BALTIMORE (Stockpickr) -- Historically, September is a pretty lousy month for stock market investors. In fact, going back more than eight decades, September is the only month that's averaged a small decline long-term. And so far, 2015 is living up to its less-than-stellar reputation: the big S&P 500 index is down 0.26% since the beginning of the month.
But at the risk of sounding trite, it's a market of stocks, not a "stock market." Even though the S&P is down slightly this month, 245 of the individual stocks that make up the index are actually up -- and some of those are up a lot.
Put another way, there are pockets of strength that are actually working pretty well in this market. Today, we'll turn to the charts to take a closer technical look at five of them.
In case you're unfamiliar with technical analysis, here's the executive 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, technicals can help top traders make consistently profitable trades and can aid fundamental investors in better planning their stock execution.
Without further ado, here's a rundown of five technical setups that are showing solid upside potential right now.
Up first on our list is Energizer Holdings (ENR) - Get Report , the $2.6 billion battery maker. Energizer's price history doesn't go back very far, because the firm split apart from Edgewell Personal Care (EPC) - Get Report earlier this summer. Already, Energizer's price action has been stellar during its short tenure as a standalone stock: Shares are up 20% since their first trade.
Don't worry if you've missed the upside action in Energizer, though. This stock looks ready to kick off a second leg higher in September.
Energizer Holdings has spent the last couple of months forming a pretty textbook ascending triangle pattern. The ascending triangle is formed by horizontal resistance up above shares (in this case up at $42), and uptrending support to the downside. Basically, as shares bounce in between resistance up at $42 and our support line, they've been getting squeezed closer and closer to a breakout above that $42 price ceiling. And we're finally getting that buy signal to start this week.
Relative Strength, (not to be confused with RSI at the top of the chart) adds some extra confidence to the upside in Energizer right now. That's because relative strength is holding its uptrend from the time it started trading, indicating that this stock is outperforming the rest of the market long-term. As long as that uptrend in our side-indicator stays intact, Energizer should keep on outperforming the rest of the market. If you decide to jump into this trade here, it makes sense to park a protective stop on the other side of the 50-day moving average.
Zayo Group Holdings
We're seeing a similar setup in shares of $7 billion communications stock Zayo Group Holdings (ZAYO) - Get Report . Like Energizer, Zayo is currently forming an ascending triangle pattern. The big difference here is that this stock hasn't seen a breakout yet. For Zayo, the buy trigger comes on a push above $29.50.
Why all of that significance at that $29.50 level? It all comes down to buyers and sellers. Price patterns, like this ascending triangle pattern in Zayo, 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 for Zayo Group's shares.
The $29.50 resistance level is a price at which 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 a breakout above $29.50 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 the Zayo trade. Buying shares doesn't become a high-probability move until our resistance line gets taken out by those buyers.
2015 is proving to be a challenging year for energy company Vectren (VVC) . Since the calendar flipped to January, this $3 billion gas utility has shed about 13% of its market value, undercutting the S&P's 5% year-to-date slide. But there's a sliver lining in Vectren's decline: Shares are finally starting to look "bottomy" this fall.
Vectren is currently forming a double bottom pattern, a bullish reversal setup that looks just like it sounds. The double bottom is formed by a pair of price lows that bottom out at approximately the same level; the buy signal comes with a move through the peak that separates those two troughs. For Vectren, that buy trigger comes on a move above $43.
Since Vectren has been moving up for the last seven straight sessions, it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to expect some semblance of a correction between now and this stock's next test of our $43 resistance level. Shares still have some distance to cover to get up to that $43 price level.
This is a long-term trading setup, but that also means that it comes with long-term trading implications once we do see a breakout happen.
Good news: you don't need to be an expert technical trader to figure out what's going on in shares of Home Bancshares (HOMB) - Get Report . Instead, the price action in this mid-cap bank holding company is about as straightforward as it gets. Home Bancshares has been a "buy the dips stock" since the start of 2015, and as shares dip for the seventh time this year, we're coming up on another big buying opportunity here.
Home Bancshares has been trading within an uptrending channel since January. The price channel in this stock is formed by a pair of parallel trendlines that have corralled this stock's price action for all of 2015. So far, every test of the bottom of the channel has proven to be an excellent buy signal – and as shares bounce higher in September, it looks like a good time to put Home Bancshares on your buy list.
This stock's most recent swing low at $37 makes a logical place to park a protective stop below. After all, if shares of Home Bancshares violate support at $37, then this stock's uptrend is broken and you don't want to own it anymore.
We're seeing the same price setup in shares of Molina Healthcare (MOH) - Get Report right now. Like Home Bancshares, Molina is bouncing its way higher in a well-defined uptrending channel. Even though there isn't much in common between these two stocks, the trading implications are exactly the same -- so as Molina comes down for its eighth test of support since last fall, it makes sense to buy the next bounce higher.
Actually waiting for that 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, 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 Molina Healthcare can actually still catch a bid along that line before you put your money on shares.
The recent low of $72.50 that shares set earlier this month is a logical spot to place a stop on the Molina Healthcare trade. If $72.50 gets broken to the downside, this stock's bullish price trajectory is over.
Disclosure: This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.