Fave Five (1/13/2017)

Fave Five (1/13/2017)

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 8.0%.

This week we take a slight departure to pay homage to remarks made by Jeff Gundlach during the DoubleLine “Just Markets” webcast on Tuesday. Specifically, the macro observations included a nudge to consider equities in places like India and Japan, suggesting that U.S./Canada valuations might be getting a little steep.

Turning attention to the universe of stocks outside the U.S. & Canada, we find another “Lost Decade.” The stocks in the Morgan Stanley iShares MSCI EAFE exchange traded fund (EFA) have delivered a -0.6% return ANNUALIZED since 2007 while the Wilshire 5000 checks in at 7.3%. So we went searching for the highest ranked stocks that call an address “home” outside either Canada or the United States.

We granted Stella-Jones (SJ-TO) an exception in honor of Jeremy Grantham’s honorary timber class.

For more information on joining our 11th annual Groundhog Challenge, launching 2/2/2017, as either a group or an individual investor, drop a note to markr@manifestinvesting.com.

The Fave Five This Week

  • Baidu (BIDU)
  • Infosys Tech (INFY)
  • MercadoLibre (MELI)
  • Stella-Jones (SJ-TO)
  • Teva Pharma (TEVA)

The Long and Short of This Week’s Fave Five

The Long & Short. (January 13, 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 +3.6% since inception. 45.1% of selections have outperformed the Wilshire 5000 since original selection.

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

Best Small Companies (2016)

Best Small Companies (2016)

We lamented the decision by Forbes to discontinue their annual Best Small Companies list last year. 36 years in the running, the list provided a number of actionable opportunities over the last couple of decades for many of us. That said, while sticking to their core criteria, we may have actually improved the discovery and screening process. The returns posted by the lists, orphaned for two years now, have been 19.0% and 21.6%, respectively. For context, the Wilshire 5000 checked in at approximately 4% for both periods. With this experience under our belts, we head for the haystack in search of promising smaller companies to bolster our all-of-the-above investing discipline and hoping for a solid January Effect.

The Russell 2000 (RUT) gained 2.5% from 10/31/2015 through Halloween 2016.

The Wilshire 5000 (VTSMX) did a little better, checking in at 4.1% during that same period.

Every Halloween, we remind our fellow investors to be extra vigilant for opportunities among smaller, faster-growing companies, during the 4th quarter of the year. History suggests that some opportunities are created by tax-related selling. The smaller companies are impacted the most and those with solid expectations often get a stock price boost during January when investors return after wash sale periods expire.

Small Cap Does Not Mean Small Company

It’s also a time when we are reminded that small cap does not mean small company. As a case in point, the average sales growth forecast for the Russell 2000 (EQWS) is approximately 6.0% — the type of growth more closely associated with stalwarts and larger blue chip contributors. If you’re really looking for small companies, we suggest an emphasis on higher growth rates. This month’s fund feature is Conestoga Small Cap (CCASX) featuring an average sales growth rate of 13%. Go ahead. Check out the companies held by Conestoga. (See page 4.) In a word, they obviously shop for leadership small companies in much the same way that we do and can/should be considered a qualified source of ideas. Conestoga features a +2.4% (annualized) excess return versus the S&P 500 over the last ten years.

The criteria used to build the list is largely faithful to the Forbes traditions. Specifically, annual revenues were limited to less than $1 billion, but required to be greater than $50 million. We also required a minimum stock price of $5. Because we feel the sales growth forecast is the strongest characteristic to define “small” — we required a minimum growth forecast of 10%. No asset-based companies from the financial sector were included. And finally, when we think about “Best” we think the combination of quality and return forecast is a great place to start.

This Year’s Haystack

The companies that qualify for our 2016 Best Small Company Manifest are shown in the accompanying table.

Newcomer Meridian Bioscience (VIVO) checks in at #1. VIVO is covered in the Value Line Standard Edition and had a 16% low total return forecast (11/18/2016). Meridian Bioscience provides diagnostic test kits, purified reagents and related products, as well as biopharmaceutical enabling technologies. Products are marketed to hospitals, laboratories, veterinary centers, physician offices, diagnostic manufacturers and biotech companies worldwide. The company is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and investors are encouraged to explore the investor relations materials at:
www.meridianbioscience.com

Diagnostics as a “theme” are fairly prevalent among the best small companies. Solomon Select feature Mesa Labs (MLAB) is one example and Mid-Michigan local favorite, Neogen (NEOG) is another. Both of these companies were “discovered” via the Forbes list and continue to qualify. Another company that qualifies as biopharma-enabling might well be Simulations Plus (SLP) but the company falls a little short of the annual revenues minimum.

We expected to lose last year’s #1, Forward Air (FWRD) to “graduation” but the recessionary conditions in transporting “stuff” kept FWRD below the $1 billion maximum. Forward Air had been a resident of the Forbes listing for seven years … so this makes it nine years for this logistics leader.

The top performer from last year’s best small companies was Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT) with a total return of 79.7%. Ubiquiti develops high performance networking technology for service providers and enterprises. UBNT is closing the digital divide by building network communication platforms and has 38 million devices worldwide. Ubiquiti just missed qualifying for this year’s list — ranking #41 as the UBNT return forecast is down to 7.9% following the robust performance over the last year.

 

Diagnosis: Ubiquitous

We think a ubiquitous haystack is a path to opportunity and success. We’re reminded that we can’t achieve proper balance unless we’re continuously searching for the next promising well-managed small company. We’re reassured by the presence of several long time favorites on this study list and look forward to discovering and diagnosing at will.

Round Table (November 2016)

November Round Table

Our Round Table, a monthly session featuring our favorite stock ideas right now in true round table fashion, was held November 29.

Stocks Discussed

  • CVS Health (CVS)
  • Infosys Tech (INFY)
  • Mercadolibre (MELI)

The stocks selected for this program over the last six years have collectively beaten the Wilshire 5000. The excess return (annualized) has been ranging from 2-3%. We seek actionable opportunities to study and pursue.

The agenda will also include a continuation of our selling decision concept based on relative return.

The round table knights include small company champion and Mid-Michigan Director Ken Kavula; Cy (MythBuster) Lynch; pharmaceutical scientist Hugh McManus; and Manifest Investing’s Mark Robertson who will analyze their favorite stocks. Guest damsels have included Anne Manning, Susan Maciolek and Kim Butcher. Guest knights who have jousted include Nicholas Stratigos, Herb Lemcool and Matt Spielman.

The audience selected CVS Health (CVS).

Positions closed/sold: Knight Transportation (KNX), Landauer (LDR), PRA Group (PRAA), US Physical Therapy (USPH)

The tracking portfolio has been updated at: https://www.manifestinvesting.com/dashboards/public/round-table

Rt poll 20161129

Fave Five (11/4/2016)

Fave Five (11/4/2016)

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.

Every year, we remind investors to focus on small company opportunities in the final quarter of the year. Tax-related selling can often provide outsized opportunities — a condition that is amplified among the faster-growing and promising smaller companies. We used to urge investors to carefully mine the Forbes List of Best Small Companies that was published in late October for 36 years. Unfortunately, Forbes discontinued the feature last year. Fret not. We’ll be out with our own list of 40 Best Small Companies soon (final edits in progress.) The 2016 collection performed very well for the second straight year.

The Fave Five This Week

This week we’re taking a detour to feature the five companies at the top of our 40 Best Small Companies for 2017. As shown here, the 2016 collection outdistanced the Wilshire 5000 by a considerable margin — beating the total stock market for the 8th time in 11 years with an excess/relative return since inception of +4.6%.

  • Forward Air (FWRD)
  • Mercadolibre (MELI)
  • Meridian Bioscience (VIVO)
  • Mesa Labs (MLAB)
  • Neogen (NEOG)

Context: The median S&P price to fair value ratio is 102%.

The Long and Short of This Week’s Fave Five

The Long & Short. (November 4, 2016) 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.

Weekend Warriors

The relative/excess return for the Weekend Warrior tracking portfolio is +4.0% since inception. 52.5% of selections have outperformed the Wilshire 5000 since original selection.

Tracking Dashboard: https://www.manifestinvesting.com/dashboards/public/weekend-warriors