Investment in stocks made on diligent value analysis is usually considered one of the best practices. In value investing, investors pick stocks that are cheap but fundamentally sound. There are a number of ratios to identify value stocks but none alone can conclusively determine their inherent potential.
Each ratio helps an investor understand a particular aspect of the company’s business. One such ratio, Price to Cash Flow (or P/CF), can work wonders in stock picking if used prudently. 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.
You must be wondering why we are considering this when the most widely used valuation metric is Price/Earnings (or P/E). Well, one of the important factors that make P/CF a highly dependable metric is that operating cash flow adds back non-cash charges such as depreciation and amortization to net income, truly diagnosing a company’s financial health.
Analysts caution that a company’s earnings are subject to accounting estimates and management manipulation. Then again, cash flow is quite reliable. Net cash flow unveils how much money a company generates and how effectively management is deploying the same.
A positive cash flow indicates an increase in the company’s liquid assets. This gives the company the means to settle debt, meet its expenses, reinvest in business, endure downturns and finally undertake shareholder-friendly moves. Negative cash flow implies a decline in the company’s liquidity, which, in turn, lowers its flexibility to support these endeavors.
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 take into account price-to-book ratio, price-to-earnings ratio and price-to-sales ratio. Adding a favorable Zacks Rank and a Value Score of A or B to your search criteria should lead to even better results as these eliminate the chance of falling into a value trap.
The Bargain Hunting Strategy
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 gives a more complete picture than 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 a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best upside potential.
Here are four of the 19 stocks that qualified the screening:
TotalEnergies SE TTE, which operates as an integrated oil and gas company globally, carries a Zacks Rank #1 and has an expected earnings per share (EPS) growth rate of 20.7% for three-five years. The company has a trailing four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 12.9%, on average. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for TotalEnergies’ current financial year sales and EPS suggests growth of 26.7% and 341.3%, respectively, from the year-ago period. Shares of TTE have gained 22.7% so far in the year.
Atlas Corp. ATCO, a leading global asset management company, carries a Zacks Rank #1. It has an expected EPS growth rate of 27.9% for three-five years. The company has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 25.7%, on average.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Atlas’ current financial year sales and EPS suggests growth of 16.6% and 78.4%, respectively, from the year-ago period. Shares of ATCO have jumped 33.3% so far in the year.
DXC Technology Company DXC provides information technology services and solutions. It has a Zacks Rank #2 and an expected EPS growth rate of 27.4% for three-five years. The company has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 20.1%, on average.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for DXC Technology’s current financial year EPS suggests growth of 51.4% from the year-ago period. Shares of DXC have advanced 25.4% year to date.
Conn’s, Inc. CONN, a specialty retailer of furniture and mattresses, home appliances, consumer electronics and home office products, carries a Zacks Rank #2. It has an expected EPS growth rate of 23% for three-five years. The company has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 252.9%, on average.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Conn’s current financial year sales suggests growth of 14.3% from the year-ago period. Shares of CONN have surged 107.3% so far this year.
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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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