This column was originally published on RealMoney on Sept. 30 at 12:20 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.

After back-to-back hurricanes that put a serious hurt on oil prices, it stands to reason that the transportation sector would be in serious trouble.

Higher fuel costs that cut into the bottom line won't necessarily be passed on to the consumer.

Most stocks in the Dow Jones Transportation Average have indeed been trending lower, but there are signs that some are done traveling south.

Since the market is a discounting mechanism, any kind of broad-based firmness in the transportation stocks would mean that the downside to the hurricane damage is known and is already factored into present prices.

Let's look at the Dow Jones transports average and get a feel for the price action.

We'll also look at four components of the average that appear to present good buying opportunities.

The average has been halted at around 3800 for the past three quarters. Each time the index reached that level, the buying dried up.

However, the most recent low could be close enough to the 3800 resistance level that the current upside momentum will last long enough to push it to a new high.

Notice the 600 million volume bar from a couple of weeks ago?

That's largely due to the heavy trading in Delta and Northwest Airlines.

It also coincides with the recent bottom. As such, it's a safe bet that buying pressure will continue to push the index higher.


After reviewing all the components of the average, I found four stocks that look promising.

Norfolk Southern ( NSC) recently pushed above the March high on heavy volume after successfully testing $35. But with the stock more than 15% above the $35 level, I'd place a stop just beneath the breakout. If the sellers can push the stock back below the breakout level, there is no reason to be long. That's not to say that Norfolk Southern won't ultimately move higher. Rather, I just wouldn't want to tie up capital in a stock that remains in consolidation.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe ( BNI) looks a lot like NSC. Why not? They're both rail stocks. This breakout above $55 is also on heavy volume, and I'd protect profits with a stop just below the breakout level. Notice how the uptrending money flow oscillator is confirming the breakout, along with a rising accumulation-distribution line. Looks to me like BNI is a northbound train.

The double bottom formed in August and September marks the low end of the pullback. After trading in a $5 channel over the past two months, Alexander & Baldwin ( ALEX) is breaking out and is about to challenge the July high. The secondary indicators are all bullish, and I think the stock will soon be hitting blue sky. But I'd put a stop right around the middle Bollinger Band to protect against losses.

C.H. Robinson Worldwide ( CHRW) has not yet broken out -- it's just banging away at $63. The up-sloping trend line that connects the June, August and September lows illustrates the impatience of the bulls.

As each significant pullback unfolds, the bulls buy at ever-higher levels. That's bullish. I've illustrated two possible entry levels. First, a pullback to support provides a low-risk entry, because a break beneath $60 would quickly tell you that you are wrong -- you need to be flat, or short. Alternatively, a breakout above $63 would mark an end to a two-month consolidation phase. In the event of a breakout, I'd protect any profits with a stop just below the $63 level. No sense holding the stock on a false breakout.

Be careful out there.

P.S. from TheStreet.com Editor-in-Chief, Dave Morrow:
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Dan Fitzpatrick is a freelance writer and trading consultant who trades for his own account. His columns focus on quantitative strategies for trading and investing. Fitzpatrick is a member of the Market Technicians Association and manages The Stock Market Mentor, a Web site focusing on the proper use of technical analysis for trading and investing. At time of publication, Fitzpatrick held no position in any stocks mentioned, though positions may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. While Fitzpatrick cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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