Sunday, January 22, 2017

Aflac in Coiled Spring At End of Wave 2

The daily chart for Aflac, Inc. (NYSE: AFL) is a treasure trove of chart patterns, each converging to signal that a major move may be imminent.  Do you trade double bottoms?  We've got you covered.  How about channels?  Yes, we have that, too.  Want a descending triangle?  That's on the chart.  How about an ascending triangle?  That shows up on the weekly chart. Do you trade Elliott Wave patterns?  How does the end of a wave-2 move on the daily coupled with a wave 3 of 3 move on the weekly and monthly sound? 

Let's start with the broad view and take a look at the monthly chart. 

AFL Monthly Chart
The long-term impulse wave for Aflac started in 1991.  The Wave-1 rise was steady and included a 2:1 stock split in early 2001, just before the 9/11 market adjustment.  Wave-1 ended at the onset of the 2008 financial crisis.  Along with banks, the insurance industry was crushed in that major economic downturn, and AFL retraced nearly 80% of Wave-1 before it ended.  Wave 2 was a running correction and Wave-3 appears to be in flight.  This sub-divided wave is now showing signs that it's in Wave (iii) of Wave iii of Wave-3.  That's about as lucrative a Wave-3 entry that you can find.  With the monthly pullback to the 10-period EMA, there's nothing negative at all appearing in the long-term trend.

AFL Weekly Chart
The Wave (iii) of iii of 3 configuration is well defined on the weekly chart.  Adding to the strength of that signal is the diagonal support line extending from the low of August 2015.  That support line has several touches, including three in the last six weeks. 

Notice that the weekly chart formed an ascending triangle pattern with price currently resting on the hypotenuse (support) of that triangle.  This line is also just above a horizontal support line that pivoted from resistance off the Wave-i peak in October 2013.  That support line was tested at least four times and price bounced off it on each occasion.  From an intermediate (weekly) to long-term (monthly) perspective, the signals are looking strong for a bullish impulse.

AFL Daily Chart
This brings us to the heart of the matter on the daily chart.  We'll start with the double bottom that formed on 1 November 2016 and 2 December 2016.  The price target for that pattern is $77.79 (61.8% of the height of the pattern added to the neckline.)  Price is trading sideways above the bottom of the pattern, but it has not closed below the pattern so it is still a valid double bottom. Note, however, that it has yet to close above the neckline, so by definition, the pattern has not yet been confirmed. 

The volume pattern at the second bottom - which is an eve bottom - strongly suggests climactic selling.  One relationship we always compare is the range of the price bar compared to the size of the volume bar.  We can see significant supply pushing the price to that second volume, but then we have an extremely narrow range bar on extremely high volume.  Supply is being exhausted.  Then we have a hammer pattern on 9 December with the second highest volume bar of the year.  That was a sign that major demand entered the scene as priced reached the bottom support line. 

What stands out in the short term is the rising volume we're starting to experience while price continues to trade horizontally.  A narrow channel formed starting with a long wick on 14 December, and this pattern now appears to be a coiled spring ready to explode in either direction.  The green support area forms a descending triangle when paired with the diagonal resistance line shown in purple, so price truly could break in either direction.  The Elliott Wave counts show a higher probability that the break will be to the upside, but it's always important to remember that this only shows us probabilities, not certainties. 

We intend to play this current setup to the long side.  What we are looking for is a strong bullish candle that closes above the horizontal channel resistance line on confirming volume.  Our stop will be just below the lower green support line.  A break of that line not only invalidates our entry, but it also invalidates the Elliott Wave count on the weekly and monthly charts.  So if we break that barrier, we definitely need to exit and reassess the pattern.

Because this is a Wave (iii) of iii of 3, we're not going to set a fixed price target.  Rather, we'll want to ride this one as long as we can, gradually moving our protective stops up as each of the sub-waves form.  We'll only want to be stopped out of this one when Wave-4 finally forms.  The Elliott Wave targets, both for the primary wave and the sub-waves, show a minimum target of $87.70 which will be a nice 17-point move from our current position.  Compared to the 3.50 point risk we're assuming with our protective stop, that's a solid 4.85:1 reward to risk ratio.  We'll take that trade.

Happy Trading.

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