Written and copyright © 2009-2013 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved.
Have you looked at your trades recently? Often, I wait for year end before looking them over, but I want to pass on to you a few tips based on my results. If you want to check
your trades, I have created a sample Excel spreadsheet that does some of what I will be discussing. It requires you to enter details of each trade and
if you do this as you trade, it makes it easier to track them than trying to type in all of your trades at one sitting.
Trade Review: The Sell Side
My spreadsheet shows trades since I began investing nearly 30 years ago. I sorted them by the sale date and looked at the four combinations of winning and losing trades.
Here is the result.
Sorted by SELL date
You read this table in row-column order. For example, a losing trade (row) is followed by a winning one (column) 18% of the time. I highlight the entry in
The table says that when I take a loss, I should avoid the next trade because it is twice as likely to become a loss (35%) than a win (18%).
That is useful information, but only if I trade sequentially -- one stock at a time (which I don't do). I hold a diversified portfolio of stocks.
Trade Review: Buying Results
Sorting by the buy date changes the results.
Sorted by BUY date
Here we see results that are more evenly distributed, meaning the numbers are closer to the same value. If a position ends in a loss, the next one is likely to be a loss, too (31%).
If the trade is a winner, the next trade is also likely to be a winner (25%).
What these two tables tell me is that if I sell a stock for a loss, I should be extra cautious about placing
a new trade because it could also end in a loss. That is common sense, or course, but it doesn't quite jive with the results.
Since I diversify my holdings, I could
sell several positions because of a short-term retrace and hold others (like utilities, which I like for the income and cap gains if you buy them cheaply enough). Clearly, though,
adding new positions when the market trends upward is smart. Avoid adding new positions when the market is dropping is also smart. I am sure some of you found that out in 2008
(downtrend) and from March 2009 (up trend).
Trade Review: Best Day of Week To Buy and Sell
I sorted all of my trades by days of the week in which I bought a stock and another set for the days I sold a stock. Then I compared those trades winning or losing on that
day to all trades on that day to get a percentage. Here is what I found.
I will explain the results below.
If I look at my losing trades (buy side only), the lowest percentage of losers is 48% on Friday compared to the highest, 58% on Monday. In other words, I do best if I buy on
Friday and avoid trading on Monday.
For winning trades when buying, Friday also shows the most winners (52%) and Monday has the fewest (43%).
For sales, the days that post a loss most often are Wednesday's (72%) and the fewest losses occur on Thursday's (39%).
Winning trades, when sorted by the sell date, occur most often on Thursday (61%) with the fewest on Wednesday. In other words, if I hold off selling until Thursday, I increase the
changes of booking a gain.
For my trades, if I buy on Friday's and sell on Thursday's, I tend to score the most winning trades.
Trade Review: Best Month to Buy and Sell
In this test, I used the gain or loss and mapped when I bought or sold shares. Based on the median values (since averages can be skewed by a few large values), the best
time to buy is between August to December, preferably in March (best) or September (second best).
On the sell side, the January to May period results in the best gains with a spike in May.
As many of you know, September is supposed to be the worst performing month for the Dow, so that also represents a good time to buy. There is also a saying "Sell in May and go
away." That holds true for my trades.
Trade Review: The Most Profitable Buy Patterns
By keeping track of your trading by style, you can determine what works best for you. On my spreadsheet of trades, I have not only the chart patterns that I have traded but other
styles as well. Fundamentals, 2B, averaging up or down, support/resistance, day trade, dividends, and so on are some of the choices.
None of the patterns I trade stand out as particularly profitable or frequently traded. That's because I have traded many patterns over the years and won and lost money on them
in almost equal measure. The sample size on them is just too small.
My most profitable pattern is a rectangle bottom, but I only traded that once and happened to win big when I did. In the early days of my plying the markets, I used fundamental analysis
and have logged almost 100 trades using fundamentals as the reason for buying. But the method has worked just 55% of the time. The total profit is huge but on an average or median
basis, the numbers are nothing to write home about.
My guess is that even though the sample counts are low, you'll want to review the list of the most profitable patterns or trading style, so here it is, followed by the number of trades
and win/loss ratio. The composition of this list is based on the median return and the description is the reason for entry, not exit, based on data ending July 21, 2009.
|Description||# of |
|1-2-3 trend change||3||67%|
Track your trades by trading style and that may help you discover what works best for you. If you are eclectic like me, you may bounce from style to style as each setup, each
reason for buying is different. You can also track the sell side, too. Find out the best exit strategies that mix best with your trading style.
Trade Review: The Best Exit Strategies
Based on the chart pattern or trading style and the median profit, the following table lists the most profitable exit strategies that I have used, based on data ending July 21, 2009.
Round number SAR means selling when price reaches a round number, such as 10, 20 or 30 and price reverses there.
A long shadow or tail is a chart pattern
that suggests price will move in the direction opposite the tail. Downward tails are more reliable than upward ones and you should wait the next day to confirm it really was a tail,
because price can overlap much of the tail's move.
|Description||# of |
|Round number SAR||1||100%|
|3 falling peaks||2||100%|
|Inverted dead-cat bounce||13||100%|
|Measured move up||1||100%|
|Eve & Adam double top||1||100%|
As you can see, I did not use these strategies often, but they worked well (large profits) when I did.
-- Thomas Bulkowski
Written and copyright © 2009-2013 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. An elephant is a mouse with a Microsoft operating system.