A gain of 46.5% in 2019 for shares of FleetCor Technologies, Inc. (FLT) tells a story of a stock gaining alongside a high amount of unusual trading activity. It's bullish activity because the shares are heading higher on increasing volumes, indicating that a buyer is involved. I actually wrote on FleetCor back in June, detailing the same type of activity. Read the article here. FleetCor shares are up 24% since that article.

Over time, we've learned how stocks with a history or strong fundamentals tend to rise in price. Smart money managers are always looking to bet on the next outlier stocks … the best in class. The main criteria we look for when betting on upside in a stock are a history of strong fundamentals, strong technicals and big potential buying in the shares.

I'll go into the fundamental picture in a bit, but the true tell on the near-term trajectory of a stock lies in the trading activity of the shares. Simply put, it's all about supply and demand. When demand is higher than supply, the stock rises. When demand is lower than supply, stocks fall. For most of 2019, FleetCor stock has been in a steady uptrend accompanied by increasing volumes.

For Mapsignals, when we look for an entry in a leading stock, we want to see an increase of potential buying. Just to show you graphically what our unusual trading activity signals look like, have a look at all of the unusual institutional (UI) signals FleetCor stock has made over the past year. Clearly, there has been a lot of green. In our experience, an investor would not want to be on the wrong side of trading activity like this. This stock is notable because shares move based on supply and demand. What is really catching our eye now is the cluster of recent UI buying:

Chart showing the unusual institutional (UI) signals made by FleetCor Technologies, Inc. (FLT)

In 2019, FleetCor stock has logged 12 unusually high-volume days, indicative of buying in the shares starting on Feb. 7, 2019 (see chart above). This points to FleetCor gaining in an unusual way, which suggests that demand for the stock is increasing.

If you are going to make a bet on the direction of a stock, it is prudent to pay attention to how the shares are trading. Just like you don't want to fight the trend, you also don't want to fight a stock that shows increasing price alongside an increase in the volume traded. Someone could potentially be accumulating a position.

Mapsignals' goal is to identify tomorrow's top stocks today. We're basically looking for outlier companies with healthy fundamentals accompanied by outsized unusual institutional trading activity. By studying these data points, we can make an educated guess as to which equities institutions are trafficking in and marry this information with fundamentally sound companies. We want the odds on our side when looking for the highest-quality stocks.

When we decide on a strong candidate, we consider prior leaders that have a history of technical outperformance. When they show leadership, we see these as opportunities. Below are a few areas in which FleetCor stock has grabbed our attention year to date (YTD):

  • YTD outperformance vs. market: +26.39% vs. (SPY)
  • YTD outperformance vs. financials sector: +26.95% vs. Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF)
  • Recent bullish unusual trading signals

Now, we take it a step further and score the best stocks showing unusual trading activity. These are the outliers. Below you can see the historical times since 2013 when FleetCor stock made the top 20 report for Mapsignals. These are the highest-rated signals in our stock universe. Clearly, we caught the big run-up over the past few years. That's exactly what our process is designed to do. We'd even venture to call this stock an outlier:

Chart showing the top-rated buy signals made by FleetCor Technologies, Inc. (FLT)

On top of a technical picture that is strong, one should also look under the hood to see if the fundamental picture supports a long-term investment. As you can see, FleetCor's latest earnings report showed year-over-year (YoY) growth:

  • Q1 2019 YoY revenue growth rate: +6%
  • Q1 2019 YoY GAAP net income per diluted share growth rate: +12%

FleetCor stock is breaking out with other high-quality software payment names. We believe that the current level for the shares is in position for further upside. The narrative for FleetCor and other payment software companies is one of dominating their space. We are always on the lookout for great companies showing usual trading activity in the shares. The best companies tend to trend higher over the long run. All of this points to a long-term opportunity for the stock.

The Bottom Line

FleetCor stock represents a potential buying opportunity for the long-term investor. Given the lift in price, historical fundamental outperformance and recent unusual buying signals, this stock could be worth a spot in a growth-oriented portfolio.

Disclosure: The author holds a long position in FleetCor shares at the time of publication.

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