Self-driving cars continue to be one of the hottest trends this year.
Globally, companies and universities are pouring millions of research dollars into developing self-driving car programs, vying to be the first team that brings full level 5 automation to the streets -- and to market.
Not surprisingly, all the attention on the self-driving car trend is creating some equally important stock price trends this summer. And, for the first time in a very long time, it's the big usual suspects that are actually flashing the strongest buy signals in this market.
To figure out which autonomous driving stocks have the highest chance of more upside in the near-term, we're turning to the charts for a technical look at three major self-driving car trades that look ready to soar.
Without a doubt, Tesla Inc. (TSLA) - Get Report has been the most controversial stock with self-driving car exposure. As the most heavily-shorted company in the U.S. market, there are lots of investors betting on Tesla to drop. But shorts may be in store for some frustration. After a prolonged sideways grind, Tesla's price action finally looks buyable here.
Tesla spent much of the spring forming an ascending triangle pattern, a bullish price setup that's common after uptrends and less common after the type of sawing back-and-forth price action that Tesla's shown investors in the last 12 months. While the price setup isn't textbook, it's tradable; Tesla's breakout through $310 resistance is a signal that shares could have a lot higher to go.
- What You Need to Know: Autonomous Cars
Relative strength, the side-indicator down at the bottom of Tesla's chart adds some extra confidence to the breakout. After a long stretch of underperforming the market, Tesla has started outperforming the S&P 500 since late May, helping lead to the price breakout. Simply put, buyers are back in control of shares right now.
And for investors willing to stomach the volatility and drama in Tesla, now looks like a solid time to build a positon as Tesla moves towards a test of its intermediate-term trendline resistance level at $340.
Nvidia's semiconductors are used by most major self-driving car programs, and that makes the firm a good way to get exposure to a wide array of autonomous driving efforts.
Like Tesla, Nvidia has been forming an ascending triangle pattern, a price setup formed by horizontal resistance up above shares, and uptrending support to the downside. The key difference in this stock is the fact that Nvidia's lead-up to the pattern is more typical, and the price setup is more long-term.
Nvidia's breakout above the $260 level is a signal that buyers are in control of shares, and joining them is the high-probability trade from here.
Last up is chip giant Intel Corp. (INTC) - Get Report , which became an autonomous driving leader when it acquired Mobileye. The good news is that you don't need to be an expert technical trader to figure out what's going on in this big stock -- instead, the price action is about as basic as it gets.
Intel has been bouncing its way higher in a very well-defined uptrending channel since last fall, bouncing higher on every test of trendline support along the way. Simply put, Intel is a "buy the dips stock" right now, and a near-term correction is bringing shares back down to buying territory for the first time in a month.
The 50-day moving average has been acting like a very solid proxy for trendline support for most of 2018. That makes it a logical place to park a protective stop below for the Intel trade. If Intel materially violates its 50-day, then the uptrend is over, and you don't want to own this trend anymore. Until then, this stock's trajectory remains up and to the right.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.