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Thomas Bulkowski’s successful investment activities allowed him to retire at age 36. He is an internationally known author and trader with 30+ years of stock market experience and widely regarded as a leading expert on chart patterns. He may be reached at

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Bulkowski’s The 38% Exit

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Written by and copyright © 2005-2018 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information.

This article discusses using a 38% Fibonacci extension to exit a stock. This is an actual trade made by Mr. Bulkowski.



Picture of Pinnacle West Capital (PNW) on the daily scale.

The home-built program I use to track my stocks allows me to view the allocation of each stock and each industry with the push of a button. When I felt as if Pinnacle West Capital (PNW) was overbought and it was time to sell, I looked at my allocation. I had 19% of my money in the stock. The next closest allocation was 6% in another utility stock. Even after selling a portion of it, I still have 13% wrapped up in the stock. If I need to sell or if the stock hits my next price target (39-40), I know where to go to find the cash.

Anyway, I bought the stock several times and this sale matches a buy I made on August 1, 2008. I entered the stock on an ascending triangle breakout, and received a fill at 33.26. At the time, the stock paid a 6% dividend.


The Fibonacci Extension Sale

Zoom ahead to December 15, 2009, the day before I sold. My reason for selling the stock was for diversification. I wanted the money to buy other stocks I liked and to cut the allocation, as I already discussed. The Wilder RSI (relative strength index) said the stock was in the overbought range, but it can stay that way for months. The commodity channel index (CCI) said sell.

What I really wanted to explain about this trade is the 38% Fibonacci extension. I have written many times about using Fibonacci retraces, 38%, 50%, and 62% of the prior move. In this case, I used an extension of the AB move. Here's how it's done. In this trade, I used the widest points in the broadening top chart pattern. Point A is at a high of 35.48 and the low is at 31.08 for a height of 4.40. Multiply this by 38% and you get 1.67. Add that to A to get the target I show as a green line, at 37.15. Notice how the stock began to turn near the extension level.

The ideal evening star candlestick

Since the stock had moved up in a straight-line run for 1.5 months, I felt that it just might retrace and wanted to capture as much profit as I could. My notes also say a evening star candle appeared (shown in the figure to the right), and price had closed lower two days in a row. Although I suspected then, and still do, that the stock will continue up, I sold a portion of my holdings at 37.59.

I made 13% on the stock but it qualifies as a long term gain. The kicker is, I also collected dividends which pushed up my total return to 21%. How do you spell green? M-O-N-E-Y!


The stock turned around and formed a double top which confirmed when price continued sliding. On February 1, 2010, the stock closed just below 36.

-- Thomas Bulkowski


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Written by and copyright © 2005-2018 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information. I'd love to go out with you, but I'm attending the opening of my garage door.