What a 613-Indicator-Based Risk/Reward Tool Says About Stocks in May


The Risk/Reward Heat Map (RRHM) is a complex tool I created to identify whether risk or reward will dominate in any of the upcoming 12 months. I made the Risk/Reward Heat Map available to subscribers of the Profit Radar Report in December 2019. 

As of right now, the Risk/Reward Heat Map is the compound message of 613 individual studies, indicators and signals.

Barron’s rates iSPYETF as “trader with a good track record” and Investor’s Business Daily says: “When Simon says, the market listens.”  Find out why Barron’s and IBD endorse Simon Maierhofer’s Profit Radar Report

Turning individual studies into a forward-looking Risk/Reward Heat Map is a 2-step process:

1) Develop each individual study. Here is how it’s done:

– Identify a unique market development. Example: Last Friday, the S&P 500 and 32% of its component stocks closed at a 52-week (or all-time) high.

– Identify past precedents that meet the same (or similar) criteria. Example: Since 2000, the S&P 500 and >31% of its component stocks closed at 52-week high 7 other times (total of 8 signal dates). The orange line in the chart below highlight all the signal dates.

2) Turn individual study into a forward-looking component of the Risk/Reward Heat Map. Here is how it’s done:

– Calculate the S&P 500 returns and odds of positive returns for 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12 months after past precedents (signal dates). Example: After the above-mentioned signal dates, the S&P 500 was down 1 month later 6 times (86%) with an average loss of 2.2% (using only 1st signal in 30 days). 12 month later, the S&P 500 was up 5 times (71%) with an average gain of 10.5%.

– When the odds of positive returns are 80% or higher for a certain month, it is counted as bullish study for that month (+1 is added for that month).

– When the odds of positive returns are 50% or lower for a certain month, it is counted as bearish study for that month (-1 is added for that month). Example: The above study is bearish for June.

The proof is in the pudding

Shown below is one of many bullish studies published in April 2020 (others are available for review here). Explanatory annotations are made in yellow.

The unique development at the time was that the S&P 500 delivered two 90% up volume days (when 90% of volume flowing into advancing stocks) in a 3-day period. 

2 out of 3 90% up days happened 7 other times in the past. The colored graphs show returns after the 7 prior signal dates. 

The performance tracker (table at bottom of chart) shows that returns for the next 3, 6, 9, 12 month were wildly bullish with 83% – 100% odds of positive returns. +1 (bullish odds) were added for the months of July 2020, October 2020, January 2021, April 2021.

Repeating the above process of identifying a unique event and its precedents and then cataloguing forward returns 613 times results in the up-to-date Risk/Reward Heat Map. 

Does the Risk/Reward Heat Map work?

The chart below plots the S&P 500 against net signals (bullish – bearish) since inception, which allows us to visually assess if the Risk/Reward Heat Map works. 

The outright bearish implications for January/February/March 2020 (red columns) were echoed by the stock market during the February/March 2020 meltdown.

Starting in March 2020, the vast majority of studies implied significant future reward with little risk (green columns). 

Throughout 2020 and 2021 there were only a few periods of weakness, and all of them occurred when the number of bullish studies was less than 20 (orange bars). 

Sell in May and go away?

For May, the Risk/Reward Heat Map is in caution mode, and the May 3 Profit Radar Report warned that: “May continues to be a pressure point, resistance in terms of time.”

The Risk/Reward Heat Map is unique because it’s actually a predictive forward looking tool. To filter out false signal, I use real time data to validate the Heat Map’s message. Right now, it will take a good close below 4,090 to unlock a deeper pullback.

The Risk/Reward Heat Map is constantly updated and shows riks/reward for each of the next 12 months. The Risk/Reward Heat Map is available to subscribers of the Profit Radar Report.

Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s evaluation of the Profit Radar Report). The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. 

Follow Simon on Twitter @iSPYETF or sign up for the FREE iSPYETF e-Newsletter to get actionable ETF trade ideas delivered for free.

S&P 500 Update – Was Risk Flushed Out?

The last S&P 500 update introduced the risk/reward heat map (RRHM), which projected increased risk in January/February (see image below). How exactly the RRHM is produced is discussed here: Risk Reward Heat Map Methodology

The January 15 Profit Radar Report warned that: “Based on our risk/reward heat map, we are approaching a period of increased risk with an initial emphasis on late January.”

Just 4 days later, stocks suffered the biggest pullback since October 2019.

The pullback stopped on February 3, which makes the analysis from the February 2 Profit Radar Report (republished below) all the more interesting:

                                        * * * * *  February 3, Profit Radar Report * * * * *

“Based on preliminary data, 82.85% of NYSE-traded stocks ended Friday lower, the biggest down day since August 8, 2019. The chart below shows various breadth gauges. The bottom graph reflects down days. A cluster of down days (80% or 90%) tends to reflect selling exhaustion and is usually seen near bottoms, so we’ll be keeping an eye on that.

We’ve seen two 80%+/- down days already, so one could argue there’s already a measure of exhaustion.

Almost all of our short-term sentiment gauges perked up nicely and are already showing minor extremes. In times past, readings of similar degree have been enough to mark a bottom. Since we’ve seen some significant optimism extremes at the top, it is quite possible we need some more significant pessimism extremes. This, however, is not required.

The S&P 500 closed right on the green support trend line, which could be considered the minimum down side target for this pullback. Due to the sentiment extremes at the top and our RRHM, we would like to see lower prices, with 3,190 being the next and 3,130 +/- a more ideal down side target.”

                                      * * * * *  End February 3, Profit Radar Report * * * * *

The S&P 500 spiked 110 point this week. The chart below shows the resistance (red) and support (green) levels mentioned in the February 3 Profit Radar Report.

The S&P tagged the minimum down side target, which was based on a trend line going back to 2016. The S&P failed to reach the ideal target, which was based on a trend line going back to 2007, and would have reflected a more proportional correction.

Resistance is still at 3,336. A break above 3,336 would allow for a move to next resistance, but the CBOE equity put/call ratio is getting dangerously low once again, and the RRHM suggests we may not be out of the woods yet.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations are available via the Profit Radar Report.

Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s evaluation of the Profit Radar Report). The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013, 17.59% in 2014, 24.52% in 2015, 52.26% in 2016, and 23.39% in 2017.

Follow Simon on Twitter @ iSPYETF or sign up for the FREE iSPYETF e-Newsletter to get actionable ETF trade ideas delivered for free.

Risk/Reward Heat Map Methodology

The Risk/Reward Heat Map (RRHM) is essentially a sophisticated ‘pros and cons’ list that visually expresses whether risk or reward will dominate over a specific time frame.

Barron’s rates iSPYETF as “trader with a good track record” and Investor’s Business Daily says: “When Simon says, the market listens.” Find out why Barron’s and IBD endorse Simon Maierhofer’s Profit Radar Report.

Process of Compiling RRHM

  • The calculation starts with identifying a unique event, such as: The S&P 500 broke to a new all-time high for the first time in 1 year (more examples of events below are listed below).
  • Once the event is identified, we look for past events (or occasions) that fit the same criteria.
  • Once past events are identified, we calculate the forward performance (for each individual event) for the next 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12 month.
  • Once the forward returns are calculated, we consider the result an indicator, study or signal (ISS).
  • If 80% or more of a particular ISS show a positive return for a certain timeframe, it is added to the bullish column for that time period. One ISS can be bullish or bearish for multiple time frames (I.e. ISS is bearish for the next 2 and 3 month, but bullish for the next 6 and 12 month)
  • If 50% or less of a particular ISS show a negative return for a certain period of time, it is added to the bearish column for that time period.

Here is an actual example of an event and corresponding ISS published in the December 15, 2019 Profit Radar Report:

Event: For the first time since January 26, 2018 (474 days ago), the NY Composite set a new all-time high.

ISS: The NYC reached a new high for the first time in more than 400 days 8 other times since 1970.

2 weeks later, the NYC was up 4 times (50%), 1 month later up 6 times (75%), 2 month later up 7 times (88%), 3 month later up 8 times (100%), 6 month later up 7 times (88%), 1 year later up 8 times (100%).”

Below is a sampling of events that have been considered in the past. The examples are listed to show the depth and variety of events used to compile the risk/reward heat map. “X” and “[]” indicate variables.

  • [index] may refer to S&P 500, Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Russell 2000, NY Composite
  • [high or low] may refer to all-time high, 52-week high, highest or lowest level in X days/weeks/month, X above or below a moving average, bollinger band, or other indicator.
  • [indicator] may refer to RSI, MACD, CBOE put/call ratio, hedgers’ exposure, NY Composite a/d line, unemployment claims, yield curve, analyst estimates, sentiment polls, Hindenburg Omen signals, technical breakout or breakdown, period of time above/below certain threshold, or other sentiment, economic, breadth, liquidity indicator

Examples of Events

  • [Index] registered a new [high or low]
  • [Index] registered a new [high or low] for the first time in [X] days
  • [Index] registered a new [high or low] for the first time in [X] days, while [indicator] set new [high or low]
  • [Index] came within [X] percent of a new [high or low] while [indicator] stayed [X] above or below [high or low].
  • [Index] registered a new [high or low] while [x] percent of [indicator] set new [high or low]
  • [Index A] outperformed [index B] for [X]
  • [Index A] outperformed [index B] for [X] while [indicator] set new [high or low]
  • [Index] traded [X] consecutive days above [indicator]
  • [Index] traded [X] consecutive days above [indicator 1] while above [indicator 2]

Analysis

There are 3 ways to categorize the RRHM:

  1. Total signals (bullish and bearish)
  2. Net signals only
  3. Change (total or net) for a specific timeframe

Analysis #1 and #2 allow us to identify time periods of elevated risk or reward. Time is only one component of market forecasting, price is another – more important – one. A break below support or above resistance is usually required to start validating the message conveyed by the RRHM.

Analysis #3 allows us to identify changes. For example: The RRHM may project risk in February. If true to the projection, the S&P 500 drops X % in February, and ISSs start giving much more bullish signals, the RRHM change may indicate when a bottom is in.

The most recent RRHM will be available via the Profit Radar Report (along with a detailed interpretation and analysis of other factors), but below is a copy of the January 1 RRHM. Since January 1, an additional 56 ISS have been catolgued and included in the RRHM.

Continued updates, projections, buy/sell recommendations are available via the Profit Radar Report.

Simon Maierhofer is the founder of iSPYETF and the publisher of the Profit Radar Report. Barron’s rated iSPYETF as a “trader with a good track record” (click here for Barron’s evaluation of the Profit Radar Report). The Profit Radar Report presents complex market analysis (S&P 500, Dow Jones, gold, silver, euro and bonds) in an easy format. Technical analysis, sentiment indicators, seasonal patterns and common sense are all wrapped up into two or more easy-to-read weekly updates. All Profit Radar Report recommendations resulted in a 59.51% net gain in 2013, 17.59% in 2014, 24.52% in 2015, 52.26% in 2016, and 23.39% in 2017.

Follow Simon on Twitter @ iSPYETF or sign up for the FREE iSPYETF e-Newsletter to get actionable ETF trade ideas delivered for free.