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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 Rectangle Bottom Setup

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My book, Swing and Day TradingSwing and Day Trading: Evolution of a Trader book., has a number of setups for swing and day traders. I show a picture of the book on the left.

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This article discusses trading rectangle bottom chart patterns using a new setup.

 

Rectangle Bottom Setup Summary

The best performing trading setup begins with price rising above the rectangle bottom. Sell at the close three trading days later or if profits reaches or exceeds 5%. No stop is used.

The average trade using this setup makes about 2.5% in 5 calendar days, wins 73% of the time, and has a win/loss ratio of 4.83. The average loss, $65, is small compared to the average win, $314.

Rectangle Bottom Setup Background

Rectangle bottom chart pattern

Shown on the right is an ideal rectangle bottom chart pattern. Price enters the rectangle from the top, which is how you distinguish it from rectangle tops.

Price bounces up and down, touching two horizontal or nearly horizontal trendlines, forming a rectangular shaped pattern of sideways price movement. Eventually, price will close above the top of the pattern (an upward breakout) or below the bottom of it (downward breakout). When a breakout happens, that's the time to initiate a trade.

The following tests take advantage of price behavior like throwbacks, and all pertain to upward breakouts.

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Rectangle Bottom Setup Methodology

Since I have used these same tests on other chart patterns, I dispensed with in-sample tests and just used out of sample. This was also necessary because of the scarcity of rectangle bottom chart patterns in my database.

I conducted tests on about 1,550 stocks going back as far as mid 1991 and as recent as June 2010. I only used chart patterns that I have found, not those located by an automated program. Thus, the rectangle bottoms are known valid chart patterns.

The following tests reveal short-term trading setups, not buy and hold situations.

Rectangle Bottom Setup Results

The various results from the tests are listed below and an explanation of each test is in the next section. Here are the column definitions.

The Rank column is a rank of the sum of the ranks of many but not all of the columns. The sum with the lowest total is the best. The best performing test is listed first.

The Per Trade Avg P/L columns are the average profit or loss per trade in dollars and percent. Both are based on an investment of $10,000 per trade minus $10 for commissions each trade ($20 round trip). No allowance for slippage or other fees were included, and no allowance for cash factored into the tests.

% Wins is the percentage of winning trades. Avg Win is the average of all winning trades. Avg Loss is the average of all losing trades. W/L Ratio is the average win divided by the average loss. If losses are larger than the average win, then the value will be negative.

Max Drawdown is the largest equity drop from peak to valley during the trade. It represents how much profit you give back (worst case). Hold Time Loss is the maximum drop below the buy price during the trade. It represents how much money you could have lost if you sold when price bottomed. Hold Time is the average time the stock was held. # Trades is the number of trades counted in the test.

Items shown in red are ranked best in that column.

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Rank 
Test
Per Trade
Avg P/L
Per Trade
Avg P/L
%
Wins
Avg
Win
Avg
Loss
W/L
Ratio
Max
Drawdown
Hold
Time Loss
Hold
Time
#
Trades
0.3 day or 5% exit, no stop $248.64 2.5%73% $313.63  $65.00 4.8312%12%5261
1.Buy price >200 day SMA, 3 day exit $246.22 2.5%68% $304.13  $57.91 5.2526%8%5161
2.3 day exit $243.96 2.4%69% $318.35  $74.39 4.2826%19%5261
3.Buy price >21 day SMA, 3 day exit $246.03 2.5%69% $321.48  $75.45 4.2626%19%5256
4.2 day exit $213.19 2.1%68% $287.81  $74.62 3.8615%11%4261
5.Buy price <200 day SMA, 3 day exit $233.58 2.3%71% $335.53  $101.94 3.2912%19%599
6.5% profit, stop at halfway between buy price and fmtn low $326.85 3.3%78% $440.26  $113.41 3.8820%16%12260
7.5 day exit $309.03 3.1%72% $398.06  $89.03 4.4738%19%8261
8.Buy price >50 day SMA, 3 day exit $234.44 2.3%68% $312.81  $78.38 3.9926%19%5224
9.4 day exit $276.49 2.8%70% $357.23  $80.74 4.4238%19%7261
10.3 day exit. Stop: lower of today or yesterday -.01 $200.13 2.0%68% $312.67  $112.53 2.7826%12%5261
11.7% profit exit, stop: fmtn-.01 $429.35 4.3%83% $607.78  $178.33 3.4141%36%24259
Rank 
Test
Per Trade
Avg P/L
Per Trade
Avg P/L
%
Wins
Avg
Win
Avg
Loss
W/L
Ratio
Max
Drawdown
Hold
Time Loss
Hold
Time
#
Trades
12.2 day exit, stop is buy day's low-.01 $162.89 1.6%64% $279.53  $116.64 2.4015%7%4261
13.5% profit exit, stop: fmtn-.01 $331.82 3.3%86% $479.05  $147.23 3.2541%36%18259
14.9% profit exit, stop: fmtn-.01 $521.74 5.2%79% $730.71  $208.97 3.5041%36%32258
15.6% profit exit, stop: fmtn-.01 $369.59 3.7%84% $540.57  $170.99 3.1641%36%21259
16.8% profit exit, stop: fmtn-.01 $459.81 4.6%80% $662.93  $203.13 3.2641%36%28259
17.5% profit, stop at buy day's low -.01 $210.61 2.1%61% $352.36  $141.75 2.517%11%8261
18.3 day exit, stop at low on buy date-.01 $179.70 1.8%61% $301.62  $121.93 2.4726%10%5261
19.Exit day after a lower close $81.14 0.8%63% $267.72  $186.58 1.4315%6%4261
20.Exit day after a lower high $87.37 0.9%63% $274.49  $187.13 1.4715%7%5261
21.10% profit exit, stop: fmtn-.01 $477.39 4.8%75% $770.06  $292.67 2.6347%36%36257
22.10% profit, stop at buy day's low -.01 $379.76 3.8%58% $596.94  $217.18 2.7527%24%21260
23.Exit day after a lower low $93.10 0.9%62% $295.90  $202.80 1.4620%7%6261
Rank 
Test
Per Trade
Avg P/L
Per Trade
Avg P/L
%
Wins
Avg
Win
Avg
Loss
W/L
Ratio
Max
Drawdown
Hold
Time Loss
Hold
Time
#
Trades

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Rectangle Bottom Setup Test Explanation

Unless otherwise specified, trade entry uses a buy stop a penny above the top of the formation (a penny above the highest high in the chart pattern). For the exit, sell at the close (as in the case of "3 day exit," for example) or the opening price the day after the exit signal. "Buy price >200 day SMA, 3 day exit," for example, means to set a buy stop a penny above the top of the rectangle only if that price is above the 200-day simple moving average (SMA) on the buy day. Once into the trade (day 1), sell at the close of day 4.

  • 0. Exit at the close in 3 trading days or if price climbs at least 5%, whichever comes first. No stop is used. This is the best performing setup, according to the rankings. You may see other setups that better suit your needs.
  • 1. Buy if price is above the 200-day SMA. Exit at the close in 3 trading days.
  • 2. Exit at the close in 3 trading days. No stop used.
  • 3. Enter when the buy price is above the 21-day SMA, Exit at the close in 3 trading days.
  • 4. Exit at the close in 2 trading days, no stop.
  • 5. Buy if price is below the 200-day simple moving average and exit at the close in 3 trading days.
  • 6. Exit on 5% profit, place a stop halfway between the buy price and formation low.
  • 7. Exit at the close in 5 trading days with no stop used.
  • 8. Buy price is above the 50-day SMA. Exit at the close in 3 trading days.
  • 9. Exit at the close in 4 trading days with no stop used.
  • 10. Exit at the close in 3 trading days. Use the lower of today's or yesterday's low minus a penny as the stop price.
  • 11. Exit on 7% profit. Use a stop a penny below the formation low.
  • 12. Exit at the close in 2 trading days, and use a stop placed a penny below the low on the buy date.
  • 13. Exit after 5% profit, use a stop placed a penny below the formation low.
  • 14. Place a stop loss order a penny below the formation's low, and exit on 9% profit.
  • 15. Exit on 6% profit Use a stop a penny below the formation low.
  • 16. Exit on 8% profit. Use a stop a penny below the formation low.
  • 17. Exit on 5% profit. Place a stop a penny below the low on the buy date.
  • 18. Exit at the close in 3 trading days, and use a stop placed a penny below the low on the buy date.
  • 19. Exit at the opening price the day after a lower close.
  • 20. Exit at the opening price the day after a lower high.
  • 21. Exit after 10% profit, and use a stop loss order a penny below the formation's low
  • 22. Exit after 10% profit, and use a stop placed a penny below the low on the buy date.
  • 23. Exit at the opening price the day after a lower low. This is the worst performing test of the bunch.
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Rectangle Bottom Setup Trading Example

Picture of Empire District Electric (EDE) on the daily scale.

Pictured above is an example of "Buy price >200 day SMA, 3 day exit," the second best performing trading setup tested. It shows the stock from Empire District Electric (EDE), an electric utility company, on the daily scale.

This is a rectangle bottom because price enters the pattern from the top and not the bottom. The rectangle has an irregular appearance but price glides along two horizontal trendlines for over a month.

When price rises above the top trendline, that is the entry signal, providing that the buy price is also above the 200-day simple moving average. In this example, it is.

Three days after entry, sell the stock at the close of that day, as shown on the chart. Unfortunately this trade ends in a small loss.

-- Thomas Bulkowski

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See Also

Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information. Marriage is always a bachelor's last option.