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Screening Strategies

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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: -18.1%
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: -18.7%
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: -19.1%
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: -22.2%
Charles Kirkpatrick Value Screen

Kirkpatrick’s Value Screen combines quantitative filters for relative price strength and relative reported earnings growth, with a value criterion - using relative price-to-sales percentiles, Kirkpatrick arbitrarily selected only those stocks in the 30th percentile or lower. Despite the success of his Growth Model, Kirkpatrick was concerned about the fact that its performance had occurred during one of the strongest bull markets in history. He wanted to strengthen the system against capital loss to protect against the inevitable market reversal. He believed relative price strength would not be effective during a market downturn and could lead to significant capital losses. For Kirkpatrick, the alternative was to reduce the risk of the portfolio by beginning with a group of stocks with low valuations. Kirkpatrick also looks for growth companies with market capitalizations of at least $500 million and share prices of at least $10. You can read more here. more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -24.3%
Peter Lynch Growth Screen

This is a 'fast growers' screen which looks for consistently profitable, relatively unknown, low-debt, reasonably priced stocks with high, but not excessive, growth. Mr. Lynch developed his investment philosophy at Fidelity, and gained his considerable fame managing Fidelity's Magellan Fund. His selection approach is strictly a bottom-up "buy what you know" one. He suggested focusing on companies familiar to the investor, applying fundamental analysis which emphasizes a thorough understanding of the company, its prospects, its competitive environment, and whether the stock can be purchased at a reasonable price.  It’s frankly impossible to come up with a screen that exactly replicates Lynch’s multi-faceted investing strategy. Nevertheless, the following approach seeks to emulate some of the key elements of his search for “fast growers”. You can read more here. more »

Growth Investing
6 Month Return: -26.7%
Negative Enterprise Value Screen

Some companies trade so cheaply that their cash balance is worth more than the company's enterprise value (i.e. the sum of the market cap and total long term debts).  This is known as a negative enterprise value (EV) and searching for such companies is a common bargain stock strategy. While, in theory, a negative EV may seem to be an easy arbitrage opportunity, whereby one could buy all of the debt and equity in a firm and use its cash balance to cover costs and keep the difference, there are a number of reasons to be cautious: Firstly, the enterprise value may not have captured all of the debt outstanding in the firm (e.g. the present value of lease commitments) and secondly the cash balance is from the balance sheet (rather than stated at the today's date used for the market cap). Given how quickly firms burn through cash, what you see on the balance sheet may not reflect what the firm has as of today as a cash balance so be careful! You can read more here. more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: -31.0%
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