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If there is anything I like to see in a stock it is resilience. For the past four months, Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) lagged the market, but it just refused to drop below the $24 level. This maker of network infrastructure was rocked by a negative analyst opinion in May and a downgrade in June, but support held firm.
And while JNPR has gone nowhere since April, money continued to flow in. The on-balance volume indicator, which measures volume traded on up days versus down days, began to rise in early April.
Theoretically, if the bulls are more aggressive, more shares change hands on rally days than on declining days. That tells us there is demand for the stock, even if the trend is flat. Sooner or later, there will not be enough supply to offset it, and prices are very likely to rise.
The $24 level, which is short-term support, falls in the middle of a longer-term zone of support between $23 and $25.50. The top of the range runs through the big July 2011 gap down, as well as several other important highs in 2011 and 2012. The bottom of the range hits the 2013 highs, including the pause just before the up gap on Jan. 10, 2014.
Further, the 200-day moving average is now rising and should hit the $24 level later this month.
Taken together, there is a good deal of support going back a few years, and that creates a good risk/reward area on the chart.
Getting back to the issue of resilience, the market took a beating on Tuesday, and JNPR did not escape the carnage. It fell sharply but, of course, did not drop below $24. On Wednesday, it rallied nicely and with fairly good volume. And Thursday, when the market took another beating, this time right at the open, Juniper opened low but roared back once again. Shrugging off bad market action is bullish.
One more factor to consider: Peer Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) was also resilient this week and is already in a rising trend. A strong sector goes a long way toward creating a strong stock, and JNPR seems poised to benefit from this.
Just to be safe, wait until the stock proves it is ready to rally with a move above its declining March trendline at $24.75.
Recommended Trade Setup:
-- Buy JNPR on a break above $24.75
-- Set stop-loss at $23.75
-- Set initial price target at $27 for a potential 9% gain in five weeks
A recent breakout sets shares up for a rally to last year's highs and possibly beyond.
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