TheSTreet

Drug giant Pfizer (PFE - Get Report) has had a tough year so far in 2019. Since the calendar flipped to January, the big pharma company has seen its stock price shed more than 9% on a total returns basis.

Compare that to the 23% total return that the rest of the S&P 500 has offered investors year to date, and the underperformance looks pretty bleak. But that could finally be about to change.

Pfizer reported its third-quarter numbers Tuesday, besting analysts' expectations with profits of 75 cents per share, excluding one-time items. That came in ahead of the 62-cent profit that investors expecting, on average, and shares jumped about 2.5% during Tuesday's trading session as a result.

That 2.5% pop may not seem like much, but it finally pushed shares of Pfizer up through a key technical level that this stock had struggled with for months now. And with that price tag in the rear-view, the door is open to 14% upside in the near-term.

To figure out what's happening in Pfizer here, we're turning to the charts for a technical look.

At a glance, Pfizer's price action in 2019 hasn't been impressive. Shares spent the first half of the year in a choppy range-bound environment, followed by a selloff that was precipitated by second-quarter earnings back at the end of July.

More recently, though, Pfizer has been trying to carve out a bottom. Since early August, shares have been establishing an ascending triangle pattern, a setup formed by horizontal resistance at the $38 level, with uptrending support to the downside. As shares bounced in between those two competing trend lines, buyers and sellers were battling it out.

The breakout above $38 resistance is the signal that buyers are back in control of shares here.

This pattern is a price setup that's typically a continuation signal following an uptrend. While seeing this price pattern at the bottom of Pfizer's 2019 range is atypical, it's still tradable.

From here, the path is relatively clear to prior highs up at the $44 level, implying about a 14% upside move ahead.

That bullish shift in Pfizer is confirmed in part by momentum, measured by 14-day RSI. Momentum bottomed out with Pfizer's lows in August, moving from oversold back above the 70-level. Momentum ranges typically coincide with bull/bear regimes, which means that a move into overbought mode suggests that Pfizer's bearish bent is over at this point.

As always, risk management is crucial. The 50-day moving average looks like a reasonable place to park a protective stop on the other side of as Pfizer rebounds here.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.