Home is where the money is -- at least that's been the message of the last several years, as U.S. stocks dramatically outperformed their overseas peers. But that's been changing as we head toward the second half of 2016.
As I write, some of the biggest gains are being found in foreign markets. For instance, Canada's S&P/TSX Composite Index is up nearly 19% year-to-date, fueled by a rebound in commodity prices. Russia's Micex is up almost 24% this year. And Brazil's Ibovespa is up a whopping 52.8% since the calendar flipped to January.
The good news is that you don't need to have a brokerage account overseas to take advantage of the up-moves in foreign stocks. That's because many of the biggest ex-U.S. companies trade here at home on U.S. exchanges in the form of ADRs. And many of them are teetering on the edge of breakout territory this July.
To find the big ex-U.S. stocks that look primed to hand investors upside moves this summer, we're turning to the charts for a technical look at five big stocks that are on the verge of breakout territory.
First, a quick note on the technical toolbox we're using here: Technical analysis is a study of the market itself. Since the market is ultimately the only mechanism that determines a stock's price, technical analysis is a valuable tool even in the roughest of trading conditions. Technical charts are used every day by proprietary trading floors, Wall Street's biggest financial firms, and individual investors to get an edge on the market. And research shows that skilled technical traders can bank gains as much as 90% of the time.
Every week, I take an in-depth look at big names that are telling important technical stories. Here's this week's look at five big stocks to trade.
China Petroleum & Chemical
Leading off our list of large-cap foreign breakout trades is $90 billion energy and chemical stock China Petroleum & Chemical(SNP) - Get Report , better known as Sinopec. Sinopec is having a stellar run in 2016, up more than 22% since the start of the calendar year. But don't worry if you've missed the big move in this stock -- Sinopec looks primed for a second leg higher this summer.
Sinopec is currently forming an ascending triangle pattern, a bullish continuation setup that's formed by horizontal resistance up above shares at $72, and uptrending support to the downside. Basically, as Sinopec bounces in between those two technically significant price levels, shares have been getting squeezed closer and closer to a breakout through resistance. When that breakout happens through $72, we've got our buy signal.
Sinopec has some added upside evidence coming from its relative strength line down at the bottom of the chart. Relative strength measures Sinopec's performance versus the rest of the broad market, and the fact that it's holding onto its uptrend from the start of the year means that SNP is still beating the averages on a long-term basis right now. Once shares are able to catch a bid above $72, we've got our signal to buy.
Bank of Nova Scotia
We're seeing the exact same setup in shares of $80 billion Canadian financial services firm Bank of Nova Scotia(BNS) - Get Report , or Scotiabank. Like Sinopec, Scotiabank is forming a textbook ascending triangle setup, in this case after a 16% year-to-date rally that's propelled shares to 52-week highs at the exact same time that U.S. financial institutions are struggling to keep their performance above water. For Scotiabank, the key level to watch is resistance up at $52.
What's so special about the $52 level? It all comes down to buyers and sellers. Price patterns, like this ascending triangle setup in Scotiabank, are a good quick way to identify what's going on in the price action, but they're not the actual reason that makes the stock tradable. Instead, the "why" comes down to basic supply and demand for BNS' shares themselves.
The $52 resistance level is a price where there has been an excess of supply of shares; in other words, it's a spot where sellers have been more eager to step in and take gains than buyers have been to buy. That's what makes a breakout above $52 so significant -- the move means that buyers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess supply above that price level. Once Scotiabank manages to definitively move above $52, we've got a new clear-cut buy signal in this stock.
2016 hasn't been a particularly good year for shares of Japanese industrial firm Honda Motor (HMC) - Get Report . Honda's share price has been dragged almost 18% lower since the start of January, underperforming more modest declines at the firm's stateside automaker rivals. That's the bad news. The good news is that Honda is finally starting to look "bottomy" in the very long term.
Honda is currently forming a double bottom, a bullish reversal setup that looks just like it sounds. The double bottom is formed by a pair of swing lows that bottom out at approximately the same price level -- the buy comes on a push through the peak that separates that pair of troughs. For Honda, the breakout level to watch from here is resistance up at $29.
Price momentum, measured by 14-day RSI up at the top of the chart, is the side-indicator to watch right now in shares of Honda. Our momentum gauge made higher lows corresponding with the stock's pair of price lows, a bullish divergence that signals buying pressure has been building behind the scenes. Shares still have a way to go before they make it back to test $29, but shares are already starting to make their way up in July.
Because Honda's reversal pattern is long-term, it comes with equally long-term upside implications once shares can manage to break above the $29 level.
It doesn't take a trading whiz to figure out what's happening with shares of European energy giant Total SA(TOT) - Get Report . Instead, a quick glance at this chart tells you pretty much everything you need to know. Total has been making its way up and to the right for all of 2016 -- and it's still a "buy the dips stock" as we head deeper into the summer months.
Total has been in a wide-ranging uptrending channel all year long. The firm's uptrend is formed by a pair of parallel trendlines that have corralled its price action all the way back to January's lows. So far, every test of the bottom of Total's price channel has provided investors with a low-risk, high-reward opportunity to build a position in this stock. And shares are bouncing off of support for a fifth time this week. From here, it makes sense to buy the bounce off of trend line support.
Actually waiting for this latest bounce is important for two key reasons: it's the spot where shares have the most room to move up before they hit resistance, and it's the spot where the risk is the least (because shares have the least room to move lower before the channel breaks, invalidating the upside trade). Remember, all trend lines do eventually break, but by actually waiting for a bounce to happen first, you're ensuring Total can actually still catch a bid along that line before you put your money on shares.
Last up on our list of international breakout trades is Latin American wireless telco America Movil(AMX) - Get Report . America Movil has had a pretty lousy year so far, shedding about 12% of its market value in the first six months of 2016. But shares finally look ready for a reversal this summer. Here's how to trade it.
America Movil is currently forming a rounding bottom pattern, another technical price setup that looks just like it sounds. The rounding bottom signals a gradual shift in control of shares from sellers to buyers, and it triggers on a push through the price ceiling that defines the top of the price pattern. For America Movil, that price ceiling comes into play at $13. Put simply, if AMX can muster the buying pressure to push shares back above $13, buyers are back in control of this stock (and it's time to join them).
AMX is another trade where momentum adds some evidence to the reversal. Our momentum gauge, 14-day RSI, has been making a series of higher lows since shares began forming the rounding bottom setup. Once shares catch a bid above $13, consider the breakout buy signal confirmed.
Disclosure: This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.