Fave Five (4/7/2017)

Fave Five (4/7/2017)

Our Fave Five essentially represents a listing of stocks with favorable short term total return forecasts (1 year, according to Analyst Consensus Estimates, or ACE) combined with strong long-term return forecasts and good/excellent quality rankings. The average 1-year ACE total return forecast is 8.4%.

The stocks from the Finviz Week (3/24/2017) have been doing exceptionally well (relative return = +7.5% already) and we’ll make sure to visit that screening method again — and likely at least once/month.

The Fave Five This Week

  • AmTrust Financial Services (AFSI)
  • LKQ (LKQ)
  • LuLuLemon (LULU)
  • Synaptics (SYNA)
  • Under Armour (UA)

The Long and Short of This Week’s Fave Five

The Long & Short. (April, 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 www.morningstar.com 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. The data is ranked (descending order) based on this criterion. 1-Year S&P Outlook: 1-year total return forecast based on S&P 1-year price target. 1-Yr GS: 1-year total return forecast based on most recent price target issued by Goldman Sachs.

Fave Five Legacy (Tracking Portfolio)

The relative/excess return for the Fave Five tracking portfolio is +1.3% since inception. (The absolute rate of return is 17.0%.) 50.2% of selections have outperformed the Wilshire 5000 since original selection.

Tracking Dashboard: https://www.manifestinvesting.com/dashboards/public/fave-five

Just Like Home …

This Expected Returns cover story from April 2009 underscores the things that really matter during bear markets, corrections and recessions.  We were reminded at the time to focus on high-quality opportunities with vigilance for upstart, promising companies ratcheted up.  If you’re curious about our work at Manifest Investing and the resources we provide for long-term investors, and interested in a FREE 90-day test drive, let me know via markr@manifestinvesting.com … for now, may your investing brackets be “nothing but net.”

The stock market madness of early March has given way to a rally that at least delivers welcome respite from the cascading decline we’ve experienced for several months.

Triple Play: A Measure of Opportunity. History suggests that the discovery of companies poised with Triple Play characteristics can lead to rewards. We’ve leaned on Nicholson’s Triple Play concept often since the 4th quarter of 2008, citing potential impact on our shopping efforts. Finding companies with the prospects of potential profit margin and P/E expansion seems prudent. Combining that potential with high-quality companies exhibiting out-sized PARs could deliver a measure of success and shining moments for our portfolios going forward.

 

March Madness now extends into April as the NCAA basketball championships bring the current season to a close. And the stock market madness of early March has given way to a rally that at least delivers welcome respite from the cascading decline we’ve experienced for several months. In the movie ‘Hoosiers’, there’s a classic scene where Gene Hackman, coach of the underdogs from a very small town, leads the boys into the championship venue for their pregame practice. He hands a tape measure to the anxious players and urges them to confirm that the hoop is 10 feet above the floor … just like home … and the free throw line, 15 feet … just like home.

From “Just Like Home” …

As many of you know, we’ve discovered that NAIC/BI co-founder, the late George Nicholson, focused his attention on “the next bull market” during the dreadful bear market of 1973-74. As we studied his writings at the time, we learned that he looked back to the lessons of the 1937-38 bear market — days when he was launching a successful career and lifetime of successful investing.

He believed that the challenges and opportunities of 1973-74 were similar to conditions last seen in 1937-38 complete with year-over-year 50% declines in automobile sales (sound familiar?) and a variety of economic ailments related to scarcity of commodities and mischievous behavior in the banking and investing sectors, etc. He developed a set of criteria — intended to seek opportunities just like “home.”

Although we can’t be certain, I can imagine that he saw it as a sort of antidote to the poisonous paralysis that afflicts so many of us as stock prices decline. In fact, Nicholson “pleaded” with investment clubs to commit to decisions during early 1975 — citing a recent 80% gain in Coca-Cola over a span of less than six months as evidence that prices could and often do, move in sudden spurts. (The stock price of Coca-Cola proceeded to languish for the next 5-6 years.) If you missed the autumn 1974 opportunity to own the Real Thing and waited a few months before committing, your experience was considerably less rewarding.

… to “Shining Moments”

CBS Sports features the song ‘One Shining Moment’ to encapsulate the highlight reel celebrating the coronation of this year’s champion.

Nicholson shared that some of the best shining moments of a lifetime of successful investing could be traced to the elements of his Triple Play concept. Here are the three features that qualify a stock for Triple Play status: (1) A depressed stock price. Think elevated projected returns. (2) A potential for P/E expansion over a 5-year time horizon and (3) A potential for profit margin expansion. Such stocks are most frequently found at the end of a long bear market.

“I have been investing in Triple Play situations during 1973-74 in preparation for the next bull market. If past performance is any guide, the performance should exceed [stock market returns] by a wide margin.” — George Nicholson.

Triple Play Candidates. This listing of study candidates was shared with the attendees at the Better Investing regional conference in Lansing, Michigan on April 3-4, 2009. Our database was screened for companies with PAR>21%; Quality>60; EPS Stability > 60; and Financial Strength > 70. A large number of companies are poised for P/E expansion (not shown) and the screening results shown here are sorted by annualized net profit margin (%) expansion in descending order. Note Solomon Select company, Mettler-Toledo, and the other precision instrument companies.

Bear Down, Regularly

There’s an insurance company commercial running on television where the celebrity sponsor (President Palmer for ‘24’ fans …) shares that we’ve been through twelve recessions over the last 50 years or so. All of them ended and a period of economic expansion ensued.

During a recent seminar, Steve Sanborn, retired director of research for Value Line, and I shared that — in his wealth of investing experience — all bear markets have ended. In that seminar, we explored the history of bear markets and underscored the similarities between 1938, 1974 and 2009 as supported by the accompanying graphic.

The lessons of history suggest that it’s probably time to think less about poisonous paralysis — avoid remaining unduly mired in yesterday’s quagmire — and focus a whole lot more on an effort to engage tomorrow’s prosperity. The table displays a listing of companies with depressed stock prices and the potential for profitability and P/E expansion. Many of these companies were mentioned multiple times by some pretty effective stockpickers and educators at the regional conference in Lansing, Michigan on April 3-4.

The list includes some community favorites, a few newcomers and a few Solomon Select legacy features.

Growth by Recession

It’s probably time for a reminder that our emphasis on focus on size diversification includes a healthy nudge. That nudge entails the continuous pursuit of companies with higher top line growth expectations. It also includes an increased focus or emphasis during periods when we may be approaching the end of a recession.

Bear Market Comparisons. As shown here, the bear markets of 1937-38, 1973-74 and 2007-2009 exhibit some similarities when compared versus all of the bear markets that have come and gone before. No, Virginia, we’re not seeing conditions like the Great Depression (see 1929-32) yet. Nicholson seized the moment in 1973-74, seeking Triple Play candidates to ready his portfolio for the next bull market.

 

You’ll hear some pundits, rhinos and talking heads continuing to encourage blue chip companies and we’ll nod and agree that this pursuit should be continuous, too.

That said, we also heed the advice of Peter Lynch. The Magellan maestro suggested that small companies can be more nimble and recover more quickly coming out of recessions. This reality is one of the things that leads to frustrating periods where blue chip languish while “garbage companies” seem to flourish. An investor over-concentrated in slow-growth blue chips last experienced this during the 2003 bull market.

Dial up shopping efforts and maintain overall portfolio sales growth at the high end of your comfort range. Languish a little less.

I have a small confession. Much like Jim Surowiecki, I’m sometimes conflicted with doubts about how much this “quality stuff” really matters. After writing The Wisdom of Crowds, Surowiecki shares several experiences where he doubted the wisdom of a gaggle of chefs in some “predictive kitchen” only to discover that the collective wisdom held up well … again, despite and in deference to any doubt.

And every time I check, I’m stunned by the reinforcement and rediscovery that comes with it.

2-Year Annualized Returns for Low-Quality Companies. The companies shown represent approximately (20) of the lowest quality ratings as of March 2007. The average annualized loss for this group of companies is 60%. Yes, 60% … and that doesn’t count three companies no longer “on the board” because they’ve gone bankrupt and no longer exist. In a word, Ouch.

The accompanying graphic is from a couple of slides presented at the regional conference — updating a look at bear market performance for low-quality companies versus high-quality companies. Yes, we’re talking about the current bear market.

And yes, the contrast is stunning. And it hits a little close to home as we watch companies like General Motors (GM) drop from $29.27 to $1.94 over a period of two years — an annualized loss of 74% (per year!)

Nicholson’s Legacy Continues

The companies shown in the accompanying graphic are often found on subscriber dashboards and rank among the most commonly-held and widely-followed by our Community. We’re proud, yet humbled, that companies like Solomon Select feature Strayer Education (STRA) tops these charts, compelling us to continue our quest.

2-Year Ann. Returns for Highest-Quality Companies. In sharp contrast, the highest-quality companies combined for an average return of -19% versus a stock market down -27%. Note that three companies (including a couple of community favorites and a Solomon Select alum) managed positive returns!

 

Nicholson strongly cautioned avoiding lower quality companies as bull markets raged. In our vernacular and interpretation, we’d translate that to: “periods where MIPAR is historically low” as our measure of bull market condition.

Where’s your “investing tape measure?” In the spirit of Hoosier coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), we continue to urge that seeking Triple Play Candidates and heeding the repeating lessons of Quality are pretty good yardsticks to honor.

Just like home … Indeed.

Round Table (March 2017)

Round Table (March 2017)

The March Round Table included some reminders about the virtues of a 8-year bull market — and the significant potential of using the Triple Play screening criteria. Take a look back at our features from March-April 2009 and a number of case studies (and smiles for many of us) erupt.

Archive: https://www.manifestinvesting.com/events/211-round-table-march-2017 (Will be added ASAP)

Stocks Presented

  • CVS Health (CVS)
  • EPAM Systems (EPAM)
  • Microchip Technology (MCHP)

The audience selected CVS Health (CVS).

Rt poll 20170328

Fave Five w/ Finviz (3/24/2017)

Attics, Launch Pads & Minefields? It’s Finviz time as we use the free online resource to discover some companies with elevated 1-year total return forecasts and end up with a bolstering update on AmTrust Financial (AFSI) and newcomers ConnectOne (CNOB) and Horizon Pharma (HZNP). Synchronoss Tech (SNCR) is a repeat selection.

Fave Five (3/24/2017)

Our Fave Five essentially represents a listing of stocks with favorable short term total return forecasts (1 year, according to Analyst Consensus Estimates, or ACE) combined with strong long-term return forecasts and good/excellent quality rankings. The average 1-year ACE total return forecast is 7.8%.

This week we went shopping for study opportunities using Finviz.com. Using the target price function, the hunt was on for companies with huge 52-week total return expectations. It’s part Matt Spielman rummaging in the speculative attic, part Broad Assets investment club scouring the launch pad and part minefield.

The Fave Five This Week

  • AmTrust Financial (AFSI)
  • ConnectOne Bancorp (CNOB)
  • Gulfport Energy (GPOR)
  • Horizon Pharma (HZNP)
  • Synchronoss Technology (SNCR)

The Long and Short of This Week’s Fave Five

The Long & Short. (March 24, 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 www.morningstar.com 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. The data is ranked (descending order) based on this criterion. 1-Year S&P Outlook: 1-year total return forecast based on S&P 1-year price target. 1-Yr GS: 1-year total return forecast based on most recent price target issued by Goldman Sachs.

Fave Five Legacy (Tracking Portfolio)

The relative/excess return for the Fave Five tracking portfolio is +0.6% since inception. (The absolute rate of return is 15.9%.) 47.5% of selections have outperformed the Wilshire 5000 since original selection.

Tracking Dashboard: https://www.manifestinvesting.com/dashboards/public/fave-five

Fave Five: Gone Irish (3/17/2017)

Fave Five (3/14/2017)

Our Fave Five essentially represents a listing of stocks with favorable short term total return forecasts (1 year, according to Analyst Consensus Estimates, or ACE) combined with strong long-term return forecasts and good/excellent quality rankings. The average 1-year ACE total return forecast is 7.1%.

The Fave Five This Week

  • Boston Beer (SAM)
  • Exxon Mobil (XOM)
  • LKQ Corp (LKQ)
  • Perrigo (PRGO)
  • Target (TGT)

Gone Shopping With Walter (Schloss) and Hugh

“When buying a stock, I find it helpful to buy near the low of the past few years. A stock may go as high as 125 and then decline to 60 and you think it attractive. 3 years before the stock sold at 20 which shows that there is some vulnerability in it.” — Walter Schloss

“…the analyst interested in value is likely to place only minor emphasis upon the short term earnings outlook; whereas the analyst who endeavors to anticipate the price movements of the near future will make such outlook his major concern.” —
Ben Graham, Security Analysis

Hugh McManus has been a regular — and very successful stock selector — as a participant in our monthly Round Table series over the last eight years or so. Even in the months when he’s globe trotting and unable to join us, we’ll generally take a quick look for opportunities with a quick stock screen for high quality companies priced near their 52-week (or multi-year) lows. For more on this subject, see: Gone Fishing — Patiently and Disciplined Fishing

If a company is primed for long-term growth, buying it when the price is depressed is better than buying it when it’s at a 52-week high. If the stock price drops to a new low, there’s always bad news to explain the fall, which is one of those obvious truths. I had to learn whether I wanted to fixate on the bad news or focus on the low price of a good company. Most people seem to be transfixed by the news. I take it one step further and hope the bad news persists for a while — it’s where the psychiatrist would step in — as it allows me to buy more.

In 1997, or thereabouts, Ken “Mr. NAIC” Janke, commented that members of the organization were masterful at identifying quality companies, but not nearly as good at picking a low price. I had already adopted the practice of buying companies when they reached or were close to a 52-week low. It’s a rule not a law: for an idealized growth company, today’s close is the new 52-week low.

Ken Janke often spoke of the reality between the high and low prices during a given year for virtually all companies. The range is bigger than most people realize, as underscored by the accompanying chart via Saber Capital Management and John Huber.

Patience is genius in disguise.

The Discipline of Time Arbitrage. Time arbitrage is being willing to maintain a 3-5 year time horizon when most investors
and analysts are thinking about the next quarter. [This represents] a willingness to buy stocks that others are selling for short-term reasons. Many market participants want/need short-term results and so focus is on things like: Catalysts, short-term expectations, quarterly results …

Why Does This Work? Focusing on the long-term is difficult because:

  • Takes patience — There can be periods of under performance.
  • Most investors (clients) want results quarterly, or at least yearly, and so most money managers try to accommodate these short-term demands. (i.e. who cares what Apple looks like in 3 years, how many iphones are they going to sell this quarter??)
  • Short-term thinking (among investors, fund managers, and corporate management teams) is pervasive now, and the speed of technology and information probably intensifies this view.

All of these decisions being made for short-term reasons creates opportunity (and the biggest market inefficiency in my opinion) for those who can look out 2-3 years. Source: Saber Capital Management

StockSearch Results: Hugh’s Hunt For 52 Week Lows. Hugh maintains a short list of vetted stocks, most of which he has been a long term shareholder. He monitors for accumulation opportunities when one of his favorites approaches a 52-week low. For the screening results shown, we’ve limited the field to high-quality (excellent) stocks that are within 5% of their 52-week low, while demanding above average financial strength. [Source: www.manifestinvesting.com StockSearch, 3/17/2017.]

The Long and Short of This Week’s Fave Five

The Long & Short. (March 17, 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 www.morningstar.com 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. The data is ranked (descending order) based on this criterion. 1-Year S&P Outlook: 1-year total return forecast based on S&P 1-year price target. 1-Yr GS: 1-year total return forecast based on most recent price target issued by Goldman Sachs.

Fave Five Legacy (Tracking Portfolio)

The relative/excess return for the Fave Five tracking portfolio is +0.8% since inception. (The absolute rate of return is 19.0%.) 48.5% of selections have outperformed the Wilshire 5000 since original selection.

Tracking Dashboard: https://www.manifestinvesting.com/dashboards/public/fave-five

Huge Expectations

We’ll monitor this as we roll along the data array updates over the next several weeks of update batches. But the early returns do show quite a bump in expectations for 2018 and 2021.

Observations

  • This is a work-in-progress. Think of it like “exit polling” with 30% of “precincts” reporting as we’ve logged the forecasts for 2018 and 2021 for issues 1-4 so far.
  • The sales bump for 2018 is significant and material. It will be interesting to see if it persists.
  • The long term growth trend has been “bent” back to 3.5-4.0% with the optimism. As shown, growth in the “New Normal” has been pretty close to zero.
  • The recessionary conditions for 2015-2016 become a little more obvious here. Although not an official recession, profitability lagged for many companies in recent years. We also see the traditional Value Line analyst optimism in the 3-5 year forecasts for net margin.
  • Average P/E forecasts for 2017 seem a little elevated but not as much as we read and hear from the pundits. If the exuberant forecasts from the rhinos materialize, the burst of EPS (E) will do a lot for the P/E equation. We also note that the 3-5 year P/E forecasts are not “outlandish” and suggest at least a semblance of moderation for the long term outlook, company by company.

Trucking In Tulsa (3/10/2017)

This Week at MANIFEST (3/10/2017)

Common Sense, Care Of Catoosa

“If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.” — Will Rogers

No, I haven’t forgotten that the trucking and logistics stocks are in Issue 2 and that this week’s update centers on Issue 4 — home to many healthcare and aerospace/defense stocks.

It’s just that a significant number of hours sharing lanes with Knight Transportation, Swift, Old Dominion and a number of CVS Health semis provides some time for pondering while en route on Route 66 to the Port of Catoosa. (Tulsa)

Ken Kavula and I were met in Catoosa by a throng of committed long term investors and we greatly enjoyed spending the weekend with them. Ken did his travel research on the Issue 1 airlines and perhaps he can explain Buffett’s sudden interest in the group, but that’s a topic for another day. Probably.

We took a stroll through 70 years of investing better — together. Some rules and guidelines were reinforced. Others were disturbingly challenged. We were reminded how the Tin Cup model portfolio handled the 2007-2008 market challenge and wondered why we spend so much time worrying about asset allocation (shifting to cash equivalents when the market seems overpriced.) Our subscribers fondly remember our 2008 open letter to the Presidential candidates: An Open Letter To The President.

Is the market over priced? What if it’s not? Recall those surging estimates for S&P 500 earnings from the analysts a few weeks ago. If they’re right about 2018, 2019 and beyond …

If the accompanying chart isn’t “haunting” or reinforcing — it probably ought to be.

And in that spirit, we think it probably makes sense to keep doing what we always do … INVEST IN THE BEST, but only when they’re on sale. We’ve never seen a moment where we couldn’t find several worthy stocks. If we ever do, we’ll start worrying about electric fences.

“With a sufficiently long term perspective, bear markets become blips.” — Cy Lynch

Thanks, Catoosa.

MANIFEST 40 Updates

Round Table Stocks

Best Small Companies

(None)

Results, Remarks & References

Companies of Interest: Value Line (3/10/2017)

The average Value Line low total return forecast for the companies in this week’s update batch is 1.9% vs. 2.9% for the Value Line 1700 ($VLE).

Materially Stronger: Community Health (CYH), Regeneron Pharma (REGN), Illinois Tool Works (ITW), Anthem (ANTM), Envision Health (EVHC)

Materially Weaker: Tenet Healthcare (THC), Quality Systems (QSII)

Discontinued: Clarcor (CLC), Tessera Tech (TSRA)

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 2.9%, down from 3.0% 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.

Stocks to Study (3/10/2017)

There continues to be evidence of strengthening fundamentals and 1-year price targets are getting adjusted upward, on balance. Many of the biotech and pharma companies are showing the damage — and resultant higher return forecasts — as a result of “bashing” and criticism from inside the Beltway.

Based on the near term expectations for Round Table selection MEDNAX (MD), it will be interesting to see if we’re truly “early” and/or if we catch a wave as the S&P and Morningstar and Goldman Sachs analysts catch up with us. [Grin] […and Hope]

The Long & Short. (March 10, 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 www.morningstar.com 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. 1-Yr “GS” Outlook: 1-year total return forecast based on most recent price target issued by Goldman Sachs.