Solving Problems

3:20 p.m. New York time

I’ve made no secret of my malaise concerning certain aspects of using the Zacks system of trading. It boils down to two things: There are often a lot of changes in each portfolio every day, and there are a lot of whipsaw, positions that have a buy signal one day and a sell signal the next. Both are strange for a system that claims to be looking three to six months ahead.

It has never been my ambition to become a day trader, and yet, Zacks has turned me into a quasi-day-trader, although I still don’t trade in and out within a single day. My goal has always been to trade a few hours, get the records up to date, and then go live my life. Because, believe it or not, there is life outside of the markets.

Yet, even with its flaws, the method is profitable. Looking at the 23 trades using Zacks and completed so far in January, 57% have shown a profit. The average result of all trades, win or lose, was 2.2%. That’s the profit for the holding period, running from 43 days down to a single day, so the annualized profit is quite large.

Of the seven whipsaws — in one day, out the next — four showed a profit and three, a loss. The highest win was 2.6%; the greatest loss, 3.6%. Beyond those two, the rest of the whipsaws had profits or losses of less than half a percent.

So far only four trades qualify for a test to see what happens a week after I exited. They split — two profitable, two not — but the two losses were losing when I exited, and one of the winner was winning at exit. Only one flipped. It was showing a 1.8% loss when I exited and a week later was showing a 1.5% profit.

It’s a small universe of data. It’s impossible to draw a robust conclusion.

However, the data suggests that there wouldn’t necessarily be a change in the win/loss rate if I were to increase the sampling span to a week rather than a day, the latter being the shortest allowed under the Zacks system. Doing so would fix my workload problem by stretching it out and eliminate the irritating whipsaw problem entirely.

Beginning the week of January 13 I shall alter my sampling of the analysis to once a week for each portfolio. I have assigned each portfolio a day of the week for the first week. The second week, I’ll move everything forward by a day, flipping Friday’s portfolio over to Monday.

At present I have four portfolios, three based on screens of the Zacks database and one based on a watchlist of “buy” or “strong buy” holdings in an exchange-traded fund. To fill all days of the week, I shall add a fifth portfolio, Utilities, based on a watchlist of “buy” or “strong buy” holdings by the exchange-traded fund XLU. It will provide dividends and ought to be relatively low turnover.

This week’s rotation, picked by random number, will be the Growth Portfolio on Monday, Genetics on Tuesday, Momentum on Wednesday, Utilities on Thursday and Value on Friday.

By Tim Bovee, Portland, Oregon, January 11, 2020


Tim Bovee, Private Trader tracks the analysis and trades of a private trader for his own accounts. Nothing in this blog constitutes a recommendation to buy or sell stocks, options or any other financial instrument. The only purpose of this blog is to provide education and entertainment.

No trader is ever 100 percent successful in his or her trades. Trading in the stock and option markets is risky and uncertain. Each trader must make trading decisions for his or her own account, and take responsibility for the consequences.

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