While the SPDR S&P 500 (ARCA:SPY) declined from $173.60 on September 19 to $169.53 at the September 24 close, not all stocks saw a slide. Four stocks in particular have been very resilient, pushing higher recently and trading well above their 200 and 50-period moving averages. The S&P 500 is still in an uptrend and these stocks are currently exhibiting relative strength compared to the index; while it possible that could change, if the S&P sees another run higher these stocks are likely to be leading the charge.
Goodyear Tire (Nasdaq:GT) was trading near $12 in April 2013, and closed at $22.82 on September. That's about a 90% gain in 6 months, and while a lot of stocks saw pullbacks over the last several days, Goodyear closed just shy of its 52-week high set just days before. Most upside targets have been exhausted but a couple remain; the first is at $23.50 and the next at $26.25. If the price continues above the 52-week high at $23.13 then the first target should be hit in relatively quickly. The next could take one to two months to reach. Stops can be be placed just below $21.40--if the price drops below that a larger correction is likely in the works. If the price continues to pull back, taking a long between $20 and $19 is compelling. A stop can be placed just below $19, as a fall below that indicates the stock is likely transitioning to the downside.
Micro Technology (Nasdaq:MU) has almost tripled since the start of 2013 when it traded near $6, and recently hit a high of $17.59 on September 19. The next price targets are $20.25 and $21.25. If the price moves back above the 52-week high at $17.59 that's a bullish sign. If we see a pullback I still like the stock really anywhere above $14. If the price falls below $14 it indicates a deep retracement and that the trend is likely losing steam. For those who are more risk adverse, a drop of $3 from the current high would be a larger percentage decline than we have seen throughout the 2013 rally, so if that occurs it is a warning sign and will provide an exit signal before the $14 region.
Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) put in a new high at $24.10 on September 24. At the start of the year it was trading near $12, so the stock has already doubled. The next target is a $26, and on September 24 it appears that the price moved above resistance and out of a short-term consolidation. If the price drops back below $22.75, a deeper retrace is expected. Additional support is at $22, which is another good entry area, but if the price continues to fall below $20.00 it signals the uptrend is weakening or possibly over.
Safeway (NYSE:SWY) is already up 74.8% this year, but continues to push higher. The stock saw a large consolidation between April and early September, and based on that the next target is $32.75. This was pretty much reached on September 24 by the intra-day high ($32.61) though. The only other level I see of potential interest is $33.40. Unfortunately with such a strong run, going long here doesn't seem compelling given the potential reward-to-risk based on the profit targets. Minor support is at $30.70, followed by $28.75 which is the intra-day high right before a sizable gap up. If the price pulls back into this area--and then starts to move higher again--the long trade is more compelling. The risk is lower, and the potential profit higher. The pullback will also provide us with another profit target, likely to be near $34.75.
The Bottom Line
These stocks are performing well, and continue to push higher even as the S&P 500 has seen a bit of a dip. This is called relative strength. While these stocks may continue to rise on their own, the trades are much more compelling if the S&P 500 begins to rise as well. Even though these stocks are moving very well currently it is still important to pick entries where the profit potential justifies the risk. And risk should always be managed, because even though these stocks are strong right now and in the recent past, eventually all stocks lose their relative strength position. For now though, I'd still focus on the upside, as currently we have no indication from the S&P 500 or these stocks that the rally is over.
Disclosure - At the time of writing, the author did not own shares of any company mentioned in this article.