As the market soared to new highs in the 1990s, traders turned to Investor's Business Daily to help them make their fortunes. The newspaper took on a cult-like following as devotees achieved success in the roaring bull market of the time.
The paper was founded by William O'Neil, who had delivered triple-digit returns at a mutual fund in the mid-1960s. O'Neil took growth stock selection to new levels of reward and made the information and method available to any trader.
Daily stock tables published by the paper made it easier to find companies with strong earnings and high relative strength. "Relative strength" is how a stock performs compared to the rest of the market. Thus, the top gainers have a high relative strength.
As O’Neil wrote in his best-known book, "How to Make Money in Stocks: A Winning System In Good Times or Bad," the data can be demystified into a simple approach called CANSLIM, an acronym for finding market beating stocks:
C — Current earnings per share and sales should be up at least 25% and accelerating.
A — Annual earnings should also show an increase of 25% or more in each of the last three years.
N — New highs in price or new products often stimulate further gains in stock prices.
S — Supply of stock needs to be lower than demand, indicated by increasing trading volume in the stock.
L — Leaders in relative strength offer the greatest potential gains in the short term.
I — Institutional ownership is another indicator of demand, and increases in this measure are associated with rising prices.
M — Market indexes like the Dow Jones Industrial Average or Nasdaq Composite should be moving higher, since the majority of stocks follow the market's lead.
The CANSLIM approach tends to find small cap stocks with great potential and an equally great degree of risk. For this week’s Superstar Stock Screen, I made a few changes in the criteria to find larger stocks with steady earnings. This increases our odds of success even if the market declines.
The rules are easy:
• Current quarterly earnings need to show increases over the past two quarters as well as over the past four years. Sales must also be increasing.
• Annual earnings growth needs to average at least 25 percent a year over the past three years and be projected to show an increase this year.
• New highs in price, or at least within 90 percent of the stock’s 52-week high.
• Leadership is demonstrated by the price outpacing the gains of at least 80 percent of all other stocks.
• Institutional ownership increasing over the past six months.
The specific criteria identified nine stocks, mostly in the oil and gas industry:
Darwin Professional Underwriters (DR) This insurance company offers a variety of property and liability policies, giving it a diversified earnings base. With rapid earnings growth expected in the future and the stock recently trading at 29.10, it is a bargain at less than 12 times earnings.
FLIR Systems (FLIR) Thermal imaging is a business with growth potential. Stock "madman" Jim Cramer said on his CNBC show that "It's a win with both Obama and McCain. Pull the trigger." Although Cramer is known for short-term trading ideas, FLIR has long-term potential in homeland security and military sales. Recent price: 40.15.
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) While it might be surprising to find a $23 billion mining company on a list of growth stocks, FCX recently traded near 117, giving it a P/E ratio of 14 and a dividend yield of 1.5 percent. As an inflation hedge, it makes a nice addition to this portfolio.
Gulfmark Offshore (GLF) This is a value-priced offshore oil service provider that recently gained market share by buying a rival. Usually companies acquiring other companies see their price decline. In this case, both companies moved higher as the market applauded the strategy GLF chose to find growth. Recently trading near 59.70.
Hill International (HIL) Recently in the news for winning a contract to manage the renovation of New York City Hall, this construction management company is also pushing into "green management" to create new business opportunities. The P/E ratio of 32 at a recent price of 17 is justified by a 40 percent increase in earnings.
Oil States International (OIS) Investor's Business Daily recently featured this oil services provider. It's also a favorite of the very successful Royce Value Fund. Trading near 60.35.
Rosetta Resources (ROSE) Priced at 27.18 recently, ROSE is an oil and gas development company with proven reserves. It has seen earnings double this year.
Syngenta (SYT) Global insecticide is an $8 billion a year market, and SYT is a large player in its own right. It also partners with industry leaders DuPont and Monsanto to increase its reach and earnings. It offered a 2.4 percent yield at a recent price of 62.43.
T-3 Energy Services (TTES) Analysts see this as a potential takeover candidate in the consolidating oil-services sector. At a recent price of 74.04, it is priced below the premium paid for similarly sized companies in the industry.
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