Investor Ph.D. Series: 6 points you should know about Technical Analysis

Contributed by: Angela Palacios, CFP® Angela Palacios

While most often investors apply fundamental analysis when picking a suitable security to invest in, a less widely used strategy called technical analysis could be just as important. 

Why would you use it?

Here’s the scenario: you’ve researched and decided, “There is a strategy I have to invest in.” Perhaps it is a company that makes a widget and you think, “This is the best widget ever made and it is going to change everyone’s life!” Fundamental analysis helps you decide if Widget Producer A or Widget Producer B is the better-run company that is worthy of your investment dollars. But, does it matter what price you pay for that investment? Yes! This is where technical analysis can play a role in your portfolio decision making.

What is it?

Technical analysis, at its most basic level, only looks at supply and demand for a security. It attempts to find a trend or pattern in the price movement and volume of a traded security and decide if that trend is more likely to continue or reverse course.

How does it work?

Understanding basic assumptions behind technical analysis can be a key concept. First, it assumes that markets are efficient at all times; meaning everything that can be known about a company is known by all investors and reflected in the current price at which it is trading. Second, security prices move in trends; or, essentially, an object in motion stays in motion (or is much more likely to in the future). Third, history repeats itself. Investor behavior that caused prior patterns to occur is assumed to still be present and will likely repeat.

Which indicators are most commonly followed?

There are many indicators you can pick from when conducting technical research. Most investors that do this type of analysis have their favorites that fit with their own unique investing style. Some examples are: moving averages, volume, Oscillators, Bollinger Bands, Fibonacci levels, trend lines or relative strength.

Where can I find this information?

There are many resources that have a “fee for service” out there that can be used to conduct technical analysis. Yahoo! Finance, on the other hand, is a free resource available online for anyone to view. Their interactive charts help make it easy to view many of the most common indicators with the click of a button.

Can anyone do this?

Yes! However, it can take time, consistency, skill, and experience to be able to do technical analysis well; and even then, so-called “experts” can get it wrong quite often.

While there is no silver bullet in investing, blending both fundamental and technical analysis can help investors toward a potentially better outcome. Is this a fool’s errand or the potential secret sauce? I will leave that up to the individual to decide!

Angela Palacios, CFP® is the Director of Investments at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Angela specializes in Investment and Macro economic research. She is a frequent contributor The Center blog.

The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Angela Palacios and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected.