Monday, February 19, 2018

SHLX At Long-Term Support in Inverse Cup and Handle

Four consecutive quarters of missed earnings and missed revenue estimates took a major toll on Shell Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: SHLX).  It looked like a positive report on 3 November 2017 would turn it around, and share price did, indeed, rise at a promising rate.  That, however, was undone by news on 2 February 2018 that the company would issue 25,000,000 common units in a series of public auctions, while also providing the underwriter an option for an additional 3,500,000 common units as part of the overall deal.  Shareholders were decidedly displeased, and the share price plunged 16% in just 3 weeks.

In today's analysis, we're going to examine the weekly chart since that offers an excellent overview of what has happened to this stock and also provides a glimpse into what trading opportunities we may see in the near term.

SHLX Weekly Chart
What attracted my attention to the chart in the first place was a large gap down into support on the daily chart.  That manifested as the long red candle you see here on the weekly, the last week of January 2018.  The pattern itself appears to be forming an inverted cup and handle.  If that's accurate, we're now two weeks into the handle portion.  We would expect this handle to run about 4 or 5 weeks, although that could change depending on the health of the overall market in that same period. 

In marking the weekly chart, though, a second confirming pattern emerged as well.  The support line on which the stock currently rests extends all the way back to September 2015, and it has been tested on five separate occasions.   The series of lower highs extend back to that same time period and the resulting pattern is a descending triangle.  Now, one word of caution is in order regarding that triangle.  There's a bit more white space in the pattern than I really like to see.  Based on that, I wouldn't trade that pattern alone, however there is sufficient other evidence on the chart to overcome that pattern issue.

Volume on the declines is rather pronounced.  That was especially true after the February announcement, but we can also see that the On Balance Volume has been trending negatively since 2015.  Money, it appears, is flowing out of this stock, and not into it.  Now, we do have a word of caution, here, because that volume pattern in conjunction with the price sitting on long-term support for three weeks is also consistent with a selling climax followed by an accumulation pattern.  Be on the lookout for signs of major buying by the larger institutions, since we really don't want to be trapped by one final shake-out before the price is pushed higher.

There is not much insider action on this stock; the last reported transaction was a 500 share sale in September 2017 reported by director Margaret Montana.  That was only 1/8th of her total share holdings, and was largely insignificant.  There are, however, a large number of institutional share holders with a significant number of shares in their portfolios.  If we see major movement towards accumulation, it will come from one of them, and will only be evident through a study of the price and volume action.

Looking at the RSI(9), there are some hints that that may, in fact, occur.  Notice the lows of the RSI(9) each time support was reached, and compare that with the RSI(9) in this current move back to support.  Notice that we don't reach those same levels.  Now, it's not quite pronounced enough for me to declare it definitively as a bullish divergence, but the cautionary message is still quite clear.  The downward thrust may, indeed, be weakening and we may be exhausting the number of sellers willing to dump this stock.

The other indicators we're watching are much more bearish.  The MACD(5,34,5) executed a bearish crossover in conjunction with the February announcement.  The relative strength vs the S&P, which has been dismal for the last couple of years, continues its steady decline and is well below a current resistance level.  The JDK RS Ratio is hooking downward (and is already in under-perform territory) and the JDK RS Momentum indicator is declining.

So, how are we going to play this stock?  Once again, we'll let volume be our guide.  A close below that support line with confirming volume would be a sign to go short.  Now, be careful.  Given the strength of that support line - it's lasted 3 years and been tested at least 5 times, remember - it's highly probable that we'll experience a pull-back to that line.  So, if we do go short, they will be very short-term trades designed to protect profits and exit very quickly.  The potential for a bear trap here is extremely high, and we don't want to be the ones gnawing off our own paws.

If, however, we take out the prior week's highs, again, on convincing volume, we're not opposed to a long position.  The top of that descending triangle will provide major resistance, of course, so we'll be looking to exit as we approach that level. 

SHLX reports earnings before the open on 27 February, and it's not our intent to hold any positions in either direction going into the close on Monday.  The next dividend date isn't until April, so that won't factor into any short term trades for the foreseeable future.

This is a stock to add to the watch list.  There are numerous potential trades setting up in the short term, and looking at the patterns, we may find some low risk opportunities to both the long and the short side over the next few weeks.  As always, watch the volume signature for confirmation when assessing the probabilities.

Happy Trading.

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