PyInvesting

Helping investors beat the market.


Ivann Fok
1 year, 11 months ago · 1371 Views

WRITTEN BY

Ivann Fok

Ivan is the founder of PyInvesting.com. He is passionate about technology and finance and has worked as a software developer at a hedge fund where he was responsible for building the fund's trading system. He hopes that PyInvesting will help investors adopt a data driven approach to investing and support them in their journey towards financial freedom.


Ivann Fok · 3 weeks, 1 day ago
Investing in Top Growth Stocks with Huge Disruptive Potential
Growth investing has been extremely profitable with growth funds such as Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) surging over 200% over the last year. The performance of growth funds have been attributed to disruptive growth stocks that are able to take advantage of opportunities from record-breaking technological changes. These companies have the potential to change their industry’s landscape by creating simplicity and accessibility while driving down costs with their technologically enabled product or service. The current pull back we are seeing in the market presents an attractive buying opportunity for long term investors looking to gain exposure to these disruptive growth stocks. Today, we will explore the characteristics of growth stocks and discuss how we can identify top growth stocks that are revolutionizing their industry. What is a growth stock? Growth stocks are companies that increase both their revenue and earnings at a faster rate than most stocks in their industry. These companies are able to generate exponential growth by developing an innovative product or service that is able to gain market share from its competitors or creating entirely new industries. These high growth stocks are rewarded by the market, delivering huge returns to shareholders in the process. The faster their growth, the bigger their returns. In contrast with value stocks, high growth stocks are relatively more expensive with higher price to earnings ratio (P/E Ratio) and price to sales ratio (P/S Ratio). However, even though growth stocks are expensive relative to the current earnings, the best growth stocks can still provide huge returns to investors when they realise their growth potential. How do we find growth stocks? With thousands of stocks to choose from, how do we identify the best growth stocks to invest in 2021? We can use a screening tool, to scan thousands of stocks in the market and filter stocks with strong revenue growth. Using this list of fastest growing stocks today, we run a fundamentals backtest to further select the top growth stocks for our portfolio. Finally, qualitative investors may also further enhance the selection of growth stocks using fundamental analysis. Screening for our universe of growth stocks Head over to the screening tool where we will be screening for our investment universe of growth stocks. In our screen, we will be filtering for: Stocks in the US market Stocks that are mid cap sized and above Stocks with a revenue growth greater than 20% In the Region field, select US Stock. Under Market Cap, check the mega cap, large cap and mid cap check boxes. Click on Add another filter and select revenue growth. A new revenue growth field will appear where we will select stocks with a revenue growth greater than 20%. Finally, click on the blue button to find your stocks. This will generate a list of over 500 stocks that pass our screening criteria. In the list we can see stocks such as Apple that had a revenue growth of 21.4% in the last year. Click on the button to create a backtest with screen results. You will see a pop up with the option to create a backtest using your screen results. We are going to select the top 250 stocks from our screen results with the highest revenue growth to run a fundamentals backtest. Once you have selected these parameters in the dropdown menus, click on the blue button to create your fundamentals backtest. Backtesting our growth investing strategy You will be directed to the fundamentals backtest page, where the investment universe has been pre-populated with the 250 stocks from our screen with the highest revenue growth. Scroll down to the next section, where we will select the signals for our fundamentals backtest to build our portfolio of top growth stocks. We are going to select 3 signals to rank our stocks - revenue growth, profit growth and price to sales ratio (P/S ratio). Besides, using growth metrics such as revenue growth and profit growth to select the fastest growing companies, we also want to look at valuation to ensure that our stocks are not excessively overvalued relative to their sales. We use the price to sales ratio instead of the price to earnings ratio (P/E ratio) because a number of these growth companies are not profitable yet. They are spending a lot of money on areas such as marketing to increase their growth. Because their earnings are negative, their P/E ratio is not defined. Hence we use the price to sales ratio to gauge the company’s valuation relative to their sales. We want companies with the lowest price to sales ratio because they are cheap relative to their sales with strong upside potential. These signals are normalized such that they are comparable with each other and assigned a weight of 33% each where we equal weight each of these signals. These signals are combined together to form our overall signal used to rank all 250 stocks in our investment universe allowing us to select the best growth stocks for our portfolio. Next, select the number of stocks to include in your portfolio. We are going to select 30 stocks in our portfolio where each stock is equally weighted at 3.3%. This is to ensure that our portfolio is diversified with low concentration risk. We are not gambling on a single stock going up big. Instead, we are betting that growth stocks on average are able to outperform the market. Our rebalance frequency will be set to a monthly frequency to prevent excessive trading and reduce transaction cost. Every month, 250 stocks will be ranked using the signals we selected (profit growth, revenue growth and price to sales ratio) and the top 30 stocks will be selected to form our portfolio. Finally hit the run backtest button to run your growth investing strategy. The strategy has an annualized return of 32%, a volatility of 25% and a max drawdown of 39%. Comparing the strategy against Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK), we can see that there is significant correlation in their performance. This is due to similar exposure to growth stocks between the 2 strategies. While ARKK has a higher annualized return of 34%, our strategy has a higher risk adjusted return reflected from its higher Sharpe ratio (1.08 vs 0.99). Scrolling down, you will see a list of stocks in the strategy’s current portfolio and the weight of each stock in the portfolio. These are the top growth stocks selected by the model based on the signals we chose for our growth investing strategy. For quantitative investors who prefer relying on a fully systematic strategy without any human intervention, you can choose to invest in all 30 stocks from your backtest portfolio. Fundamental analysis of growth stocks Qualitative investors who prefer looking at the business model and growth potential of a stock can do additional fundamental analysis to further narrow down this list of 30 stocks down to 15 to 20 stocks. One possible way to analyze these stocks is to find stocks that are best positioned to profit from strong market trends. Companies that are able to take advantage of these trends can exponentially grow their profits, generating huge returns for investors. For example, one of the stocks selected by our model was Fiverr. Fiverr is a global online marketplace for freelancers in creative industries. Freelancers provide a wide number of services such as developing a new website, creating a new logo, editing a video and writing for blogs. With the huge tailwinds due to the work from home trend and the gig economy expected to grow to $100b in the US market, Fiverr’s revenue growth has been accelerating to over 80% year over year. Another method of analyzing stocks would be to search for companies with strong economic moats that can maintain their competitive advantage and protect their profits and market share from their competitors. A great example of such a company selected by the model is CrowdStrike. CrowdStrike is a growth leader in cyber security with a disruptive business model in endpoint security. CrowdStrike uses artificial intelligence to learn from previous cyber attacks, allowing its platform to adapt and provide robust cybersecurity solutions. The company’s superior technology is a strong economic moat that creates an effective barrier against its competitors, preventing them from seizing their market share. Conclusion Investing in growth stocks can be extremely profitable for long term investors looking to participate in the exponential growth of disruptive companies. We discussed how to build a portfolio of top growth stocks using a screening tool and a fundamentals backtest. We also looked at how qualitative investors can further narrow the stock selection using fundamental analysis. We hope that you will be able to use this stock selection method to profit from growth investing. Happy investing, and may the odds be in your favor.
Ivann Fok · 1 month, 1 week ago
The World Beyond Investing
This article is contributed by Chengkok from Wealthdojo Face it, finance without investing would be boring. The ups and downs, the highs and lows that keep you hanging at the edge of your seat. In your journey through investing, you probably would have met fellow investors, gurus or even con-artist. Some of you who are here might be new, some of you might have invested for years. One question which I like to present to every one of you is this. What is the bigger picture? Sure. The objective of investing is to make money. However, looking at finance just concentrating on investing is like trying to defeat a high-level boss monster with a magician that only has high MP (Magic Points) and low HP (Health Points). Hi, I’m Chengkok from Wealthdojo. In my journey in financial planning, I have met people who are overly focused on their investing that they missed out the bigger picture. Like them, I have missed out on the bigger picture before and hope that many of you will not have to go through my mistake. To make it easier for you, I have summarized the big picture through the 6 Levels Wealth Karate Strategy. We will only be talking about 3 Levels today. #1 Abundant Surplus Creator Some of the investors I met live simply ridiculous lifestyles. I love their optimism but it would take less than a few years before they burn through everything they are building. Because of their optimism in the market, some of them whom I met are spending through their future income. What it means is that these are people with excessive debts on their spending. The fastest way to fail is to live a lavish lifestyle before you can even afford it. This might sound very basic and I thought it was uncommon until I met many graduates who were living from paycheck to paycheck. In my other blog post, I wrote about my experience with a lady who spend $800+ on a pair of slippers but she stopped wearing it because she’s afraid the slippers will be exposed to the rain. (insert link) Simply ridiculous. #2 Aegis Of War A strong investment portfolio is a strong offense in their finance portfolio. Just like a mage with low HP with high MP, they may be a paper hero who can be defeated in one hit. Some investors I have met have zero or outdated defense in their finance portfolio. Medical and insurance cost has risen over the years. Someone who had their defense planned 3 to 5 years ago might not have enough protection to tide over their crisis at that time. With the new changes in the IP riders, co-payment has become a new norm. That is just the start. With the sedentary lifestyle that we are living nowadays, it is also no secret that the rates of critical illness have been raising over the years. The next personal war that we will be fighting will be medical one. The medical war will be one that is going to cost significantly. This is one financial hedge that we cannot ignore. #3 The Superfund Income You guys are at the right place. I met many who do not have a gameplan in their investment journey. If you invest with a well thought out investment gameplan, this usually produce a much better result as you will be calmer and more composed as compared to those who are speculating the market. Here at PyInvesting, they specialize in using backtesting as their gameplan in their investing journey. Using a backtest is one way to find profitable strategies. I strongly encourage you guys to consider if this backtest method is suitable for you. Final Thoughts From Wealthdojo The world beyond investing is creating an all-rounder finance portfolio that can take care of you in every aspect. Some of which are habits you can adopt, some of them are mindsets and many others your decision to start today. Hope that I can be part of your journey as well. Wishing you all the best in your finance journey. To keep in touch, join my Telegram Channel for a tip a day! In Wealthdojo, we dedicate a small amount of time daily for learning new things. Continuous learning is one of the greatest secrets of success.
Ivann Fok · 2 months ago
GameStop has surged over 1500% in 2021. Should you chase the stock going forward?
By now, you’ve probably heard of GameStop $GME, the hottest stock in the market right now. We know that many people are betting against $GME and shorting the stock. Don’t take it from us – Bloomberg reported that while Gamestop’s shares outstanding stands at 69.7 million, short interest is at 71.2 million shares. As part of preliminary fundamental analysis, let’s look into the business model of GameStop. And in terms of a Q3 2020 update, Gamestop’s net sales were $1,004.7 million, down 30.2% from the fiscal 2019 third quarter reflecting: The impact of operating during the last few months of the seven-year-long current generation console cycle and the subsequent limited availability of hardware and accessories; The unplanned shift of software titles later into the fourth fiscal quarter, and in some cases, into fiscal 2021; An 11% reduction in the store base, as part of the Company’s de-densification strategy, partially offset by recaptured sales through the transfer to neighboring locations and online However, did you know that this video game retailer hasn’t made a profit in two years? Considering Gamestop’s last annual report, Gamestop posted an operating loss of $399.6 million in FY ended 1st Feb 2020, and an operating loss of $702m in FY ended 1st Feb 2019. This is a stark shift compared to FY ended 1st Feb 2018, where they posted a net earnings of $439.2 million. As a physical retailer in a world where gamers download games online, the future of this business was not looking great. Gamestop’s CEO, George Sherman, addressed this point in their annual shareholder’s letter, stating the firm’s strategy as an omni-channel one with a ‘Buy Online Pick Up in Stores’ approach. However, considering the last two year’s financial performance, it remains to be seen if their shift from offline to online will pay off and turn the company’s finances around. Despite the gloomy outlook, the stock has surged over a whopping 1500% in January 2021 alone fueled by an army of rookie day traders from Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum. It first started with now famed Reddit User ‘Roaring Kitty’ (34 year old Keith Gill) who first posted a picture of his US$53,000 investment in Gamestop, reportedly an investment made in 2019 when Gamestop was at $5 a share. While that post alone did not attract much attention from the community aside from comments on lack of conviction in Gamestop’s share price rise, those comments spurred Keith Gill to continue to make more videos on popular social media channels such as Youtube and Tikok on Gamestop. This saw the start of the flood of retail money into Gamestop, with Keith Gill and Reddit user DeepF***ingValue being the first drivers spurring the community which collectively bought heavily shorted stocks such as GameStop. As we know, this eventually pushed share prices higher and squeezed out hedge funds like Melvin Capital and Citron, forcing them to close out their short positions in GameStop at a huge loss. The big question now is whether investors should continue chasing the stock or sit this one out on the sidelines. To answer this question, we looked at 3 technical indicators (Bollinger Band, MACD and RSI) to decide whether to participate in GameStop’s massive rally. #1 Bollinger Bands Bollinger Bands are the blue bands in the price chart below covering a standard deviation level above and below a simple moving average of the price. As the width of the bands reflect the standard deviation of the stock’s price, they become wider during periods when the stock is more volatile. At its current price of $325, GameStop is trading around 18% above its upper band implying that the stock is extremely overbought in the short term. As a result, the risk of a pull back in the short term is very high, making it a bad entry point for investors and traders. The middle band (yellow line) which is the simple moving average of the stock, is typically used as a support level. When the stock breaks below its support level, it indicates that the stock is no longer in an uptrend and would be a signal to sell the stock. If we assume a stop loss at this support level of $80 where traders will exit their positions, the risk of a GameStop trade is $80 / $325 - 1 = -75% which is extremely high. Given the high risk of this trade, investors would be better off finding other stocks with better trading setups and risk reward ratios. #2 MACD The MACD or Moving Average Convergence Divergence is a trend following momentum indicator that reflects the speed of a stock’s price. If it’s positive, the stock is trending upwards and if it’s negative, the stock is trending downwards. The larger the MACD’s value, the faster the speed. For those interested in the math behind the MACD, the indicator is calculated by subtracting the 26 day exponential moving average (EMA) from the 12 day EMA. GameStop’s MACD (blue line) has been taking off like a rocket since December last year. What this means from a technical standpoint is that the stock is accelerating where it is increasing its velocity over time. To the newbie investor, this could seem like a great opportunity. “Yes! Let’s get on this rocket as it takes off to the moon!”. But wait a second, let’s take a closer look at the MACD before the stock took off in December last year. Throughout the stock’s entire history since 2015, the MACD for GameStop has never come close to a value of 5. And in slightly over a month it shoots up to 57, implying the speed went up over 10X in a short period of time. This implies that the stock is extremely overheated in the short term and is unlikely to be able to sustain the same velocity going forward especially when WallStreetBets gets bored of GameStop and finds another stock to pump. #3 Relative Strength Index (RSI) The relative strength index (RSI) measures the magnitude of recent price changes to evaluate whether a stock is overbought or oversold. The RSI is displayed as an oscillator and can have a reading from 0 to 100. A stock is considered overbought when the RSI is above 70% and oversold when it is below 30%. GameStop’s RSI is currently at 83% implying that the stock is extremely overbought in the short term. As the stock is expensive based on the RSI indicator, investors would be better off waiting for the RSI to pull back to be able to get a better entry point. Conclusion Our 3 technical indicators show that GameStop is extremely overbought in the short term and buying the stock now is very risky with a potential downside of -75%. The prudent thing to do is to stay away from GameStop instead of chasing the stock at these insane price levels just because all the Redditors on WallStreetBets are talking about it. If you enjoyed this article and would like to create your own investment strategy on the cloud, I invite you to check out PyInvesting’s new beginners backtest where we will guide you through an example and help you understand how the website works. I hope that PyInvesting helps you in your journey towards financial freedom. Happy investing, and may the odds be in your favor. This joint post was done in collaboration with MissFITFI, a financial blogger who started her personal finance journey ten years ago, whilst building her career in the technology investments space.
Ivann Fok · 3 months, 2 weeks ago
My portfolio surged 62% in 2020. Here's how I’m positioned entering 2021.
As we enter 2021, I’ve been reflecting on my portfolio's performance over the last year, thinking about the decisions that went well and the areas that I could improve on to become a better investor going forward.  In this article, I’m going to share my top 3 lessons I learnt from the market in 2020 and how my portfolio is positioned entering 2021.  Performance Review In 2020, my portfolio was up 61.8% vs the S&P 500 which was up 16.7%, outperforming the benchmark by 45.1%. The portfolio’s maximum drawdown this year was 15.2% while the S&P 500 lost over 30% during the March correction. Achieving almost 4X the returns of the benchmark with half the amount of risk, I’m pretty satisfied with my portfolio’s performance this year.  Diving deeper, the plot below shows the daily distribution of returns of my portfolio (blue bar) against the various benchmarks. The horizontal axis shows the daily performance of the portfolio and the vertical axis shows the number of instances. Two key areas of this plot stand out.  Firstly, on the left side of the plot, we can see that all the benchmarks suffered a few days of losses between -10% and -12%. This corresponded to the sell off we saw in March this year due to Covid-19. Fortunately, my portfolio did not experience a single day of loss between -10% and -12% this year due to my model’s active risk management system where my portfolio was mostly holding cash in March. This protected my portfolio from large drawdowns during such corrections.  Secondly, my portfolio has around 32 days with returns between 2% and 4% as compared to the benchmarks which have less than 16 days with returns between 2% and 4%. This outperformance is attributed to stock selection where my model picked stocks that had much higher returns than the benchmarks. My model uses a combination of trend following with fundamental analysis to select stocks that have strong odds of outperforming the market. For more details on my investment strategy you may refer to this article.    These 2 factors were the main reasons why my portfolio outperformed the benchmark by 45.1% this year. Risk management and stock selection.  Based on this performance, here are my top 3 lessons. Be greedier when others are greedy You know how Warren Buffet likes to preach that you should be “fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”? I do the opposite.  Instead of being fearful when others were greedy, I was greedier than others when the stock market started recovering after the sell off in March. Between April and May, my model aggressively started buying stocks and reduced my cash allocation from 90% down to 0% to participate in the rebound.  I also started increasing my portfolio’s leverage with margin on my Interactive Brokers account to amplify my gains from this opportunity.  Thankfully, this decision paid off massively as the market went on to make a V shaped recovery causing my portfolio to surge to new highs.   Amount of cash in my portfolio Diversify, diversify, diversify The next lesson I learnt was to hold at least 30 stocks, equally weighted in my portfolio. No exception. After spending 2020 invested in the stock market, I am even more convinced that diversification is absolutely essential to any portfolio.   My biggest winners in 2020 were CrowdStrike (CRWD), Tesla (TSLA), Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), and Sea (SE) while my biggest losers were Alibaba (BABA), Zoom (ZM), Becton Dickinson (BDX), Walmart (WMT), and Grocery Outlet (GO).  If I had a crystal ball, I would have picked only the winners and left out all the losers listed above. However the truth is that no one has a crystal ball to see into the future. All the stocks listed above were in an uptrend and had solid fundamentals. If I did not diversify my portfolio and picked 5 stocks instead of 30 stocks, I could have ended up holding my 5 biggest losers which would have been an absolute disaster. Concentration risk is not rewarded by the market. The key here is that by having a diversified portfolio of 30 stocks, I’m betting that my model is able to select more winners than losers and that the gains from the winners are higher than the losses from the losers. I just need a couple of winning stocks like CrowdStrike, Tesla, and Sea, to pay for all the losers and drag my portfolio to new highs.  It’s ok to sin a little There were quite a number of tech IPOs this year. Unfortunately because these stocks were new and only recently listed on the stock exchange, my website did not have enough historical data to include the stocks as part of the model’s portfolio.  However, I could not resist dabbling in some of these stocks and bought Palantir (PLTR) even though it was not recommended by my live strategy on pyinvesting.com.  This is because of Palantir’s amazing business model and growth potential as an AI company that helps other companies improve their business efficiency by learning from their data.  Even though I broke my rules and did not follow the model completely, I kept the weight of Palantir to 3.3% of my portfolio. This weight was similar to every other stock in my portfolio. By capping the weight of Palantir to 3.3%, the risk to my portfolio is minimal. Moreover it keeps me excited, owning a shiny new AI stock in my portfolio. How am I positioned going forward? The market is starting to get overstretched in the short term where the S&P 500 is trading 14% above its 200 day moving average. While the market can most certainly continue going up, I don’t see the same upside going forward as compared to March 2020 when the S&P 500 sank by over 30% in a couple of weeks. The boat has sailed and the risk reward ratio is no longer as attractive. investing.com After having a record year with 62% returns, I think the smart thing to do now is to cash in on some of my profits and reduce my leverage. To be clear, I’m not selling my entire portfolio and putting cash in the bank. I’m simply reducing my leverage to lock in some profits while continuing to stay fully invested in the market.  I’m also starting to add some stocks that could disrupt their industries to stay on the right side of change. According to Catherine Wood, CEO of ARK Invest, we live in an age where “record-breaking technological changes are creating not only exponential growth opportunities but also black holes in global economies and financial markets”. These new disruptive stocks have huge growth potential and are likely to drive my portfolio’s returns going forward.  As these stocks have been added into my investment universe, they are now eligible to be selected by my model if they start trending and are accompanied with strong fundamentals.  If you enjoyed this article and would like to create your own investment strategy on the cloud, I invite you to check out PyInvesting’s new beginners backtest where we will guide you through an example and help you understand how the website works. I hope that PyInvesting helps you in your journey towards financial freedom. Happy investing, and may the odds be in your favor.
Ivann Fok · 4 months, 2 weeks ago
Want to view trading signals from the magic formula? Check out our backtesting software.
Hi everyone, I am very excited to share a new feature which allows you to view the signals generated by your trading strategy in your backtest results. This feature would bring greater transparency to your backtests allowing you to understand why certain stocks were selected by your investment strategy based on your trading signals.  What are trading signals? A trading signal is an indicator used by an investor to determine whether to buy or sell a stock.  For example, a value investor could rely on the price to earnings ratio (PE ratio) to decide whether to buy or sell a stock. A low PE ratio would be a buy signal as the stock’s price is low relative to its earnings while a high PE ratio would be a sell signal.  There are many possible types of trading signals. Day traders and swing traders tend to look at technical indicators such as moving averages, volatility and other technical patterns in prices to form their trading signals. Investors with a long term view rely on fundamental data such as price to earnings ratio (PE ratio), return on equity (ROE) and profit growth as indicators to buy or sell a stock.  How do I combine trading signals? Investors usually have multiple preferences when it comes to trading signals. For example, the Magic Formula by Joel Greenblatt relies on both the earnings yield and return on capital.  However, combining these signals together is not as simple as adding them together. This is because the potential range of values for the earnings yield are very different from return on capital. To make the earnings yield signal comparable with return on capital signal, we need to normalize the signals. This normalization is done using the z-score where we adjust our signals using their mean and standard deviation. By normalizing both the earnings yield and return on capital, we can now add these 2 signals together to form an equally weighted overall signal.  This overall signal is used to rank our stocks so we can identify the best stocks to buy and the worst stocks to sell from our portfolio.  How do I view my trading signals? To view your trading signals click on the results button in the top navigation bar and select a backtest result. If you have not created a backtest before check out this tutorial on how to create a backtest. As an example, I chose a fundamentals backtest using the Magic Formula by Joel Greenblatt. The strategy selects the top 30 stocks every year with the lowest price to earnings ratio (PE ratio) and stocks with the highest return on equity (ROE) from a basket of 150 US stocks. This strategy does decently well against the S&P 500 with a higher annual return of 14.4% vs 9.0% and a lower volatility 19.3% vs 20.3%.   Scroll down to the signals section of the results page. Here, you will find a signals table with different trading signals in each column used by your backtest. The last column on the right shows the overall trading signal calculated from the z-scores of each individual trading signal. You may sort the table based on a specific column by clicking on the blue column heading. This helps you to understand how your stocks would rank for each trading signal.  Sorting based on the price to earnings ratio (PE ratio) trading signal, we can see that in our portfolio, General Motors, Biogen and Gilead Sciences have the lowest price to earnings ratio (PE ratio).  Sorting based on the return on equity (ROE) trading signal, Moody’s, Lockheed Martin and Clorox have the highest return on equity (ROE).  Conclusion Backtesting software tends to be a black box for most people. We input our backtest details, run the backtest, and view the stocks that were selected by the backtester.  However, I think it is useful to know the actual signals used by the backtester and how the overall trading signals were calculated based on the z-score. I hope this new signals table will help you understand why the backtester selected the respective stocks in your current portfolio and help you rank these stocks based on their trading signals.  If you would like to see this new feature in action, I invite you to create a fundamentals backtest using the magic formula. Happy investing and may the odds be in your favour.
Ivann Fok · 6 months, 1 week ago
The Ultimate Tool for Finding Top Breakout Stocks
Ed Seykota, one of the market wizards behind computerized systems trading, turned $5,000 into $15 million in 12 years. He is a strong believer in trend following and uses a breakout trading system to enter trades when momentum is in his favour. Whether you do day trading or swing trading, using a solid breakout trading system can significantly improve the risk reward ratio of your trades and increase your trading profits in the long run. In this article, I’m going to introduce a tool that I built to help you identify top breakout stocks with explosive momentum. What is a breakout in stocks? A breakout in stocks occurs when the price of a stock breaks above its resistance level or breaks below its support level. After a breakout happens, prices tend to continue moving undeterred with strong momentum. The example below shows Tesla breaking out from it’s 140 day high in November 2019 (highlighted in yellow) when it surged from $65 to almost $400 one year later.  You can think of the stock’s price normally acting as a ping pong ball bouncing between a glass floor (support level) and a glass ceiling (resistance level).  When the ball hits the floor, it rebounds off the floor which acts as a support. When the ball hits the ceiling it bounces off the ceiling which acts as a resistance.  However, what happens if this ping pong ball suddenly transformed into a bowling ball during mid flight?  If the bowling ball is falling towards the floor, it would smash right through the glass floor which offers little support against the bowling ball’s large momentum. Similar If the bowling ball is flying towards the ceiling, it will smash right through the glass ceiling which provides negligible resistance. In the case of stocks, when investors get excited due to a positive earnings release for example, this enthusiasm provides the momentum for the stock price to break through its resistance level and surge towards new highs.  Conversely when investors start panicking due to a public health crisis such as Covid-19, the widespread fear across the market causes stock prices to crash through their support levels. As a breakout swing trader or day trader, your goal is to identify such breakouts when they occur so that you can buy stocks that break above their resistance level and short stocks that break below their support level. How do you trade breakouts? The rules of a mechanical trend following trading systems are very simple. Go long when the price breaks above the high of the past n days. Go short when the price breaks below the low of the past m days. The highest price of the past n days acts as the resistance level. If the stock’s price is able to break above this high price, it reflects strong upward momentum. This is a strong indicator that confirms a breakout into an uptrend.  Conversely the lowest price of the past m days acts as the support level. If the stock’s price is able to break below its low price, it is a strong indicator that confirms a breakout into a downtrend. Let’s take a look at Apple. The chart below shows the price of Apple (blue line) sandwiched between 2 gray lines which act as the channel.  The gray line above the blue line is the resistance level based on the high of the past 20 days. The gray line below the blue line is the support level based on the low of the past 60 days.  The green arrow is an indicator to go long when the price hits the top gray line. The red arrow is a signal to short the stock when the price hits the bottom gray line. The big question is what look back periods should we use?  The turtle traders, under the mentorship of Richard Dennis, used both a short term and a longer term lookback period for systems trading.  System 1 was a short term system based on a 20 day breakout while System 2 was a longer term system based on a 55 day breakout.  While this set of rules for systems trading were highly profitable for the turtle traders, backtest results have shown that when the same set of rules were applied many years later, the strategy was not as successful as before.  There are two possible reasons why the strategy did not perform well years many years later.  The breakout parameters for the lookback period are fixed at 20 days and 55 days. This is a problem because different instruments have different trends. Some instruments have short term trends while other instruments have long term trends. These trends could also change over time as well so it does not make sense to use a static look back period over the entire history.   The breakup parameter of 20 days is the same as the breakdown parameter of 20 days. There is no reason to assume that these parameters should be the same because in one case we are looking to enter a long trade while in the other we are trying to short the market.  Why is it important to pick the right indicator to confirm a breakout? Picking the wrong stock breakout signal that fails to properly capture the trend can be detrimental to your strategy’s performance.  This is because if a stock is in a long term uptrend and we use a short look back period, there is a high chance that we might get whipsawed due to the volatility of the stock’s price.  For example, if we use a 120 day break up and 80 day break down window for Tesla, the plot below shows that a bad trade would be made in the part highlighted in yellow below. The system generated a sell signal in March 2020 anticipating that the stock will enter a down trend. However, the stock rebounded shortly after that, causing the trading system to miss out on the recovery after the Covid crash. If a longer term break down parameter was used, the sell signal would not have triggered because the gray line would have been lower, hence allowing more room for volatility. What traders typically do to account for the volatility of the stock’s price when deciding their breakout parameters is to use the average true range (ATR) which is a measure of the market volatility over a given period of time.  However, this approach is subjective as well. There are different multiples of ATR which you could choose to set your stop loss. For short term trends, setting your stop loss at 1 X ATR might be more appropriate while for longer term trends, setting your stop loss further away at 2 X ATR might be better to avoid being whipsawed due to volatility.  How do we remove this subjective approach towards trading and instead rely on data analysis to select the optimal breakout parameters? Finding the best stock breakout signals The best approach is to backtest your trading strategy using different breakout parameters. This allows us to figure out which breakout parameters are the most profitable and are able to generate trades with the highest risk reward ratio.  To help you out, I’ve created a tool that runs 100 backtests using different breakup and breakdown parameters. This is how you use it. First head over to https://pyinvesting.com/trading-breakouts/. Fill in the form below specifying the stock you are interested in. In this example we are going to look at Apple. Next select your start and end date for the optimization. The start date by default is chosen to be 5 years ago and the end date is set as today’s date.  Select the performance metric that you would like to use to determine which is the best breakout trading parameter. By default, the Sharpe Ratio is used which allows us to find out which breakout parameters lead to the highest risk adjusted returns of our trading strategy.  Finally hit the blue button to start trading breakouts. The results will show a heat map where each square represents the results of running a backtest with a specific breakout parameter. The greener the square, the better the performance would be based on our selected performance metric (Sharpe Ratio). The results show that the Sharpe Ratio generally improves as the breakup lookback period gets shorter. On the other hand, there is no clear pattern for the breakdown parameter in affecting the trading strategy’s performance. If you click on any of the squares, it will show you the backtest results using the respective parameters. For example, here are the results from the 20 day breakup and 60 day breakdown window. Based on these parameters, the latest signal generated by the trading system was a buy signal in April when the markets rebounded from the Covid crash and broke into an uptrend. Scrolling down we can see the profit and loss (P&L) of trading Apple using the 20 day breakup and 60 day breakdown parameters along with performance numbers such as total returns, Sharpe Ratio and max drawdown.  Conclusion Breakout trading can be highly profitable if we are able to catch onto a major trend. However, finding the best stock breakout signals is crucial as it prevents us from being whipsawed due to price volatility. We discussed how we can improve our risk reward ratio by running multiple backtests with different parameters to find the optimal parameters for our breakout trading strategy.  Now head over to https://pyinvesting.com/trading-breakouts/ and find out the best trading system for your favourite stocks today.  Happy investing and may the odds be in your favour.
Ivann Fok · 6 months, 2 weeks ago
I'm up 42% this year despite Covid. Here's how I did it.
Yes, this is a snapshot of my Interactive Brokers account. If you are an investor in the stock market, this year has been quite the ride for you. The market plunged 35% within a span of a single month from February to March this year. Shortly after, we saw a V shape recovery in the market straight back to its all time high. This was followed by increased volatility from September onwards as we head towards US elections. Despite the huge volatility in the stock market, my portfolio has done decently well this year with a return of 42.1% vs the S&P 500 which is up 9.4%. In addition, the portfolio had a significantly lower drawdown of 11%. Here’s how I did it.  Data Driven Investing As a DIY investor, I use a data driven approach when it comes to investing. No emotional trading out of fear or greed. No reaction to news headlines. And most certainly, no decisions to trade because I “felt” this stock was going to go up. All investment decisions to buy or sell a stock are made many months in advance based on my trading rules so I don’t need to scramble when markets get volatile. I hate scrambling. It’s much easier to execute a trading plan in a calm and emotionless manner using trading rules that have an edge in the market. How do I know my trading rules work? You guessed it. I backtest my investment strategy which gives me the confidence to bet my hard earned money in the stock market. Next I go live with my strategy on PyInvesting which implements my strategy by pulling live prices daily and generating orders for me to trade on my Interactive Brokers account. All I need to do is to open my email and execute the trades. Moving on, what investment strategy do I use? Trend Following I’m a simple guy. I buy stocks that have been going up and I sell stocks that have been going down. It’s called trend following. Trends exist everywhere. We have fashion trends, social trends, weather trends, heck in this age of technology we even have Google search trends. Similarly, trends exist in the stock market. Statistics show that when a stock has been going up for a period of 6 to 12 months, it tends to continue going up. There are many behavioral reasons for this effect such as herding where people tend to follow the crowd’s sentiment because the terrible feeling that comes with making a loss are muted by the fact that everyone suffered a loss in their investment as well. I identify trends using moving averages. A moving average is an average of prices within a window of time (black line). When a stock’s price is above its moving average, it means that the stock is trending upwards. Conversely when its price is below its moving average, the stock is trending downwards. Apple’s stock price with its 200 day moving average (200MA) We have fast moving averages (where the look back period is usually less than 50 days) to measure short term trends and slow moving averages (look back period longer than 100 days) to measure long term trends. Longer term trends are more stable and less noisy. Hence the 200 day moving average (200MA) is where I draw the line in the sand. Any stock that is above its 200 day moving average, I will consider to include in my portfolio. Any stock that is below its 200 day moving average, I will sell if the stock is in my portfolio. Fundamental Analysis After filtering for stocks in a long term uptrend, I rank the stocks using fundamental analysis. This is done by creating a signal for each stock based on their fundamental data. I use 3 factors to create my signal. The first factor is price to earnings (PE ratio) which is a measure of the company’s valuation. The lower the PE ratio, the cheaper the stock relative to its earnings which is great for investors. After all, who doesn’t like a nice discount? The second factor is the return on equity (ROE) which the company’s net income divided by its shareholder’s equity. ROE is a measure of how efficiently a company is able to use its resources. High quality companies tend to have high ROE. The third factor is profit growth which is a measure of how quickly a company is able to grow its profits. The value of your stock is highly correlated to the earnings of a company. Companies that are able to grow their earnings quickly tend to produce huge returns on their stock prices. By combining both technical and fundamental analysis, we are able to filter, rank and select the best stocks to include in our portfolio. Active Risk Management The next step is to apply an active risk management system based on market sentiment to protect our portfolio during a crisis. The main idea here is that we want to take on more risk and hold more stocks when market sentiment is bullish. This is because during a bullish regime, markets tend to reward investors for staying invested. In contrast, when market sentiment is bearish, we want to take less risk by raising our cash allocation and holding fewer stocks. This is to protect our portfolio from suffering huge drawdowns. For example, during March this year, my portfolio was almost completely in cash as market sentiment turned bearish. This allowed me to reduce my portfolio’s drawdown to 11% even though the market tanked 35%. Subsequently, PyInvesting gradually started buying stocks and reducing cash to participate in the V shape market recovery that followed. If you are interested in how I determine this cash allocation feel free to check out PyInvesting’s fear and greed index. Position Sizing The final piece of the puzzle is position sizing. I hold at least 30 stocks in my portfolio and equal weight each of them. Why do I do this? To avoid concentration risk. I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict when a stock will tank due to a surprisingly bad earnings release or for the case of Tesla, whether the CEO is going to Tweet. Because of that, I keep each position small so that my risk of being screwed by any single stock becomes very small. With 30 stocks, my portfolio sits at the yellow sweet spot in the plot below. I get to reap most of the benefits of diversification where the volatility of the portfolio approaches the volatility of the market. Holding more than 30 stocks has not much additional benefit of reducing my portfolio’s volatility.   Image source: Stockopedia In doing so, I’m not betting on any single stock carrying the entire portfolio. I’m betting on investment concepts that on average, a group of stocks with high momentum, low PE ratio, high ROE and high profit growth outperforms the S&P 500.  The naive argument against holding 30 stocks in your portfolio is that no one has enough time to research so many stocks and that people who hold more than 10 stocks in their portfolio do not know what they are doing.  My retort against people who make this argument is that we are not living in the age of the dinosaurs. With the help of technology, it’s not difficult to use a backtesting software like PyInvesting to comb hundreds of companies and select the top 30 stocks with the strongest fundamentals and best technical setups in a matter of seconds. Putting It All Together We covered multiple individual steps that contributed towards my overall portfolio strategy. We started with identifying stocks that were in a long term uptrend. Next we ranked these stocks using fundamental analysis. Following which we applied an active risk management system. Finally we did position sizing to reduce concentration risk.   Each step contributed towards the overall performance of my portfolio which outperformed the S&P 500 by over 30% so far this year.  Even though there were many steps involved. Implementing the strategy was a breeze using PyInvesting. I simply filled in a form to specify the details for my backtest and went live with my strategy on the cloud. After that all I did was to execute my trades on Interactive Brokers (IBKR) whenever I received an email from PyInvesting.  If you enjoyed this article and would like to go live with your investment strategy on the cloud, I invite you to check out PyInvesting’s moving average backtest which I used to create my personal investment strategy. I hope that it will be helpful to you in your journey towards financial freedom. Happy investing, and may the odds be in your favour.
Ivann Fok · 7 months ago
How to Backtest a Trading Strategy Even if You Can't Code
Have you ever tried an investment strategy that was highly recommended, yet decided to quit once you started losing money? I know I have. A buddy of mine who used to work at a hedge fund was preaching to me about his insane portfolio with super star stocks. For some reason I thought it would be cool to go along and invest in the same stocks as he did. And so I did. When I bought in, it happened to be a good entry point as the market was going up almost everyday. With stocks like Sea and Tesla, there were days when the portfolio surged 4% in a single day! However as markets became highly overbought, a huge red day soon followed. I panicked and cashed out shortly after that. Overall, I stuck with the portfolio for three short weeks. While it was an exciting experience, never again would I invest in a strategy that I had no confidence in.  How do I find a strategy that I can stick to, even when markets are volatile?  Backtest your portfolio Backtesting is the process of simulating an investment strategy using historical prices to test how well the strategy would have done in the past. You need to backtest your investment strategy because it allows you to confirm whether you have an edge in the market without risking any of your own money.  It’s kind of like how pilots have to train using a flight simulator before they are allowed to fly a plane. In the flight simulator, the pilot will be tested on whether he is able to safely navigate the plane through different situations. If a pilot crashes a plane during a flight simulation, there is no way he will be allowed to fly a real plane with hundreds of passenger lives at risk.  Similarly, if an investment strategy has performed poorly during a backtest, why should you risk your hard earned life savings on this strategy?  In addition, backtesting your trading strategy does not put any of your money at risk. It is a way to research your trading ideas and test whether they are profitable before your money is on the line.  Now that we have discussed the importance of backtesting, the next question is how do we backtest a trading strategy? Decide on your trading rules  Every backtest relies on a logical set of trading rules that gets applied consistently during each day’s simulation. This set of trading rules is also commonly referred to as your trading plan. As an example, we are going to backtest a moving average crossover strategy. Moving averages are used to estimate the momentum of a stock. Stocks trading above their moving average have upward trending prices (uptrend stocks) while stocks trading below their moving average have downward trending prices (downtrend stocks). We want stocks that are in a strong uptrend as they are likely to continue going up.  This strategy’s trading rules are as follows: Filter for stocks trading above their 200 day simple moving average (200SMA).  Rank the filtered stocks based on the following signals: Lowest price to earnings ratio (PE Ratio) Highest return on equity (ROE) Highest profit growth Select the top 20 stocks with the highest ranking to form an equally weighted portfolio. Our investment universe will be stocks from the S&P 500, we will be observing the portfolio weekly to check whether every stock in the portfolio is above its 200SMA. If a stock falls below its 200SMA it will be replaced with another stock above its 200SMA and with the highest ranking.  Backtesting software Backtesting a trading strategy is highly computationally intensive. Fortunately, we can rely on the power of technology to simplify this process.  Head over to PyInvesting’s moving average backtest where we will backtest our moving average crossover strategy. PyInvesting is a backtesting software that I built for users to go live with their investment strategies on the cloud.  Select stocks for your investment universe Click on the blue button to select your stocks and select S&P 500 under the template portfolio. This will select stocks from the S&P 500 that will form our investment universe.  Create your signals to rank your stocks Next we are going to select the smart beta factors used to rank our stocks. Based on our trading rules, we are going to select stocks with the lowest PE ratio, highest ROE and highest profit growth. These signals are equally weighted at 33% each and combined to form an overall signal.  Decide on your moving average parameters Following our trading plan, we are going to use the 200 day simple moving average (200SMA) to determine whether a stock is in a long term uptrend or downtrend. By default, the moving average parameters are set to the 200SMA so we do not need to make further changes. Number of stocks and portfolio rebalancing frequency Set the number of stocks to 20 and a weekly rebalancing frequency where our trading algorithm will be checking that each of the 20 stocks in our portfolio is above its 200 day moving average. Hit the run backtest button to simulate your trading strategy! Portfolio performance analysis The backtest results show that our strategy has an annualized return of 16.7% vs the S&P 500 which did 9.1% from March 2016 to October 2020. The volatility of our strategy is also lower at 17.2% vs the S&P 500’s volatility of 19.9%. Consequently, our strategy has a higher Sharpe ratio of 0.78 vs the benchmark’s Sharpe of 0.37. In addition, our strategy has a max drawdown of 39.9% during the 2008 global financial crisis while the S&P 500 was down 55.2%.  The annual returns plot also shows that our strategy beats the S&P 500 in 12 out of the last 14 years. It underperformed in 2016 and 2019. This means that there is a 85.7% (12/14) chance of beating the benchmark in any year going forward. Not too shabby.  Here is a training video I created with a live demo of me running a moving average backtest. Profiting from your investment strategy After analyzing our backtest results, we are happy with our strategy’s performance. So how do we turn our backtest into a live actionable trading strategy that we can profit from? Simply click on the “Go Live” button. Once your strategy is live, PyInvesting’s backtester will run your strategy daily with live prices and send you daily email updates with any buy or sell orders from your strategy. You can then make the trades on your own personal account to profit from your strategy. FYI Interactive Brokers IBKR is great as transaction costs are extremely low.  Happy investing, and may the odds be in your favour. If you want to develop an effective investment strategy, learning how to utilize the results of backtesting can be one of the best decisions you ever make since backtesting can help you identify an incorrect or correct investment before your money is on the line. PyInvesting is a backtesting software written in Python that helps investors go live with their investment strategies on the cloud without writing a single line of code.
Ivann Fok · 7 months, 1 week ago
3 Ways to Evaluate the Performance of your Investment Strategy
Do you happen to know that one guy who only invests a single stock because it is the hottest stock in the market? This guy is usually the loudest person in the room and will always brag about how much money he made just dumping his entire net worth into a Tesla stock. Let’s call him, Mr Tesla.  Another guy that you might know, loves to invest in tech companies. He is the guy that queues up for hours just to get hold of the latest iPhone on the same day that it is released into the market. Because of his obsession with technology and IT gadgets, his favourite stocks to invest in are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google also known as FAANG stocks. Let’s call him, Mr FAANG. Mr FAANG holds an equal weighted portfolio of FAANG stocks and rebalances his portfolio once a year using a strategic allocation backtest.  One day, Mr Tesla and Mr FAANG bumped into each other at a bar, got drunk, and started arguing with each other about who is the better investor.      Mr Tesla: “My returns are higher!”  Mr FAANG: “But your risk is higher too!”  They both have a point. Mr Tesla has a higher return of 44.6% vs Mr FAANG’s less impressive 34.5%. However, Mr FAANG’s portfolio has a lower volatility of 25.3% vs Mr Tesla’s portfolio of 53.5%.   So who is the better investor? Introducing risk adjusted returns While Mr Tesla does indeed have a significantly higher annualized return than Mr FAANG, he achieves this annualized return at more than double the volatility of Mr FAANG. To compare Mr Tesla’s performance against Mr FAANG, we need to use a performance metric that rewards investment strategies with high returns while penalizing strategies with high risks. This is known as the risk adjusted returns of a strategy. Investors generally prefer higher risk adjusted returns as compared to simply higher returns because it accounts for the difference in risk between strategies.  Sharpe ratio The Sharpe ratio is one of the most common measurements of risk adjusted returns. It is the excess return of your strategy divided by its volatility. The excess return can be obtained by subtracting the risk free rate from the annualized returns of your strategy. The risk free rate is the return from investing in a safe instrument such as the yield for US treasury bonds.  Sharpe ratio = (Annualized returns - Risk free rate) / Volatility  The higher the returns of a strategy, the larger the numerator, the higher the Sharpe ratio. The higher the volatility, the larger the denominator, the lower the Sharpe ratio. Doing the math for both strategies, Mr FAANG comes out ahead of Mr Tesla with a Sharpe of 1.25 vs 0.78.  Sortino ratio The next measure of risk adjusted returns is the Sortino ratio. This ratio is slightly different from the Sharpe ratio where instead of dividing the excess returns by the volatility, we divide the excess returns by the semi deviation. The semi deviation is calculated by measuring the volatility on days when the strategy has negative portfolio returns.  Sortino ratio = (Annualized returns - Risk free rate) / Semi deviation Using the semi deviation makes sense because any investor should welcome upside volatility as it translates to higher returns. By differentiating between harmful volatility from the overall volatility of a strategy, the Sortino ratio provides a better representation of risk adjusted returns than the Sharpe ratio.  Going back to Mr FAANG’s and Mr Tesla’s investment strategy, we can see that Mr FAANG still comes out ahead of Mr Tesla with a higher Sortino ratio of 1.60 vs 1.11 Calmar Ratio The Calmar ratio is another measure of risk adjusted returns. Unlike the Sharpe and Sortino ratios that depend on volatility, the Calmar ratio looks at the maximum drawdown of a strategy.  The maximum drawdown is the maximum loss from peak to trough of your portfolio’s value before a new peak is attained. For example, the maximum drawdown of the S&P 500 was 56% as it lost 56% from its peak in October 2007 to March 2009 before going on to recover from the global financial crisis. The Calmar ratio is calculated by dividing your strategy’s annualized returns by its max drawdown. Calmar ratio = Annualized returns / Max drawdown The Calmar ratio might appeal more to some investors because the max drawdown is a better indicator of your strategies risk. While volatility is commonly used as a proxy for risk, it does not give the investor an idea of how much he could lose during black swan events like what we saw during the recent Covid crisis.  Comparing Mr FAANG’s and Mr Tesla’s investment strategy, we can see that Mr FAANG wins with a higher Calmar ratio of 1.08 vs 0.74 How do you improve your risk adjusted returns? Overall, Mr FAANG’s investment strategy has higher risk adjusted returns as compared to Mr Tesla. All 3 performance metrics (Sharpe, Sortino and Calmar ratios) were higher for Mr FAANG’s strategy.  There are 3 key reasons why Mr FAANG’s strategy outperformed with higher risk adjusted returns.  Diversification. Everyone knows that the only free lunch on wall street is diversification and that we should never put all our eggs in one basket. By spreading his bets among 5 different stocks, Mr FAANG was able to reduce the risk of his portfolio as compared to Mr Tesla who was all in on a single stock. The logic behind this is that by investing in different stocks, the portfolio’s volatility is lower because of different stocks moving in different directions and at different pace where the correlation between different stocks is less than 1. Equal weighting. By equal weighting the portfolio among 5 different stocks, there is a much smaller concentration risk in the portfolio as compared to holding a single stock. By allocating the weights equally between different stocks, it ensures that even if one of the stocks does not do well, the impact on the overall portfolio will be limited. We are betting on the average performance of every stock in the portfolio rather than on a single stock hitting a home run for us.   Rebalancing. The purpose of rebalancing is to adjust the weight of each stock in the portfolio back to its target weight so that we can maintain our equal weighting over time. As the different stocks in the portfolio have different performance, over time this difference in returns gets larger causing the weights between each stock to differ from their target allocation of 20% per stock. Rebalancing involves taking profits on some stocks that have performed well and reinvesting these profits into stocks that have fallen in value. This allows us to keep the weights between different stocks equal over time and reduce concentration risk in our portfolio. Happy investing, and may the odds be in your favour. If you want to develop an effective investment strategy, learning how to utilize the results of backtesting can be one of the best decisions you ever make since backtesting can help you identify an incorrect or correct investment before your money is on the line. PyInvesting is a backtesting platform that helps investors go live with their investment strategies on the cloud without writing a single line of code. Check out the tutorial video below to see a live demo of how to analyze the performance of your backtest.
Ivann Fok · 7 months, 4 weeks ago