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Screening Strategies

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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
6 Month Return: 6.9%
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
6 Month Return: 6.7%
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: 5.0%
52 Week High Momentum Screen

52 Week High Momentum is momentum strategy that was explored in a paper called The 52-Week High and Momentum Investing by academics Thomas George and Chuan-Yang Hwang. It capitalises on the positive momentum effect which appears to cause stocks that are at, or close to, their 52 week high prices continuing to outperform. It is believed to work because investors tend to under-react to positive news about previously successful stocks and are reluctant to bid their prices higher, even if the positive news warrants it. When the full impact of the information prevails, and the 52 week high is broken, the market "wakes up" and prices see further gains. George and Hwang wrote: "Our results indicate that the 52-week measure has predictive power whether or not individual stocks have had extreme past returns. This suggests that price level is important, and is consistent with an anchor-and-adjust bias." The original research found that, between 1963 - 2001, the average monthly gain to this strategy assuming a 6 month hold was 0.45% - "about twice as large as those associated with other momentum strategies". more »

Momentum Investing
6 Month Return: 3.5%
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: 1.4%
James O'Shaugnessy's Cornerstone Value

James O'Shaughnessy Cornerstone Value is a value investing strategy presented by US fund manager James O'Shaughnessy in his 1996 book, What Works on Wall Street. His extensive backtesting found that value investing works particularly well with large capitalisation stocks with above average sales and cashflow, high levels of share liquidity, which were then sorted for the highest dividend yield. O'Shaughnessy said: "Generally speaking, when things are going against you, as they inevitably will, you have to stick to the underlying strategy? Only by doing so will you be around for when it comes rebounding back." He found that this value strategy produced an annual compound return of 15% between 1954 and 1996, compared to 8.3% for the S&P 500 index. O'Shaughnessy has continued to conduct detailed analysis of Standard & Poor's Compustat database to identify the most effective investing strategies. more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: 0.9%
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
6 Month Return: 0.7%
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: 0.1%
Peter Lynch Growth Screen

Peter Lynch Growth is a growth investing strategy inspired by the approach of former Fidelity fund manager Peter Lynch, who wrote One Up on Wall Street. It looks for consistently profitable, relatively unknown, low-debt, reasonably priced stocks with high, but not excessive, growth. Among the criteria used, the strategy looks for stocks with a low price to earnings growth rate (PEG). Peter Lynch wrote: "If you stay half-alert, you can pick the spectacular performers right from your place of business or out of the neighborhood shopping mall, and long before Wall Street discovers them." Lynch managed Fidelity's Magellan Fund between 1977 and 1990 and during the time racked up average annualised gains of close to 30%. He urged investors to adopt a bottom-up investing process and "buy what you know". more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -0.1%
Piotroski F-Score Price to Earnings Value Screen

The Piotroski F-Score P/E is a value strategy developed by the renowned finance professor Joseph Piotroski, 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 best quality shares amongst a deep value basket. In this version of the screen, the cheapest 20% of the market by their P/E ratio are selected, and filtered further for the highest scoring companies using a nine-point fundamental checklist called the Piotroski F-Score. Piotroski developed the 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: -0.3%
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
6 Month Return: -0.4%
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
6 Month Return: -0.4%
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
6 Month Return: -0.5%
James Montier 'Unholy Trinity' Screen

James Montier Unholy Trinity is a three point short selling strategy inspired by research by economist and equity strategist James Montier called Joining The Dark Side: Pirates, Spies and Short Sellers The approach uses three risk factors to identify stocks that might be overvalued, financially weak and poorly managed. It uses the price-to-sales ratio to find companies that appear to be overvalued based on their revenues. It looks for signs of low quality by finding stocks that score less than 3 out of 9 on the Piotroski F-Score of financial health. Finally, Montier looks for companies where asset growth could be excessive, based on the theory that management tend to be wasteful allocators of capital. James Montier wrote: "It never ceases to amaze me that whenever a major corporate declines the short sellers are suddenly painted as financial equivalents of psychopaths. This is madness, rather than examining the exceptionally poor (and sometimes criminal) decisions that the corporate itself took, the short sellers are hauled over the coals." Montier found that between 1985 and 2007 a portfolio of Unholy Trinity stocks rebalanced annually would have declined over 6% p.a. compared to a market that was rising at the rate of 13% p.a. in Europe. Short selling shares can be very risky but the Unholy Trinity can still be used as an indicator of which stocks should be avoided. more »

Short Selling
6 Month Return: -1.0%
Benjamin Graham Net Nets Screen

Benjamin Graham Net Nets Bargain is a demanding deep value 'bargain' investing strategy based on rules suggested by legendary investor, Benjamin Graham, who wrote The Intelligent Investor. This value approach looks for stocks that are 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 does that by finding shares with a market capitalisation of less than net net working capital. The calculation makes allowances for the fact that in a fire sale of assets, only a proportion of owed cash and inventory value would be recovered. Ben Graham explained: "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." Remember, risky and potentially troubled companies will be found using the Net Net rules. Ben Graham suggested diversifying between at least 30 stocks. more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: -1.0%
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
6 Month Return: -1.0%
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: -1.4%
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
6 Month Return: -1.6%
Free Cash Flow Cows Screen

Free Cash Flow Cows is a deep value bargain strategy inspired by the investment writer, Jae Jun at Old School Value. It looks for companies that appear to be cheaply priced compared to the amount of free cash flow they generate. In particular, they should be stable, cash rich companies where free cash flow is actually growing. Among the ratios used in this strategy is Enterprise Value to Free Cash Flow and Free Cash Flow to Long Term Debt. Jae Jun says: "When it comes to true profitability, forget earnings and EBITDA. Free Cashflow is by far the best number to refer to." Jae Jun's backtesting of his own FCF Cows screen found that it beat the S&P 500 in six out of nine years between 2001 and 2009. more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: -2.5%
James Montier Trinity of Risk Screen

James Montier Trinity of Risk is a short selling strategy that uses rules suggested by economist and equity strategist James Montier, who wrote Value Investing. He based the approach on three risk factors highlighted by value investor Benjamin Graham: Valuation Risk, Earnings Risk and Financial Risk. It identifies companies that could be overvalued, have poor quality earnings and might be financially distressed. Specifically it uses the Graham & Dodd price-to-earnings ratio and looks for companies that are reporting exceptionally high earnings growth but fail the Altman Z Score of balance sheet risk. James Montier wrote: "Risk isn't a number, it is a concept or a notion? Rather than running around obsessing on the pseudoscience of risk management, investors should concentrate on understanding the nature of this trinity of risks." Short selling shares can be very risky but the Trinity of Risk can still be used as an indicator of which stocks should be avoided. more »

Short Selling
6 Month Return: -2.6%
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