While the S&P 500 index is up more than 20% year-to-date -- and tech stocks are up even more than that -- Intel has put up a more subdued 13.38% total return since the calendar flipped to January.
But while the Santa Clara, Calif., chipmaker has lagged the broad market this year, that doesn't mean you should count it out for your portfolio. In fact, the shares look as if they're verging on a breakout, generating returns that make up for lost time in the final stretch of the calendar year.
To figure out how to trade it, we're turning to the chart for a technical look.
At a glance, it's clear that a big chunk of Intel's underperformance in 2019 came from a single event this spring: guidance disappointment from the firm's April earnings call.
Since then, the shares have mostly muddled sideways, grinding between post-selloff lows around $43 set back in late May and the $53 level that's been tested three times now since mid-summer.
That $53 resistance level is the price to watch this fall, as Intel tests it for the third time. Put simply, $53 is a price level where there's been a glut of supply of shares all year long. A breakout above the $53 level indicates that increasingly eager buyers have finally absorbed all that extra supply, clearing the way for more upside ahead.
Right now, Intel is within grabbing distance of that breakout move -- but it's wise to wait for a material push above the $53 level before jumping in. While waiting might come with some opportunity cost, it greatly reduces the risks of a short-lived false breakout.
There's good evidence for the Intel breakout happening in the near term.
Relative strength, which continues to be one of the most important indicators to watch in 2019, has been in an up trend of its own since Intel's early-summer lows. That indicates that this stock has actually been systematically outperforming the broad market following the guidance miss, even if that fact has been masked by the miss itself.
With buyers in control of the shares at lower levels, betting on Intel to finish the year strong is starting to make a lot of sense.
Still, it's a good move to wait for the $53 breakout to pull the trigger on Intel this fall. From there, look for the shares to retest prior highs just above $58 by year-end.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.