Investors always try to hit the jackpot while picking stocks. But striking the right chord each time is not easy unless you are blessed with Midas touch.
When it comes to the investment market, experts consider value style as one of the most effective approaches. In value investing, investors pick stocks that are cheap but fundamentally sound. So, the chance of outperformance is high when the market moves higher.
There are different valuation metrics to determine a stock's inherent strength but a random selection of ratios cannot serve your purpose if you want a realistic assessment of a company's financial position. For this, we recommend Price to Cash Flow (or P/CF) as one of the key metrics. This metric evaluates the market price of a stock relative to the amount of cash flow that the company is generating on a per share basis - the lower the number, the better.
Price to Cash Flow Reveals Financial Health
Questions may arise as to why we are considering the Price to Cash Flow valuation metric, when the most widely used metric is Price/Earnings (or P/E). Well, what makes P/CF stand out is that operating cash flow adds back non-cash charges such as depreciation and amortization to net income, truly reflecting the financial health of a company.
Analysts caution that a company's earnings are subject to accounting estimates and management manipulation. However, cash flow is reliable. It is net cash flow that reveals how much money a company is actually generating and how effectively management is putting the same to use.
A positive cash flow indicates an increase in the company's liquid assets. This gives the company the means to settle debt, shell out for its expenses, reinvest in its business, endure downturns and finally pay back its shareholders. Then again, a negative cash flow implies a decline in the company's liquidity, which in turn lowers its flexibility to support these moves.
What's the Best Strategy?
However, an investment decision solely based on the P/CF metric may not fetch the desired results. To identify stocks that are trading at a discount, you should expand your search criteria and consider price-to-book, price-to-earnings and price-to-sales ratios. Adding a favorable Zacks Rank and a Value Score of A or B to your search criteria should give you even better results as they eliminate the chance of falling into a value trap.
Here are the parameters for selecting true value stocks:
P/CF less than or equal to X-Industry Median .
Price greater than or equal to 5: The stocks must all be trading at a minimum of $5 or higher.
Average 20-Day Volume greater than 100,000: A substantial trading volume ensures that the stock is easily tradable.
P/E using (F1) less than or equal to X-Industry Median: This parameter shortlists stocks that are trading at a discount or are equal to its peers.
P/B less than or equal to X-Industry Median: A lower P/B compared with the industry average implies that there is enough room for the stock to gain.
P/S less than or equal to X-Industry Median: The P/S ratio determines how a stock price compares to the company's sales - the lower the ratio the more attractive the stock is.
PEG less than 1: The ratio is used to determine a stock's value by taking the company's earnings growth into account. PEG ratio portrays a more complete picture than the P/E ratio. A value of less than 1 indicates that the stock is undervalued and that investors need to pay less for a stock that has robust earnings growth prospect.
Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2: Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) stocks are known to outperform irrespective of the market environment.
Value Score of less than or equal to B: Our research shows that stocks with a Style Score of A or B when combined with Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best upside potential.
Here are four of the nine stocks that qualified the screening:
ArcBest Corporation ARCB has an expected EPS growth rate of 40.2% for 3-5 years and delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 137.3% in the trailing four quarters. This provider of freight transportation services and integrated logistics solutions currently carries a Zacks Rank #1. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here .
Big Lots, Inc. BIG , which operates as a non-traditional discount retailer, has an expected EPS growth rate of 12% for 3-5 years. The company, which holds a Zacks Rank #2, delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 3.5% over the trailing four quarters.
ON Semiconductor Corporation ON , the manufacturer and seller of semiconductor components for various electronic devices, carries a Zacks Rank #2 and has an expected EPS growth rate of 13.2% for 3-5 years. The company delivered positive earnings surprise in the trailing three quarters.
Stifel Financial Corp. SF , which provides retail and institutional wealth management, and investment banking services, has an expected EPS growth rate of 12% for 3-5 years. The company, which holds a Zacks Rank #2, delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 22.2% over the trailing four quarters.
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Disclosure: Officers, directors and/or employees of Zacks Investment Research may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material. An affiliated investment advisory firm may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material.
Disclosure: Performance information for Zacks' portfolios and strategies are available at: https://www.zacks.com/performance .
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Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report ArcBest Corporation (ARCB): Free Stock Analysis Report Stifel Financial Corporation (SF): Free Stock Analysis Report Big Lots, Inc. (BIG): Free Stock Analysis Report ON Semiconductor Corporation (ON): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here.