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Screening Strategies

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James Montier 'Cooking the Books' Screen

James Montier Cooking the Books is a short selling strategy based on research by economist and equity strategist James Montier. It uses Low Quality criteria to identify stocks that could be at risk of bad accounting practice. The 6-point C-Score checklist looks at the divergence between net income and cash-flow, increasing days sales outstanding, increasing days sales of inventory, increasing current assets to revenues, declining depreciation relative to property, plant and equipment and high total asset growth. Montier found that the C-Score was even more effective when used to assess stocks that look over-valued on a price-to-sales ratio basis. James Montier wrote: "In good times, few focus on such 'mundane' issues as earnings quality and footnotes. However, this lack of attention to 'detail' tends to come back and bite investors in the arse during bad times." Montier found that stocks with a C-score of 5 and a price-to-sales ratio of greater than 2 tend to generate a negative absolute return of 4% per year. Short selling shares can be very risky but the C-Score can still be used as an indicator of which stocks should be avoided. more »

Short Selling
6 Month Return: -10.9%
James O'Shaugnessy Cornerstone Growth

James O'Shaughnessy Cornerstone Growth is a growth investing strategy devised by US fund manager James O'Shaughnessy in his 1996 book, What Works on Wall Street. It combines value, momentum and growth factors, using the price-to-sales ratio, price momentum and earnings growth as its main rules. O'Shaughnessy wrote: "Marrying good value characteristics with price momentum is an excellent way to find 'cheap stocks on the mend'." He found that this strategy produced an annual compound return of 17% between 1963 and 2009. In 2012, O'Shaugnessy updated the strategy rules by replacing price-to-sales as the key value metric with 6 composited value factors. more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -11.0%
Josef Lakonishok Momentum Screen

Josef Lakonishok Momentum is a strategy that uses price and earnings momentum to identify undervalued companies just at the point when the market is starting to recognise them. It is inspired by detailed research by academic and fund manager Josef Lakonishok, who co-wrote the paper Contrarian Investment, Extrapolation, and Risk. The strategy combines value and momentum factors, including the price-to-earnings ratio, relative strength and earnings surprises. Lakonishok wrote: "Regardless of the reason, some investors get overly excited about stocks that have done very well in the past and buy them up, so that these 'glamour' stocks become overpriced. Similarly, they overreact to stocks that have done very badly, oversell them, and these out-of-favour 'value' stocks become underpriced." A Lakonishok-inspired strategy tracked by the American Association of Individual Investors returned 13.9% in the 10 years to the end of 2014, versus 5.4% for the S&P 500. more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: -11.9%
Muhlenkamp's ROE Screen

Ronald Muhlenkamp Return on Equity is a quality investing strategy based on an approach used by US fund manager Ronald Muhlenkamp. It combines quality and value factors by looking for companies with a high return on equity (ROE) at a reasonable price. ROE is a measure of how much profit a company earns compared to the amount of shareholder equity on its balance sheet. Muhlenkamp compares ROE with other growth measures to find stocks that are likely to be highly cash generative. He said: "You want to be sure that the companies you own can survive whatever the heck happens." Muhlenkamp's methods were analysed by Ludwig B Chincarini and Daehwan Kim in Quantitative Equity Portfolio Management. They found that the Muhlenkamp fund averaged an 18.38% annual rate of return for the 19 years to 2004, versus 12.07% for the S&P 500. more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: -11.9%
Value Momentum Screen

Value & Momentum is a strategy that aims to find undervalued stocks with positive price momentum. It is inspired by research by AQR Capital Management as well as the American Association of Individual Investors' "Value on the Move" screen and Jack Hough's "Impatient Value" screen in his book, Your Next Great Stock. The strategy combines value and momentum, which are two disciplines that have been found to work very effectively when combined. It looks for a reasonably low PEG, positive relative strength and a share price within 10% of its 52-week high in companies with sales of more than £100 million. Value and momentum not only provide strong returns but are also negatively correlated. That means that when when one strategy works well, the other lags - one zigs when the other zags. Over time, this helps to create a smoother profit line, as the volatility of each strategy cancels the other out. more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: -11.9%
David Dreman Low PE Screen

David Dreman Low Price to Equity is a value strategy developed by the renowned US fund manager and author David Dreman in his book Contrarian Investment Strategies. It uses a basic value filter of selecting the cheapest 40% of the market by P/E ratio and filtering further for quality according to company size, financial strength and growth. Dreman favoured the P/E strategy above all others: "Our money management firm uses the low-PE method as it's core strategy, but also utilizes the other 3 contrarian strategies extensively." Dreman's studies showed that the cheapest 20% of the market by P/E outperformed the most expensive 20% by 6.7% annually. It should be cautioned that Dreman's portfolio did suffer in the 2008 financial crisis due to an overweighting of low P/E banks. Dreman though continues to evangelise the power of contrarian investing to counter behavioural biases. more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -12.0%
Altman Z-Score Screen

The Altman Z-Score is a checklist for identifying stocks that might be at risk of bankruptcy. It was created by US finance Professor Edward Altman and detailed in a book he co-authored, called Managing Credit Risk. The Z-Score is a red flag indicator that can be used as a short selling strategy. It analyses five weighted business ratios to estimate the likelihood of financial distress. Broadly, these checks examine a company's asset, strength, profitability, solvency, efficiency and ability to generate earnings. Altman wrote: "The detection of company operating and financial difficulties is a subject which has been particularly amenable to analysis with financial ratios." Tests over 31 years to 1999 found the Z-Score to be 80-90% accurate in predicting bankruptcy one year prior to the event. The Z-Score is one of the components used in another short selling strategy: James Montier Trinity of Risk. more »

Short Selling
6 Month Return: -12.2%
Greenblatt's Magic Formula

The Magic Formula is a value investing strategy invented by the hedge fund manager Joel Greenblatt in the bestselling and highly recommended Little Book that Beats the Market. It focuses on finding quality value stocks using a blended ranking system (the Magic Formula rank) composed from two fundamental ratios: Return on Capital (which Greenblatt argues is the best determinant of whether a business is a good one) and Earnings Yield (his favoured measure for cheapness). He summarised his philosophy with the maxim "buying cheap stocks at bargain prices is the secret to making lots of money". In the fourth edition of his book Greenblatt claimed the top scoring portfolio of 30 stocks appreciated by 30.8% each year over the previous 17 years, though he stressed that the strategy could underperform during periods of up to two years. Having now sold hundreds of thousands of copies, the "Magic Formula" is credited for reinvigorating the practice of value investing. more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: -12.2%
Dividend Achievers Screen

Dividend Achievers is an income strategy inspired by an index run by Nasdaq OMX. It looks for companies that have grown their cash dividend payouts for at least the past five consecutive years. Apart from the dividend growth streak, this strategy looks for companies with reasonable share trading liquidity, strong cash reserves, a solid balance sheet and a proven record of consistent earnings growth. In his book Beating the Street, investing legend Peter Lynch, said: "The dividend is such an important factor in the success of many stocks that you could hardly go wrong by making an entire portfolio of companies that have raised their dividends for 10 to 20 years in a row." According to M&G Investments, the total cumulative return from the S&P 500 in the 10 years to 2011, with dividends reinvested, was 32%. But the return soared to 136% by investing solely in US companies that had grown their dividends for at least 25 consecutive years. more »

Income Investing
6 Month Return: -12.4%
Best Dividends Screen

Best Dividends is an income strategy inspired by research into high yield investing by the American Association of Individual Investors. It is based on the premise that a stock's dividend yield will rise if its share price falls. The screen aims to identify which of these value shares is best placed to bounce back in price and be able to sustain dividend payouts. To do this it looks for a 5-year average yield of more than 5%, a track record of dividend growth and a conservative dividend payout ratio. It's an approach that echoes David Dreman's High Dividend value strategy. Dreman found that between 1970 and 2010 high yield stocks beat the market by nearly 1% and outperformed no or low yield stocks by 4%. more »

Income Investing
6 Month Return: -12.4%
Philip Fisher Growth Screen

Philip Fisher Growth is a growth investing strategy inspired by the approach of legendary US investor Philip Fisher, who wrote Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits. The strategy is based on his 15 point checklist for finding growth stocks. It looks for a track record of strong sales growth, above average net margins and a low price-to-earnings growth rate over five years. Philip Fisher wrote: "If the right stocks are bought and held long enough they will always produce some profit. Usually they produce a handsome profit." His most famous investment was stock in Motorola, which he acquired in 1955 and held until his death, during which time the shares grew 20-fold. Philip Fisher's investment management firm is now headed by his son, the highly regarded value investor, Ken Fisher, whose stock picking strategy is also tracked by Stockopedia. more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -12.5%
Charles Kirkpatrick Bargain Screen

Charles Kirkpatrick Bargain is a rules based strategy inspired by US investment strategist Charles Kirkpatrick's work in his excellent Beat the Market. Kirkpatrick has established strategies for finding growth and value stocks. His bargain strategy concentrates on value and momentum factors, with a very precise requirement for the price to sales ratio. Kirkpatrick's testing of of relative price-to-sales ratio rankings found that it was most effective between the 17th and 42nd percentiles in terms of cheapness. Initial testing of the Bargain Model was promising but Kirkpatrick said that several more years of testing were needed before labeling it a success. Kirkpatrick wrote: "As a result of these studies of relative selection methods, I decided to create a new list, called the 'Bargain List' that would incorporate the best triggers found so far and would only include value and price strength." more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: -12.7%
Large Cap Dividend Attraction Screen

Large Cap Dividend Attraction is an income strategy discussed by Kevin Matras in his book, Finding Number 1 Stocks. It focuses on dividends paid by strong, large-cap companies with long track records of both earnings and dividend growth and where analysts are upgrading their earnings forecasts. This version of the strategy assesses 5-year dividend growth, Return on Equity, earnings per share growth and Price to Operating Cashflow. It also look for the highest percentage EPS upgrades over the past three months for the next financial year. Kevin Matras explains: "Larger companies with solid earnings, but without the aggressive growth rates that may have marked their earlier years, will often reward their investors by paying out a portion of their earnings as dividends." more »

Income Investing
6 Month Return: -13.0%
Charles Kirkpatrick Growth Screen

Charles Kirkpatrick Growth is a strategy pioneered by Charles Kirkpatrick, the renowned US investment strategist who wrote Beat the Market & many books on technical analysis. It combines relative growth and momentum factors in large capitalisation stocks. Specifically it looks for the top 20% of shares with the strongest share price vs 130-day Moving Average and then the top 10% with the strongest growth in operating profit. Kirkpatrick reinforced his strategy by studying point-and-figure charts to determine whether a stock was in an uptrend, which helped to guide his trading decisions. In an award winning paper by Kirkpatrick, entitled Stock Selection: A Test of Relative Stock Values Reported over 17 ½ Years, he wrote: "Relative price strength and relative reported earnings growth, when calculated in the manner of this study, showed superior results when compared to market averages." In Beat the Market, Kirkpatrick claimed that his stock-picking technique had outperformed the S&P 500's performance by 7.7x over 25 years. more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -13.4%
Growth at a Reasonable Price Screen

Growth at a Reasonable Price (GARP) is a strategy that aims to highlight companies that are growing but still reasonably priced by the market. It's an approach suggested by journalist and investor David Stevenson in his book, Smarter Stock Picking. It uses a combination of value, growth, quality and momentum measures. They include earnings-per-share growth, a below average price-to-earnings ratio, a high return on capital employed and a share price with positive relative strength. David Stevenson says: "At the core of GARP is is a simple desire: to benefit from a double whammy of growing earnings and a growing PE ratio that reflects this growth of earnings." more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -13.9%
R&D Breakthroughs Screen

R&D Breakthroughs is a quality investing strategy inspired by a screen devised by US journalist Jack Hough, in his book, Your Next Great Stock. It is partly based on research by Louis Chan, Josef Lakonishok and Theodore Sougiannis in paper called The Stock Market Valuation of Research and Development Expenditures. The strategy filters a value screen with quality factors related to how much a company is investing in its future development. It uses the price-to-research ratio to find value and compares R&D investment in relation to growth, sales and assets. The strategy 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. Louis Chan wrote: "The clearest evidence that high R&D plays a distinctive role arises from stocks with high R&D relative to the market value of equity. Their average return over the following three years is 6.12% per year." more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: -14.1%
Warren Buffett - Hagstrom Screen

Warren Buffett - Hagstrom is a quality investing strategy inspired by modelling of Warren Buffett's investment approach in books by investment strategist Robert Hagstrom, including The Warren Buffett Way. It is a strategy that combines Buffett's focus on value and business quality. It uses price-to-free cash flow as a valuation measure and assesses quality using operating profit and return on equity. In his book, Robert Hagstrom explains: "Your goal as an investor should be simply to purchase, at a rational price, a part interest in an easily understood business whose earnings are virtually certain to be materially higher, five, ten, and twenty years from now." Remember, Buffett is famous for looking beyond financial measures when examining the quality of a business franchise. more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: -15.3%
Trading below Cash Screen

James Altucher Trading Below Cash is a bargain investing strategy loosely based on an approach described by US investor and writer James Altucher in his book, Trade Like Warren Buffett. This is a deep value strategy that Altucher found was highly effective in periods of market distress. He acknowledged that stocks that are priced at less than the value of their cash present a challenge to investors. It is difficult to get an accurate view of how much cash is actually in a business, plus they may have broken business models or dis-incentivised management. The strategy looks for stocks with a market cap below cash, low debt, sufficient cash to cover the annual burn-rate and some stability in revenues and earnings. Altucher wrote: "There is always the danger that management doesn't care about the shareholders but instead enjoys sitting on the assets of the company and using it for their personal benefit. Diversification is the tool that we can use to reduce the risk of corrupt, or at best, uncaring, management.? more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: -15.4%
Piotroski F-Score Price to Book Value Screen

The Piotroski F-Score P/B is the classic value strategy by famous finance academic Joseph Piotroski. Originally published in a 2000 research paper titled "Value Investing: The use of historical financial statement information to separate winners from losers", the strategy hunts for the highest quality shares amongst a deep value basket. In this version of the screen, the cheapest 20% of the market by their Price to Book ratio are first selected, and filtered further to find those with the most improving fundamental health trends using the Piotroski F-Score. Piotroski developed the F-Score system after observing that: "In that mix of bargain companies, you have some that are just stellar. Their performance turns around. People become optimistic about the stock, and it really takes off. However half of the firms languish; continue to perform poorly and eventually delist or enter bankruptcy." Piotroski's back-tests over 20 years showed that his formula could improve the returns from typical value investing strategies by at least 7.5% annually and is especially effective amongst small caps. Investors should beware the low liquidity shares in this screen can be expensive to trade. more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -15.6%
Richard Driehaus Screen

Richard Driehaus Momentum is a momentum investing strategy inspired by an approach used by US investor Richard Driehaus. It combines a focus on price and earnings momentum in small and mid-cap companies with strong, sustained earnings growth. Importantly, Driehaus wanted to find companies that had produced significant earnings surprises over the previous year by beating analyst forecasts. Driehaus said: "I would much rather invest in a stock that's increasing in price and take the risk that it may begin to decline than invest in a stock that's already in a decline and try to guess when it will turn around." Driehaus's fund management firm Driehaus Capital Management was reported to have delivered compound annual returns of 30% during the 12 years after it was started in 1980. Driehaus was named in Barron's "All-Century" team of the 25 most influential and powerful mutual fund managers in 2000. more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: -16.1%
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