We’re Not In Kansas, Anymore

This Week at MANIFEST (3/27/2020)

“Everybody who has ever invested during our darkest days has ultimately been rewarded. There’s no reason to think this time is different.” — Michael Batnick

“In the next two weeks we will witness a breathtaking degree of human ingenuity. It’s starting to bubble up now. The most capable among us are now fully engaged. That virus doesn’t know what’s coming for it.” — Scott Adams

“… for young investors, this is perhaps a once in a lifetime gift, and they should do their best to open and make maximum contributions… — Jim O’Shaughnessy, A Generational Opportunity

We’re Clearly NOT In Kansas, Anymore … Toto

The 1996 movie, Twister, features Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Jami Gertz and Cary Elwes, and depicts a group of storm chasers researching tornadoes during a severe outbreak in Oklahoma.

There’s a scene in the movie where the chasers dine at Aunt Meg’s house in a sort of scrambled eggs and pancakes royal feast. (And beef, it’s Oklahoma, after all…) They return to Aunt Meg’s a few hours later to find the house leveled by a tornado. Aunt Meg and her dog are rescued from the debris and the balance of the movie revolves around seeking refuge, dodging flying cows … and the ultimate final scenes where Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton strap themselves to a pipe in a barn as the entire enclosure is removed from around them. And then it’s gone … the sun comes out and clear skies manifest.

“Things go wrong. You can’t explain them, you can’t predict them. … You gotta move on. Stop living in the past, and look what you got right in front of you.” — Bill Harding (Bill Paxton)

The central theme of the movie is to chase down and “inject” a tub of monitoring devices into the center of a tornado so that scientists could study anatomy, vectors, etc. and improve predictive capabilities for the benefit of many. One of these modules of sensors is shown in the accompanying figure and is named “Dorothy” in obvious tribute to those who’ve navigated over the rainbow.

But the real life, the device called “Dorothy” was actually named TOTO by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). TOTO — which stands for “TOtable Tornado Observatory” — was a 55-gallon barrel outfitted to record storm data.

Enter our own “Dorothy” …

Whether we’re dealing with black swans, or a herd of buffalo simply trying to decide how to vector, or the wreckage from Aunt Meg’s house — clarity is a good thing. And although this won’t be perfect, at least we can come to terms with moderating forecasts as we attempt to understand how deep and how wide the current chasm challenge might be.

All 1400 companies that comprise the Value Industrials have current forecasts for 2020, 2021 and 2022 in our database. These are continuously updated (via YCharts) and will be shared frequently (at least weekly) going forward.

We’ve already seen that actual results for 2019 swooned while many people continued to marvel at “the best economy in the history of our country.” The rhinos on CNBC speak of unprecedented and undamaged “fundamentals.” They’re probably very, very wrong. My take is that it’s far from cataclysmic but not nearly as strong as many believe … and spew.

As recently as 3Q2019, expectations were for a median net margin of 8.5-9% for calendar 2019. As shown here, that didn’t happen. (Despite all of the fiscal stimulus and churning of stock buybacks, etc.) Expectations were for 9.0-9.5% in 2020. We’ll monitor very closely to see how much of a shortfall to expect, displaying it as soon as possible. But the 2020 year end median net margin went from 8.4% to 8.0% in just the last week.

[The main characters are in the shed hiding from an F5 tornado and Bill sees water pipes coming out of the floor.]

Bill: Here! These pipes go down at least thirty feet, if we anchor to them we might have a chance!
Jo: Have you lost your nerve?
Bill: Tighten your seatbelt.

Whether we’re talking about empty planes or empty restaurants… this too shall pass. We persisted through challenging times in November 2008 … backing up the truck and stepping on the gas in March 2009. We don’t have 30 feet of submerged pipe but we have nearly eight decades of wisdom and lessons deployed. We’ll chase the storm, dodge the flying cows … and attempt to navigate prudently this time, too.

MANIFEST 40 Updates

  • 1. Apple (AAPL)
  • 21. Skyworks Solutions (SWKS)
  • 25. Intel (INTC)

Round Table Stocks

  • Acuity Brands (AYI)
  • Apple (AAPL)
  • IPG Photonics (IPGP)
  • Skyworks Solutions (SWKS)
  • Universal Display (OLED)

Best Small Companies (2020 Dashboard)

The status of the 2020 Best Small Companies can be tracked at: https://www.manifestinvesting.com/dashboards/public/best-small-companies-2020

Investing Round Table Sessions (Video Archives)

Investing Topics (Video Archives)

Results, Remarks & References

Companies of Interest: Value Line (3/27/2020)

The median Value Line low total return forecast for the companies in this week’s update batch is 14.7% vs. 18.1% for the Value Line 1700 ($VLE).

Materially Stronger: HP (HPQ), Skyworks Solutions (SWKS), Apple (AAPL)

Materially Weaker: Plantronics (PLT), Benchmark Electronics (BHE)

Discontinued: Pattern Energy (PEGI)

Market Barometers

“There’s a huge difference between an expectation and a forecast in investing. An expectation is an high-probability acknowledgment of how things might happen. A forecast is a specific prediction. In investing, forecasts are dangerous.” — Titan Research

Value Line Median Appreciation Projection (VLMAP) Forecast. The long-term median appreciation projection for the 1700 companies featured in the Value Line Investment Survey is 21.8%, INCREASING from 15.8% last week. For context, this indicator has ranged from low single digits (when stocks are generally overvalued) to approximately 25% when stocks are in the teeth of bear markets like 2008-2009.

“It is my opinion that these future appreciation forecasts are going to be revised downward (and with larger downward revisions than currently expected/anticipated) faster than someone can yell, “Fire” in a crowded movie theatre.  In a word: It’s a Trap !!!” — Nick DiVirgilio

Nick is right.

Some of the geekier among us will recognize Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars:

The phrase stems from a memorable quote said by Admiral Ackbar (voiced by Erik Bauersfeld), the leader of Mon Calamari rebels, during the Battle of Endor in the 1983 Star Wars film Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. In the movie, as the Alliance mobilize its forces in a concerted effort to destroy the Death Star, Admiral Ackbar encounters an unexpected ambush, which leads him to exclaim, “It’s a trap!”

And we’re getting perhaps a little geeky, but here’s a snippet of how we’re approaching this … and why I’m optimistic that we’re barking at the right tree.

  • After the stock market closed on Friday and locked in prices for the weekend, the median projected return (MIPAR) was 18.1%.
  • A current data refresh of our database now displays a MIPAR of 17.4%.
  • The prices didn’t change. But YCharts has been busily and dutifully updating analyst forecasts (most likely from work-from-home environments) all weekend long and this bolsters my instincts on this.

There’s no way to know the duration and amplitude of this disruption — but at least we’re not flying blind with “static analyses” on the positions that we follow.

But … chances are … we’ll have a much better perspective on the CHASM than “average investors”.


Or, as Mr. Spock would say, “it’s only logical, Captain”.  — Ted Brooks


Update Batch: Stocks to Study (3/27/2020)

Long & Short Term Perspectives. (March 27, 2020) Proj Ann Return (PAR): Long term return forecast based on fundamental analysis and five year time horizon. Quality: Percentile ranking of composite that includes financial strength, earnings stability and relative growth & profitability. MANIFEST Ranking: Combination ranking that equally weights PAR and Quality. VL Low Tot Ret: Value Line forecast, expressed as low total return forecast. Owner’s PROC: Projected Return on Capital via 5-year EPS forecast versus current capital — equity and debt. Morningstar and ACE and P/FV: Price-to-Fair Value estimates from the (2) sources. 1-Yr ACE Tot Return: One year total return estimates via ACE.

Market Benchmarks (Continued)

Value Line Arithmetic Average. We’ve reached relative strength levels that suggest potentially oversold. But a reminder nudges away in that the bouncing ball bounced at a “bottom” for several months from November 2008-March 2009, a period that seemed like a very, very, long time.

Manifest Investing Median Return Forecast (MIPAR). Reaching those levels seen in 2008-2009.

Value Line Industrials. Net Margin Not much change as the last few “precincts” for 2019 report in with their actual 4Q and 2019 year-end actuals. But we dropped from 8.4% to 8.0% on the 2020 estimates with a little erosion on the 2021-2024 expectations.

This one’s for Ted Brooks. Because he’s right about the algos and the Rise of the Machines.

You can’t look at this without noticing the daily transaction volume in the last 30 minutes or so (actually 15 … or 5) minutes of trading every day.

 spx last 30 20200320

Surrender, Dorothy?


We didn’t expect our version of “Dorothy” (or TOTO) to capture the changing landscape quite this quickly.

Sure. Our beloved Wall Street rhinos are back at their desks — many of them probably working from home — and they’re clearly not in a good mood. A quick comparison of this weekend’s chart shows no improvement in 2019 … with continued declines in 2020E and 2021E … and the slope of the long term trend has already deflected enough that we can “feel” it in our return forecasts.


There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.

Fave Five (9/7/2018): Morningstar

Fave Five (9/7/2018)

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 10.0%.

This week we limit the field to companies with excellent quality (>80) with the lowest price-to-fair value ratios (P/FV) according to Morningstar.

The Long and Short of This Week’s Fave Five

Long & Short Term Perspectives. (September 7, 2018) 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. 52-Week Position: Position on scale between 52-week low price and 52-week target price. 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.

McKesson (MCK) is on “wash sale probation” as it was sold on 8/31/2018 and is unavailable to the tracking portfolio until October.

Intel (INTC) is one of our favorite examples of stock prices that seem to move in “fits and starts.” The company is currently #26 among the most widely-followed stocks by Manifest Investing subscribers and has generally tracked the market (8% annualized total return) since charter membership in the MANIFEST 40 back on 9/30/2005. Intel (INTC) spent four years on the Round Table roster after selection by Hugh McManus and Mark Robertson back on 3/26/2013. The rate of return when sold on 12/19/2017 was 21.6% — beating the Wilshire 5000 by 9.5 percentage points.

Looking down the top (50) stocks that met this week’s criterion, we were struck by the number of Ken Kavula nominations for the Round Table in the field. Perhaps Morningstar gives extra credit for “up, straight and parallel,” too? A recent example is the laser purveyor, Coherent (COHR). The company was featured (by Ken) during the July 2018 Round Table.

Stericycle (SRCL) has been in the Fave Five tracking portfolio since 12/8/2017 and has stumbled to a relative return of -16.7%. Yes, Virginia, SRCL is on the Rule-of-5 hot seat but they may still stick the landing and commence recovery.

NutriSystem (NTRI) is #4 on our Best Small Companies list for 2018 and was added to the Fave Five tracking portfolio on 3/22/2018. NTRI has delivered a healthy return, 32.1% since then. Bring out your best small companies ideas as we build and share the Best Small Companies (2019 edition) around Halloween. Yes, we’re searching haystacks and counting down …

Fave Five Legacy (Tracking Portfolio)

The relative/excess return for the Fave Five tracking portfolio is +3.5% since inception.

The absolute annualized rate of return is 18.9%.

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

Hot Links & Fractured Fairy Tales

Hot Links & Fractured Fairy Tales

I’m often asked about the utility of Twitter and similar “newsfeed” type services. I have to admit that I was extremely skeptical about 140 character blasts and an endless stream back when I first started exploring but I rapidly discovered that Twitter can be a path to discovering and sharing information.

Favorite “Follows” by @ManifestInvest

At Twitter you “follow” people that you’d like to hear from. For me, this includes a number of friends, and it also includes investing-related thought leaders and information providers. I also subscribe to (follow) sources like the various Fed research departments (Minneapolis & St. Louis rock) and companies that I follow. Some of my favorites:

  • @ritholtz — http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/
  • @eddyelfenbein — http://www.crossingwallstreet.com
  • @StovallSPCAPIQ — Sam Stovall (Standard & Poor’s)
  • @BobBrinker
  • @SelenaMaranjian — writer for www.fool.com (also Brothers Gardner via @TomGardnerFool & @DavidGFool)
  • @lecreative — Amy Buttell, colleague and Better Investing alum, writes on “all things financial.”
  • @TMFHousel — not just another Fool
  • @NateSilver538
  • @ReformedBroker — Joshua Brown

As an example, let’s take a look at a recent reading list shared by Josh. I generally find 2-3 things to scan whether it’s Eddy, Barry or Josh laying out the smorgasbord.

Here’s the link: http://thereformedbroker.com/2015/11/17/hot-links-fairy-tales/

What I’m reading this morning:

  • US dollar screams to a 7 year high (Bloomberg)
  • Stocks: Top 10 High-Conviction and New-Money Purchases (Morningstar)
  • Soros lightens up his bet against the S&P 500 (MoneyBeat)
    …and he joins Icahn in a bet on PayPal (Business Insider) — [… one for Kim Butcher and Round Table followers]
  • Alphabet, Amazon Lead A.I. Charge as Machines Take Over, Says UBS (Barron’s)
  • CEO of Alerian Index admits that MLPs are sensitive to oil prices. So much for the “toll collector” fairy tale (ETF.com)
  • Investment banks’ revenue set to decline again in 2015 (Reuters) — probably explains down draft in stock prices of asset managers
  • Home Depot continues to crush it. Another flawless quarter. (Business Insider)
  • Cliff Asness: Good investing is not about genius, it’s about fortitude (Business Insider)
  • Retailers hate those new credit card chips (New York Times)
  • Children born today will most likely live on average to their late 80’s (Upshot) — … one of our favorite themes

Goldman Sachs: Buy and Avoid

This was a tangential subject of discussion during the March Round Table. We’ve added Goldman Sachs price targets and will be monitoring them versus ACE and S&P.

Nutshell: Might this be a way to gauge sentiment? In this case, these differentials could deliver influence or impact, providing a potentially meaningful sentiment indicator.


Gs buy avoid list 20150331

As a quick reminder to be careful out there, this is what this morning held for Garmin (GRMN).

That’s a reduction from $63 to $54.

Source: Benzinga.com

Grmn gs opinion 20150402

More Fun With Goldman Sachs

When they’re not doing “God’s work” or referring to retail investors as Muppets, Goldman Sachs (GS) makes some calls — long and short — that can be influential in the market. In some Wall Street circles, the legions of Goldman Sachs are playfully known as Masters of the Universe.

In addition to the two lists shared above, here’s a list of nineteen stocks that Goldman Sachs believes are headed for price swoons — a list of stocks to sell short.

Goldman Sachs offers three criteria on how to pick stocks to short:

  • Look for individual stocks with high valuations that have a tendency to underperform;
  • take hints from mutual funds as they do a good job of selecting shorts;
  • and look for stocks that are likely to move on company-specific factors and are less prone to moving with general market and sector trends.

Among the overvalued stocks Goldman thinks could drop are Celgene (CELG), OReilly Automotive (ORLY) and Red Hat (RHT). Stocks underweight by mutual funds that could fall are HST, CTL and EQR; and likely to deviate from the broad market and their sectors are KLAC, JEC and COH.

Rounding out Goldman’s 19 stock recommendations that could reward short sellers: ARG, DO, DISCA, FLS, KSS, MOS, NDAQ, NVDA, TDC, WU.

Tracking Dashboard: http://www.manifestinvesting.com/dashboards/public/goldman-shorts-20140414

Here are the tracking dashboards for the Goldman MOST UPSIDE and MOST DOWNSIDE stocks as of 3/31/2015:

Shopping By Sector: Technology En Fuego

Photo Credit: Tc Morgan via Compfight cc

Where to shop these days?

Start by recognizing where NOT to shop and that’s probably the utility sector. The utility stocks have been en fuego. Don’t shop among the ashes of a bonfire, shop where a flammable pile is smoldering — but distinguish ashes from ignition.

The accompanying table has been sorted from highest potential to lowest potential based on projected annual return (PAR) — the return forecast for the ten traditional sectors from S&P.

Technology stocks worth a closer look: Apple (AAPL), Cognizant Technology (CTSH), Google (GOOG), EMC (EMC), Oracle (ORCL), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Intel (INTC).

Keep in mind that the smoldering might take a while as the often unfriendly (to Tech stocks) days of summer swoop in — for investing for the long term …

Sector gps 20130411

Value Line Low Total Return Screen (4/5/2013)

Companies of Interest

We’re often asked for opinions on Apple (AAPL) and our approach/outlook is unchanged … at least not much. We do note that AAPL flipped to a bullish point-and-figure condition with a slight boost in price objective. But we still see the stock as vulnerable to a continued price drop or extended trading range. I still love the answer that Jeff Gundlach gave during the Q&A following a recent webcast. His response to “Should I buy Apple?”: “That depends. Are you really, really, really a long-term investor? How will you react if the price drops from $425 to the low $300s? If your time horizon is relatively long and you’re comfortable with a price that plummets from time to time, I’d say it’d be OK to buy/accumulate AAPL.” We still think that trailing stop protection on stocks like AAPL is a really good idea.

Expectations at Hugh’s Staples (SPLS) did relax a little bit — but the long-term outlook (for patient investors) is still strong.

Recent Round Table selection Intel (INTC) is among the best-positioned companies in the Issue 7 update.

Materially Stronger: Synaptics (SYNA), NCR Corp (NCR)

Materially Weaker: Logitech (LOGI), Garmin (GRMN), Skullcandy (SKUL), Standard Register (SR), Staples (SPLS), Cirrus Logic (CRUS)

Market Barometers

The median Value Line low total return forecast is 6.7% compared to 6.8% last week.

Fusion Screen (3/26/2013)

Fusion screen 20130326
Some stock study candidates based on a combination of fundamental characteristics (growth, profitability, valuation and return forecast in combination with the quality ranking) and timely technical characteristics (e.g. relative strength index momentum and price pressure, etc.)
Note the frequency of oil & gas field services along with a integrated petroleum company among the results.
The information technology companies (INFY, AAPL and INTC) continue to be prominent as well.

March Round Table: March Madness

Rt banner 20130326-512

During the March 2013 session of the Round Table, our noble knights (and fair damsel Anne Manning) elected to close out (“sell”) the positions in Adobe Systems (ADBE).

The annualized relative return achieved on the selections of ADBE by Anne Manning and Ken Kavula was +16.5% and +14.5% respectively. Huzzah and thanks, Anne.

Bank of America (BAC) was also batted about. The fundamentals have been a wreck and they’re still impacted by the Great Recession. Book value was hammered and is still recovering — a condition quite widespread amongst all banks. Return-on-equity (ROE) has been staggered and perhaps somewhat permanently altered. In the case of BAC, a quick sensitivity analysis on two different thresholds for projected ROE illustrates how muddy and choppy the waters still are for BAC. Hugh also noted the cobbled-together nature of many of these banks since 2008 during the crisis and that spinoffs and restructurings probably hold fairly promising — and quite confusing — potential.

What levels of profitability (ROE) will banks like BAC achieve going forward. We know that 15-20% was commonplace back in 2000-2005 … and that ROE levels have been restored to a fraction of their historical levels. As shown here, the analyst consensus for BAC is currently approximately 5%, but likely increasing. If it were to rebound to 10% (still far below 15-20% levels) … the return forecast (PAR) is 18% versus the paltry level shown on the dashboard. This is part of what Hugh has been thinking for a few years since his famous, “I want to own a bank.”

Where do you think ROE levels for banks in general are headed?

In celebration of William Shatner’s 82nd birthday, Ken and Cy added Priceline (PCLN) to the Round Table tracking portfolio. Continuing with the theme of mayhem and madness, Hugh and Mark also agreed on a selection (a condition that we’ve rarely seen amongst all the knights over the last three years) and presented Intel (INTC). Hugh shared some thoughts on diving beneath the surface of customary analysis to take a look at inventory trends.

If you’d like to hear Hugh expound on this theme, let us know and we’ll schedule a webcast to share legendary tales of companies like Lucent, SafeSkin and Cisco Systems.

The road ahead for Intel is not without a speed bump or two as the transition from PCs to other devices and hardware continues. The company always has been and likely will be, a growth-cyclical, and it will likely remain that way with a long-term growth trend in the 6-8% range for the foreseeable.

But it’s a clear leader in its industry with solid margins. As shown here, Value Line has the long-term low total return forecast at 17% — not too shabby.

The audience closed the session by voting for Priceline (PCLN) over Intel in a clear birthday cake tribute to Captain Kirk — and price negotiators everywhere.