What Have Clubs Bought & Sold?

The transactions displayed were recorded by investment clubs during the month of September 2017 as reported by bivio. bivio.com is a favorite record-keeping solution for investment club accounting and has an admirable record of exemplary customer service and cost-effectiveness for many years.

I’ve been an advocate of bivio as an invaluable club resource since I first met one of the co-founders Dr. Ion Yadigaroglu nearly twenty years ago. The leadership was subsequently assumed by Rob Nagler and a solid tradition of delivering a quality solution and outstanding service is currently led by Laurie Frederiksen. It’s been a while since we did a club Dashboard Diagnostics session and it’s probably time to remedy that. If you or your club would be interested in a live portfolio review using our dashboards, let me know.

As many of you know, I was responsible for the annual portfolio contest at Better Investing magazine several years ago. This afforded me the opportunity to witness success as I reviewed hundreds if not thousands of club portfolios. The best practices and outcomes observed became the genesis of Manifest Investing.

Trust Your Stock Study Results

The bull market has been on rampage for several years. In fact, the performance since 2009 now resembles and reminds many of us of the late-1990s, a period that we often regard as a golden age of investing. Do you remember? The analysis and methodology deployed by most investment clubs involves using the business models, trends and forecasts to build a long-term expectation for the companies that we study. Good stewardship mandates that we continually monitor all of the important influences and characteristics for the stocks that we own. This is the hallmark and foundation of the modern investment club movement.

Sometimes after a persistent bull market, investors can hoist the patience and discipline anchor. “This form of stock analysis does not work any more?” “P/E ratios no longer matter.” (That’s true, but only for special situations and circumstances.) Do you remember? “P/E ratios don’t matter for Cisco Systems (CSCO) … it’s by far the most strongly recommended stock on the stock market.” “Ignore that sell zone. This bandwagon is leaving the station.” We know with 20/20 hindsight and the soon-to-follow 92% drop over 1-2 years that some bandwagons are more cruel than others. We also know that CSCO was squarely in the sell zone of most of our stock studies at the time with a long-term return forecast in the negative double digits.

Do you remember?

We’re human. That’s why anchors matter.

bivio Clubs Activity Report: The Long & Short Term Perspective. (October 7, 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. bivio Clubs Net Buys vs. Sells: Number of reported purchases minus reported sales. The data is ranked (descending order) based on this criterion. 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.

Home Depot (HD): Business Model Analysis. The assumptions for Home Depot for a sales growth forecast of 5-7%, net profitability of 8-9% and a projected average P/E of 18x generate a return forecast in the mid-single digits.

The Bottom Line of any Stock Study is the Return Forecast

Home Depot (HD) is not Cisco Systems (CSCO). Home Depot is an exceptional company that dramatically weathered an industry DEPRESSION and not only survived but thrived. It ranks among the most widely-followed companies by subscribers at Manifest Investing and trust me, we’re grateful. But most of us would consider it a “Strong Hold” — not a “Buy” — under current conditions and based on the accompanying business model analysis.

Following a long bull market, some club participants begin to question the return forecasts of some of their favorite holdings. Some live in fear of the next bear market and urge colleagues to stick to blue chips and it doesn’t matter what the price or return forecast looks like. Many, many average investors flee to defensive blue chips and this has been going on for a long time as talking heads and pundits have been telling us to run for the hills for YEARS. The result of this is that many of our foundational favorite stocks are no longer attractive purchase candidates. Yes, quality matters. Quality is what keeps us safe when the next correction or bear market finally does arrive. Because it will. Nobody can tell you when. But, PRICE MATTERS TOO. Because return forecasts matter. Buying stocks with relatively low return forecasts will compromise your long-term returns and results.

For some context, we track approximately 2400 stocks at Manifest Investing. The average return forecast for those stocks (based on the collective results of a pile of stock studies) is now 6-7%.

Many of the companies at the top of the activity list have fairly weak long-term forecasts. We publish versions of this long-term and short-term perspective profile so that we can compare some trusted second opinions. In this case, note the general level of the low total return forecasts according to Value Line. We also check the price-to-fair value (P/FV) from Morningstar and S&P. A value less than 100% is regarded as potentially “on sale.” A value greater than 100% suggests that a stock is at least, temporarily, overvalued. Or expensive. Scan the list from top to bottom.

The lower return forecasts and expectations are generally at the top of the chart while the opposite is true at the bottom.

Home Depot (HD) is an example of a company that typically will reach a stock price plateau. Some of those plateaus have historically extended for many years. In many cases over the years, the stock price stagnates during an extended run where the business fundamentals steadily improve. This was the case for Home Depot a few years ago. I have no idea what lies ahead for Home Depot, it’s just that I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised by a plateau.

Which brings us to General Electric (GE) … the most heavily sold stock during September 2017.

In a game of word association — group therapy for GE shareholders — one of the most common words might be “fatigue.” GE shareholders are exhausted. How long can doldrums last? For this reason, and perhaps some tax-related selling at this time of year, we understand why an investor might feel compelled to sell GE.

But … as you complete your business model analysis, be sure to account for the dramatic changes in the structure of the company over the last few years. The General Electric of 2017 no where near resembles the General Electric of 2014. The financial component has been divested, a number of less profitable business units have been shed and the company on our screens is a different animal. Much of what they have retained and intend to strategically exploit are world class leaders in their enterprises. Take power generation and jet engines. World class. GE has added the remnants of Combustion Engineering and a number of water technology innovators to the mix. Their emphasis on deploying technology in the realm of healthcare continues to expand. GE has new executive leadership. Long story short — you can’t use much of the data array older than a year or two as you build a representative understanding of what the future may hold for GE.

Long story even shorter — our colleague Hugh McManus has been accumulating General Electric (GE) for the last few months as a participant in our monthly webcast series known as the Round Table. If you’re “selling” your shares, Hugh and his fellow knights and damsels are “buying” them. Hugh has a track record as a very successful stock picker and is notorious (and respected) for his long-term perspective. GE will be our featured stock this month.

Prudent Shopping & Good Things, “Small” Packages

We use consensus-driven individual stock analyses and dashboards to manage portfolios. Dashboards can also be used as a home for industry studies and pounce piles. In this case, we created a public dashboard for the stocks listed in this bivio activity report. You can access that dashboard here: bivio Clubs Activity: September 2017

Clicking on the PAR (Projected Annual Return) column header will sort the return forecasts from highest to lowest.

But this also comes with a caveat. Lists like these are almost always large company biased. This is because it’s a national/global compilation and the larger, more liquid, companies are just generally more likely to appear when they’re all “rolled up.”

One of the most critical aspects of building a successful long-term performance is to discover and prudently own some high-quality faster-growing companies. During September and October every year, we turn over leaves and hunt down promising needles in haystacks — the types of companies (think Bio-Reference Labs, Neogen, Masimo, Mesa Labs, Simulations Plus, Universal Display and a number of others) that bolster long-term returns. The search for promising smaller companies should never end and we intensify our efforts during the fourth quarter each year to — in some cases — take advantage of tax-related selling and the January Effect.

1. Check the rigging on your anchor.

2. Build and maintain expectations (do your homework) and use the results to guide your efforts. It’s what sets us apart from a herd of confused, weaker-performing participants known as “average investors.”

Don’t let your friends be average investors. Invest With Your Friends. Thanks, bivio!

Fave Five (9/29/2017)

Fave Five (9/29/2017)

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 median 1-year ACE total return forecast is 11.1%.

This week we return to the triple play screening method for our five favorites. The triple play possibility occurs when you find a stock that is very depressed in price and also appears to be on the verge of substantially boosting its profit margins. The triple play effect is possible in that:

(1) The depressed price of the stock can return to normal levels;

(2) increased profit margins can produce increased EPS and a higher price;

(3) may also cause higher P/E ratios, or P/E expansion.

The Fave Five This Week

  • Alliance Data Systems (ADS)
  • Coach (COH)
  • CVS Health (CVS)
  • General Electric (GE)
  • Ulta Beauty (ULTA)

The Long and Short of This Week’s Fave Five

The Long & Short. (September 29, 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.

Fave Five Legacy (Tracking Portfolio)

The rate of return for the tracking portfolio is 21.6% since inception.

The relative/excess return for the Fave Five tracking portfolio is +6.1% since inception.

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

Fave Five (7/7/2017)

Fave Five (7/7/2017)

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 9.8%.

The Fave Five This Week

  • Bank of the Internet (BOFI)
  • General Electric (GE)
  • IMAX (IMAX)
  • Monro Muffler (MNRO)
  • Tractor Supply (TSCO)

The Long and Short of This Week’s Fave Five

The Long & Short. (June 23, 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 +0.2% since inception. 44.8% of selections have outperformed the Wilshire 5000 since original selection. The absolute annualized rate of return is 13.9%.

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

MANIFEST 40 (3/31/2016)

Your Most Widely-Followed Stocks: An Update

Our MANIFEST 40 is a celebration of collective excellence in stock selection, strategy and disciplined patience.

The 40 stocks are something of a barometer because we know that these community favorites are not simply followed … most of them are also widely owned, with considerable diligence and vigilance.

MANIFEST 40 (March 2016). Performance Results. These are the most widely followed stocks by Manifest Investing subscribers. Current leader Apple (AAPL) was added on 9/24/2009 and steadily climbed the ranks while generating a relative return of +20.3% (annualized) since then. Figures in parentheses are the ranking back in December 2015.

The rate of return is 9.0% since inception (9/30/2005). Bottom line? On an annualized basis, your community favorites have beaten the Wilshire 5000 by +3.6 percentage points — a relative, or excess, return that probably portends outsized success with our actual portfolios.

Quality (90) is solid and the overall return forecast (8.9%) is positioned to outperform the Wilshire 5000. At an average sales growth forecast of 6.8%, we’d to see some faster-growing companies adopted by our community.

Capturing Attention: Chargers

Gilead Sciences (GILD) moved from #25 to #22 as most of the list remained rather steady. Visa (V) is a new addition at #40. The results of $100 positions investing in any of the Top 40 companies can be viewed at any time via the public dashboard on the home page.

“We have always believed that the collective decisions made by our community of long-term investors are worth huddling over … a place where ideas are born.”

Shopping in the Dow 30 Aisle

Diamond (DIA) Expectations

The last few years have been pretty good to the Dow 30 stocks — after spending the first ten years of this century in the dog house. The trailing 5-year annualized return is 15.0% versus the Wilshire 5000 at 16.8%. So the other 4970 stocks have actually continued to outshine the Dow 30.

One of the things we’ve noticed is that the renaissance of many of these stocks has persisted — with continuing improvement in profitability, etc. — while many companies are under more margin pressure and “deceleration.”

Here’s a quick look at our 5-year forecasts for the Dow 30 as well as the Value Line low total return 3-5 year forecast. We’ve also included a quick look at Morningstar and S&P price-to-fair value (P/FV) metrics. (100% = fairly valued … <100% is potentially attractive)

In keeping with some of the Groundhog shopping, we also display the 1-year outlooks based on analyst consensus and S&P target prices.

Nutshell: Microsoft (MSFT) and General Electric (GE) are consensus favorites. S&P thinks JP Morgan (JPM) is a steal. There’s an IBM (IBM) bandwagon at Morningstar. Value Line is skeptical about the long-term forecast for Disney (DIS), Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Home Depot (HD). S&P doesn’t want Coca-Cola (KO) … not even with a 10-foot pole. Morningstar thinks United Health (UNH) is overvalued, too. S&P is scratching their heads over Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) … and we’ll stay tuned to see what conclusions are reached by Team Stovall.

Djia consensus 20150206

General Electric (GE)

It has been a while since we took a closer look at General Electric (GE), the 7th most widely-followed stock by Manifest Investing subscribers. The company is anything but a stranger to this community of investors.

It’s also safe to say that it’s been a source of considerable angst and frustration for many of us.

Company Description

General Electric Company is one of the largest & most diversified technology and financial services companies in the world. With products ranging from aircraft engines, power generation, oil and gas production equip., and household appliances to medical imaging, business and consumer financing, and industrial products, it serves customers in more than 100 countries.

Business Model Analysis

Even successful giants are vulnerable to the impact of a deep recession and GE turned out to be no exception. During the 2007-2009 financial crises, GE Capital served as a catalyst that deepened the damage. Because GE Capital was essentially a venture banking enterprise nested within the industrial giant — and accounted for over 50% of revenues — when the financial markets imploded, the impact was fairly severe and maybe even life threatening. That’s the only way to account for a price drop from $42.20 to $5.70 (-86.5%) for this blue chip leader.

Outlook

The Value Line low total return forecast for General Electric is now 13% — as the long-term low price forecast was bumped from $30 to $35 in the current update.

Analysts appear to be optimistic about the Alstom acquisition and fairly certain that the global condition will ultimately improve. Infrastructure matters. This urgently includes the United States as the electrical system condition is well on its way to resembling those bumpy pothole-ridden atrocities we used to call roads. The only difference is that when the electricity system fails — it takes a lot of critical stuff with it. General Electric is crucial to restoring the necessary reliability of our electrical supply.

We like this blue chip from a number of perspectives. The year ahead will probably only bring returns in line with the overall market; however, out to 2017-2019 we think this equity has room to run. Too, with the dividend north of 3%, income investors have a strong play here.” — Value Line (1/16/2015)

The growth forecast is based on emphasizing the last 2-3 years of actual data in combination with the Value Line forecasts. This industrial giant is retooling, exiting a few businesses while bolstering others. The Alstom addition is an example. For this reason, we focus on the right hand side of the business model trends — and find 4-5% top line growth feasible.

Value Line has a 3-5 year projected net margin of 15.3% and this is a big part of the 14.7% total return forecast for the analyst section of the study. While achievable, we’d be more comfortable with a profitability forecast in the 12-13% range based on the historical profile.

A projected average P/E ratio of 15.0x for a blue chip leader is solid.

General Electric’s exposure to capital-intensive industries makes for a rough road during corrections and recessions. Bringing home an EPS stability of 76 is quite an achievement. The “dent” made in the company the 2008-2009 recession manifests in the Financial Strength rating. (It used to be higher) Overall, General Electric still ranks in the top 10th percentile of all companies when it comes to quality — and we’d be unsurprised to see the overall quality rating increase in years ahead.

It’s been a bumpy road. (Understatement alert) But business results have been steadily improving. 2015 may be yet another flat spot in the stock price trend if oil prices continue to fall — and global recessionary conditions persist.

Ge chart 20150115

Value Line Low Total Return Screen (4/19/2013)

Companies of Interest

In keeping with last week’s Phoenix theme, many companies were bolstered in this release of updated company reports … leading to one of the stronger “Materially Stronger” collections we’ve seen in quite some time. (The definition of materially stronger is that the long-term low price forecast issued by Value Line has ‘step changed’ 20-25% over the last three months.)

General Electric (GE) is #18 in the MANIFEST 40 and has steadily been making portfolio and business/capital structural changes while continuing to position the company in high opportunity potential areas for future. Pentair (PNR) is making some of the same types of strategic moves recently. Checkpoint Software (CHKP) has some of the strongest fundamental and technical characteristics in this update field — and sports a fusion ranking of 99.

Materially Stronger: General Electric (GE), Pentair (PNR), Hillenbrand (HI), GATX (GMT), Roper Industries (ROP), Whirlpool (WHR), Gencorp (GY), Lindsay Corp (LNN), Tecumseh Products (TECUA), Morgan Stanley (MS)

Materially Weaker: E*Trade (ETFC)

Market Barometers

The median Value Line low total return forecast is 6.8%, compared to 6.7% last week.  (The long term average for this forecast is 8.5%)