Why the Hindenburg Omen Is Hooey


Investors might be atwitter over the so-called Hindenburg Omen, a technical indicator flashing a red alert for an imminent market crash, but the odds of it being right are long to non-existent, experts say.

Jeffrey Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James (RJF), has made many adroit calls since the last market crash and rally, and he told clients Monday morning that the Hindenburg Omen is, well, hooey.

"While the various markets can certainly do ANYTHING, it's typically not the snake you see that bites you," Saut writes. "Ladies and gentlemen, when so many people are asking the same 'Hindenburg Omen' question, it is typically the wrong question!"

Lousy Track Record

Meanwhile, Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab (SCHW), made it clear to clients that the Hindenburg Omen has a really lousy track record.

"This indicator has flashed multiple times during the past 20-plus years when there hasn't been a crash," Sonders writes. "In fact, more than 75% of the time the Omen has been a false signal, according to The Wall Street Journal."

And if you want an opinion from someone who doesn't work for a big brokerage house, Lawrence McMillan, editor of The Option Strategistnewsletter, has found that adherents of the Hindenburg Omen "put so many conditions on it as to render it almost useless."

The indicator has a number of criteria, including that the daily number of new 52-week highs and lows on the NYSE must be both equal to or greater than 2.3% of the total number of NYSE issues that advance or decline that day.

True, the market may very well crash badly and soon, but investors would be wise to position their portfolios based on something more than technical signal with a catchy name -- and little predicative value.