This column was originally published on RealMoney on July 18 at 12:00 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
My mom told me it's best to keep your mouth shut when you don't have anything nice to say. This puts me in a tight spot because almost nothing nice has been happening with equities in the last few months. But I'll do my best and focus today's column on a handful of positives in this beaten-down market.
There are a few sectors that have swum against the tide of the current decline, closing out last week on the plus side. Perhaps these unconventional issues offer a glimpse of the future, or at least show us a relatively safe place to risk our hard-earned capital.
A scant eight out of the 239 market groups I follow closed in the green last week. Oil and gas stocks gained a tad over 2%. I looked at these stocks
Monday and pointed out why the broad sector has a lot of work to do before it can return to this year's highs.
Fun and Games
The multimedia and gaming sector sits at the top of last week's gainers list after a two-day rally driven by mediocre monthly sales numbers.
Regular readers know that video gaming isn't one of my favorite sectors these days. In
June, I highlighted the dim outlook for these stocks after many declined to multimonth lows.
So does last week's bounce mean the sector is finally bottoming out and starting a new uptrend?
The immediate future of the sector probably lies in the hands of its blue-chip leader,
. The stock sold off to three-year lows in June and then started to move sideways in a rounding pattern. It's picked up a wave of buying interest as we turn the corner toward the 2006 holiday season and the November debut of the PlayStation 3.
The stock hasn't printed new lows in the last six weeks -- that's an obvious positive -- so I'd look for the rally to continue until it reaches that nasty-looking gap between $49 and $54. Any spike above $50 should give short-sellers an excellent opportunity to reload for a decline back to this year's lows.
Picture of Health
Health plan stocks also avoided the brunt of recent selling pressure. In fact, the group has been perking up for some time now. This isn't a surprise given its reputation as a safe haven during downturns and recessionary periods. So should investors consider new positions in the sector right now?
This is a small market group with only 16 components. The stocks show great variation in performance, with a few issues like
trading near 52-week lows, while a handful are pressing up to new highs. The best approach is to stick with the strong names and don't try to bottom-pick.
Sierra Health Services
is a current pick in The Daily Swing Trade. It broke out to a new high in June and has held its price well during this tough period. The stock is pulling back and could offer a low-risk entry just below $44. Watch out though, because its July 25 earnings release might upset the apple cart.
Drugstores are a small subsector in the vast retail universe, but the group's closing higher last week deserves an honorable mention. There are just six stocks in this small corner of the market and it's clear from looking at last week's numbers that a single issue,
, overcame gravity's pull on the other five.
The stock rocketed higher early in the week after reporting strong revenue. The rally lifted it through resistance at its six-year high near $32. That spike also completed a multiyear cup-and-handle pattern. But this notable breakout has more work to do. In fact, the downside could gather momentum in the days ahead.
A bounce there would set the stage for a rally through last week's high. In turn, that move could support an uptrend into the upper $30s later this year.
P.S. from TheStreet.com Editor-in-Chief, Dave Morrow:
It's always been my opinion that it pays to have more -- not fewer -- expert market views and analyses when you're making investing or trading decisions. That's why I recommend you take advantage of our
premium Web site, where you'll get in-depth commentary
money-making strategies from over 50 Wall Street pros, including Jim Cramer. Take my advice --
At the time of publication, Farley held none of the issues mentioned, although holdings can change at any time.
Alan Farley is a professional trader and author of
The Master Swing Trader
. Farley also runs a Web site called HardRightEdge.com, an online resource for trading education, technical analysis and short-term investment strategies. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Farley appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.
click here to sign up for Farley's premium subscription product The Daily Swing Trade brought to you exclusively by TheStreet.com.
TheStreet.com has a revenue-sharing relationship with Trader's Library under which it receives a portion of the revenue from purchases by customers directed there from TheStreet.com.