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Friday, August 28, 2009

TRIPLE TOP PATTERN – Part 2: Important Characteristics

Go back to Part 1: Triple Top Formation.

Important Characteristics of Triple Top Pattern
Existing Trend:
There should be an established existing UPWARD trend prior to the pattern.

Shape of Triple Top Pattern:
1) The Three Peaks:
The peaks / tops should be sharp and distinct / well separated. The price peaks do not have to be exactly the same, but it should appear reasonably equivalent to each other.
If the last top (3rd peak) is lower than the middle top (2nd peak), there is a relatively higher chance of stronger decline. A lower top in the last peak might indicate weaker buying sentiments, as the buyers attempt to reach the previous high or make a new high but fail, suggesting that the buyers might have been drying up & exhausted.

2) The Two Troughs:
The lows of the troughs can appear more rounded.

Duration:
Triple Tops pattern can be considered a long term pattern.
The duration of the formation of the pattern can take several months, normally range from 3 to 6 months, with an average of about 4 months.
Basically, the longer the time duration the pattern takes to develop, the more likely the pattern could work out as a reversal pattern or the stronger the price might move once the breakout occurs.

Breakout:
Even when the price has declined from the 3rd peak, the pattern is not completed yet. The chances that the existing uptrend will continue are still higher than the chances of reversal to take place, as it is normal during an uptrend for the price to test a resistance level a few times, then retreat, and then resume the uptrend again.

Triple Top pattern is only completed and confirmed when the price declines and closes below the lowest lows of the troughs in between the 3 peaks, which serves as the key support level in this pattern. This lowest low is called the “Confirmation Point”.

Remember that we should always assume the existing trend (i.e. in this case is uptrend) is in force unless proven otherwise.
Therefore, it is important to wait for the price to make a decisive breakout by breaking through and closing below the Confirmation Point, accompanied with an increase in volume, in order to avoid jumping the gun and/or prevent deceptive Triple Tops pattern.

In addition, as Triple Tops is forming, the formation may also resemble few other patterns. Before the 3rd peak is formed, the pattern may look like Double Tops (reversal pattern). The three equal highs may also be seen in Rectangle pattern (neutral pattern) or Ascending Triangle pattern (bullish continuation pattern).
Nevertheless, all these patterns have similar principle to follow, which could help differentiate between the above patterns or avoid jumping the gun: Always wait for the decisive breakout to occur before entering into any trade.

Breakout Confirmation:
Sometimes, the price may also make a deceptive/invalid breakout whereby it touches below the Confirmation Point, but then it moves back up again & resumes uptrend.
One possible way to prevent this is by having certain criteria to confirm if the breakout is a valid one.
A minimum penetration criteria for a breakout should be the price closes BELOW the Confirmation Point, not just an intraday penetration.
Some traders may apply certain price criteria (e.g. 3% - 5% break from the Confirmation Point depending on the stock’s volatility) or time criteria (e.g. the breakout is sustained for 3 days) to confirm the validity of the breakout.

Volume:
Volume should be higher during the formation of the 1st peak and then get lighter as the pattern develops the subsequent two peaks, showing an indication that the buying pressures are getting weaker.
The volume may sometimes pick up when the price hits each of the peaks, but overall, volume tends to be diminishing as the pattern is forming.
During & after the breakout of the Confirmation Point, the volume should significantly increase again.
When during the decline from the 3rd peak, the price experiences an accelerated drop, perhaps with a gap down or two, accompanied by an expansion in volume, this might give a good sign, as the price decline tends to drop further, and hence it may provide higher chances that the pattern is a bearish reversal pattern.

Potential Price Target:
1) Compute the height of the pattern: The distance between the highest high of peaks (which serves as the resistance) and the lowest low of the troughs (i.e. the Confirmation Point, which serves as the key support).
2) To compute the potential price target: Subtract the result from the Confirmation Point (i.e. the lowest low of the troughs).

In general, any price target should only be used as a rough guide. To determine the price target, other factors, such as previous support / resistance levels, Fibonacci retracements, or long-term moving averages, should be considered as well.

Return to Breakout Level:
After the breakout occurs, it is common that prices may return to the breakout level for an immediate test of this new resistance level before continuing their moves in the direction of the breakout. (Remember that the support now has become a new resistance level).
This could actually offer an opportunity to participate in the breakout with a better reward to risk ratio.

To find out more about other Chart Patterns, please refer to:
Learning Charts Patterns

Analysis Tool:
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Related Topics:
* Learning Candlestick Charts
* Options Trading Basic – Part 1
* Options Trading Basic – Part 2
* Understanding Option Greek
* Understanding Implied Volatility (IV)
* Understanding Option’s Time Value

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