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Here's how to protect against downside in high-growth stocks, technical analyst says

Now is the time to hedge high-flying tech stocks, technician says

A major shift is occurring on Wall Street this month.

Value stocks are taking off, racing past growth names, as investors rotate into corners of the market that offer more protection. The IVE value ETF has risen 4% in September, more than quadruple the gains on the IVW growth ETF.

"We're seeing some pretty interesting rotation in the early goings in September. We've seen the stocks that have been performing the best in 2019 underperform the most," Todd Gordon, founder of, said on CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Tuesday.

"We're seeing a lot of mid-cap high beta tech stocks being rotated out of big moves down," he said. "We're even seeing some larger-cap tech, even some of the FANG members, continue to underperform and not break out to new highs."

Gordon said potential underperformance is clear in the QQQ ETF, which tracks the growth- and tech-focused Nasdaq 100. The charts suggest even more technical deterioration underneath the surface, he said.

"To show this underperformance here, this just lack of conviction on the upside, this is the weekly chart of the QQQs going back since 2018. First thing you're going to notice here, guys, is a momentum divergence," said Gordon.

While the price of the QQQs has made new highs, its relative strength has not confirmed the push higher. Its RSI, a momentum indicator, has made a series of lower highs since the beginning of 2018.

"That's just indicating that the interest on the upside, the conviction, is waning. That doesn't mean just go ahead and sell the market. But we're starting to see some other technical evidence," said Gordon.

He said the ETF's Bollinger Bands, which form a trading range around a moving average, suggest a move back down to around $175 after the QQQ touched the top of that channel.

"When you couple that with the loss of upside momentum with that RSI that suggests to me I do want to hedge my continuing long portfolio with some Q put spreads," said Gordon.

To protect against downside, Gordon is buying the 185 put with Oct. 18 expiration and selling the 180 put. This targets a move down to $180 by expiration.