Generally, investors love stocks with a low price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. The perception is that the lower the P/E, the higher will be the value of the stock. The simple logic that a stock’s current market price does not justify (is not equivalent to) its higher earnings and therefore has room to run is behind investors’ inclination toward low P/E stocks.
Why Rising P/E a Valuable Tool?
Investors should note that stock price moves in tandem with earnings performance. If earnings come in stronger, the price of a stock shoots up. Solid quarterly earnings and the forward guidance boost earnings forecasts, leading to stronger demand for the stock and an uptrend in its price.
So, if the price is rising steadily, it means that investors are assured of the stock’s fundamental strength and expect some strong positives out of it. Suppose an investor wants to buy a stock with a P/E ratio of 30, it means that he is willing to shell out $30 for only $1 worth of earnings. This is because the investor expects earnings of the company to rise at a faster pace in the future on the back of strong fundamentals.
Also, studies have revealed that stocks have seen their P/E ratios jump over 100% from their breakout point in the cycle. So, if you can pick stocks early in their breakout cycle, you can end up seeing considerable gains.
The Winning Strategy
In order to shortlist stocks that are exhibiting an increasing P/E, we chose the following as our primary screening parameters.
EPS growth estimate for the current year is greater than or equal to last year’s actual growth
Percentage change in last year EPS should be greater than or equal to zero
(These two criteria point to flat earnings or a growth trend over the years.)
Percentage change in price over four weeks greater than the percentage change in price over 12 weeks
Percentage change in price over 12 weeks greater than percentage change in price over 24 weeks
(These two criteria show that price of the stock is increasing consistently over the said timeframes.)
Percentage price change for four weeks relative to the S&P 500 greater than the percentage price change for 12 weeks relative to the S&P 500
Percentage price change for 12 weeks relative to the S&P 500 greater than the percentage price change for 24 weeks relative to the S&P 500
(Here, the case for consistent price gains gets even stronger as it displays percentage price changes relative to the S&P 500.)
Percentage price change for 12 weeks is 20% higher than or equal to the percentage price change for 24 weeks, but it should not exceed 100%
(A 20% increase in the price of a stock from the breakout point gives cues of an impending uptrend. But a jump of over 100% indicates that there is limited scope for further upside and that the stock might be due for a reversal.)
In addition, we place a few other criteria that lead us to some likely outperformers.
Zacks Rank equals to 1: Only companies with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) can get through.
Average 20-day Volume greater than or equal to 50,000: High trading volume implies that the stocks have adequate liquidity.
Just these few criteria narrowed down the universe from over 7,700 stocks to just 59.
Here are five out of the 59 stocks:
RentACenter (RCII): The Zacks Rank #2 company is the largest rent-to-own operator in the United States, offering durable goods such as consumer electronics, appliances, computers, furniture and accessories. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
The past four-quarter average earnings surprise of RCII is 10.09%. RCII has a top VGM (Value-Growth-Momentum) score of A.
U.S. Physical Therapy (USPH): This Zacks Rank #2 company is the largest publicly-traded, pure-play operator of outpatient physical and occupational therapy clinics.
The past four-quarter average earnings surprise of USPH is 20.95%. U.S. Physical Therapy has a top VGM Score of A.
Cellectar Biosciences (CLRB): This Zacks Rank #2 company is developing agents to detect, treat and monitor a broad spectrum of cancers.
The past four-quarter average earnings surprise of CLRB is 4.50%.
Toro (TTC):This Zacks Rank #2 company is a leading worldwide provider of innovative solutions for the outdoor environment, including turf, snow and ground engaging equipment, and irrigation and outdoor lighting solutions.
The past four-quarter average earnings surprise of TTC is 10.27%. Toro has a good VGM Score of B.
Zymeworks (ZYME): This Zacks Rank #2 clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company engages in the discovery, development and commercialization of bio-therapeutics for the treatment of cancer in Canada.
The past four-quarter average earnings surprise of ZYME is 6.01%.
You can get the rest of the stocks on this list by signing up now for your 2-week free trial to the Research Wizard and start using this screen in your own trading. Further, you can also create your own strategies and test them first before taking the investment plunge.
The Research Wizard is a great place to begin. It’s easy to use. Everything is in plain language. And it’s very intuitive. Start your Research Wizard trial today. And the next time you read an economic report, open up the Research Wizard, plug your finds in, and see what gems come out.
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.
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RentACenter, Inc. (RCII): Free Stock Analysis Report
Toro Company The (TTC): Free Stock Analysis Report
U.S. Physical Therapy, Inc. (USPH): Free Stock Analysis Report
Cellectar Biosciences, Inc. (CLRB): Free Stock Analysis Report
Zymeworks Inc. (ZYME): Free Stock Analysis Report
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