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Screening Strategies

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Earnings Downgrade Momentum Screen

Earnings Forecast Downgrades is a short selling and red flag strategy identified in a research paper by academics Philipp McKnight and Steven Todd, called Analyst Forecasts and the Cross Section of European Stock Returns. It looks for stocks experiencing earnings forecast downgrades by analysts as a potential trigger of negative momentum. They found that the positive returns from an earnings upgrade portfolio were large and persistent, whereas the sell portfolio generated a near zero return because bad news was quickly 'priced-in'. While the strategy on its own may be difficult to profit from, it still highlights stocks that should perhaps be avoided, or warrant careful additional research. McKnight and Todd wrote: "We find differences in the return continuation patterns of stocks with upward versus downward revisions, namely, bad news travels quickly, but good news travels slowly." more »

Short Selling
3 Year Return: 2.3%
Neglected Firms Screen

Neglected Firms is a value investing strategy inspired by Ludwig Chincarini and Daehwan Kim in their book, Quantitative Equity Portfolio Management. It uses value and quality measures to find neglected shares that are under-researched by analysts and potentially misunderstood by investors. It looks for companies with low analyst coverage, above average earnings growth and that are cheaply priced according to their price-to-earnings and price-to-book ratios. Chincarini and Kim explain: "It is likely that neglected firm's stock prices do not reflect all the relevant information available and that their prices will react sluggishly to relevant news. This opens a window of time and opportunity for an astute investor to purchase undervalued, neglected stocks and reap the rewards when the market recognizes the stocks' true values." Academic research by Avner Arbel and Paul Strebel found that between 1972 and 1976 comparatively neglected S&P stocks easily outperformed those that were well researched. more »

Value Investing
3 Year Return: 1.4%
John Templeton Bargain Screen

John Templeton Value is a value investing strategy based on the rules used by US investor Sir John Templeton. It combines value and growth factors to identify stocks trading at cheap prices but with a positive long-term outlook. The value components include the price-to-book and price-to-earnings ratios, while the growth rules focus on strong earnings and margins, and low debt. Sir John wrote: "Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria. The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy, and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell." His Templeton Growth Fund delivered a 13.8% annualised return from 1954 to 2004, versus 11.1% by the S&P 500 over the same period. Sir John also put a great deal of importance on qualitative factors, such as quality products, cost controls, and the intelligent use of earnings by management. more »

Value Investing
3 Year Return: 1.1%
Benjamin Graham Deep Value Checklist

Benjamin Graham Deep Value Checklist is a value investing strategy based on rules suggested by legendary investor, Benjamin Graham, who wrote The Intelligent Investor. The strategy focuses on building portfolios of both large and small value stocks. It involves a 10-point checklist of valuation ratios and financial measures. Ben Graham regarded the most important of those measures to be earnings yield, dividend yield and for total debt to be less than book value. Ben Graham wrote: "Try to buy groups of stocks that meet some simple criterion for being undervalued - regardless of the industry and with very little attention to the individual company. It seems too good to be true, but all I can tell you after 60 years of experience, it seems to stand up under any of the tests I would make up." Societe Generale backtested the strategy to 1992 and found that the group of stocks scoring 9 and 10 on the list returned 37.1% and 48.7% per year respectively. Ben Graham devised the Deep Value Checklist late in his life as a much more systematic approach than his other value investing strategies. more »

Value Investing
3 Year Return: 0.0%
Martin Zweig Growth Screen

Martin Zweig Growth is a growth at a reasonable price investing strategy based on an approach explained by US investor Martin Zweig in his book, Winning on Wall Street. It combines a focus on growth characteristics, value attraction and market timing. It uses various measures of earnings and sales growth and uses the price-to-earnings ratio as a valuation tool. Zweig's strategy also looks for relatively strong price action. Zweig wrote: "I've found that investors who rely on crystal balls frequently wind up with crushed glass. I'm satisfied if I can predict a market trend, get in tune with it and stay with that trend for as long as it lasts." Zweig was a reputed US money manager back during 1990s as well as an investment newsletter writer. During the 15 years that it was monitored (1980 - 1995), his newsletter returned an average of 15.9% per year. more »

Growth Investing
3 Year Return: -0.8%
Cash Accruals Screen

Cash Accruals is a quality investing strategy inspired by research into the 'accrual anomaly' by American accounting professor Richard Sloan. In company accounts, accruals are adjustments made when revenues have been booked but cash has not yet been received. This screen uses low levels of accruals as a positive quality signal. It looks for companies with a low accrual ratio, where free cash flow is higher than net income and where earnings-per-share is growing. Professor Sloan's research found that: "...firms with relatively high levels of accruals experience negative future abnormal stock returns that are concentrated around future earnings announcements." The research found that companies with small or negative accruals vastly outperform (+10%) those with large accruals. It concluded that investors focus too heavily on earnings and not on cash generation and that the share prices of companies with high accruals are more likely to reverse in future years. more »

Quality Investing
3 Year Return: -2.6%
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
3 Year Return: -3.5%
Quality Income Screen

Quality Income is a dividend strategy focused on firms with strong fundamentals and high yields, based on research by Societe Generale. It looks for quality income stocks using checklists for identifying strong financial health, low bankruptcy risk and high, but not excessive, yields. Specifically, firms must be capitalised at more than £800 million, have a Piotroski F-Score of more than 7 out of 9 and a strong Altman Z-Score. Yields are capped at 15% to avoid potential dividend traps.The SocGen team explains: "As a real asset class, we think Quality Income is an attractive alternative to anyone buying credit thinking that’s the only way to generate a high yield." SocGen found that quality income stocks produced standout total returns that averaged 11.6% per year since between 1990 and 2012, more than doubling the return of the global equity markets but with significantly reduced volatility. more »

Income Investing
3 Year Return: -3.9%
Dividend Dogs (Forecast)

Forecast Dividend Dogs of the FTSE is a high yield income strategy inspired by the popular 'Dogs of the Dow' approach of US investor Michael O'Higgins, who wrote Beating the Dow. It simply selects the 10 highest yielding stocks in a major market index like the FTSE 100, the S&P 500 or the FTSE Eurofirst 300. This version of the strategy uses the rolling 1-year forecast yield. It's main safety net is that blue chip stocks tend to be large, mature and well financed companies with long histories of weathering economic turmoil. O'Higgins wrote: "Beating the Dow is based on simple logic that will produce exceptional returns in any rational market and until excessive popularity turns contrarianism into conventional wisdom." O'Higgins suggested rebalancing the Dividend Dogs portfolio once per year, based on the highest yields available. more »

Income Investing
3 Year Return: -4.6%
Bill Miller Contrarian Value Screen

Bill Miller Contrarian Value is a value investing strategy based on the style of US fund manager, Bill Miller. It uses value and growth factors to find stocks that are trading below their intrinsic value but are capable of rebounding. This model of Miller's contrarian approach uses price-to-free cash flow as a valuation measure but also looks at the price-to-earning growth factor (PEG) as well as sales and free cash flow growth. Miller wrote: "We are value investors because we are persuaded of the logic of buying shares of businesses when others want to sell them, and we understand that lower prices today mean higher future rates of return, and high prices today mean lower future rates of return." Between 1991 and 2005 Miller cemented his legendary reputation by guiding the Legg Mason Value Trust to a record 15 consecutive years of beating the S&P 500. more »

Value Investing
3 Year Return: -5.8%
Buffettology-esque Sustainable Growth Screen

Warren Buffett Sustainable Growth is a quality investing strategy inspired by an interpretation of Warren Buffett's investment approach by Mary Buffett and David Clark in their book, The New Buffettology. It is a strategy that combines Buffett's focus on value and business quality. To work out whether the stock is reasonably valued, the strategy forecasts sustainable earnings growth; the higher that growth rate is, the more likely it is that the company has a durable competitive advantage. The strategy also looks for low debt and a growing earnings yield, return on equity and return on capital employed. In The New Buffettology, Mary Buffett and David Clark explain: "Consistency is everything. Warren is not after a company that occasionally has high returns on shareholders' equity, but one that consistently earns high returns." Remember, Buffett is famous for looking beyond financial measures when examining the quality of a business franchise. more »

Quality Investing
3 Year Return: -7.2%
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
3 Year Return: -8.3%
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
3 Year Return: -8.8%
David Dreman High Dividend Screen

David Dreman High Dividends is a contrarian high yield strategy championed by the renowned US fund manager and author David Dreman in his book Contrarian Investment Strategies. Dreman favoured buying out of favour value stocks with straightforward filters for quality. In this version of the screen we filter for higher yielding shares with strong financial positions, as many favourable operating and financial ratios as possible, with above average earnings growth. Dreman explains: "High yielding stocks provide you with the best protection in a bear market. These stocks give the dividend oriented investor more protection of principal on the downside and provide both rising dividend income as well as capital appreciation." Dreman's studies showed that the highest quintile of dividend paying stocks in the market outperformed those with low or no dividends by 4% annually, with half of the returns coming from the dividends themselves. He cautioned that "buying stocks with high dividend yields beats the market, but provides lower total returns than his other contrarian strategies". Dreman runs the firm Dreman Value Management and continues to research and write on contrarian and behavioural investing. more »

Value Investing
3 Year Return: -8.9%
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
3 Year Return: -9.2%
Geraldine Weiss Lite Dividend Screen

Geraldine Weiss Dividends is an income investing strategy based on some of the rules used by US investor Geraldine Weiss. The approach targets large capitalisation companies with relatively high yields, and uses the dividend yield as a measure of value together with quality factors. It buys stocks when their yields are close to their historical highs and then sells them when the yields drift lower. Weiss is reported to use 7 core criteria in her strategy, including a comparison of a stock's historic average yield with its current yield. Weiss said: "Dividends provide a cushion of safety when a stock starts going down. When the stock price drops, the yield gets to very attractive levels, so many investors will step in and buy, reversing the trend of the stock." Weiss has been writing the Investment Quality Trends newsletter since 1966. In January 2000, it began publishing a list of its top 13 picks for the upcoming year. Dubbed "The Lucky 13", these selections have generated a claimed average total annual gain of 15.18%. more »

Income Investing
3 Year Return: -10.3%
Beneish M-Score Screen

The Beneish M-Score is a checklist for identifying stocks that might be manipulating their earning figures. It was created by US finance Professor Messod Daniel Beneish and presented in a paper called The Predictable Cost of Earnings Manipulation. The M-Score is a red flag indicator that is often used as part of a short selling strategy. It calculates and distils eight different accounting variables into a single score. Generally, a score greater than -1.78 (i.e. a less negative or positive number) indicates an increased likelihood of a firm being an earnings manipulator. Beneish wrote: "We show that firms with a high probability of overstated earnings have lower future earnings, less persistent income-increasing accruals, and lower future returns." The M-score strategy apparently generated a hedged return of nearly 14% per year, mostly from the short positions. more »

Short Selling
3 Year Return: -10.5%
Bold Earnings Revisions Screen

Bold Earnings Revisions is a momentum strategy that aims to spot the hidden signals in analyst forecasts, which has been documented in research and explored further by Jack Hough in his book Your Next Great Stock. Specifically, it captures the 'earnings momentum' in shares where an analyst has recently made a bold upward change to their earnings forecasts. The strategy identifies stocks that have received an earnings forecast upgrade during the past month. It's then possible to scrutinise the list to determine whether the analyst is moving towards the consensus of analysts or away from it. Jack Hough says: "Keep in mind that the size of an estimate revision isn't what makes it bold. Rather, what matters is whether it moves away from the herd." Singling out one just one analyst upgrade won't tell you whether that analyst is moving away from the consensus or towards it. So check the list carefully. more »

Momentum Investing
3 Year Return: -13.1%
Walter Schloss 'New Lows' Screen

Walter Schloss New Lows is a value investing strategy based on an approach used by Walter Schloss, who was a disciple of value investing legend Benjamin Graham. The strategy uses value and price factors as its main rules. It searches for companies that are trading below book value, using the price-to-book ratio, and at prices that are close to new lows. Schloss said: "We want to buy cheap stocks based on a small premium over book value, usually a depressed market price, a record that goes back at least 20 years?and one that doesn't have much debt." Between 1956 and 2000, Schloss's fund produced a compound annual growth rate of 15.7%. In a 1994 shareholder letter, Warren Buffett wrote: "Walter continues to outperform managers who work in temples filled with paintings, staff and computers. And he accomplishes this feat by rummaging among the cigar butts on the floor of capitalism." more »

Bargain Stocks
3 Year Return: -15.0%
PYAD Screen

PYAD is a value and dividend income strategy devised by UK investor and writer, Stephen Bland. It focuses on finding value stocks with relatively high yields and no debt. PYAD is the acronym for the strategy's four filters, which include the Price to Earnings ratio, Yield, Assets (Price to Book Value) and Debt. Specifically, the strategy looks for companies with a Price to Earnings ratio of two-thirds that of the market and a Yield that is 50% above the market average. Stephen Bland says: "My principal aim in this was firstly to minimise the downside before I considered any trading upside to a share. I knew it wouldn't work in every case, there was bound to be the odd failure, but I reckoned that overall it would perform well. I was right and it did, producing handsome returns over the years." The PYAD strategy became well followed by Motley Fool readers. more »

Income Investing
3 Year Return: -15.0%
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