A software consultant who day trades stocks gained 805% in 2023. He shares 3 chart indicators that led him from consistent losses to becoming profitable. (2024)

Goverdhan Gajjala first learned about stock trading from a trader friend.

The friend, he said, was a swing trader who held positions for a few weeks at best. They used the CANSLIM method, an approach crafted by Investor's Business Daily founder William O'Neil that combines company fundamentals and technical analysis.

Gajjala, a 43-year-old, Dallas-based software consultant, initially thought his friend was gambling. But after some persuasion, he decided to give it a chance. The friend's initial plan was to build a group that could split the research to cover more companies to determine which stocks were worth investing in.

Gajjala soon realized that there was strategy and skill involved in trading, and it could become a hobby he could enjoy while making extra money.

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Shortly after discovering this interest, the pandemic hit, and he began working from home. The transition to remote work afforded him extra time to research other trading strategies. That's when he discovered Mark Minervini, a veteran stock trader who had won the US Investing Championship. He joined his private access program, a paid educational platform for trading stocks, where he spent a year learning the content.

One downside with swing trading for Gajjala was that he'd have to hold for days to a month to capture 20% to 30% moves. But as the duration increases, so does the risk of external and uncontrollable factors that could sink the stock. It became common for him to capture 5% to 10% in unrealized gains and then lose the momentum due to negative news. This made him feel like he didn't have enough control over his performance.

By the summer of 2021, he began researching alternative trading methods, by reading chat rooms, looking at stock scanners, studying the day's top movers, and analyzing their charts. He began creating lists and observing patterns and movements on daily 5-minute charts for stocks with sudden momentum.

He noticed that small-cap stocks with low floats and positive news such as an FDA approval followed a pattern where they would rally early morning, reaching high peaks before pulling back. This setup had certain patterns that could be observed. He began day trading based on that familiar play. Since he lacked trading experience and was still testing his skills, he spent a year trading small positions risking only $20 per trade. But a lack of risk management and impulsive trading kept him in a boom-and-bust cycle, where he would see gains and then lose them. Gajjala referred to his early experience as "bleeding by a thousand cuts." He made too many trades daily, and multiple small losses began to add up.

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When he came into trading, he assumed it would be like learning an economics course in school: he could study hard and ace the outcome like he used to ace his exams. But he quickly realized that it wasn't the case with trading. He was consistently trying but wasn't profitable for many years —an experience he says really hurt his ego. The process was far from any get-rich-quick scheme; it required tenaciousness and the ability to accept losses.

"In economics, you don't get to learn about losing, but trading is all about losing. It's like the best-loser-wins kind of that scenario," Gajjala said.

Making the shift

In January 2023, he enrolled in the US Investing Championship, an annual competition for traders, to follow in his mentor Minervini's footsteps. He, too, wanted to win the competition. The only problem was that he still wasn't profitable. He told himself it would be enough to just get the feel of it.

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He told Insider that the desire to win the championship pushed him to tighten his strategy and adjust his bad habits. Mainly, he wasn't sticking tightly enough to his main three-step setup, outlined below

He looks for stocks with high demand, which means the trading volume should increase parallel to the stock's price increase. This indicates that many traders are on the long side of the trade, which would push the price up.

The stock's price should pull back organically, meaning the volume parallel to the downward price move should be gradual. This indicates that there are fewer sellers than buyers. Based on his observation, this setup suggests that the price will rally higher when the demand picks back up.

One mistake he would make before becoming profitable was that he did not wait long enough for the selling to die down before entering a position. Now, he waits until the selling volume completely dries out before entering a trade.

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The first chart below demonstrates the volume dying down parallel to the price pullback. The second chart indicates his previous entry point versus where he generally enters a trade now.

A software consultant who day trades stocks gained 805% in 2023. He shares 3 chart indicators that led him from consistent losses to becoming profitable. (1)

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A software consultant who day trades stocks gained 805% in 2023. He shares 3 chart indicators that led him from consistent losses to becoming profitable. (2)

Tradeview

The price should touch the exponential moving average (EMA) and respect it. The EMA is more weighted toward the latest price moves. On a five-minute chart, he uses the one based on the previous nine bars. On a daily chart like the one above, it's based on the past nine days. He mainly uses the five-minute interval chart. If the stock's price doesn't fall below it or forms a support line, it signals that the price could likely retrace and increase. At a minimum, he waits for the share price to bounce off the EMA twice.

Sticking to this process, by April 2023, Gajjala's performance improved and he saw a 65.3% gain, putting him in second place. In May, he saw another 47% gain, according to records of his brokerage account. That month, his name appeared as second place in the championship. His desire to push into first place caused his emotions to kick in and led him to increase his position size, which increased his risk exposure.

By June 9, he had taken a loss after buying Advanced Health Intelligence (AHI), according to records of his brokerage account. But his eagerness led him to revert back to his old habit of revenge trading, which led him to lose 17 trades in a row. He ended June down by 44.4%. The loss helped him clearly see his fault play out in big numbers, and led him to double down on his strict strategy.

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Gajjala ended the US Investing Championship in first place with an 805% gain, according to monthly brokerage statements viewed by Insider and results vetted by the championship founder, Norman Zadeh.

"He does a lot of trading, which means his record is highly statistically significant," Zadeh said. "His style of trading requires constant scrutiny of the market. Only a few people are capable of this type of performance. Most investors who attempt to generate such returns lose."

A key lesson Gajjala took away was that execution is everything. You can read hundreds of books and practice multiple times to prepare yourself but in the end, it's about your ability to stick to your rules. A trader's emotions are the main damaging thing that interferes with that, he said. The fear of missing out and revenge or anger trading are damaging, too.

He has learned to address his impulse to revenge trade by practicing daily meditations and journaling about his trades to help him keep his emotions in check. One specific meditation technique that has helped him is visualizing a loss and then practicing the response he prefers rather than the one he defaults to. He will close his eyes and see the chart turn red, indicating that the trade has turned against him. He will feel the emotion of disappointment and then make a decision to exit the trade and accept the loss rather than look for the next trade in an attempt to reclaim the loss.

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Additionally, he now cuts his losses earlier. This meant exiting a trade within five minutes rather than waiting up to 15 minutes if it turned against him. He also takes fewer trades. Instead of entering five to 10 trades daily, he now keeps it at two to three. This allows him to be more selective of the stocks he traded, limiting them to the ones that strictly met his setup.

As an enthusiast and expert in the field of stock trading and investment strategies, I can provide valuable insights into the concepts mentioned in the article about Goverdhan Gajjala's journey. My extensive knowledge in this area stems from a deep understanding of various trading methods, strategies, and the psychology behind successful trading.

Goverdhan Gajjala's initial exposure to stock trading through swing trading using the CANSLIM method is a classic approach that combines fundamental analysis and technical analysis. The CANSLIM method, crafted by William O'Neil, focuses on company fundamentals (such as earnings and sales growth) and technical factors (such as chart patterns and volume). This method is widely used by investors seeking to identify potential winning stocks.

The article also discusses Gajjala's transition to day trading, where he observed patterns in small-cap stocks with low floats and positive news. Day trading involves executing short-term trades within a single trading day, aiming to profit from intraday price movements. Gajjala's specific focus on small-cap stocks and the use of daily 5-minute charts showcase the importance of technical analysis in day trading.

Furthermore, the article highlights Gajjala's struggles with risk management and impulsive trading, which resulted in a "boom-and-bust" cycle. This underscores the critical role of discipline and risk management in trading. Gajjala's realization that trading is not a quick route to wealth and involves accepting losses is a crucial insight for aspiring traders.

The article details Gajjala's participation in the US Investing Championship, where he aimed to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Mark Minervini. His adoption of a three-step setup, involving high demand, organic price pullback, and respect for the exponential moving average (EMA), reflects the importance of having a structured trading plan.

Gajjala's emphasis on waiting for selling volume to dry out before entering a trade, along with his use of the EMA as a key indicator, demonstrates the meticulous nature of successful trading. The charts provided in the article illustrate the significance of volume analysis and technical indicators in making informed trading decisions.

The article also delves into Gajjala's journey of self-improvement, where he learned to address emotions like fear of missing out and revenge trading. His use of meditation and visualization techniques to manage emotions highlights the psychological aspect of trading and the need for emotional resilience.

In conclusion, the concepts discussed in the article encompass a broad spectrum of stock trading strategies, including swing trading, day trading, fundamental analysis, technical analysis, risk management, and the psychological aspects of trading. The narrative of Gajjala's journey serves as a valuable case study for traders looking to enhance their skills and achieve consistent profitability in the stock market.

A software consultant who day trades stocks gained 805% in 2023. He shares 3 chart indicators that led him from consistent losses to becoming profitable. (2024)
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