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Screening Strategies

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John Neff Value Screen

John Neff Value is a value investing strategy based on the rules of successful US fund manager John Neff. It combines demanding value criteria with elements of growth, quality and dividend income. Although he didn't like the term, Neff was a contrarian investor buying good companies with moderate growth and high dividends while out of favour, and selling them once they rose to fair value. One of the tools used by Neff is the Total Return Ratio, which is calculated using the price-to-earnings growth factor (PEG), but adjusted for dividend yield - PEGY. John Neff wrote: "If you buy stocks when they are out of favor and unloved, and sell them into strength when other investors recognize their merits, you'll often go home with handsome gains." During his tenure as manager of Vanguard's Windsor Fund between 1964 and 1995, Neff's average annual total return was 13.7%. more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -15.0%
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: -17.4%
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: -18.6%
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: -18.9%
Charles Kirkpatrick Value Screen

Charles Kirkpatrick Value is a strategy loosely based on the approach of US investment strategist & technician Charles Kirkpatrick, who wrote Beat the Market. It combines relative value, growth and momentum factors and is derived from Kirkpatrick's successful Growth Model. Concerned that growth strategies are susceptible to market downturns, Kirkpatrick devised a value approach that uses the price-to-sales ratio as a risk filter. This interpretation of the screen looks for the cheapest 30% of stocks based on price-to-sales, together with the top 20% of shares with the strongest 130-day Moving Average and then the top 10% with the strongest growth in operating profit. Kirkpatrick wrote: "When I read O'Shaughnessy's book What Works on Wall Street, I discovered from his tests that one way to potentially screen for risks initially was to use the price-to-sales ratio. Unlike O'Shaughnessy, who used the raw figure and set a limit, I used a relative calculation." Can we dig up any performance figures from his book? more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -19.4%
Negative Enterprise Value Screen

Negative Enterprise Value is a deep value bargain strategy inspired by the writings of investment writer, Jae Jun. It looks for companies that are priced so cheaply by the market that their cash balance is worth more than their enterprise value (the sum of the company's market cap and total long term debts). On paper, these stocks present an arbitrage opportunity: you could buy all of the debt and equity using the company's cash to cover the cost and simply pocket the difference. Jae Jun says: "If done correctly, it looks like this strategy is hugely profitable, but it does come with a lot of volatility." Jae Jun's back-testing for the US market exhibited significant outperformance over a 10 year period. A word of warning: company cash balances change all the time, so it's essential to know precisely how much cash a company has got. Likewise, make sure all debts are taken into account when it comes to calculating enterprise value. more »

Bargain Stocks
6 Month Return: -26.5%
Kenneth Fisher Price to Sales Screen

Kenneth Fisher Value is a value investing strategy based on the approach of US investor Kenneth Fisher, who wrote Super Stocks. The strategy aims to find value stocks but also considers some of the growth factors that were suggested by Ken Fisher's father, Philip Fisher. It looks specifically for stocks that appear undervalued based on the price-to-sales ratio. It also looks for low gearing, a history of earning growth, strong net margins and positive free cash flow. Ken Fisher wrote: "Very few investors have a rational basis for valuing growth stocks in the face of a lack of earnings. The stock loses supporters and falls, in time, much too far. The best managements react to difficulties and overcome them. In time, sales pick up. Later, profits begin to pick up. Simultaneously with the profit resurgence, the stock price begins to rebound." Latterly, Ken Fisher has suggested that the price-to-sales ratio has become less effective for identifying undervalued shares, however it continues to be widely used by investors. more »

Value Investing
6 Month Return: -44.3%
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