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Screening Strategies

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Benjamin Graham Net Nets Screen

This strategy is one of Ben Graham's most famous bargain stock strategies aiming to find stocks trading for less than their liquidation value.  The idea is to find stocks  trading at such a cheap price that you could buy the whole company and sell off all the assets at a profit with near minimal risk.    It is a simplistic screen which just looks for stocks where the market cap is less than the so called 'Net Net Working Capital'  (defined as  Cash and short-term investments + (75% of accounts receivable) + (50% of inventory) - All Liabilities).  The formula is very conservative in estimating the value of inventory and receivables due to the likelihood that not all will be collectible in a firesale. About such stocks Graham wrote: ‘ No proprietor or majority holder would think of selling what he owned at so ridiculously low a figure…In various ways practically all these bargain issues turned out to be profitable and the average annual result proved much more remunerative than most other investments’. This is not a strategy for the faint-hearted due to the high risk companies that qualify. Graham sought safety from individual bankruptcy risk by diversifying his portfolio with a large numbers of companies – he suggested 30. more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: -8.9%
Benjamin Graham NCAV Bargain Screen

This is a deep value screen based on Ben Graham's writings. It is a simplistic screen which just looks for stocks where the market cap is less than net current asset value. It is not to be confused with his more involved Enterprising Investor and Defensive Investor criteria which have been modelled separately. As a reminder, NCAV = Current Assets - Total Liabilities. That's a stringent requirement, since most companies have negative NCAVs but Graham was looking for firms trading so cheap that there was little danger of falling further. In addition, Graham would have requested a margin of safety of at least 33%, so his P/NCAV threshold would have been 0.66. Graham argued such companies were typically priced at significant discounts to the likely value that stockholders could receive in an actual sale or liquidation of the entire corporation. Because of the kind of unloved/troubled companies it generates, this is not a strategy for the faint-hearted. Graham sought safety from individual bankruptcy risk by diversifying his portfolio with a large numbers of companies – he suggested 30.   more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: -8.9%
T Rowe Price Screen

A GARP investing approach based on identifying companies with long-term prospects in their early stages before they become "glamour" stocks. Price looked for these characteristics in growth companies: At least a 10% return on invested capital Sustained high profit margins Superior growth of earnings per share. He also looked for: Superior research to develop products and markets. A lack of cutthroat competition. A comparative immunity from government regulation. Low total labor costs, but well-paid employees. more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -8.9%
Quality Income Screen

In 2012, the team at Soc Gen introduced their so called ‘SG Quality Income Index’ - an index that aims to track stocks with strong fundamentals and good yields. Many in the market now appreciate that both higher ‘quality’ stocks and higher yielding stocks tend to outperform, but according to the research note, stocks that share both qualities put together standout total returns that have averaged 11.6% per year since 1990, more than doubling the return of the global equity markets at a significantly reduced volatility. But what is more striking is the return of the portfolio from when the market topped in 2000 to 2012 - a sideways market and a genuinely miserable time for all. While the total return of stock markets has actually been negative in that time period, the Quality Income index almost tripled. Read the full article. more »

Income Investing
6 Month Return: -9.0%
Buffettology-esque Historical 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 Historical Growth method to calculate the "expected return". more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: -9.1%
Piotroski F-Score Price to Earnings 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 have strong collective returns, there is very wide individual variability. 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 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. In this version of the screen, Price to Earnings, rather than Price to Book, is used as the measure of "cheapness".  more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -9.3%
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: -9.5%
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: -10.1%
William O'Neil CAN-SLIM-esque screen

This unofficial screen is inspired by the writings of William O'Neil - founder of Investors Business Daily. It uses a 7 pronged formula that finds stocks with fast earnings growth and share price momentum.  Studies by AAII in the USA have proven similar rules to be one of the most successful methods over the last decade. The so called 'CANSLIM' acronym is a registered trademark of Investors Business Daily, and the approach has become famous and well followed. The mnemonic stands for the first letter of each of the following: Current Earnings - current interim earnings strongly accelerating vs the prior year; Annual Earnings - annual earnings increases in recent years; New Highs, New Products, New Management - some kind of catalyst; Supply & Demand - small supply of shares and strong demand for the company's stock; Leaders over Laggards -  choose the best companies in each sector; Institutional Support - but avoid stocks that are over-owned; Market - only buy when the broad market is in a bull phase. more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -10.3%
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: -10.4%
52 Week High Momentum Screen

An investing screen based on buying stocks that are close to their 52 week high (and/or selling stocks that are close to their 52 week lows). Similar to other forms of momentum investing, this seems to work because investors tend to under-react to positive (or negative) information about those kinds of stocks. Researchers surmise that investors use the 52- week high as an “anchor” against which they value stocks, thus they tend to be reluctant to buy a stock as it nears this point regardless of new positive information. As a result, investors underreact when stock prices approach the 52-week high, and consequently, contrary to most investors' expectations, stocks near their 52-week highs tend to be systematically undervalued.  Finally, when information prevails and the 52 week high is broken, the market “wakes up” and prices see excess gains.   You can read more here. more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: -10.5%
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: -10.7%
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: -10.9%
James Montier 'Cooking the Books' Screen

James Montier (former Soc Gen global equity strategist) aimed to create a simple scoring system that would highlight companies that may be 'cooking the books'. The C-Score was the result. It measures six inputs including 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 PPE and high total asset growth. Montier found that companies with high C-Scores under performed the market by 8% per annum, generating a mere 1.8% return between 1993 and 2007. He recommended using it in tandem with a high valuation measure. A C Score = 5 used in tandem with a Price/Sales Ratio > 2 generated a negative absolute return of 4% p.a. in the US. For a full review of the C Score please click here. more »

Short Selling
6 Month Return: -10.9%
The Screen of Screens

This is a screen that picks the stocks that are appearing most frequently across all the other screens tracked on Stockopedia - be they value, bargain, growth, quality, income or momentum (excluding short screens). By definition, this tends to be a list of relatively defensive stocks because they exhibit good fundamentals across a wide range of investing strategies. This strategy is especially interesting as the stocks on this list will by definition be being looked at by a broad range of investors - value, growth, income, momentum, quant. more »

Quality Investing
6 Month Return: -11.3%
Dreman Low Price to Book Screen

This is a low Price to Book based on the writings of David Dreman. He champions a contrarian investment approach based on interpreting market psychology and using value measures to pick stocks that are out of favour with the market. Dreman invests in out-of-favour stocks, often in out-of-favour industries, that he identifies using relatively straightforward metric criteria. "I buy stocks when they are battered. I am strict with my discipline. I always buy stocks with low price-earnings ratios, low price-to-book value ratios and higher-than-average yield. Academic studies have shown that a strategy of buying out-of-favor stocks with low P/E, price-to-book and price-to-cash flow ratios outperforms the market pretty consistently over long periods of time." Dreman warns that the Price to Book strategy in particular may lead to investing in loss-making stocks, at which one needs to be especially careful, and double-checking a company's financial strength is especially important. more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -13.2%
Trading below Cash Screen

This screen is loosely based on the "Cash Index" approach outlined by James Altucher in his book, "Trade Like Warren Buffett". He suggests a multi-pronged approach to analysing potential bargain/arbitrage stocks in times of market distress (post 2001 bubble / Iraq War). First of all, he suggests that it's important to recognise that these stocks are likely to be trading for less than cash for a reason, namely the mar­ket thinks they will eventually declare bankruptcy. Some of the possible risks include: i) Inaccurate reflection of "cash on hand" in their books (leases, severance packages, etc), ii) Business model destined to fail, iii) Management with no incentive to return value to shareholders. To minimise risk of buying a turkey, Altucher looks for eight factors: i) Market cap below cash, ii) Very low leverage, iii) Enough cash headroom to cover the current annual burn-rate, and iv) some stability in revenues and earnings. In addition to these easily-screenable criteria, he suggested looking out for more qualitative factors: v) A reasonable belief that the sell-off in the stock was partly irrational, vi) Favorable arbitrage analysis - , i) Insider buying and viii) Institutional ownership.  more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: -14.4%
Geraldine Weiss Lite Dividend Screen

A blue-chip focused screen focused on buying blue-chip stocks whose dividend yields are near the high of their historical ranges and selling when the dividend yield declines to historic lows. Geraldine Weiss was the founding editor of Investment Quality Trends - one of the longest-lived investment newsletters.  According to a 2002 Forbes article,  she has seven criteria in total (but the last criteria comprises a further six "blue-chips only" conditions). A stock: 1. Must be undervalued as measured by its dividend yield on a historical basis. 2. Must be a growth stock that has raised dividends at a compound annual rate of at least 10% over the past 12 years. 3. Is selling for two times book value or less. 4. Has a P/E ratio of 20-to-1 or below. 5. Has a dividend payout ratio in the 50% area (or less) to ensure dividend safety with room for growth. 6. Debt is 50% or less of total capitalization. 7. Meets all six of our Blue Chip Criteria: dividend raised five times in the last 12 years, carries an A rating from S&P, has at least 5 million shares outstanding, at least 80 institutional investors hold the stock, 25 uninterrupted years of dividends and earnings improvements in seven of the last 12 years. While it’s difficult to replicate this screen exactly for the UK market, we’ve produced a Geraldine Weiss-lite version along similar lines.  more »

Income Investing
6 Month Return: -15.2%
James Montier 'Unholy Trinity' Screen

This is a three point short selling screen based on the approach outlined by James Montier in 2008 to identify potential candidates in weak markets.   1. High Valuation (Price to Sales Ratio > 1) - Calling the Price to Sales ratio 'insane' as a valuation measure due to its lack of focus on profitability,  Montier first screened for companies trading at a multiple of at least 4 times sales. 2. Weak Fundamentals  (F Score < 4) -  With the valuation side covered, he then qualified this list by screening for the financially weak companies having a Piotroski F Score of 3 or less.  3. Poor Capital Discipline (Asset Growth > 10%) -  But unsatisfied with only focusing on high valuation and weak fundamentals, Montier also showed that company executives were often wasteful capital allocators; research showing that companies with low asset growth rates highly outperform companies with high asset growth rates by 13% annually.  more »

Short Selling
6 Month Return: -15.6%
James Montier Trinity of Risk Screen

This is a screen for short sellers (avoiding stocks on these lists is advisable). James Montier suggested this screen based on the writings of Benjamin Graham. Graham proposed three primary sources of risk to your investment in shares or any other asset - Valuation Risk, Earnings Risk and Financial Risk - each of which should be seriously considered when purchasing a new position. This screen looks for a Graham and Dodd PE of greater than 16x (valuation risk), it must have current EPS greater than twice the ten year average (business/earnings risk), and it must also have an Altman Z score of less than 1.8 (balance sheet/financial risk). more »

Short Selling
6 Month Return: -16.5%
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