Has the bear gone back into his cave?
The market recently has delivered handsome returns, so many investors rightly wonder if we are at the beginning of a new bull market.
The jury is out, of course, on the general economy, and expert opinions there range from "don't worry" to "disaster dead ahead." Nevertheless, the time to buy is at the bottom, not after the market has processed the recovery and ridden up.
If in fact the market is leading the economy, growth stocks should do very well as investors scramble to place bets on a recovery.
So, for this superstar stock screen, we took a look at Martin Zweig, a well-known growth investor who strongly believes, like our old friend Warren Buffett, that the No. 1 rule in investing is to not lose money.
His newsletter, The Zweig Forecast, was ranked by investment newsletter tracker Mark Hulbert as the top market advisory for the 15-year period between 1980 and 1995, delivering 16 percent annual returns.
Zweig is probably best known, though, for an appearance on Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street Week television show, where he predicted the stock market crash of October 1987. An international event, Black Monday cost U.S. investors nearly 23 percent of the Dow in a couple of weeks.
To identify undervalued growth stocks, Zweig searches for stocks with increasing quarterly and annual earnings. Sales also should be growing.
To avoid overpaying for that growth, Zweig looks for companies with a P/E ratio of less than 40.
For this growth screen, I searched for companies growing earnings and revenue at an annual rate of at least 25 percent with double-digit growth expected for next year. The top 10 companies in the screen are:
CF Industries Holdings (CF)
Trading at a recent price of 134.75, this fertilizer producer sports a P/E ratio of just 10, based upon next year's estimated earnings.
Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST)
This biotech company turned profitable last year and is expected to see earnings growth of more than 30 percent a year for the next few years. It remains fairly valued with a P/E ratio of 20 at a recent price of 18.94.
Eagle Test Systems (EGLT)
Eagle manufactures test equipment for the semiconductor industry. Insiders own nearly 25 percent of the stock, indicating a strong belief in the future of the company. Recently trading at 11.84.
This company provides online banking software and connectivity for nine of the 10 largest banks. With sales expected to increase more than 30 percent and a profit margin of 20 percent, Fiserv should continue delivering big gains in earnings. Priced near 53 recently.
This Brazilian steel maker recently completed the $1.7 billion acquisition of U.S. steel company Quanex. It enjoys a 30 percent return on equity, a number Buffett would love. Recent price: 42.07.
Hansen Natural Corp. (HANS)
Hansen Natural makes popular sodas and energy drinks. After growing earnings by more than 150 percent a year over the past five years, analysts expect a "slowdown" to 25 percent a year. At a recent price level of 35, HANS trades at 16 times earnings.
NII Holdings (NIHD)
This is the company that provides the technology for Nextel's push-to-talk wireless phone service, popular with business people. Insiders made 12 purchases in this stock over the past six months, and only one sell. NIHD is rated a buy by 13 of the 15 analysts following the stock. At a recent price of 44.19 a share, the P/E ratio is less than 20.
Precision Castparts (PCP)
I highlighted this one last week as a potential Buffett acquisition candidate. Trading near 120 per share, this diversified metals manufacturer is a good buy for value and growth investors.
The German software giant has more than $60 billion in annual sales and nearly $3.5 billion in cash on hand. SAP has an operating margin more than three times the industry average, giving it the ability to remain profitable during industry downturns. At a recent price of 50.31, it offered a 1 percent dividend yield.
VIP provides wireless services to 55 million subscribers in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, and Armenia. Its margins and growth exceed industry averages. Analysts are forecasting a 30 percent gain from the recent price level of 30.
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