After surging higher in 2017 and the first half of 2018, the so-called FAANG stocks -- made up of Facebook, Apple (AAPL) - Get Report , Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report , Netflix (NFLX) - Get Report , and Google's parent company Alphabet (GOOG) - Get Report (GOOGL) - Get Report -- have turned from leaders to laggards.
But as the S&P 500 tests new all-time highs, Facebook looks primed to make up for lost time from a technical standpoint.
That could be good timing - investors' attention is turning to shares as the social media behemoth prepares to report earnings next week.
To figure out how to trade Facebook from here, we're turning to the chart for a technical look:
Facebook looked downright awful in the second half of 2018. Peak to trough, shares shed more than 42% of their market value in that 153-day stretch. By that same token, the downtrend was extremely well-defined and came to an end with a breakout above the $140 in early January.
That reasonably clear-cut reversal gave way to somewhat less clear price action in the early months of 2019. But the good news for Facebook bulls is that this stock's technical trajectory is starting to resolve to the upside in an important way.
Shares spent the stretch between February and the start of April consolidating sideways in a well-defined range between $175 resistance and $160 support. That range-bound price action isn't uncommon following such an abrupt about-face from the downtrend that shares had been stuck within heading into January, but a breakout above $175 earlier this month signals that buyers are back in control of the price action.
With $175 in the rearview mirror, a re-test of prior highs, currently about 22% above Facebook's current price level, looks likely.
Relative strength, the indicator down at the bottom of the Facebook chart, adds some extra confidence to the buy signal. Relative strength measures Facebook's performance vs. the broad market, and it's actually been in an uptrend of its own since mid-November. That means that Facebook isn't just moving higher here; it's also back to systematically outperforming the rest of the stock market this spring.
With the breakout confirmed, now looks like as good a time as any to add onto a Facebook position with a protective stop on the other side of $160 support. While earnings remain a wildcard next week, buyers are finally going back in the driver's seat.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL.