BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- The Greek stock market got shellacked on Monday after reopening for the first time in five weeks. The FTSE Athens Stock Exchange Large Cap Index shed more than 16%, doubling its 2015 decline to more than 31%.
But Greece has been the exception. Despite persistent strength in U.S. markets in recent years, foreign stocks are starting to pull away from their domestic counterparts in 2015. For instance, while the S&P 500 is up just 1.9% year to date, the Euro Stoxx 50 index is up almost 5%. Japan's Nikkei 225 is up more than 12%. Heck, even Russia's volatile Micex 10 is up 12% this year.
Ignoring foreign stocks could be a big mistake for your portfolio in the second half of 2015 -- and you don't even need to look beyond U.S. exchanges to invest in them. Scores of overseas companies have shares that trade here at home. That's why, today, we're taking a closer look at five big foreign trades to trade for gains in August.
In case you're unfamiliar with technical analysis, here's a summary. Technical analysis is a way for investors to quantify qualitative factors, such as investor psychology, based on a stock's price action and trends. Once the domain of cloistered trading teams on Wall Street, technical analysis can help top traders make consistently profitable trades and can aid fundamental investors in better planning their stock execution.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five technical setups worth trading now.
James Hardie Industries
Up first is mid-cap Australian (and now Ireland-based) fiber cement-product manufacturer James Hardie Industries (JHX) - Get Report. James Hardie has shown investors a solid year in 2015, rallying more than 29% since the calendar flipped to January.
Don't worry if you've missed the move in James Hardie. The shares look ready to kick off a second leg higher here.
James Hardie Industries is forming an ascending triangle pattern, a bullish price setup that's formed by horizontal resistance up above the shares at $70, and uptrending support to the downside. Basically, as this stock bounces in between those two technically significant price levels, it's been getting squeezed closer to a breakout above our $70 price ceiling. When that happens, we've got our buy signal.
Don't get thrown off by the abundance of gaps on James Hardie's chart. Those gaps, called suspension gaps, are caused by overnight trading on the Australian Securities Exchange. They can be ignored for trading purposes.
We're seeing a similar setup in shares of Australian banking stock Westpac Banking (WBK) - Get Report. Just like James Hardie, Westpac is forming an ascending triangle pattern. The big difference here is that Westpac's chart has been trending lower for most of 2015, and the ascending triangle setup is giving investors hope for a reversal. The buy signal comes on a breakout above resistance at $26.
Why all of that significance at that $26 level? It all comes down to buyers and sellers. Price patterns, such as this ascending triangle pattern in Westpac, are a good quick way to identify what's going on in the price action, but they're not the actual reason a stock is tradable. Instead, the "why" comes down to basic supply and demand in Westpac's stock.
The $26 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 previously been more eager to step in and take gains than buyers have been to buy. That's what makes this week's breakout above $26 so significant; the move means that buyers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess supply above that price level.
Remember to be reactionary with this trade; Wespac has been under pressure all year long, and upside doesn't become a high-probability move until buyers can take out that $26 line in the sand.
Grupo Aeroportuario del Surest
Mid-cap Mexican airport operator Grupo Aeroportuario del Surest (ASR) - Get Report, better known as Asur, is another overseas stock that's been rallying in 2015. Since January, shares of Asur have climbed almost 17% higher thanks to breakneck fundamental growth. And this week, the shares are testing a major breakout level at $152.50.
Asur has spent the last few months forming a classic technical price setup called a cup and handle. The cup and handle is formed by a cup-shaped rounding bottom in shares that's followed up by a short-duration channel down. The buy signal comes on a move through the pattern's price ceiling at $152.50.
That $152.50 level has been acting as resistance since May, swatting the shares lower on the last three attempts through it. If Asur can show some continuation during Tuesday's session, a material move through $152.50 tells us that buyers are squarely in control.
Relative Strength (not to be confused with RSI at the top of the chart) adds some extra confidence to the upside in Asur right now. That's because relative strength continues to be in an uptrend this summer, indicating that this stock isn't just moving higher -- it's still outperforming the rest of the market long term.
As long as that relative strength uptrend remains intact, expect Asur to keep on beating the rest of the market too.
If the shares can make progress into the $154 level on Tuesday, consider it enough confirmation that our level has been taken out and it's time to buy.
The good news is that you don't need to be an expert technical trader to figure out what's been going on with the shares of Canadian automotive supplier Magna International (MGA) - Get Report. Instead, the price action in this Ontario-based car-parts maker is about as simple as it gets. And the shares are showing investors their third big buying opportunity of 2015 just this week.
Magna has spent all of 2015 bouncing its way higher in an uptrending channel. The setup is formed by a pair of parallel trend lines that have enveloped the stock's trading range since last January. Put simply, every touch of trend-line support has been a low-risk, high-reward buying opportunity in shares of Magna, and the stock is bouncing off that level again this week. From here, it makes sense to buy the bounce.
Waiting for that bounce is important for two reasons: It's the spot where the shares have the most room to move up before they hit resistance, and it's the spot where the risk is the least (because the shares have the least room to move lower before the channel breaks, and you know you're wrong). Remember, all trend lines do eventually break, but by actually waiting for this bounce to happen first, you're ensuring Magna can actually still catch a bid along that line before you put your money on the shares.
Last up on our list of bullish foreign stock setups is U.K.-based cellular carrier Vodafone (VOD) - Get Report. Vodafone has moved almost 10% higher in 2015, but the shares have spent most of the last two months churning sideways. The good news is that the sideways grind is exactly what makes this stock look tradable in 2015. Here's why:
Vodafone is forming an inverse head-and-shoulders pattern, a bullish setup that indicates exhaustion among sellers. Vodafone's pattern is formed by two swing lows that bottom out around the same level (the shoulders), separated by a bigger trough called the head; the buy signal came on the breakout above the pattern’s “neckline” level. That's the $38 level in Vodafone. Even though this setup normally comes at the bottom of a downtrend, not the top of an uptrend, the trading implications are exactly the same on a breakout above $38.
The 50-day moving average has been acting like a decent proxy for support over the last month and change. If you decide to buy the $38 breakout, then the 50-day is a logical place to park a protective stop.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.