Review of Personal Hotline V7 for the Mac
by Daryl Guppy

Personal Hotline started life as a gray box trading system, but it has changed considerably, and for the better since then. Version 7 is the latest release and is now the premier charting and analysis package for the Mac. It still retains its gray box Expert Trading Model, but now its assumptions are fully explained. The model is very useful as a way of comparing personal trading results, or personal trading plans because it provides a benchmark.

To support this early gray box the developer included both powerful analysis tools and a good charting package. These have all been extensively upgraded, particularly since the demise of CompuTrac and the subsequent rise of other competitors in the field of financial software for the Mac. Like all Mac software, Personal Hotline is a breeze to use and perfectly consistent with standard Mac operating procedures. What puts it as number one is its analysis capability and its rapid charting functions.

With Personal Hotline V7 those using Macintosh operating systems now have a powerful upgraded charting and analysis tool to assist in timing their market entry.

Chart analysis starts with a graph of prices. Users want price plot charts that are a clear display which builds quickly. Personal Hotline delivers and it is easy to move between chart plots for different stocks. The display choice is a bar chart, candlestick, line, or point and figure. Candlestick users can take advantage of the 'paint' feature to identify 26 patterns and bring up a trading explanation for each. Page references are given for Steven Nison's book, Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques. Trendlines can be drawn by hand, or placed automatically and saved for future reference. Shifting from daily, to weekly and monthly views is all menu driven. This is the basic shopfront of every charting package and Personal Hotline does not short-change the Mac user. The program supports multiple windows and layouts, and when combined with the Auto Run function, the user can set an Index chart in one window and watch the slide show of stock charts in the next window. Time intervals for chart display are user defined.
Two unique and most useful features are the MultiView and EquiView options. The first compares any two securities in line chart form, with the option of any one of three views. The most used of these is the Beta view which gives both a visual and a numerical reading of the beta value. The second, the EquiView, compares the past two years in line chart form. That is, this twelve months of data is overlaid on a plot of the last twelve months of data. It is a very useful way of testing cycle and seasonal analysis approaches.

Market analysis uses the power of the computer to sort and rank stocks against performance criteria selected by the user. This can be as simple as percentage price change from the previous day or position in relation to the year high. This also allows for multiple level testing when the result of the last test is contingent upon the outcome of the first test or previous set of tests.

The core of the data management system for Personal Hotline is the arrangement of lists. All data is downloaded into a single master list that sits in the background. The user then defines the stocks that will appear in each list, or sector. A list of 'watch' stocks might constitute sector 1, and a list of warrants for sector 500. This makes it easy to concentrate on stocks meeting particular trading criteria, and with 500 sectors to choose from you can be very creative in your selections.

It is this ability to create and sub-divide these lists that separates Personal Hotline from most other trading software packages. The charting functions are good, but the analysis functions are excellent. The Master Analysis delivers the value of each indicator for every stock, and also assigns a statistical rating. This is applied to the entire database, or just to a selected list. The report also identifies any new candlestick patterns which have developed since the last report run. Personal Hotline does this through a drop down Rank menu commands.

This raw analysis of price data is supplemented by technical analysis of individual stocks. Personal Hotline has a suite of 16 Price Oscillators, seven trend studies, four volume studies and nine Cycle studies. Settings can be manipulated to suit the users preferences. These numerical results are tabulated, sorted and ranked in the Master Analysis module. They are also quickly graphed, or charted, in the main display screens. Personal Hotline gives the user the ability to overlay these indicator plots, or to display them in sub-windows below the main chart. The graphic display builds quickly, even on older Macs. Traders more at home with lines than with figures will find the displays easy to read and manipulate.

This is powerful charting and analysis program, as much at home with stocks as it is with options and futures. Surprisingly Personal Hotline handles Option series and Futures Contract series with ease. Even more usefully it has one of the easiest to use contingent pricing option calculators I have seen. This is designed for options, but can be used with warrants. Using the Black-Scholes formula the user can calculate the probable price of an option contingent upon the underlying stock reaching a specific price. It will do this for two option series at a time. This is very useful in deciding which strike price or expiration month is the best trade.

Moving further into derivative trading Personal Hotline provides easy pathways to create and evaluate spread trading strategies. These spread files are updated daily. The Rollover function builds and maintains a continuous contract file using data from each individual contract. I found the market analysis functions and Personal Alerts System much easier to setup than with comparable PC programs. The construction dialog makes extensive use of drop down selection boxes so building the Alert criteria does not require a mathematics textbook. The Personal Alerts System uses up to 30 variables and comes into operation when your pre-defined buy and sell conditions have been met.

The Personal Trade Tracking facility helps users to paper trade a new idea. The results are compared with the default Expert Trading Model. The Trader's Journal, along with Personal Trade Tracking, encourages the user to formulate trading plans for each trade. If only there was a way to make traders stick to these plans......Mac users have become accustomed to, and frustrated with, all sorts of problems with accessing market data in the correct file format. Personal Hotline uses text files and many Internet data services, such as Paritech provide compatible daily text file services. These are easily imported into Personal Hotline. Adjusting the impact of capital reconstructions on past price data is handled through the Stock Split or Rollover screen.

Although there is no formal backtesting capability, the results can be exported to Excel, Clarisworks and other spreadsheet programs. Some users link Personal Hotline with another Mac product, Behold! to develop full backtesting and systems testing capabilities.

Personal Hotline makes excellent use of the graphic power of the Mac. It operates in a way that is consistent with other Mac software so users will feel at home very quickly. It is the most impressive of the charting and analysis programs available for the Mac and fortunately for Australian users, it accepts Australian data formats. Fully functional demo versions are available from Paritech.

Published in Shares Magazine

Daryl Guppy is a full time active, private position trader, trading the Australian equities market. He is author of several books including “Share Trading:An Approach To Buying and Selling” and “Trading Asian Share: Buying and Selling Asian Shares For Profit”. His most recent book is “Trading Tactics: An Introduction”. He edited the Australian editions of the U.S. classic, “The Basics of Speculating” and “Day Traders Advantage”. He is a regular contributor to the Sydney Futures Exchange magazine, “Your Trading Edge” and the U.S. traders magazine, “Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities”.