An inverse head and shoulders, also called a head and shoulders bottom, is inverted with the head and shoulders top used to predict reversals in downtrends. This pattern is identified when the price action of a security meets the following characteristics: the price falls to a trough and then rises; the price falls below the former trough and then rises again; finally, the price falls again but not as far as the second trough. Once the final trough is made, the price heads upward, toward the resistance found near the top of the previous troughs.
This pattern is also known as a "reverse head and shoulders" or a "head and shoulders bottom".
Investors typically enter into a long position when the price rises above the resistance of the neckline. The first and third trough are considered shoulders, and the second peak forms the head. A move above the resistance, also known as the neckline, is used as a signal of a sharp move higher. Many traders watch for a large spike in volume to confirm the validity of the breakout. This pattern is the opposite of the popular head and shoulders pattern but is used to predict shifts in a downtrend rather than an uptrend.
A buy stop order can be placed just above the neckline of the inverse head and shoulders pattern. This ensures the investor enters on the first break of the neckline, catching upward momentum. Disadvantages of this strategy include the possibility of a false breakout and higher slippage in relation to order execution.
An investor can wait for the price to close above the neckline; this is effectively waiting for confirmation that the breakout is valid. Using this strategy, an investor can enter on the first close above the neckline. Alternatively, a limit order can be placed at or just below the broken neckline, attempting to get an execution on a retrace in price. Waiting for a retrace is likely to result in less slippage; however, there is the possibility of missing the trade if a pullback does not occur.
A suitable profit target can be ascertained by measuring the distance between the bottom of the head and the neckline of the pattern and using that same distance to project how far price may move in the direction of the breakout. For example, if the distance between the head and neckline is 10 points, the profit target is set 10 points above the pattern's neckline. An aggressive stop loss order can be placed below the breakout price bar or candle. Alternatively, a conservative stop loss order can be placed below the right shoulder of the inverse head and shoulders pattern.