Antigravity equation works in all probablility
My six-month experiment in fantasy day-trading is all but over and, after last week's coup, which appeared to confirm that short-term price swings could be predicted with a degree of mathematical probability (if not certainty), I felt it behoved me to put that theory to the test one more time.
For my last hurrah I decided to pick three companies whose short-term performance patterns appeared to fit the crude, but so far successful, template for short-term market gains that I have decided to call AGE: for in the Antigravity Equation, what goes down must come back up.
What I needed first was a broad filter. I mean, don't get me wrong, dear reader; I like you, but not so much that I'm prepared to plough my way painstakingly through all 1,400 firms listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, searching for the vital signs. So instead, I limited myself to The Share Centre's 58 FTSE 100 recommendations.
True, their customers are generally looking for something different - long-term performance versus snatch-and-grab banditry - but I knew that for every stock on that list at least all the fundamentals would be sound. All I had to do was sniff out those poised for short-term shifts in an upwards direction.
First out of the box was ASOS, a company I had never heard of. The Share Centre's briefing, normally concise but informative, left me none the wiser. ASOS, it told me, "is in the general retailers sector", which was a bit like saying it was in business.
Further inquiries, however, revealed why I had never heard of it: ASOS is, in fact, an online fashion brand, pitched at hip young folk in four countries, the UK, US, Germany and France.
These days, I measure "hip" by how much something makes me want to live in another era (my own), and ASOS came up trumps by this yardstick. Nevertheless, over recent months its stock price has been displaying a telltale roller-coaster pattern, against the background of a solid upwards trend.
When I stumbled on the company, the buy-sell balance was not ideal; a week of buying, forcing the price up, had just flipped over into what seemed to be the start of a selling trend, and the price was already starting to fall. But every good experiment needs a control subject. In I went at a bid price of 1,555 pence, bagging 318 shares with a total value of £4,944.90 (Dh28,570.27) - and fully expecting them to fall the next time the market opened.
Then an old friend caught my eye: the Reckitt Benckiser (RB) Group, manufacturers of household cleaning products. Back in June, when I was trying to play a longer game, I had pitched in at 3,233p; I had finally been forced to concede defeat in August, when I sold for a small loss at 3,107p. Now, guess what? RB was up at 3,507p.
Better yet, I now seemed to have caught RB shortly after the start of an upward surge, which, judging by recent market behaviour, seemed set to last for a few days. At 3,507p per share, I grabbed 141 for £4,944.87. I could still clean up.
For my final pick, I settled on Spirent Communications, which apparently is something big in the backroom worlds of broadband, internet telephony and 3G wireless. We met three days into a selling spree that had brought its price down from 160.3p a share to just under 150p. Would it fall farther? Maybe, but if so probably only for a few days. Would it bounce back up? Almost certainly, so in I went, committing the last of my funds: 4,439 shares at 149.9p each, to a total value of £6,654.06.
Now all that remained to do was set the stop-loss-and-limit bear traps, wait for the opening bell and watch what happened.
And what happened was that within 10 minutes of the stock market opening for business, all three prices rose - a lot. Magic, in other words.
Now, this is the second week running that my system has produced this kind of result. Either it is a) a coincidence or b) I have developed some kind of expertise. I'm going with "b".
The next trick, of course, is not to run around the room shouting "Whoo-hoo!" but to remain calm, act fast and harvest the growth. It is tempting to sit back and let the sell limit do its thing, but when you see a spike as sharp as this one, cash those chips immediately, before it slumps back after the initial flurry of trading.
I cashed in my hand 10 minutes after the market opened, turning my investment of £16,543.83 into £17,253.72 - a clear profit of £709.89, leaving me up more than £2,200 on my original stake.
However, If I'd waited another five minutes I'd have seen the total value of the shares slump back to £16,532.50 - a loss of £11.34.
Next week will be my last column in the series and I'll be summarising what I have learnt from six months of coffee and biscuits in front of a trading screen (besides the fact that there are 74 calories in a McVitie's Digestive).
And, as I have now established myself beyond reasonable doubt as something of a day-trading guru, I'd pay attention, if I were you. Consider it my gift. Unless socks, rather than stocks, work for you, of course.
Published: December 16, 2010 04:00 AM