows the earnings growth and the underlying value.

A: I know you look at P/E ratios and such, but that is not necessary to find a great trade.

J: This was a reasonable buy before the election. Once again you seem late in getting on board.

A: What is this “election” you keep talking about? The part of the chart that you call too far and too fast, is the part I like best!

J: It seems like over-valuation.

A: I call it a breakout!

J: Any problems finding new ideas?

A: My wisdom and knowledge help me to see many opportunities.

Felix

I will begin with my responses to reader votes for the favorites list.

 

My list provides rankings within each zone, as well as the basics about buy, hold, and sell. The list includes the top overall vote getters from our (free) subscription list as well as some new requests I got during the week.

J: I see that you have cut down the number of stocks, but left out the prior week’s ranking.

F: The list is quite dynamic. Some of those included did not get a rating last week.

J: Maybe we’ll get some good suggestions about what to include. What is your featured stock for this week?

F: Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL) is almost exactly what I look for in a longer-term investment. We’ve got a mellow trending-upwards moving average, with a price very like what you might have found around the beginning of the year. Despite some ups and downs, the potential definitely exists here.

 

J: I like the PayPal business, but the company is too new to have a good basis for estimating earnings. I require at least one full business cycle.

F: You miss a lot of good picks with that requirement. Recognizing a strong business early is a great way to build value. Unlike the rest of the models, I think long-term.

J: Do you have a shortage of new opportunities?

F: No, but I do not require ten years of data to find a strong investment.

Oscar

Here are my ratings for the top reader interests. There are still five open slots, so keep the questions coming.

We’re off to the races this week. I’m taking a close look at the diversified media sector, best illustrated here by PBS. It’s nearing yearly highs after falling sharply at the beginning of the year, but I don’t plan on chasing the price like a greyhound at a dog track. I like the idea of buying at the current level, then looking for an exit after one or two weeks. There are enough fluctuations around the $26.50 mark to make me think there’s room for profit here.

J: How often do your ratings change? Are these listed in any particular order?

O: Any changes are strictly the result of the stock chart. If the markets change, my ratings will as well. I report the list in order of my strength ratings.

J: Why are media stocks so strong when NFL ratings are falling?

O: Everyone I know watches all of the NFL games, sometimes several at once. We all have players on each team.

J: You mean “fantasy” players? And why are you going to the dog track during football season?

O: We all have fantasy teams as well as daily and weekly leagues. You can do it from the track. It is called multi-tasking. If you would buy us a CPU upgrade, I could find even more picks.

J: Have you been adding new sectors? Any problems finding ideas?

O: My current picks are working fine. If it ain’t broke…

Conclusion

In any trading method, there will periods when fresh ideas are hard to find. Or you will try things, but nothing is working and you get stopped out. This is no different for our Stock Exchange models. A strength comes in how they handle these periods. Like the Turtles, they wait for the market to present opportunities, sticking with strict entry criteria.