Both kids are gone as of tonight, and on Monday, Nancy leaves for a week. Wow -- my first bachelor week in more than 10 years. PARTY! (Yeah, right. Maybe I'll push my bedtime back to 8:45 p.m.)
But speaking of parties, this is
place to rock on. You, me and a few thousand crazy party-animal technicians! Admittance is free, and all you have to do is send your request to
firstname.lastname@example.org , along with your full name.
Oh, and if you're reading this in the morning, you must tune in to
Fox News Channel
at 1 p.m. EDT (check your local listings) and catch me on "TheStreet.com" TV show. But remember, no tomato-throwing!
More on Level II
Just read your column and thought I'd chime in on Level II quotes. There was some misinformation in last week's column. For starters, the Nasdaq Level II exchange fee is exactly $50. The quotes themselves are another fee. PC Quote charges $250 plus the exchange fee. Most quote services are similar. The best way for an active trader to get them is through any outfit that offers CyBerTrader or RealTick (as you did mention). For 50 trades a month, the software and quotes are free. Those 50 trades will average $20 apiece, so the cost will be about $1,000 per month. I get them "free" through E*Trade (EGRP) . As a guy who makes at least 75 trades per quarter, I am a Power E*Trade Platinum customer. That gives me Level II quotes, preferred access to initial public offerings, TheStreet.com premium content, BancBoston analysis and a couple other things. Since I have a subscription to TheStreet.com anyway and E*Trade changed its IPO allocation policies, the only thing of real use to me is Level II quotes. I love having Level II quotes. Even for swing trading, it does help getting in at a good price. You can see what is in front of you or behind you, and you do get a good idea of where a stock is going short term. For example, I added to my MCI WorldCom (WCOM) on Thursday, and Level II allowed me to see the negative momentum early, so I waited and got a fill at 88 7/8. Had I bought on the open, I would have paid 90 1/4. So, based on the 200 shares I added, I saved $275 on the purchase. I get better fills all the time because of Level II, and believe me when I tell you that they add up. That is especially true on the open, when you get gap-and-trap scenarios or selloffs on light volume. Level II is an advantage to those who know how to use it. Still, nothing beats discipline, a good plan, etc., but if those items are in place, Level II should make you more money. It has for me. -- Mike Barrett
In reading your column from last Saturday, I was surprised that no one had yet mentioned any magnifier programs for the Macintosh. Here are two: Zoom Lens and Lupe. I've often used Zoom Lens, and I just downloaded the newer Lupe to check it out. Both are fine. While I've never needed magnification to view your charts, if another Mac user does, I'm sure either of these will do the job. -- Mike Nugent
Can You Really Eyeball a Trend Line?
A reader who wished to remain anonymous made this observation:
I enjoy reading your column, but I have reservations about the way you analyze charts. Specifically, you almost always draw a trend line on a chart, seemingly "by eye." You are probably aware that drawing a trend line is somewhat arbitrary. Unless a precise algorithm for drawing trend lines is established -- something a computer could do -- your method of analyzing charts seems quite subjective to me. It may work for you, but I don't know how I could apply it myself.
This is an interesting point, of course, and gets to the heart of TA: Is the chart-reading portion of TA completely subjective? Worthy of an entire column or even series of columns, but for the most part, the answer is quite simply yes.
I'll delve into this more deeply in the future, but the fact is, anyone could take reasonable exception with almost any chart analysis I happen to do. (In fact, many of you do!) You see a downward trend line; I see a double bottom. You see a Fibonnaci pullback; I see a downside breakout. The possibilities are endless. But the reason I put this question here today? I always want you to see these charts and my comments as Gary B. Smith's analysis. It's my subjective view, but if you differ, then so be it. You could be correct, and me wrong. Or we both could be right. (Or wrong!)
There are, of course, standard TA concepts that many technicians would agree on. But for the most part, it boils down to the trained eye and experience. I wish it wasn't so, quite frankly. But I suppose if it was all black and white, all answers would be known, and there'd be very few market inefficiencies to take advantage of!
Don't Get Into a Lather Over Gillette
I wanted to see what you thought of Gillette (G) - Get Report. It had a huge drop on big volume during a downtrend. Bottomed out and slowly rose. Had good moves Friday and Thursday. Is it still a good stock to buy, and I am just looking at the turning points, or are my chart-reading skills not that great? -- Akhil Sharma
Staring at the Sun
First off, I love your column. And I've been having fun reading your book recommendations. I especially like How Charts Can Help You in the Stock Market by William Jiler. But now I'm wondering if I'm seeing patterns in everything, or did these formations always exist and I never recognized them? Anyway, I was wondering what you think of Sun Microsystems' (SUNW) - Get Report one-year chart. Could the congestion the stock ran into through April until June be part of a measured move (up) formation? -- Mark daSilva
Like new medical students who see an illness at every turn, new technicians are the same way. Let's take a look at Sun.
Keane Not So Keen
Keane (KEA) looks like it's put in a double bottom. Fundamentals seem sound relative to the Y2K slowdown through the end of the year. Is it safe to buy? -- David Greenaway
Bottom-Fishing in Florida
I just converted my trial membership to annual, as did several of my clients and friends, and I wanted to thank you. Your columns and chart insights have more than paid for it. If you get a chance, would you please look at Nortel Networks (NT) , Ameritrade (AMTD) - Get Report and an interesting south Florida tech stock, Eclipsys (ECLIP) , for us. By the way, we are all also swim dads. -- C. Mathison
How can I deny a fellow swim dad? Let's look at Eclipsys today.
Too New to Know
Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. At time of publication, he held no positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Smith writes five technical analysis columns for TheStreet.com each week, including Technician's Take, Charted Territory and TSC Technical Forum. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback at