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Cup and Handle Pattern: Understand with an Example

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Cup and Handle Pattern: Understand with an Example

Trading securities using chart patterns and reading stock charts is widespread in the market. These patterns, like rectangles, triangles, or cup-and-handle shapes, emerge as a security’s price moves in a certain way. They offer identifiable entry points and predefined risk-reward ratios. 

These patterns are fundamental tools for technical analysis in trading. In this article, we’ll delve into one of these patterns, the cup and handle pattern, discussing trading strategies and key considerations for maximizing profits. 

What is a Cup and Handle Pattern?

The cup and handle chart pattern is a bullish pattern that signals a likely continuation of an uptrend in price. This pattern can be seen within an ongoing uptrend and suggests that the uptrend is likely to continue even after the pattern is completed and confirmed. 

Developed by William O’Neil and introduced in his book “How to Make Money in Stocks,” the cup and handle pattern is crucial for stock market investors. Named for resembling a teacup, this pattern indicates sustained upward movement in stock prices.

The cup of the pattern is U-shaped, while the handle represents a dip from the previous peak to about one-third of the cup’s height, resembling a bowl shape. For example, say your cup forms between Rs. 99 and Rs. 100, the handle ideally ranges from Rs. 99.50 to Rs. 100, ideally between Rs. 99.65 and Rs. 100. Avoid pattern trading if the handle is too deep; it can erase most of the cup’s profitability. A handle is considered too deep if it dips significantly more than this one-third mark. So as per the example taken here, the cup formed between Rs.99 and Rs.100, with a height of Re.1 (100 – 99). So, a perfect handle depth would be around Rs.0.33 (1/3).

The pattern signifies a period of consolidation followed by a breakout, making it a valuable tool for stock market analysis. Moreover, it helps identify buying opportunities in a stock.

How do you identify the cup and handle pattern?

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Source: TradingView

When detecting cup and handle stock patterns, note the following:

  • Length matters: Longer cups with a U-shaped bottom are stronger signals. Avoid cups with sharp V-bottoms.
  • Depth: Ideally, the cup shouldn’t be shallow. The handle should make up the top half of the cup pattern.
  • Period of formation: The cup typically develops over 1-6 months or more on longer charts. The handle ideally forms in 1-4 weeks or longer, depending on the cup’s timeframe.
  • Volume: As the price drops, the volume should decrease and stay below average at the cup’s bottom. When testing previous highs, the stock volume should rise.
  • Retesting resistance: The handle doesn’t need to or nearly touch the old high. However, the breakout is directly proportional to how far the high is from the handle.

Understanding the cup and handle pattern:

The cup and handle pattern reveals buyers’ strength over sellers. The cup forms as the price drops and then rebounds to the same level. Next, the price dips again, forming a shallower low and a strong recovery, shaping the handle. This pattern signifies buyers’ resilience against selling pressure. The cup and handle pattern rules say there are two types: continuation and reversal. 

A continuation cup and handle pattern occurs during an uptrend. This pattern thus forms during consolidation, followed by a breakout and continued uptrend. 

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Conversely, a reversal cup and handle pattern appears after a long downtrend, signaling a potential trend reversal.

How do you use the Cup and Handle pattern in the market?

  1. Identifying the entry point:

To enter a cup and handle trade, look for handles shaped like lateral or descending channels or triangles. Buy when the price breaks above the channel or triangle top. When the price exits the handle, expect an upward move, though the price may fluctuate or dip briefly. If that happens, use a stop-loss to manage risk despite the anticipated rise.

  1. Placing stop loss:

Placing a stop-loss is crucial in trading. If prices fall after buying a breakout from the cup and handle pattern, it kicks in,  allowing you to mitigate the trade risk by selling when the price drops enough to nullify the pattern. 

Set the stop-loss below the lowest point of the handle. If the price fluctuates within the handle, place it below the bottom of the latest swing. Ensure the handle remains in the top half of the cup, keeping the stop-loss away from the bottom half. Avoid trading if the stop-loss falls below the cup’s middle. 

Ideally, the stop-loss should be in the upper third of the cup and handle pattern. This proximity to the entry point in the upper third or half of the cup will improve your risk-reward ratio. The stop-loss manages risk, while the target represents potential reward.

  1. Picking an exit point:

Add this height to the handle’s breakout point regardless of the cup’s height to determine your cup and handle target price. For instance, if your cup and handle pattern’s price range is between Rs.100 and Rs.102, and the breakout point is Rs.102, your target should be Rs.104. Cups may have differing heights on the left and right sides. 

If you aim for a conservative target (a less risky profit target), opt for the lower height as your exit point. But if you have aggressive goals (aiming for a riskier target), place your exit point higher. If you’re a day trader and don’t hit your target by day’s end, close your position before the market closes. Consider using a trailing stop-loss to exit a position that approaches the target but starts to decline again. 

The Bottom line

The patterns formed by the price movement in the securities market are crucial in forecasting your next move regarding the stock in question. The cup and handle pattern has a good track record as a successful analysis metric, but it carries its share of risks and shortfalls if used as a standalone measure for investment decisions. 

So, when using the cup and handle pattern, consider consulting an investment advisory to learn more about the combination of other chart patterns you can use for a complete analysis of short—or long-term stocks. You can also explore the charts and other technical and fundamental analysis to balance your approach between investing vs trading


  1. Is cup and handle a bullish pattern?

    The cup and handle stock pattern is a bullish continuation pattern that helps identify profitable entry and exit points in stocks or other securities.

  2. What is the success rate of the cup handle pattern?

    Two decades of trading analysis reveal that the cup and handle pattern boasts a 95% success rate during bullish markets, yielding an average profit of +54%. Although reliable and precise, this chart formation can be tricky to identify.

  3. What is the cup with no handle pattern?

    In a cup without a handle, the stock surges to new highs continuously. Positive news, like a strong earnings report, can trigger this rally. If the stock sharply surpasses its previous high, it presents a buying opportunity.

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I’m Archana R. Chettiar, an experienced content creator with
an affinity for writing on personal finance and other financial content. I
love to write on equity investing, retirement, managing money, and more.

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