Monday, June 8, 2015

Morales & Kacher, Short-Selling with the O’Neil Disciples

Gil Morales and Chris Kacher, the self-styled O’Neil disciples, have established something of a franchise. This is their third book. First came Trade Like an O’Neil Disciple (2010), then In The Trading Cockpit with the O’Neil Disciples (2012), and now Short-Selling with the O’Neil Disciples: Turn to the Dark Side of Trading (Wiley, 2015).

The authors remain true to their basic philosophy and method, which they dubbed OWL for O’Neil-Wyckoff-Livermore. Here they apply it to short selling.

They sketch out six rules, which deal with cycle timing, stock selection (in terms of price action and volume), trade timing, and setting stops and profit targets. They display chart patterns that serve as short-selling set-ups. They explain the mechanics of short selling. They analyze five case studies that occurred between 2011 and 2014—AAPL, NFLX, GMCR, DDD, and MCP.

And, in what they consider the “real meat of the book,” they offer 91 “templates of doom,” or “what one might consider models of the greatest short-selling plays in recent history.” Studying these templates—marked-up daily and weekly charts—“can give one an edge in recognizing when a major short-selling opportunity is at hand.” (pp. 175-76)

In a cautionary note, the authors readily admit that “there is nothing mechanistic or deterministic about short-selling. Sometimes these set-ups work beautifully, sometimes they don’t, and the probabilities of success rely heavily on contextual factors. These contextual factors include the current action of the major market averages, the phase of the market, the overall national and global economic backdrop, industry developments, earnings news, and the occasional, random, and sudden positive news or rumors that trigger a bounce in an otherwise weak, down-trending stock. Relative to the long side of the market, my experience is that the short side tends to be far more volatile and fraught with uncertainty.” (p. 176)

However potentially treacherous the short side, there are times that short positions are the only money makers. And yet many investors and traders remain squeamish about shorting stocks, not so much because they fear “the dark side” but because it’s uncharted territory. Morales and Kacher have literally charted the way for them.

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