Analysis

Head and shoulders formations have low predictive power in the medium long term

Published 17 March 2017

Inverse/ head and shoulders formations in Investtech's medium long term charts have low predictive power. This is shown in a research report from Investtech based on 19 years of data from the Oslo Stock Exchange in Norway.

A head and shoulders formation is a top formation which marks the end of a rising period. The formation consists of a left shoulder, a head and a right shoulder, connected by a neckline, see figure 1. The creation of a head and shoulders formation indicates increasing pessimism among investors and the start of a falling trend. Such formations are considered among the most reliable signals in technical analysis. They are primarily used to predict reversals in long term market trends, but can also be used in the shorter term.

This formation also exists in the opposite direction, as an inverse head and shoulders formation, see figure 2. This is a bottom formation which marks the end of a falling period. An inverse head and shoulders formation signals increasing optimism among investors and the start of a rising trend.

Head and shoulders formations sell

Figure 1: Sell signal from head and shoulders formation.

Inverse head and shoulders formation buy

Figure 2: Buy signal from inverse head and shoulders formation.

In technical analysis terminology we say that a break downwards through the neckline of a head and shoulders formation triggers a sell signal. Similarly a break up from an inverse head and shoulders formation triggers a buy signal. We have studied the price movements following buy and sell signals from such formations on the Oslo Stock Exchange in Norway.

Investtech's computers identified a total of 427 buy signals and 489 sell signals in the period studied.

Figure 3: Price development after buy and sell signals from inverse/ head and shoulders formations on the Oslo Stock Exchange identified by Investtech’s automatic algorithms in medium long term price charts. Click the image for bigger version.

The chart shows average price development following buy and sell signals from inverse/ head and shoulders formations. The signals are triggered on day 0. Only days when the exchange is open are included, so 66 days equal approximately three months. Buy signals are the blue line and sell signals are the red one. The shaded areas are the standard deviation of the calculations. Benchmark index is the black line.

Figure 3 shows that stocks with buy signals from inverse head and shoulders formations have done slightly better than average benchmark development. Stocks with sell signals from head and shoulders formations have underperformed compared to benchmark. The results indicate some connection between signals and future price development. Particularly in the short term, approximately for the first month, there seems to be a connection. The results are less clear in the longer term, and the statistics give no reason to conclude any significant connection between signal and future price development.

More results and details in the research report here >>

 

Written by

Geir Linløkken
Head of Research and Analysis
at Investtech

"Investtech analyses the psychology of the market and gives concrete trading suggestions every day."

Espen Grønstad
Partner & Senior Advisor - Investtech
 


Investtech guarantees neither the entirety nor accuracy of the analyses. Any consequent exposure related to the advice / signals which emerge in the analyses is completely and entirely at the investors own expense and risk. Investtech is not responsible for any loss, either directly or indirectly, which arises as a result of the use of Investtechs analyses. Details of any arising conflicts of interest will always appear in the investment recommendations. Further information about Investtechs analyses can be found here disclaimer. The content provided by Investtech.com is NOT SEC or FSA regulated and is therefore not intended for US or UK consumers.


Investtech guarantees neither the entirety nor accuracy of the analyses. Any consequent exposure related to the advice / signals which emerge in the analyses is completely and entirely at the investors own expense and risk. Investtech is not responsible for any loss, either directly or indirectly, which arises as a result of the use of Investtechs analyses. Details of any arising conflicts of interest will always appear in the investment recommendations. Further information about Investtechs analyses can be found here disclaimer. The content provided by Investtech.com is NOT SEC or FSA regulated and is therefore not intended for US or UK consumers.

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