Big tech behemoths and Nasdaq-100 components Alphabet, Inc. (GOOGL) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) blew away high expectations in their quarterly confessionals on Thursday evening, yielding sharply higher prices in Friday’s U.S. session. Their undisputed success highlights the Internet’s steady transformation from 1990s Wild West capitalism into 2010s corporate monopolies.
But neither stock is setting off buy signals after the news, despite posting bull market and all-time highs, because they’re technically overbought after long-term rallies that have carved few pullbacks. In turn, this price action raises odds for corrections that last a minimum of six to nine months while giving up at least 20% of current values. So, while it often makes sense to buy high in anticipation of selling higher, position risk in these market leaders has risen to unacceptable levels.
GOOGL Weekly Chart (2012–2017)
The stock returned to the 2007 high at $374 in the second-half of 2012 and broke out into 2013, entering a powerful trend advance that continued into the 2014 high above just $600. It then dropped into a shallow correction that tested support near $500 twice into a 2015 recovery wave and second half breakout. Price stair-stepped above $800 in early 2016 and spent the year pressing against resistance, ahead of a January 2017 buying spurt that’s now added more than 100-points.
Price action eased into a rising wedge at the end of 2015, with that pattern still in play nearly 18-months later. This signals a mixed blessing because upper and lower trendlines are now converging, pointing to a low volatility technical condition that’s unsustainable. In fact, many violent trend reversals occur when wedge support finally breaks because, while shareholders are getting paid, the relatively shallow price rate of change generates a good deal of anxiety and frustration.
Other technical measurements continue to support the powerful uptrend, with On Balance Volume (OBV) holding near an all-time high while the monthly and weekly Stochastics oscillators remain glued to overbought levels These readings are common in strong uptrends, but it will take little selling pressure at this point to trigger bearish crossovers, dumping the stock into a multi-month correction.
AMZN Weekly Chart (2012–2017)
Amazon topped out just above $100 at the turn of the millennium and fell into single digits during the Dot.com bear market. It returned to that resistance level in 2007 and built a 2-year handle into a 2010 cup and handle breakout that generated a strong uptrend. The stock posted higher highs into the start of 2014 and topped out at $400, ahead of a rounded correction that found support near $280.
It returned to resistance in April 2015 and broke out into mid-year, adding points at a rapid pace. A steep decline into 2016 found aggressive buying interest, triggering a V-shaped recovery wave that yielded a fresh breakout to new highs in the second half of the year. That bullish impulse has continued into April 2017, with this week’s earnings report lifting the e-commerce giant to an all-time high above $940.
Price action has also congested into a rising wedge pattern that denotes contracting volatility. Also, the rally has carved an Elliott 5-Wave pattern that’s reached within a few points of Fibonacci extension targets while approaching significant psychological resistance at $1000. Both technical factors raise odds for a correction that could drop the stock under $800 before the end of 2017.
The Bottom Line
Alphabet and Amazon hit home runs in the first quarter, handily beating analyst expectations, but overbought technical extremes, declining volatility, and completed price targets raise odds for pullbacks that could be measured in hundreds of points.
<Disclosure: the author held no positions in aforementioned stocks at the time of publication.>