Be Careful Out There

This Week at MANIFEST (9/15/2017)

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. — Ben Franklin

Be careful out there. — Phil Esterhaus, Hill Street Blues

“Historically, September is the worst month for U.S. stock market performance,” wrote Minerd. “Since 1929, the S&P Composite Index has averaged -1.1 percent for September, making it one of only three months with negative average returns over that time. The worst performing single month over this time period was September 1931, when the S&P composite fell 30 percent.” — Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners

Call it the Pre-January Effect if you’d like. It’s particularly relevant and pertinent for the smaller, faster-growing companies this time of year. With the January Effect, we benefit from reallocation and tax-related selling by investing in smaller companies that have been unduly punished during the fourth quarter with the hopes that repurchase and first quarter purchasing will restore many of the damaged prices.

The key word is “unduly.” And in the words of George Nicholson (via the 1984 NAIC Investors Manual) and Hill Street Blues Sergeant of the morning watch, Phil Esterhaus, “Be careful out there.”

Nicholson’s stark warning appears on page 98 of the 1984 Manual.

The guidance is offered in the context of his “Challenge”, a switching consideration that is intended to improve the overall portfolio by selling a holding and replacing it with a suitable, bolstering, substitute.

“When you begin this Challenge, the most important rule is requiring that the challenger (or replacement stock) is of equal or higher quality.” [His emphasis added, NOT mine.]

The accompany chart of screening results is from the Value Line Investment Analyzer. As shown, the listing is sorted by Projected 3-5 Year Total Return (Descending.) Needless to say, these return forecasts are red hot.

We draw your attention to the Financial Strength column where many of the companies are C, C+, etc. Remember, a “C” rating from Value Line is equivalent to an “F” from your school days. The ratings don’t get any lower than “C”. You have to reach for at least a “B++” to get above average.

We also note that many of these companies have stock prices less than $10. It’s one piece of the puzzle, but worthy of a yellow flag and caution.

And finally, check out the growth column. There’s not a whole lot of growth here. In the words of David L. Babson, growth conveys “grace” to long-term investors often healing wounds and compensating for buying a good stock at a price where you should have waited. So there’s not a lot of grace in this group … either.

Turnout Terraforming

As a reminder, the monthly Round Table webcasts will continue and not be disrupted by these new Tuesday sessions.

That said, we’ve heard from a number of you that you’d be interested in seeing us tackle some subjects, topics and methods independent of the Round Table sessions. So we will.

Tuesday seems to be a fairly optimum time to schedule additional sessions although we’ll likely have a few “Turnouts” on other days of the week.

We’d like to hear from you. ( What’s on your mind? What topics would you like to see covered? Here are some that have been suggested or considered so far:

  • Getting Risk Right (Cy Lynch)
  • Lessons From The Legends (Hugh McManus)
  • How Can We Calculate Relative Return?
  • Are Quality and Moats Related?
  • What Should Our Investment Club Meetings Look Like?

MANIFEST 40 Updates

  • 9. Cisco Systems (CSCO)
  • 11. Walgreen (WBA)
  • 12. Qualcomm (QCOM)
  • 26. CVS Health (CVS)
  • 28. LKQ (LKQ)

Round Table Stocks

  • Cisco Systems (CSCO)
  • CVS Health (CVS)
  • Gentex (GNTX)
  • LCI Industries (LCII)
  • LKQ (LKQ)
  • Qualcomm (QCOM)

Round Table Sessions (Video Archives)

Best Small Companies

  • 14. Gentherm (THRM)

Results, Remarks & References

Companies of Interest: Value Line (9/15/2017)

The average Value Line low total return forecast for the companies in this week’s update batch is 5.6% vs. 3.7% for the Value Line 1700 ($VLE).

Materially Stronger: Estee Lauder (EL), Modine Manufacturing (MOD)

Materially Weaker: Acacia Communications (ACIA), Synaptics (SYNA), Qualcomm (QCOM), Rite Aid (RAD), Harmonic (HLIT), BT Group (BT), Genuine Parts (GPC), Walgreen (WBA), CenturyLink (CTL), Commscope (COMM), Avon Products (AVP), Pharmerica (PMC), Infinera (INFN), ATN International (ATNI), Dish Network (DISH)

Discontinued: NeuStar (NSR), Reynolds American (RAI)

Market Barometers

Value Line Low Total Return (VLLTR) Forecast. The long-term low total return forecast for the 1700 companies featured in the Value Line Investment Survey is 3.7%, an increase from 3.5% last week. For context, this indicator has ranged from low single digits (when stocks are generally overvalued) to approximately 20% when stocks are in the teeth of bear markets like 2008-2009.

Update Batch: Stocks to Study (9/15/2017)

The average return forecast (PAR) for this week’s update batch is 9.0%.

The Long & Short. (September 15, 2017) Projected Annual Return (PAR): Long term return forecast based on fundamental analysis and five year time horizon. Quality Ranking: Percentile ranking of composite that includes financial strength, earnings stability and relative growth & profitability. VL Low Total Return (VLLTR): Low total return forecast based on 3-5 year price targets via Value Line Investment Survey. Morningstar P/FV: Ratio of current price to fundamentally-based fair value via S&P P/FV: Current price-to-fair value ratio via Standard & Poor’s. 1-Year ACE Outlook: Total return forecast based on analyst consensus estimates for 1-year target price combined with current yield. 1-Year S&P Outlook: 1-year total return forecast based on S&P 1-year price target.

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