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Screening Strategies

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John Templeton Bargain Screen

John Templeton believed that there were no simple formulae to finding good stocks, with over 100 factors that can be considered at times. However, Templeton did have four criteria which he considered particularly important: i) P/E ratio, ii) Operating profit margins, iii) Liquidating value and iv) Consistency of growth rates. Templeton also looked for any potential catalysts (new markets and products, potential M&A, as well as industry changes). more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -5.2%
Altman Z-Score Screen

This is a short-selling strategy based on the Altman Z-score which combines five weighted business ratios to estimate the likelihood of financial distress. The idea is that, if the Altman Z-Score is close to or below 3, it is wise to do some serious due diligence. The Z-score results usually have the following "Zones" of interpretation: any Z-Score above 2.99 is considered to be a safe company. Anything below 1.80 is in the distress zone, with a strong likelihood of the company going bankrupt within the next two years, while anything between 1.80 and 2.99 is in a "grey zone". In line with Altman's result, this work is based on last annual reported results and does not factor any interim updates. According to the research, the Altman score does experience false positives (i.e. classifying the firm as bankrupt when it does not go bankrupt) in approximately 15-20% of cases. more »

Short Selling
6 Month Return: -5.3%
Jim Slater ZULU Principle Screen

The Zulu Principle is an investment strategy made famous by Jim Slater in the book of the same name. It is a GARP investing style which uses a combination of growth and value, looking for shares where brokers are forecasting high earnings growth, but which are currently valued at a price that is low relative to their forecast earnings. The strategy aims to capture growth companies at a reasonable price by using the PEG Ratio. Slater uses forecast earnings to calculate both PER and the EPS Growth Rate. As Slater puts it: "I have always been attracted to growth shares, particularly those that can be purchased at what I perceive to be a discount to their proper value”.  more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -5.5%
John Neff Value Screen

A hard-core contrarian value screen, albeit one using the ‘total return ratio’ in order to combine value metrics with growth. Although he didn’t like the term, Neff was essentially a contrarian investor buying good companies with moderate growth and high dividends while out of favour, and selling them once they rose to fair value. He looked for both value and growth or rather "good companies, in good industries, at low price-to-earnings prices". To identify these, his approach adds the expected future growth rate to the dividend yield, and divided by the PE ratio to give what he termed the ‘terminal relationship’ or, more colloquially, ‘what you pay for what you get’.   more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -5.5%
Best Dividends Screen

This is loosely based on AAII's Dividend (High Dividend Yield) Screen. As they note, screening for relative high dividend yield is essentially all about buying low and selling high but, to succeed at this strategy, it's important also to identify which which high yielding stocks have the strength to bounce back. The screen looks for a consistent dividend payment and dividend growth track record, as well as   a payout ratio below 2/3rds, a dividend growth CAGR above 3% and a yield above the historical average.. more »

Income Investing
6 Month Return: -5.5%
Benjamin Graham Enterprising Investor Screen

A hardcore intrinsic value investing screen based on buying with a significant Margin of Safety but not as demanding as Graham's set of Defensive Screen criteria. Despite the name, this is not a growth screen. Graham felt defensive investors should confine their holdings to the shares of large, prominent/important, and conservatively financed companies with long histories of profitable operations. In contrast, entreprising investors could expand their universe outside of these “important” companies. He suggests looking at i) the relatively unpopular large company, ii) “special situations”, and iii) “bargain issues”.  more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -5.6%
Dividend Dogs

A dividend screen which envisages that an investor annually selects for investment the ten large cap stocks in the major market index whose dividend is the highest fraction of their price. This version uses the historic/actual yield.   Proponents of this strategy argue that blue chip companies do not alter their dividend to reflect trading conditions and, therefore, the dividend is a measure of the average worth of the company; the stock price, in contrast, fluctuates through the business cycle.  more »

Income Investing
6 Month Return: -5.8%
Buffettology-esque Sustainable Growth Screen

This screen seeks to replicate the approach of Warren Buffett,   arguably the most successful living investor - based on the summary/interpretation by Mary Buffett (a former daughter-in-law) in the best-selling book, "The New Buffettology".  In Chapter 13, Mary Buffett outlines a number of screening-type criteria entitled "Warren's Checklist for Potential Investments: His Ten Points of Light", which we summarise out below. Not all of these points are quantitative in nature, admittedly, but there's certainly the beginnings of a good Buffett screen, and one with a slightly different emphasis to that of the Buffett-Hagstrom screen. This version uses the Sustainable Growth method to calculate the "expected return". more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: -6.0%
Philip Fisher Growth Screen

This is a growth screen based on the approach of the late Phil Fisher, one of the great investors of all time and the author of the classic book Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits. Fisher started his money management firm, Fisher & Co., in 1931 and over the next seven decades made tremendous amounts of money for his clients. Philip Fisher had a famous 15 point checklist for investing in stocks. Even though it includes numerous qualitative factors, it's possible to glean some key quantitative criteria too: Consistently strong profitability; Consistent sales growth; Growth exceeding industry norms; Little or no dividend payout; and Reasonable price compared to future growth prospects You can read more about Philip Fisher's approach here. more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -6.4%
R&D Breakthroughs Screen

This screen seeks to identify research-led businesses that are investing significantly in future development in order to try to identify their potential future growth before the market does.  As Jack Hough notes, "When a company announces a breakthrough drug or a sudden advance in computer-chip technology, its shares often soar right away. Imagine being able to foresee which companies are due for such lucrative discoveries". Specifcially, the screen looks for R&D investment levels that are increasing and which equal at least 5% of annual sales and 5% of total assets. It also looks for Price to R&D ratios that are below 20x. more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: -6.4%
Richard Driehaus Screen

This screen is based on the momentum-focused approach of Richard Driehaus, a mutual fund guru who was named to Barron’s “All-Century” team of the 25 most influential and powerful mutual fund managers in 2000. It focuses on companies with momentum in earnings and prices, particularly small- to mid-cap companies with strong, sustained earnings growth that have had “significant” earnings surprises. At the core of his strategy are earnings surprises. Companies with positive earnings surprises are buys and negatives are sells. It also values surprises in which the range or standard deviation of estimates is tighter, which has a more significant impact on subsequent returns. This strategy looks for companies with positive price momentum over the last four weeks and also considers how stocks do on a relative basis versus the S&P 500. Driehaus prefer small to mid cap stocks. The investor may also wish to monitor liquidity in terms of trading volume. more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: -6.8%
Free Cash Flow Cows Screen

This screen is inspired by a similar screen devised and backtested here by the Old School Value blog for the US market. It looks for stable, cash rich companies growing their FCF, yet selling at a cheap multiple to FCF. Free cash flow is defined as cash from operations minus capital expenditure. The idea is that FCF is the ultimate driver of intrinsic value - the more FCF a company can generate and reduce debt, the higher the intrinsic value of the company becomes. more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: -6.9%
Large Cap Dividend Attraction Screen

This is a large-cap dividend focused screen, loosely based on the "Dividend Attraction" screen discussed by Kevin Matras in his useful book, "Finding Number 1 Stocks". It focuses on the added dividend security to be found amongst larger-cap stocks in a credit-constrained environment. In Matras' version, however, the primary filter is the Zacks Rank (a proprietary metric analysing analyst forecasts for i) Agreement, ii) Magnitude, iii) Upside Potential, Surprise). However, this version just uses the 3 month change in analyst forecasts instead. The other elements are: i) A market capitalisation above £1.5 bn, ii) Positive 5 Year Dividend growth, iii) Above Average Return on Equity, iv) Above Average EPS Growth and v) Price to Operating Cashflow. more »

Income Investing
6 Month Return: -7.2%
Josef Lakonishok Screen

A value and momentum screen focused on finding under-valued, out-of-favor companies just at the point when the market is starting to recognise them. According to Lakonishok, investors have judgmental biases and behavioral weaknesses including the tendency to extrapolate the past too far into the future, to wrongly equate a good company with a good investment irrespective of price, to ignore statistical evidence and to develop a "mindset" about a company. As a result, "value stocks become underpriced and glamour stocks become overpriced relative to their fundamentals".  This screen looks for: At least one of Price-to-book, price-to-cash-flow, price-earnings or price-to-sales ratios more favourable than the industry  6 Month relative strength above zero  3 month relative strength above zero EPS Surprise or a trending revision in the analyst consensus more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: -7.3%
Bill Miller Contrarian Value Screen

This screen seeks to emulate the style of Bill Miller, manager of Legg Mason Value Trust. Miller’s strategy focuses on identifying securities that are trading below their intrinsic value, but differs from many value managers in that he focuses on cash earnings, not accounting earnings. He looks for firms that may be undervalued based on the present value of future cashflows, although this is not easy to screen for in detail. He says: "Ideally, what we want is a company... that has tremendous long-term economics and those economics are either currently obscured by macroeconomic factors, industry factors, company-specific factors, or just the immaturity of the business." Diversification is a crucial element in Miller’s strategy but he aims for diversification among the stocks it incorporates, rather than the sheer quantity. By focusing on companies that are being shunned by the market, this strategy takes on higher risks in hope of higher returns. The value moniker for his Fund is perhaps misleading because Miller has bought many Internet “growth” stocks. You can read more about Miller's approach here. more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -8.3%
Cash Accruals Screen

This screen is loosely based on the influential work of Richard Sloan from the University of Michigan, published in 1996 documenting what is referred to as the “accrual anomaly”. A pound of earnings can be comprised of assumed non-cash earnings called “accruals.” His landmark 1996 paper revealed that shares of companies with small or negative accruals vastly outperform (+10%) those of companies with large ones His paper found that investors focus too heavily on earnings and not on cash generation. They value the earnings of a high accrual company just as highly as the same earnings of a low accrual company, even though the high accrual company’s earnings are more likely to reverse in future years. When future earnings reverse, investors are “surprised” and sell off the stock causing the stock price to decline. Similarly, when a low accrual company’s earnings accelerate in future years, they are surprised in a good way. more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: -8.4%
Piotroski F-Score Price to Book Value Screen

The Piotroski F-Score screen aims to identify deep bargain-bucket stocks that are in recovery.  Josef Piotroski, a finance professor, recognized that, while it has long been shown that bargain stocks (having a low Price to Book Value) have strong collective returns, there is very wide individual variability. “Embedded in that mix of companies, you have some that are just stellar. Their performance turns around [but] half of the firms languish; they continue to perform poorly and eventually de-list or enter bankruptcy.” What he wondered was whether it was possible to weed out the poor performers and identify the winners in advance. He therefore sought to develop a simple accounting-based scoring system for evaluating a stock’s financial strength. Piotroski's F-Score looks at value stocks, i.e. the bottom 20% of the market in terms of price to book value, and tests nine variables from a company’s financial statements. One point is awarded for each test that a stock passes. Piotroski regards any stocks that scored eight or nine points as being the strongest. more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -8.7%
James O'Shaugnessy Cornerstone Growth

The Cornerstone Growth Screen is a growth screen which combines relative strength, earnings growth and a price-to-sales value measure, as outlined in the third edition of James O'Shaughnessy’s seminal 1996 book What Works on Wall Street. According to his book, O'Shaughnessy found that his growth strategy outperformed the market producing an annual compound return of 18% from 1954 to 1996, compared to 8.3% for the S&P 500 Index (this beat his Cornerstone Value strategy which achieved 15%, although it was more volatile). more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -8.9%
Martin Zweig Growth Screen

A Growth at a Reasonable price (GARP) investing strategy that uses both fundamental analysis and market timing. It focuses on strong growth in earnings and sales, a reasonable price-earnings ratio given the company's growth rate, insider support, and relatively strong price action. Martin E. Zweig was a reputed US growth money manager back in the 1990’s as well as an investment newsletter writer. He was named stock picker of the year 2 times in a row and wrote a book titled “Winning on Wall Street”, which outlines his investing strategy. Zweig is essentially a growth investor but with a conservative streak, focusing on selecting growth stocks with certain value characteristics, through a system that uses both fundamental analysis and market timing. more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -9.0%
Charles Kirkpatrick Growth Screen

Kirkpatrick’s Growth Screen combines quantitative filters for relative price strength and relative reported earnings growth, and then involves point & figure chart analysis to determine whether the stock is in an upward trend. Kirkpatrick also looks for growth companies with market capitalizations of at least $1 billion and share prices of at least $10. Kirkpatrick uses point & figure charts to help in the buy and sell decision process. He only buys stocks for his Growth Model when they are in an upward trend, as indicated by two higher highs in a three-point reversal point & figure chart. You can read more here. more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -9.0%
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