The Best Trades for December

We are at the beginning of the last month of the year. Every single month we have provided real time buy recommendations for a successful trading strategy.

Each month, we provide a list of stocks that have historically delivered gains for the next month. It’s time for us to update on this strategy.

We are following one of the simplest seasonal trades possible. Few traders follow seasonal strategies although these strategies are often profitable. They are also relatively low risk because they limit market exposure to short periods of time.

To apply this strategy, every month we are running a scan to find the stocks with the best historical performance for that month. That’s it. There aren’t any other criteria.

Our Simple Strategy That’s Beating the Market

To find trades for December, we will follow the same general process we have been following all year. We started by looking at how stocks have performed, on average, during the month. We assumed the stock was bought at the beginning of the month and sold at the end of the month every year.

In the previous months of the year, we then calculated how well that strategy would have done for every stock in the S&P 500 index. We limited our test to stocks in the S&P 500 because those are the most liquid stocks in the market and their liquidity provided an options trading strategies.

This month, we are switching to the Russell 2000 for potential buys.

The reason for this switch is because December is historically the best month for small caps. That small cap index shows a gain 78% of the time in December since 1998. The second best month is November with a gain 74% of the time.

January, which has a reputation for being the best month for small caps, has a win rate of just 42%. We will address that misperception in a blog post later this month.

Of course, it’s important to remember that instead of buying the stocks, a trader could buy a call option that expires at the end of December or later. All of this month’s recommendations have options that are traded.

Call options allow for exposure to a stock with less cash since call options often trade for less than 5% of the cost of the stock. There are risks to trading options and you should familiarize yourself with those risks before placing any options trades.

Our test required a minimum of 15 years’ worth of history. We then sorted the results based on winning percentage. This month, we set the cutoff at 80%.

This month, seven stocks made the list of potential buys. We don’t need to know why these stocks perform better than average in December, we are simply trying to benefit from their tendency to do so.

It is important to remember that each of these stocks is highlighted based solely on the seasonal trend. We have not considered the fundamentals or technical picture of any of these companies. That fact provides an opportunity for you to refine the trading strategy.

Before turning to this month’s picks, let’s look review the strategy’s year to date performance

Year to Date Results

In January, we identified eight stocks, six moved up, a win rate of 75%. Half of the stocks beat the market, delivering an average gain of 5.1%, significantly better than the 2.3% gain of the S&P 500 index.

In February, of the eight stocks highlighted, six moved up, a win rate of 75%. As a group, the stocks in the strategy delivered a gain of 4.2%, a little better than the 4.0% gain of the S&P 500 index.

In March, of the ten stocks highlighted, seven moved up, a win rate of 70%. As a group, the stocks in the strategy delivered a gain of 2.89%, easily beating the S&P 500 which lost 0.2% in the month.

In April, of the eight stocks highlighted, five moved up, a win rate of 62.5%. As a group, the stocks in the strategy lost 0.81%, losing a little more than the S&P 500 which was down 0.49% for the month. It was the first time the strategy failed to beat the market in a month.

In May, our strategy returned to its winning ways. Of the five stocks highlighted, four were winners for a win rate of 80%. The strategy gained 2.45%, which was slightly better than the 2.3% gain in the S&P 500.

In June, the strategy again beat the market. We identified five stocks to trade. We recorded two big wins and three losses for a win rate of 40%. Overall, our recommendations delivered an average gain of 3%, more than double the 1.2% of the S&P 500.

In July, there were six winners and a single loser among the seven recommendations. As a group, the stocks once again beat the S&P 500. The strategy gained 3.4% while the S&P 500 gained only 2.0%.

In August, the strategy lagged the market, gaining 0.1% as the S&P gaiend 0.4%. Of the eight recommendations for the month, five delivered a gain.

In September, we experienced a great deal of volatility. Overall, we had 5 winners, two losses and one stock was unchanged. The strategy stocks gained an average of 1.6%, beating the S&P 500 which was up 1.3%.

In October, the strategy lagged the broad market for the third time. We had five winner and three losses. The strategy gained 1.3% as the S&P 500 gained 2.5%.

In November, the strategy once again beat the market. Six of the eight trades were winners with an average gain of 3.8% compared to a gain of 1.2% for the S&P 500. The results for the month are summarized in the table below.

trading strategy

So far this year, our simple seasonal strategy has delivered a total return of 27% for the stocks in our seasonal strategy with a win rate of 70% for all 83 trades.

We continue to outperform the broad stock market by a wide margin and doing so with a relatively simple strategy in a strong bull market where the S&P 500 shows a gain of more than 18%.

Now, it is important to remember we never know whether a trade will be a winner or loser and we never know which stocks we highlight each month will deliver the biggest gains, or which ones will be losers. That will always be true with system trading and is an example of why system traders must always take all of the system signals.

The key to a successful trading strategy is to follow it with discipline

You could consider the strategy to be the entire list of stocks that pass the screen each month or you could refine it. As we’ve noted in the past, perhaps you only want to trade two stocks on the list.

Among the many possible ways to refine the list would be to determine the price-to-sales (P/S) ratio for each stock and sort from lowest to highest so the deepest value lies at the top of the list. Then, you would buy those two. This is just one example of how that process could be implemented.

The same general idea for selecting stocks could be applied to dividend yields, earnings growth rates or even technical factors such as relative strength (RS). With RS you would most likely want to own the strongest stocks.

As an alternative, you could look at RSI, the relative strength index, and buy the stocks with the lowest value. These would be the most oversold stocks and the ones that would be expected to rebound over the next month. We are simply following all of the stocks on the list without using any other filters.

Obviously, the strategy could be expanded to buy three or more stocks. Buying just one stock on the list each month is probably not the best approach since there is no way to know which stocks will provide gains each month.

The results of our high probability trading screen for December

trading strategy

Any of these stocks, or call options on these stocks if available, could be considered as a trading possibility for the month of December.

It’s important to remember that in identifying these trades, we applied one of the least sophisticated seasonal strategies. We simply identified stocks that performed well in a calendar month. Even though it’s simple, it is a powerful trading strategy.

But, there are more advanced ways to apply seasonal strategies. Stock Trading Tips Extreme Profits Calendar program focuses on seasonal trades using more sophisticated strategies. To learn more about this trading program, there is a special report available at