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Screening Strategies

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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
5 Year Return: -2.8%
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
5 Year Return: -3.3%
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
5 Year Return: -18.3%
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
5 Year Return: -20.0%
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
5 Year Return: -30.2%
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
5 Year Return: -45.9%
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
5 Year Return: -52.9%
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