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Screening Strategies

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Greenblatt's Magic Formula

This screen implements the Magic Formula value investing strategy pioneered by hedge fund manager, Joel Greenblatt. It is based on buying 20-30 "good, cheap companies" defined as having the best available combined MFI ranking in terms of Earnings Yield and a Return on Capital.  Greenblatt argues that return on capital is the best determinant of whether a business is a good one or not (companies that can earn a high ROC over time generally have a special advantage that keeps competition from destroying it, such as a unique business model). Earnings yield is his metric for 'cheapness'. Greenblatt believes that stock prices of a firm can experience “wild” swings even as the value of the company stays relatively constant giving investors opportunities to buy low and sell high. more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: 16.1%
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: 15.6%
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: 15.2%
Dividend Dogs (Forecast)

This is an income strategy made famous by Michael Higgins. It selects ten large cap stocks in a major market index with the highest dividend yield. It is a value strategy that seeks to gain from cheaply priced quality stocks that may be currently unfavoured by the market. This version uses the consensus forecast dividend yield, rather than the historic yield.   more »

Income Investing
6 Month Return: 15.1%
Beneish M-Score Screen

This is a short-selling strategy based on Professor Beneish's M-Score - this is a mathematical model that uses eight financial ratios from the company's financial statements to assess the degree to which the earnings may have been manipulated. It is similar to the Altman Z-Score, but it is focused on detecting earnings manipulation rather than bankruptcy. The research suggests that a score greater than -1.78 indicates a strong likelihood of a firm being a manipulator. Here is the link to the original Detection of Earnings Manipulation paper as well as the subsequent paper - The Relation between Accruals and Earnings Manipulation. The screen below highlights companies that have had a M-score above the threshold for two years in a row in order to reduce the likelihood that a given year's result is coincidental or a rogue data input error. more »

Short Selling
6 Month Return: 15.0%
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: 14.4%
PYAD Screen

A combined value and income investing screen inspired by the writings of Stephen Bland on TMF (he also writes the Dividend Letter newsletter for MoneyWeek). It that starts by looking for: "P", i.e. a maximum Price to Earnings ratio of two-thirds that of the market (preferably much, much lower). It then looks for "Yield" preferably 50% above the market (although this is the most flexible criterion). "A" is for "Assets" as the screen looks for a Price to Book Value (P/BV) of under 1.  Finally, no Debt is the last criterion, preferably with stacks of net cash.  more »

Income Investing
6 Month Return: 14.1%
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: 12.9%
Naked Trader-esque Screen

This is a mixed-criteria GARP screen inspired by the enjoyable best-seller by Robbie Burns, "The Naked Trader: How Anyone Can Make Money Trading Shares". His approach is primarily value / fundamentals driven: "My investment strategy has always been quite simple: find excellent companies and hold them until the value comes out". While he does appear to use a fair amount of technical analysis in order to time the entry, he appears sceptical about pure TA: "I strongly believe charts are very important to look at.. but I also believe it is simply crazy to buy and sell shares on the basis of looking at a chart and nothing else at all". more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: 12.8%
Price Momentum Screen

A momentum screen based on buying prior winning stocks and selling short prior losers based on the empirical observation that Investments exhibit persistence in their relative performance. Buying winners inherently conflicts with the contrarian philosophy that is part and parcel of many successful investors. Nevertheless, it has long been noted by traders that good performing investments tend to continue to do so, whereas those that have performed relatively poorly tend to continue on the same path. This screen looks for high relative strength in the last six to twelve months compared with the market (top 25%) - relative strength doesn't work over short timeframes, such as one month. It excludes the most illiquid stocks, i.e. the bottom 25% of stocks based on market capitalisation. You can read more here.  more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: 12.1%
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: 11.5%
Charles Kirkpatrick Bargain Screen

Kirkpatrick’s Bargain Screen combines the best triggers found in his testing of relative value, relative reported earnings growth. Kirkpatrick's testing of relative price-to-sales ratio percentile rankings indicated optimal performance in percentiles greater than 17 but not higher than the 42nd percentile. For relative strength, he found that setting the bar at the 90th percentile resulted in too many passing companies to manage in a portfolio. To reduce the number of passing companies to just 20, Kirkpatrick upped the requirement to only include companies in the 97th percentile or higher. Initial testing of the Bargain Model was promising but Kirkpatrick conceded that several more years of testing were needed before labeling it a successful stock selection methodology. You can read more here. more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: 11.5%
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: 10.8%
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: 10.3%
Earnings Downgrade Momentum Screen

This is a strategy that aims to zero in on stocks where brokers are downgrading their earnings estimates.  In theory, this is a short-selling strategy! The idea is that brokers have a behavioural bias which anchors their new estimates too closely to their previous estimates thus making a high likelihood that earnings estimates will continue to fall in future. Continuing earnings estimate downgrades can be negative for stock prices.   However, research has shown that investing on the basis of broker recommendations does not generally work because of the bias in those recommendations. Research suggests that focusing on positive recent changes in broker recommendations may be more fruitful, particularly in combination with other signals, although this doesn't appear to be true for downgrades. You can read more here.  more »

Short Selling
6 Month Return: 10.2%
Bold Earnings Revisions Screen

This screen seeks to identify stocks that have experienced recent revisions in the earnings estimates. Specifically, it looks for stocks that have seen one analyst revision in the last week/month, to try to see if there is an analyst moving away from the consensus. This follows research that showed "bold" estimates like this have a significant impact on share price performance. Note: that this screen on its own isn't able to only pull back revisions that are "bold" (moving away from the consensus), as opposed to revisions that are "herding" (moving closer to the consensus). This will need to be done by analysing the actual list of companies produced in more detail. more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: 10.1%
Earnings Upgrade Momentum Screen

A momentum screen based on buying stocks with rising analyst earnings estimate revisions in light of empirical findings that stocks with their estimates revised often outperform the market over at least the next 12 months. Although investing on the basis of broker recommendations alone does not appear to be a successful strategy because of the bias in those recommendations, research suggests that focusing on recent changes in broker recommendations is more fruitful, particularly in combination with other signals. You can read more here.  more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: 9.9%
Piotroski High F-Score Screen

Josef Piotroski came up with a simple nine criteria scoring system to help identify bargain stocks in recovery.  It is known as the F-Score and is used extensively throughout Stockopedia on Stock Reports and in screens as a measure of an improving financial health trend.  But while his now famous original strategy (which we have modelled here) focused on applying the F-Score filter to only the cheapest stocks in the market, other analysts have discovered that the highest F-Scoring companies in the market in aggregate also outperform.   We have filtered the market in this strategy to just highlight the companies showing a Piotroski F-Score of 9. more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: 9.8%
Benjamin Graham Defensive Investor Screen

A demanding intrinsic value-based screen designed for less experienced investors which focuses on “important” companies with long histories of profitable operations and strong financial condition. Graham felt defensive investors should confine their holdings to the shares of large, prominent, and conservatively financed companies with long histories of profitable operations. By this, he meant a firm of substantial size and with a leading position in its respective industry. Additionally, Graham sought companies with: 1) Strong financial position (based on the current ratio & debt to working capital). 2) 20 years of uninterrupted dividends 3) No negative earnings in the last 10 years & a 10-year annual earnings growth rate of at least 3% 4) A reasonable price-earnings ratio & a moderately low ratio of price to assets more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: 9.2%
Earnings Surprise Screen

When companies report earnings significantly higher than analyst's earnings estimates the result is known as an 'earning's suprise'.  While earnings surprises often create spikes in the share price on the day of the announcement, they have also been observed to trigger longer term increases in the share price.  This effect is known as the  "Post Earnings Announcement Drift" and can last for several weeks or even months after the announcement date.  The effect is generally attributed to the fact that analysts are slow to revise their forecasts and the market does not fully react to the information about future growth conveyed by the earnings surprises.  The idea behind the strategy is to buy stocks that report earnings surprises and hold them over this time period. Positive surprises often happen at the beginning of a turnaround, or a new growth cycle where sales start to accelerate beyond the historical rates, “surprising” the analyst community.  You can read more here. more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: 9.0%
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