Zacks Investment Research: 3 Great Ways to Pick Stocks for December 23, 2011 - Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - December 23, 2011 - Zacks Investment Research presents their newest list of stocks featured in their weekly Research Wizard article, which describes how to profit from stock market opportunities. The stocks in this article focus on a three factor approach to investing. Stocks include: Aetna Inc. ( AET ), Newpark Resources Inc. ( NR ), Genesco Inc. ( GCO ), Primoris Services Corporation ( PRIM ) and Heartland Payment Systems, Inc. ( HPY ).

Learn more about Research Wizard at this site: Research Wizard

Here are highlights from our most recent Research Wizard feature:

3 Great Waysto Pick Stocks

Having worked in the equity markets for a while now, with a primary focus on finding profitable stock-picking strategies, I sometimes feel like the keeper of great stock picking ideas. But as the holiday season is upon us, I'm in a giving mood -- unlike Scrooge -- and will gift you three great ways to pick stocks. (And no, I wasn't visited by the Ghosts of Markets Past, Present, and Future. Although a visit by the ghost of Market Future might be nice. Or maybe scary.) What's especially good about these three methods is that when combined, they complement each other well.

In the previous two articles you'll remember that I discussed the merits of the Research Wizard as an essential stock picking tool for the individual investor to create and test ideas . So today I'm going to give you an example of how to develop a stock-picking strategy within Research Wizard using three components.

First, it's very important to start with a good ranking or rating system. Most of the time, there's a lot of research already committed to a rating and starting with a good working foundation is a great way for you to save time. Examples of these are broker stock ratings or the Zacks Rank . I'll use the Zacks Rank since it's more comprehensive than broker ratings and also has a great track record for selecting stocks.

Second, look for stocks that the market judges favorably too. Nothing's more frustrating than discovering a great company, but the stock price just doesn't go up. So it's a good idea for the stock to have good price appreciation over the past twelve months. Numerous research studies have shown that winning stocks continue to be profitable in the future. It sounds a little too easy, but it's effective and very persistent in the stock market. Why wouldn't this effect go away if it's so effective? Well, that's why it's called the Momentum Anomaly . Check it out.

Finally, I think it's a great idea to buy things at a bargain or discount. You wouldn't pay more for a comparable holiday gift, so why do it for stocks. So let's add a dash of value by looking for stocks with a low price-to-sales ratio. The P/S ratio is a measure of how much you're paying for each dollar in corporate revenue. Obviously you want to pay as little as possible. For example, if stock A has a P/S ratio of 1 and stock B has a ratio of 2, then you'd pay twice the amount per dollar of sales if you bought stock B instead of stock A.

So at this point, if you read my last article, you're probably thinking: it all sounds good, but how effective is this strategy? Using Research Wizard, I built this strategy and tested it monthly from the beginning of 2000 through the end of October 2011. Over this time frame, the S&P 500 returned a compounded annual return of 0.1%. (So people are right when they say the equity market really hasn't gone anywhere in nearly twelve years!) However, the strategy I suggested returned a compounded annual return of 16.2%. So while the overall market's wheels were spinning on ice, there were strategies out there that moved forward and were highly profitable. You simply needed to find them. Remember also that if you have a low number of stocks in your portfolio, you're going to have more volatility. For example, the strategy that I outlined contained only 10 stocks and, thus, had 64% more volatility than the S&P 500, with its 500 stocks. In this case, the volatility was worth it.

Here's a method for finding highly rated stocks with good momentum at a reasonable price:

· First, start with only US common stocks.

· Next, create a liquid, investible set of the stocks with the largest 3000 market values and average daily trading volume ≥ to 100,000 shares (if there's not enough liquidity, it'll be hard for you to trade it).

· Add another filter by selecting those stocks with a Zacks Rank = 1 . (Let's stick with only the best rated stocks.)

· Select the top 50 stocks with the highest return over the past 52 weeks . (We're looking for stocks with great price momentum over the last year.)

· Select the top 10 stocks with the lowest price-to-sales ratio. (Lower means you want to pay less per unit of company revenue.)

Here are 5 great stocks based on this method (12/23/11):

AET - Aetna Inc.

Aetna, which is a Strong Buy per the Zacks Rank, operates as a diversified health care benefits company in the US. The stock price of this company has been going strong and remains a reasonable value based on its price-to-sales ratio.

NR - Newpark Resources Inc.

Newpark, which provides fluids management, waste disposal and well site preparation products and services to the oil and gas exploration and production industry, is reporting strong financial results and makes the list due to its solid rating, great price momentum, and good price/sales ratio.

GCO - Genesco Inc.

The stock price of this retailer has been jumping yet still remains a good value. Genesco, which sells footwear, headwear and sports apparel, has experienced a surge in earnings and profitability in the third quarter.

PRIM - Primoris Services Corporation

Primoris, a specialty contractor and infrastructure company, provides a range of construction, fabrication, maintenance, replacement and product engineering services. With November's announcement of record quarterly results and new contracts worth close to $200 million, the stock of this company has been flying high and should continue well into 2012.

HPY - Heartland Payment Systems, Inc.

This business services company provides bankcard payment processing in the US and Canada. The stock of this company is highly ranked, a good value and loved by momentum players.

Now it's your turn to use the Research Wizard yourself to create your own strategies. You'll be a better investor for it and your portfolio returns will illustrate this. Click here to learn more!

Hope you have a safe and profitable holiday season!

Click here to learn more about this stock research tool.

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: .

About Zacks is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978 by Leonard Zacks. As a PhD in mathematics Len knew he could find patterns in stock market data that would lead to superior investment results. Amongst his many accomplishments was the formation of his proprietary stock picking system; the Zacks Rank, which continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros. In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros at .

Visit for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Follow us on Twitter:

Join us on Facebook:

Disclaimer: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors should always research companies and securities before making any investments. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security.


Mark Vickery

Web Content Editor



AETNA INC-NEW ( AET ): Free Stock Analysis Report

GENESCO INC ( GCO ): Free Stock Analysis Report

HEARTLAND PAYMT ( HPY ): Free Stock Analysis Report

NEWPARK RESOUR ( NR ): Free Stock Analysis Report

PRIMORIS SERVCS ( PRIM ): Free Stock Analysis Report

To read this article on click here.

Zacks Investment Research

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

In This Story


Other Topics


Latest Markets Videos


Zacks is the leading investment research firm focusing on stock research, analysis and recommendations. In 1978, our founder discovered the power of earnings estimate revisions to enable profitable investment decisions. Today, that discovery is still the heart of the Zacks Rank. A wealth of resources for individual investors is available at

Learn More