Best Long Term Forecasts

This Week at MANIFEST (4/24/2015)

One of the Best Long-Term Forecasting Methods

“If you have to forecast, forecast often.” — Edgar R. Fiedler in The Three Rs of Economic Forecasting-Irrational, Irrelevant and Irreverent , June 1977.

It was two years ago that Mark Hulbert featured some words about our approach to long-term forecasting in the context of some editorial on the efficacy of The Value Line Investment Survey.

We have noted — over the years — that actual returns tend to more closely resemble the low return forecasts on the company research pages for Value Line. Since 2001, the average Value Line low total return forecast has been 7.9%. The actual returns over that time frame have been 6.5%.

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter illustration of forecast vs. actual for the Value Line companies:

This was essentially what Mark Hulbert was sharing in the article, Finding The Best Four Year Market Forecaster.

To us, although the absolute math is important — what really matters is the “shape.” This would suggest that we’ve still got a few quarters of upward-sloped plateau ahead of us. But the “swoon vulnerability” is still pretty high and the reality is that no one knows when the next market break will hit or how “corrective” it will prove to be.

Companies of Interest: Value Line

The average Value Line low total return forecast for the companies in this week’s update batch is 3.0% — lower than the 3.7% for the Value Line 1700.

Less turbulence again this week in the updates although there were more companies dropped from coverage than we’ve seen in a very long time.

Materially Stronger: GEO Group (GEO), Daktronics (DAKT)

Materially Weaker: DeVry (DV), Philip Morris International (PM), Career Education (CECO), Zynga (ZNGA), Boulder Brands (BDBD)

Standard Coverage Initiated:

Discontinued: Safeway (SWY), Pantry (PTRY), Silicon Image (SIMG), Chiquita Brands (CQB), LeapFrog (LF)

Market Barometer

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 3.7%, a slight decrease from 3.8% 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.

For more on this chart: Origins of the $USHL Indicator

Stocks to Study (4/24/2015)

  • Synchronoss Tech (SNCR) — Highest MANIFEST Rank
  • Daktronics (DAKT) — Highest Low Return Forecast (VL)
  • ROVI (ROVI) — Lowest P/FV (Morningstar)
  • Fresh Market (TFM) — Lowest P/FV (S&P)
  • Rosetta Stone (RST) — Best 1-Yr Outlook (ACE)
  • Tyson Foods (TSN) — Best 1-Yr Outlook (S&P)
  • Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) — Best 1-Yr Outlook (GS)

I’ve been giving some thought to a database-wide screening summary of “deeper value” opportunities that we’d publish on Tuesdays. Keep in mind that the results of our Monday morning efforts are focused — as they should be — on 1/13th of the stocks we cover and on behalf of shareholders and stock watchers.

Proposing a “Dirty Dozen”

OK, it’s really a Baker’s Dozen — culled from the full database and it’s based on two things:

  • Better Than Average Quality
  • Highest Analyst Consensus Estimate-based (ACE) Expectations for the year ahead

I’m thinking that it could be meaningful when these opportunities converge with the longer term opportunities. The table provides the top (13) such companies on 4/21/2015 — and we’ll see how this behaves/performs over the next few months.

NAIC National Convention … Gone Shopping

As the Better Investing long-term investing community celebrates its 63rd annual convention, here are some shopping ideas for stock studies.

High Quality & Return Forecast Screening Results

The following high-quality stocks have outsized return forecasts as featured on the Stocks page today at

Schaumburg sweet 16

Mucho Momentum, Persistence

As featured in our cover story for May (2014), this screening for non-core stocks was inspired by our repeat group champion in our annual stockpicking contest, The Broad Assets Investment Club of St. Louis.

Their selection of Lannett (LCI) tripled in 2012 and tripled AGAIN in 2013.

This listing attempts to identify companies with breakout earnings (early stage in their life cycle) with outsized earnings forecasts for 2014 and 2015.

Ivory Screen

These are the top percentile stocks based on a combination ranking of return forecast (PAR) and quality — and not limited to median return forecast (MIPAR) plus ten percentage points.

Ivory screen 20140515

View From The Top Shelf

Sweet 16: Screening Results (March 2013)

This month features the top percentile of all stocks covered at MANIFEST on the basis of quality (our combination rating of financial strength, earnings stability and relative growth and profitability forecasts). It’s not the customary sixteen stocks or so … but these twelve quality champions are formidable and worthy of a closer look and automatic/perpetual pounce pile status.

Overall Market Expectations

The median projected annual return (MIPAR) for all 2400+ stocks followed by MANIFEST (Solomon database) is 7.2% (2/28/2013). The multi-decade range for this indicator is 0-20% and an average reading since 1999 is 8.5%.

Companies of Interest

With the median return forecast hovering at 7.2%, less than the historical average and nearing historical lows, it makes sense to shop on the top shelf. If prices continue to surge absent any strengthening of fundamentals, the return forecast could get significantly lower. The subtle whittling of expectations (no slashing) continues as we begin the first quarter updates for 2013. Invest in the best (highest quality) but only when they’re suitably on sale.

The top shelf company with the highest fusion rating (combination of fundamental and technical analysis scoring) is Cognizant Technology (CTSH). Cognizant is well-positioned within its industry with a strong track record and stands to benefit as the global recession turns to recovery.

Mesa Labs (MLAB) continues to score well and is one of our favorite companies from this year’s batch of promising small companies from Forbes.

The recent price swoon in Coach (COH) leaves the company with the lowest price-to-fair value ratio (76%) from Morningstar and Standard & Poor’s (83%) among the companies on the top shelf. The price reduction also generates an annualized low total return forecast of 16.4% at Value Line. There’s a rumor floating that somebody thinks all of the purses are a bit pricey … but those crowds of trampling shoppers and a legacy of results suggests that the whole company might be worth buying. I don’t think the price tag hanging on the company is $40-something.

Those return forecasts across the board look pretty good on the top shelf … not a bad idea to start there.