Fri 2 Apr 2010
A feature that is incredibly handy on StockCharts.com is the ability to quickly generate charts showing the ratio between two tradable entities. By simply placing a colon (:) between two tickers or index symbols you can bring up a chart showing relationships between such things as Gold to Silver, Texas Crude to the USD Index, the S&P Large Cap to the USD Index and the European Top 100 to the Eurodollar Index. These comparisons let you remove factors when examining equities and determining hedges. For instance, if you believed that the demand for oil was going to increase, and you didn't want to get crushed by movements in the USD, then you could go long Oil, and hedge yourself against an adverse movement in the dollar.
This technique can be applied to vanilla equities. If you wanted to reduce Beta in your portfolio, and wanted to benefit on the growth of Apple vs Microsoft, you could a long position in Apple, and a position of equivalent size short in Microsoft. Then as long as the ratio between the two continues to grow, you've somewhat isolated yourself from the daily fluctuations in the market.