The iM-SuperTimer – Update No.2:
Timing the Market with the iM-Stock Market Confidence Level

  • For a detailed model description of the system please read the original description and previous update.
  • To make this model more user-friendly we will be providing signals for three different version of this model, all updated weekly.
  • The models’ holdings alternate between ETF (SPY) and ETF (IEF), being proxies for investments during up- and down stock market periods, repectively.
  • The strategy was modeled in excel with weekly data, and performance includes trading costs of 0.1% of the total switch trade amounts.

We provide three variants of the iM-SuperTimer that are triggered by the iM-SMC, an indication of the stock market confidence level, which we calculate on a weekly cycle.  (See Appendix 1 or previous update.)  The iM-1wk-SuperTimer is a fast response timer whereas for the iM-1mo-SuperTimer, and iM-3mo-SuperTimer, trade only in the relevant first week of the month.

1. iM-1wk-SuperTimer (SPY-IEF)

This model reconstitutes weekly and has a specified minimum 5 weeks holding period of a position. This facilitates a holding period greater than 30 days, which in many instances is the required holding period of mutual funds. All trades are assumed on the first trading day of the week.

Simulated past performance, maximum drawdown, and number of trades, as well as current holding are shown in Figure-1.

For the period 1/3/2000 to 3/18/2019 the model would have produced an annualized return of 19.9% with a max drawdown of about -10%. A buy-and-hold strategy of SPY had an annualized return of only 5.4% with a maximum drawdown of -55% over the same period.

Since the iM-SMC level is available on Sundays, trading is assumed to occur on the first trading day of the week thereafter, usually a Monday. Trading should not be delayed by more than two days as the model’s annualized return diminishes then.

Trading Day  Annualized Return
1st 19.9%
2nd 18.1%
3rd 16.5%
4th 16.6%
5th 16.0%

width="640"/(click to enlarge)

2. iM-1mo-SuperTimer (SPY-IEF)

This model reconstitutes monthly. All trades are assumed on the first trading day of the week in the first week of the month. This should be more convenient to follow than a model which reconstitutes every four weeks.

Simulated past performance, maximum drawdown, and number of trades, as well as current holding are shown in Figure-2.

For the period 1/3/2000 to 3/18/2019 the model would have produced an annualized return of 16.7% with a max drawdown of about -19%. A buy-and-hold strategy of SPY had an annualized return of only 5.4% with a maximum drawdown of -55% over the same period.

The return is lower than for the model reconstituted weekly, but trading effort is reduced by approximately half from that of the 1-week model. Trading can be delayed as the model’s annualized return is not too much affected by trading a few days late from the first trading day of the week.

Trading Day  Annualized Return
1st 16.7%
2nd 16.4%
3rd 16.3%
4th 15.4%
5th 15.2%

width="640"/(click to enlarge)

3. iM-3mo-SuperTimer (SPY-IEF)

This model reconstitutes every three month. All trades are assumed on the first trading day of the week in the first week of the month. This model may be of interest to participants in retirement savings plans and education savings plans where the number of asset allocation switches per year is limited. This model shows only 16 switch trades over the 19 year backtest period, with a maximum of two switches in a calendar year.

Simulated past performance, maximum drawdown, and number of trades, as well as current holding are shown in Figure-3.

For the period 1/3/2000 to 3/18/2019 the model would have produced an annualized return of 14.1% with a max drawdown of about -19%. A buy-and-hold strategy of SPY had an annualized return of only 5.4% with a maximum drawdown of -55% over the same period.

The return is lower than for the models reconstituted weekly and every month, but trading effort is only about one third of the 1-week model. It only produced 16 switch-trades during the 19-year backtest period.

Trading can be delayed by up to 10 days as the model’s annualized return is hardly affected by trading a few days late from the first trading day of the week.

Trading Day  Annualized Return
1st 14.1%
2nd 14.3%
3rd 14.5%
4th 14.1%
5th 14.1%

width="640"/(click to enlarge)

Despite this low trading frequency the model’s initial Jan-2000 investment would have grown from $5,000 to about $63,000 in 2019, for a total return of $58,000. This is an impressive performance. A buy-and-hold investment of $5,000 in SPY or IEF would have only grown to about $13,800 for a total return of $8,800 over the same period. So, following the few signals from the iM-3mo-SuperTimer one would have added more than 6-times as much to one’s savings as one would have had from holding either SPY or IEF.


The backtests suggest that the iM-SuperTimer based on the Stock Market Confidence Level Strategy could provide useful trading signals for investors and savers.

At iMarketSignals we have provided weekly updates of the iM-Stock Market Confidence Level for longer than two year now. We are currently providing updates for the weekly reconstituted iM-SuperTimer model. We will also provide weekly updates for the iM-SuperTimer models which are reconstituted monthly and every three months. Figures 1, 2, and 3 will be updated monthly.

Subscription Requirement
Model Gold Silver Bronze
iM-SMC Level yes
iM-1wk-SuperTimer yes
iM-1mo-SuperTimer yes yes
iM-3mo-SuperTimer yes yes yes



The performance data shown represent past performance, which is not a guarantee of future results. Investment returns and portfolio value will fluctuate, and future signals from these models may not be as efficient as they were in the past.

Appendix 1

The stock market confidence level is recalculated on a weekly cycle from the stock holding percentages and importance factors of 15 models rounded to the lowest number that is divisible by 5.

Table-1 iM-Stock Market Confidence Level          iM-SMC = 50% ( 3/11/2019 )
Update Frequency Calculation Platform Backtest from iM-Market Timer Model Model Importance Factor Stock Holding
weekly P123 2000 Best(SPY-IEF) Market Timer Combo 0.5 25%
weekly P123 2000 Best-Combo3.R1 1 50%
weekly P123 2000 Composite (SPY-IEF) Timer 2.5 0%
weekly P123 2000 Composite (SH-RSP) Timer 1 100%
weekly P123 2000 Standard Market Timer 1 100%
monthly Excel/P123 1953 Inflation Timer 1 100%
weekly P123 2000 3-mo Hi-Lo Index Timer 1 100%
weekly P123 2000 Low Frequency Timer 0.5 100%
weekly P123 2000 Market Climate Grader 1 50%
weekly Excel 1965 MAC-US Timer 1 100%
monthly Excel 1965 Coppock Indicator for the S&P500 1 0%
monthly Excel 1950 CAPE-Cycle-ID 0.5 100%
monthly Excel 1979 CAPE-MA35 Ratio 0.5 0%
monthly Excel/P123 1950 Seasonal Strategy 0.5 100%
monthly excel 2004 iM-Google Trends 1 0%

Historic weekly levels and holding periods can be download here: im-smc_to_3-18-2019.xlsx

Posted in blogs, featured
38 comments on “The iM-SuperTimer – Update No.2:
Timing the Market with the iM-Stock Market Confidence Level
  1. markgo03 says:

    Didn’t super timer ( old-1 week) buy spy on 3/18/19?
    Thank You,

    • geovrba says:

      The new 1wk SuperTimer holds a position for a min period of 5 weeks to avoid weekly back and forth trading. This eliminates the annoying short holding periods which a weekly timer can have and also improves returns.

      If you want to trade according to the old timer on a weekly basis, there is nothing stopping you from following the weekly iM-Stock Market Confidence Level which signals up-market conditions when iM-SMC > 50%.

      • Roger Campbell says:

        Can you explain the 5 week feature a little more. Last week the 1 week timer went to SPY. Today it is shown as in IEF. So the model will hold SPY for 4 more weeks and in addition tomorrow go into IEF for a minimum of 5 weeks?

        • geovrba says:

          No, it does not work the way you say.

          If you ignore the 5-week holding period then you just follow the weekly iM-SMC level, currently at 75%, indicating up-market conditions, and you would be in SPY.

          The new 1wk-SuperTimer is reconstituted weekly, but holds a position for at least 5 weeks. It switched to IEF on 2/25/2019 and the 5 week holding period is not up yet. So, it is still in IEF. If by April-1 the iM-SMC level is still higher than 50% it will switch to SPY then.

  2. Ralph Marriott says:

    I am having difficulty understanding all this. We now have 3 Supertimers whereas before there was one. The new one week Supertimer is now in IEF whereas before it was in SPY…why? Is this because of the (new?) 5 week holding rule?

    • geovrba says:

      Gold subscription members can follow any of the three models, depending on their needs.
      Yes, the new 1-wk SuperTimer is in IEF because it switched to it on 2/25/2019 and the 5 week holding period is not up yet.
      Please also see my other comment above.

  3. Solid says:

    thank you for another great modification of the model.
    This looks very appealing.
    Can you please provide the trade dates for the 1-week (5 weeks holding) model?

  4. nevadainvestor says:

    Re: 1 wk Super Timer
    The reason you reconstitute weekly is for those that want to trade weekly? But, for those that follow the recommended holding period, what happens in weeks 2-4 is noise and the next trade relies on what the IM SMC level is in week 5? For example next Monday we hold IEF. During next 2-4 weeks the IM-SMC stays above 50% but, in week 5 IM-SMC comes in less than 50%. The model would call for staying in IEF, correct?

    • geovrba says:

      The iM-SMC level>50% (or the old iM-SuperTimer) reconstitutes weekly, but holds a position for min period of 1 week.

      The new 1-wk SuperTimer reconstitutes weekly, but holds a position for min 5 weeks.

      You are correct in your assessment that the new 1-wk SuperTimer does not respond to changes in the iM-SMC level during the 5-week min holding period after a position change.

  5. TDCARLSON says:

    The link in the grid on the weekly updates page points to “Seasonal Switching Strategy” (your modified strategy that uses cyclicals and defensives) instead of “Seasonal Strategy” that you use on this page. I’m assuming you want the one on this page.

    Tom C

  6. Anton Vrba says:

    Below a summary of the performances of the iM-SMC level>50% (or the old iM-SuperTimer) compared to the three new models. The iM-SMC level>50, which reconstitutes weekly with no hold period has a third more trades than the iM-1wk-SuperTrader and also under performs it. Note the 1wk model outperforms SPY in the upmarket period of the last 10 years, and the 1mo model equals it.

    Model Reconstitute Period Hold Period Trades Term Value CAGR 10yr CAGR
    iM-SMC level>50% 1wk 1wk 59 $136,260 18.8% 20.4%
    iM-1wk-SuperTrader 1wk 5wk 45 $162,685 19.9% 21.0%
    iM-1mo-SuperTrader 1mo 1mo 27 $96,804 16.7% 15.4%
    iM-3mo-SuperTrader 3mo 3mo 16 $63,485 14.1% 14.4%
    SPY 1 $13,783 5.4% 15.4%
  7. Andrea2015 says:

    Hi Georg,
    great work again !
    Can you give us a list of the dates 45 trades for the weekly 5 model?
    Thank you.

  8. smurf says:

    Can we have the list of trade for iM-1wk-SuperTimer (SPY-IEF)? thank you!

  9. Anton Vrba says:

    Below tables list all trades for the three models

    iM-1wk-SuperTimer iM-1mo-SuperTimer iM-3mo-SuperTimer
    1 IEF 01/03/00 04/17/00 01/03/00 05/01/00 01/03/00 04/07/03
    2 SPY 04/17/00 06/19/00 05/01/00 07/03/00 04/07/03 07/06/04
    3 IEF 06/19/00 10/21/02 07/03/00 04/07/03 07/06/04 10/04/04
    4 SPY 10/21/02 11/25/02 04/07/03 05/05/03 10/04/04 04/04/05
    5 IEF 11/25/02 03/31/03 05/05/03 06/02/03 04/04/05 07/05/05
    6 SPY 03/31/03 05/05/03 06/02/03 05/03/04 07/05/05 10/01/07
    7 IEF 05/05/03 06/09/03 05/03/04 09/07/04 10/01/07 04/06/09
    8 SPY 06/09/03 08/18/03 09/07/04 03/07/05 04/06/09 01/04/10
    9 IEF 08/18/03 09/22/03 03/07/05 05/02/05 01/04/10 04/05/10
    10 SPY 09/22/03 04/19/04 05/02/05 06/05/06 04/05/10 07/05/11
    11 IEF 04/19/04 05/24/04 06/05/06 07/03/06 07/05/11 01/03/12
    12 SPY 05/24/04 06/28/04 07/03/06 09/05/06 01/03/12 07/06/15
    13 IEF 06/28/04 08/09/04 09/05/06 10/02/06 07/06/15 07/05/16
    14 SPY 08/09/04 09/13/04 10/02/06 08/06/07 07/05/16 10/03/16
    15 IEF 09/13/04 10/25/04 08/06/07 04/06/09 10/03/16 01/03/17
    16 SPY 10/25/04 02/28/05 04/06/09 01/04/10 01/03/17 01/07/19
    17 IEF 02/28/05 04/18/05 01/04/10 02/01/10 01/07/19
    18 SPY 04/18/05 05/22/06 02/01/10 05/03/10
    19 IEF 05/22/06 07/03/06 05/03/10 07/06/10
    20 SPY 07/03/06 09/05/06 07/06/10 07/05/11
    21 IEF 09/05/06 10/09/06 07/05/11 01/03/12
    22 SPY 10/09/06 07/23/07 01/03/12 07/06/15
    23 IEF 07/23/07 09/10/07 07/06/15 07/05/16
    24 SPY 09/10/07 10/15/07 07/05/16 09/06/16
    25 IEF 10/15/07 03/30/09 09/06/16 11/07/16
    26 SPY 03/30/09 01/04/10 11/07/16 01/07/19
    27 IEF 01/04/10 02/08/10 01/07/19 03/04/19
    28 SPY 02/08/10 05/03/10 03/04/19
    29 IEF 05/03/10 06/07/10
    30 SPY 06/07/10 06/13/11
    31 IEF 06/13/11 08/08/11
    32 SPY 08/08/11 09/12/11
    33 IEF 09/12/11 01/03/12
    34 SPY 01/03/12 04/27/15
    35 IEF 04/27/15 06/01/15
    36 SPY 06/01/15 07/06/15
    37 IEF 07/06/15 08/24/15
    38 SPY 08/24/15 09/28/15
    39 IEF 09/28/15 06/27/16
    40 SPY 06/27/16 09/06/16
    41 IEF 09/06/16 10/31/16
    42 SPY 10/31/16 12/10/18
    43 IEF 12/10/18 01/22/19
    44 SPY 01/22/19 02/25/19
    45 IEF 02/25/19

    (Note: Figure 1 erroneously reported 45 completed trades instead of 44)

  10. vman says:

    Hi Anton and Georg

    Like this strategy. Can the 1 week model(s) be run using SH (1x inverse SPY) instead of IEF please?
    Are buys made at the open or close on Monday??

    • geovrba says:

      The simulation for 1wk-SuperTimer(SPY-SH) from 1/3/2000 to 3/22/2019:
      CAGR= 22.0%, max D/D= -19%

      Trade is always on close.

      • TDCARLSON says:

        That one is strong also. Seems like there are several variations of this that could be strong, I am already starting to run them all in different portfolios:

        100% SPY or IEF (your method)
        100% SPY or SH
        combo variable SPY/IEF based on SMC: %SPY = SMC%, %IEF = (1-SMC%)
        variable SPY-SH: allocation = (SMC% – 50) * 2;
        if positive SPY, if negative SH,
        remainder in IEF or cash

        Also could look at substituting gold as the non-stock asset if the im-Gold timer signals Gold

        Tom C

        • geovrba says:

          Looks interesting. Let the community know if you find something that is easy to implement.

        • vman says:

          My guess – just a guess – is that the performance of the 1-week SuperTimer using SPY-SH version – that doesn’t require a 5 week hold – has better (maybe much better) performance that the 22%CAGR/ -19% max DD stated above by Georg

          • TDCARLSON says:

            Man – I agree, but think it will be slightly better (similar to the SPY-IEF results compared 1 wk to 5 wk).

            Tom C

        • randyfloyd says:

          I like your idea re: gold. Taking it a step further, perhaps the “out of market asset”, be it IEF or gold, can be determined by a separate indicator, perhaps based on inflation level or trend.

          Looking back at 2009, a gold trend indicator could have been extremely lucrative as the out of market asset in the uptrend.

          Also, as we don’t know what the next crash holds, gold could be the safe asset, who knows?

          • TDCARLSON says:

            I agree. We know that the iM Gold Timer(rev1) uses Federal Funds Rate, 10-year Treasury Note yield, S&P500 Estimated Earnings Yield, and Gold Price. And it’s either in gold or it’s not. So it could be used as an on-off switch to either be in gold or in bonds. Or all bonds vs 1/2 gold 1/2 bonds given gold is a lot more volatile. Another useful on-off switch could be the BVR model that is used in the SSO-Bond timer. You could use that to choose your bond ETF — IEF or TLT.

            Tom C

      • vman says:

        Hi Georg
        Many thanks. Could the 1wk-SuperTimer(SPY-SH) backtest be run using the ‘NO 5-week hold’ condition please?


  11. rpm123 says:

    1, If the new 1 week supertimer holds for 5 weeks, why not call it the 5 week supertimer? 2, What does reconstitutes 1 week exactly mean in this new 5 week holding timer? And 3, will you still be tracking performance of the original 1 week supertimer? Thanks

  12. geovrba says:

    1, The 1-wk SuperTimer is reconstituted weekly. That is what the 1-wk means. i.e it checks the iM-SMC Level every week.

    2, When the 1-wk SuperTimer generates a signal for a position change it holds the position for at least 5 weeks, but it looks at the iM-SMC Level every week, and not every 5 weeks. The 1-mo and 3-mo models check the iM-SMC Level every 1- or 3 months only, meaning they are reconstituted every 1- or 3 months, respectively.

    3, We will not be tracking the old model which had a min holding period of 1 week, but if you want to follow it just check the iM-SMC Level every week and trade accordingly.

  13. nmtdoc says:

    Regarding #2:
    What is the point of checking/ reconstituting the iM-SMC level every week if the hold period is a minimum of 5 weeks? It does not appear from your description that any of the iM-SMC data from weeks 1-4 are used in the calculation to exit/enter a position, just the data from thee iM-SMC level of week 5. Am I misunderstanding you?

    • geovrba says:

      You have to check the iM-SMC level every week. Assume after the 5-week hold, week-6 is still a hold, but week-7 is a switch signal. If you didn’t check every week you would not know this.

      You are correct that during the 5-week hold period the check is ineffective, i.e. the model does not respond to it.

  14. TDCARLSON says:

    If one were to implement a ‘pure’ one month model, I’m assuming that the results would still be strong if one were to simply on the first day of the each month, simply use whatever the current iM Super Timer would suggest, regardless of the day of the week? It seems pretty clear given what all the other iterations have produced, but wondering if I’m missing something.

    Tom C

    • geovrba says:

      The ‘pure’ one month model is the iM-1mo-SuperTimer model. This model only looks at the iM-SMC level on the first trading day of the week in the first week of the month, as per model description.

      • TDCARLSON says:

        Right. In general that would trade every month plus or minus five days or so the way I am reading it. I trade on the first trading day of the month in my retirement plan. I was thinking that if I followed the current state of the Super Timer, that I wouldn’t lose much (if anything) in performance compared to your timing.

        Tom C

  15. Abc123 says:

    Do I recall correctly that substituting RSP, the equal weight S&P Index, for SPY results in better returns than just using SPY when the timing signal says to be long the US market? What’s the performance difference?

    I get that it’s a lot easier to just use the well know S&P 500 ETF or mutual fund (equal weight funds access are a problem with many retirement accounts) rather than RSP, since most investors are more comfortable with that index and it is more easily compared. Is there a downside, i.e., volatility, rather than just being relatively less well know, and in some cases less available as an investment option?

    • geovrba says:

      The three SuperTimer models use SPY and IEF to signal upmarket and downmarket conditions, respectively.

      One can substitute combination models that hold more equity than fixed income for upmarket, and the reverse for downmarket conditions.

      We are not looking for highest returns, otherwise one could use the double leveraged ETFs SSO and UST for huge simulated returns.

  16. eworden says:

    Hi Georg/Anton,
    I like these strategies especially for 529 Education Accounts where you can only have 2 switches/year. Can one switch out the SPY and IEF for Total Stock Market Indexes and Total Bond Market Indexes? Some retirement plans and 529 accounts don’t offer SPY and IEF like intermediate bond funds, some do.



    • geovrba says:

      For the simulation using Total Stock Market Index ETF (VTI) and Total Bond Market Index ETF (BND) the total return is about 15% lower than for the SPY and IEF model.

      For the 3-mo SuperTimer the terminal value of $5,000 growth from Jan-2000 to Apr-2019 with VTI and BND is $57,000 instead of $64,000 with a max D/D of -20%. CAGR=13.4% instead of 14.2% for the SPY and IEF model.

  17. christianvye says:

    Have you looked at how a QQQ/IEF model would perform?

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