Round Table (July 2018)

Our Round Table … is a free monthly webcast that celebrated its 8th anniversary on 7/31/2018.  The concept is simple. Contributors share their best current actionable ideas. Rinse. Repeat. Beat the market. The rate of return for the tracking portfolio (since inception) is 18.2% — topping the Wilshire 5000 by 5.5 percentage points.  The monthly sessions are sponsored by the NAIC Mid-Michigan chapter and Manifest Investing and stock selections/analysis and portfolio stewardship is demonstrated by a number of community participants who have successful stock selection experience and superior performance.

Round Table (July 2018)

The rate of return for the Round Table tracking portfolio stands at 18.2% over the last 8.0 years.

Our July Round Table celebrated our 8th anniversary. It all started with, “Sure … a monthly demonstration of WHAT WE DO would be great … but NO COSTUMES!” — Ken ‘Party Wrecker’ Kavula.  (July 2010)

So no costumes. Occasional hats.

Frequent solid ideas for further study.


Stocks featured during the July session included Cognizant Technology (CTSH) — our most frequently selected stock over the trailing eight years, Coherent (COHR), Ionis Pharma (IONS) and Skechers (SKX).  The audience selected Coherent (COHR).

The slides used during the session are available on request via Mark Robertson (

The video archive is available via YouTube at Round Table — July 2018 If you’d like to be notified whenever videos are uploaded to this channel, subscribe using the button on the page.

Green Room, References Mentioned …

IPG Photonics (IPGP) took quite a hit in trading on Tuesday with the price dropping approximately 26% during the day. See Why IPG Is Falling Hard (Brian Feroldi, Motley Fool) for more information on the situation. The drop would have been enough to dislodge IPGP as the best performing stock from 2016 if Tuesday’s price action were included. We noted that Mark’s selection of Mercadolibre (MELI) would be the new leader for active holdings from 2016.

Signature Bank (SBNY) appeared at the top of the “Closest to 52-Week Low” screen used during the session. Investors are reminded that Eddy Elfenbein of Crossing Wall Street follows SBNY fairly closely as a component of his current Buy List and a number of play-by-play commentaries can be found there. Go to the site and search by ticker (SBNY) if you’re interested in a plethora of features regarding Signature Bank.

Attophysics defined.

One of the books mentioned during the session was Factfulness by Hans Rosling. I’m sure that we’ll be talking more about this in coming weeks and months. For more on this, check out the Forum Post by Sunil Veluvali

The Basics of Tariffs and Trade Barriers (Investopedia)

Links to Challenge Stock Audits:

None of the challenge stocks were sold but we dialed up vigilance on Cambrex (CBM) if the price continues to run in the absence of a robust increase in fundamental expectations.

The tracking portfolio (dashboard) can be found at



This Week at MANIFEST (8/25/2017)

This Week at MANIFEST (8/25/2017)

There is no science in this world like physics. Nothing comes close to the precision with which physics enables you to understand the world around you. It’s the laws of physics that allow us to say exactly what time the sun is going to rise. What time the eclipse is going to begin. What time the eclipse is going to end. — Neil deGrasse Tyson

Whenever I sing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ the way people sing along with me still excites me. It’s one of the songs that audiences know all the lyrics to, and they sing along with me, and it makes me so happy. People also know my songs ‘Holding out for a Hero’ and ‘Lost in France,’ and this gives me so much joy on stage. — Bonnie Tyler

Mark: Ken, You know what makes me sad?

Ken: What’s that, Mark?

Mark: When you and I take a road trip that takes us nearly within walking distance to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania … and you’re unwilling to make a slight detour.

Ken: Friends, that “slight detour” would have added nearly two hours to a trip that would already require 9 hours. Besides, on both excursions, we were blasted with a deluge that probably drowned Punxsy Phil in all its fury.

Mark: Go ahead, big guy, make light of these tears. Besides, we know that Noah keeps the ark just south of Cincinnati.

Ken: Mark, you know what makes me happy?

Mark: You mean besides dinner with investing friends in Cleveland at Corky & Lenny’s?

Ken: Well, that too. But once again we discover a local conspiracy of investing educators who nurture excellence in long-term investing.

Mark: No kidding. We reviewed four investment club portfolios during the Keystone Strategies conference. All of them were well-positioned, adhering to design targets — most notable in that ALL OF THEM contained a sufficient number of faster-growing companies to keep the overall portfolio growth rate in the 10-12% range.

Ken: Folks, we don’t see this kind of thing very often — and it bodes well for the like-minded investors of Central Pennsylvania.

Mark: Absolutely. It reminded me of Cow Tipping in places like Beardstown and Faribault, Minnesota.

Ken: I can only imagine the detours involved there and I’m probably grateful that I wasn’t in the car. But go ahead, humor me.

Mark: And the wonderful achievements of the Broad Assets investment club of St. Louis. The River Oaks Investment Club has won the Keystone Strategies stock picking contest three out of the last four years in the group category.

Ken: I’ll give you that. The Keystone Strategies contest is outstanding and they’re to be commended. We recommend this type of activity as a path to learning, discovery, sharing of ideas and socializing with successful investors to all communities that we visit.

Mark: … which brings us to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Ken: I feel a cosmic-sized detour coming on.

Mark: I think we can almost compare the behavior of the stock market in 2008-2009 to an eclipse. In hindsight, it didn’t really last that long but it was scary … but from an epic long-term perspective, we probably should have been looking at the Great Recession with a colander on our heads.

Ken: For some reason, I’m not having much trouble picturing you with …

Mark: [interrupting] I’m serious. Most of “Investor” Nation spends every waking moment worrying about price drops and whether or not it’s possible to time the market ad nauseam. This notion has been very destructive to so many as it has delivered pessimism-driven conservative approaches to asset allocation, etc. as the “gold standard” of prudent investing. For those with long time horizons — and a few more total solar eclipses in their future — there’s no need to think of price volatility as RISK.

Ken: In that case, I think you’re right. And we should point people to the work of our own Cy Lynch on the real definition and impact of RISK in our investing efforts.

Mark: Cy is right about this. And so is AAII’s James Cloonan. Fear of “Risk” has destroyed a lot of capital over the decades. And that leads me to another twisted perception that we’ve been jousting with for years. This turned out to be one of our favorite slides from the weekend.

Mark: [continuing] There’s a couple of things that we can see here. First, we counsel in a BIG way, the importance of all-of-the-above investing. We define this as a blend of fast-growing promising upstarts, a suitable dose of medium-sized workhorse companies growing near average growth rates and a dash of blue-chip stalwarts growing at low single-digit slower growth rates. We build and maintain our portfolios at a 10-12% average sales growth forecast for the portfolio. We can generally point to the Value Line Arithmetic Average as “beating” the S&P 500, largely because of the contribution of the small and medium components. However, this graph shows that the red hot S&P 500 has caught the Value Line 1700 of late, something we’ve not seen since the late 1990s and rarely over the last 60 years. Read Josh Brown’s Just Say No to the S&P 500 from this perspective. But beyond that, notice the roller coaster (volatility) of the S&P 500 versus the Value Line average. Which one is “riskier?” Take it a step further and remove the S&P 500 from the Value Line average (mentally) and imagine how much less bumpy (“riskier”) the remaining small- and medium-sized companies must be.

Ken: This puts our long-held perspective on full display. Fast-growing and medium-sized companies of suitably high quality do not have to be roller coasters. We might also observe our strong emphasis on the S&P 500 field of opportunity approximately five years ago.

Mark: Right. How ya like my colander now? We’ll take a closer look at the S&P 600 and S&P 400 in coming weeks, but we’re launching our Fast Growing Company safari season with a few of the companies we discovered among the entries for the Keystone Strategies contest portfolios. You know what makes me happy? Investing better, with friends, whether the sun is shining or when the moon gets in the way for a few minutes. I’m always holding out for a few more Heroes. (Certain apologies to Bonnie Tyler)

Ken: We visit a lot of chapters and investment clubs. And the efforts of Chuck Reinbrecht, Richard Lindsay and Bruce Kennedy are exemplary as well as the support and achievements we witnessed by the likes of Kyle Blevins, Donna & John Diercks, Ken Mobley, Mary Ann Rentsch and the Cleveland team, John Varner and Barbara Vinson.

Mark: We’re also grateful for the support provided by bivio’s Laurie Madison for the Keystone Strategies contest and event. We look forward to future visits to share ideas and thoughts with the investors of Cleveland and Central Pennsylvania. And that visit to Punxsy Phil’s neighborhood is still on my Bucket List.

MANIFEST 40 Updates

  • 10. FactSet Research (FDS)
  • 27. Starbucks (SBUX)
  • 29. Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD)

Round Table Stocks

  • Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD)
  • C.H. Robinson (CHRW)
  • Forward Air (FWRD)
  • Maximus (MMS)
  • McDonald’s (MCD)
  • Standard & Poor’s Global (SPGI)
  • Starbucks (SBUX)
  • Stericycle (SRCL)
  • Waste Connections (WCN)

Round Table Session Recordings Added

Best Small Companies

  • 3. Forward Air (FWRD)
  • 13. BJ’s Restaurants (BJRI)

Results, Remarks & References

Companies of Interest: Value Line (8/18/2017)

The average Value Line low total return forecast for the companies in this week’s update batch is 4.9% vs. 3.4% for the Value Line 1700 ($VLE).

Materially Stronger: Huron Consulting (HURN), Red Robin Gourmet (RRGB), Atlas Air (AAWW)

Materially Weaker: BJ’s Restaurants (BJRI), DineEquity (DIN), Bristow Group (BRS), Ship Finance (SFL), PotBelly (PBPB), Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD), Waste Connections (WCN)

Discontinued: Panera Bread (PNRA)

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 3.4%, an increase from 3.1% 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 (8/25/2017)

The average return forecast (PAR) for this week’s update batch is 8.0%.

The Long & Short. (August 25, 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.

August Round Table August 22, 2017 at 8:30 PM ET ONLINE

Stocks Likely To Be Featured: TBD

This Round Table will continue the discussion on traditional selling analysis and explore the relative return-based selling we’ve suggested.

Consider joining Ken Kavula, Cy Lynch, Hugh McManus and Mark Robertson as they share their current favorite stock study ideas.


Coming attractions 20170821

Round Table (May 2017)

These excerpts are from our monthly webcast series (The Round Table) that usually airs on the last Tuesday at 8:30 PM ET.  The sessions are FREE and include the selection of 3-5 stocks to study with a demonstration of the analysis used to determine the quality and return forecast.  This demonstration has beaten the market over the last seven years, featuring a collective rate of return of 13.2%.  A tracking portfolio is maintained at:
If you would like to be added to the reminder list for future sessions, send a request to be added to the list maintained at

The Core/Non-Core discussion was a thought starter for sure. Clarifying my thought, adding ‘Successfully’ to ‘Survived At Least One Recession’ means to me that the company was ‘at least’ earnings profitable during a recession period. An example would be UTHR owned by the investment club I belong to. — Marty Eckerle, Cincinnati

[Here is one of the slides used in the discussion …]

Core mettle


Selling Decisions Based on Relative Return

Nothing about the traditional selling decision, or Challenge, changes. We still sell with the overall portfolio characteristics in mind. It’s a standard procedure to challenge the holdings with the lowest return forecast. This was referred to by George Nicholson as “Rule One” for portfolio management. For this month’s meeting, Coach (COH) was challenged, updated, analyzed and sold to provide some boost to overall portfolio PAR.

Following that, any company selected within the trailing 12 months that lags (falls behind) the Wilshire 5000 and exhibits a relative return of -20% is subjected to some “head scratching.” The following flow/decision chart is an attempt to capture this process.

Rt flow chart 20170530

Selling Decisions (May 2017)

How To Use This Chart. This chart summarizes the decisions made by checking various attributes of stocks that have triggered the -20% relative return threshold over the last year.

The first chart is a dashboard sorted by PAR (Ascending). The stock at the top of the sort, Coach (COH) is therefore — on the HOT SEAT. After further discussion and the update included in this thread (see below), Coach did not survive and was SOLD.

When a stock reaches a relative return of -20% (versus the Wilshire 5000, VTSMX) it qualifies for this raking over the coals. The relative performance is displayed in the Relative Return column. If LKQ (LKQ) can remain under -20%, it will be removed from this listing at future Round Tables.

Core? is a decision as to whether a stock should be subjected to tighter constraints or given “blue chip” treatment with a “longer leash.” Most participants tend to regard Retail/Apparel companies as Non-Core and we’ve found over the years that steady forecasts and steady results are generally the hallmark of companies that we consider to be core.

If a company is deemed to be core, a quick check of the return forecast (PAR) and Quality is in order to detect degradation or erosion of expectations. In this case NVO is definitely “on the fence” and we’re monitoring for signs of further weakness. It was noted that the stock price performance has been stronger over the last few weeks.

The last “life line” (vs. Industry) is a quick check to see if a company is actually faring relatively well versus its industry or peers while lagging the market. This essentially “saved” LKQ last month as we noted that the Auto & Commercial Vehicle Parts Index (BigCharts: WSJUSIXOTA) has lagged the overall stock market.

Coach (COH) was sold from the Round Table tracking portfolio on 5/30/2017.

Coh analysis 20170530

The Audience Poll was a bit of a photo finish for May 2017. We ruled that the audience selected both Dollar General (DG) and LGI Homes (LGIH) and will invest $1000 in each. The live audience in Cincinnati on 5/19/2017 selected CVS Health (CVS).

Rt poll 20170530

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: (Will be added ASAP)

Stocks Presented

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

The audience selected CVS Health (CVS).

Rt poll 20170328

These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Screens

January Round Table

Our Round Table, a monthly session featuring our favorite stock ideas right now in true round table fashion will be held on Tuesday. January 31 at 8 PM ET.


On the eve of Groundhog Day Eve, we’ll return to a tradition of visiting and reviewing a Few of Our Favorite Screens.

Stocks Likely To Be Discussed

  • Dollar Tree Stores (DLTR)
  • NIC (EGOV)
  • Under Armour (UAA)

These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Screens

The stocks selected for this program over the last six years have collectively beaten the Wilshire 5000. We seek actionable opportunities to study and pursue.

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

Ivory Soap Screen

We feature this one during most Round Tables. It’s still Mark’s favorite as it focuses screening targets on the most important characteristics — a combination of quality and return forecast — seeking the best companies at the best prices. As shown, enter 99.44 as the minimum Manifest Investing rank and we deliver a short list of high potential stock studies.

Rt ivory soap 20170130

Cy’s Strong Workhorse Screen

This multi-purpose screen accomplishes several things, including an emphasis on that middle (medium-sized) company portion of your portfolios that supports size diversification. As he often reminds us, Cy prefers companies with high quality (excellent or greater than 80) AND high financial strength (A+ or greater than 80 or 90). In this case, he’s also moderated the return forecast target a bit (MIPAR +4.5%, as shown) in order to identify some solid returns from some companies in the steady growth segment (7-12% growth) that some of us might refer to as the “workhorse zone.”

Rt workhorses 20170130

Kurt’s Sweet Spot & High Quality Screen

This one might be easiest — and among the more effective — of all. Kurt provides a continuously running screening result as one of our menu items. Click on Research > Companies and you get a current listing of potentially compelling studies.

Rt sweet spot quality 20170130

(Broad Assets) Launch Pad Concept Screen

This approach was explored in our Escape Velocity cover story (May 2014) where we attempted to explain some of the success of our 3-time group champions, Broad Assets of St. Louis. Part of the success was attributed to stocks like Lannett (LCI) which delivered massive returns, apparently operating near the point in a companies life cycle where EPS first break through into positive numbers and early stage growth can be powerful.

So three elements are probably important:

  • Double digit growth — to isolate newer, promising companies with higher growth expectations.
  • Exorbitant Slope on the EPS graphic. We screened for 2017 EPS vs. 2016 EPS here. The average is 11.4%. (FYI)
  • Price Explosion Potential — The 1-year total return via ACE forecasts. The median forecast is 7.9%.

This could be a source of “different” ideas and would be considered part of a speculative component, by many.

Rt launch pad 20170130

Hugh’s 52-Week Low Proximity Screen

You can read more about this approach here and here.

Hugh scans a relatively short list of vetted companies and pounces on them when they get within 20% of 52-week lows — so long as their good/excellent characteristics persist.

Rt hugh ann low 20170130

Ken’s Quality Small Companies

Ken Kavula reminds us that we don’t have to compromise on quality when it comes to maintaining the small company component. This dashboard, inspired by the Forbes Best Small Companies, and published by Manifest Investing back around Halloween 2016 continues to flag opportunities. It has been sorted by Quality (Descending) and a number of sweet spot (and Speculative) opportunities are displayed.

Rt small companies 20170130

Global Treasures

From January:

During his webcast on 1/10/2017, DoubleLine’s Jeff Gundlach suggested a search for equity opportunities in international baskets/markets and specifically called out India and Japan’s NIKKEI as potential targets.

We’ve been noticing a certain trend, alongside Mr. Gundlach, in recent weeks as the stocks featured in our Fave Five have been “dominated” by non-U.S. companies. Six of the last nine new editions to our Fave Five tracking portfolio (since 11/11/2016) have been ex-U.S. stocks.

IShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA) offers broad, market-cap-weighted exposure to large- and mid-cap stocks across 21 developed markets outside the United States and Canada. Holdings include Nestle (NSRGY), Roche (RHHBY), Novartis (NVS), Toyota (TMC), Siemens (SIEGY), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Bayer (BAYRY). As the accompanying chart shows, this index (orange area) peaked 10 years and has experienced its own lost decade since the Great Recession.

If you can discover one of these with strengthening fundamentals and you believe that the global recession will abate eventually, there could be considerable opportunity here.

S&P “Strong Buy” (5-Star) Long & Short

This screen is limited to S&P 5-Star qualifiers and is sorted by price-to-fair value (P/FV) ascending. The 1-year total return is included for a look at short term expectations.

Rt sp 5star screen 20170131

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:

Rt poll 20161129

Nordstrom (JWN)

This is a sample stock analysis, the type of feature that we regularly share with subscribers at  Stocks selected during our FREE/public monthly webcasts known as our Round Table have outperformed the market (Wilshire 5000) for over 5 years.  FREE test drives and trial subscriptions available. If you’d like to be added to a reminder list for future monthly Round Tables, send a request to


Here’s a quick look at Nordstrom (JWN). It’s a quality company, but the sagging profitability is a concern. These return forecasts should make it clear why it was “sold” from the Round Table tracking portfolio after only five months — but after it had delivered gains greater than 40%.

Note the return forecast (PAR) in the chronicle and the erosion of quality. This is also an example of a company going from forecast excess returns (pink shaded area, projected relative return) to sub-zero where the stock is projected to lag the market over the long term.

Jwn eagle 20161025