If we agree the primary objective of stock-picking is to pick the winners and/or avoid the losers, then we must start with a framework that helps determine which companies to include.
For the vast majority of investors, this begins with a screening process to reduce the direct share universe down to a manageable number. The problem is that most screening processes involve no validation despite the fact there is an abundance of academic literature on the topic.
In the Investing Times attempts to offer logic, academic rigour and validity to this screening process. The idea is to assess the stock universe using the 3 F’s of Investing – Fear, Fundamentals and Forces – which leads us to 17 factors that each have academic support in contributing to out-performance. They generally aim to achieve dividend strength, growth, value, stability, momentum, sector bias and pricing acknowledgement.
This allows us to illustrate a number of “optimal” portfolios across differing styles – including balanced, stability-focused, dividend-strength, deep-value, growth-bias and sector rotation (we highlight optimal because it is subject to varies weaknesses we are transparent about).
The underpinnings that make the research different to others is that it focuses heavily on relativity to the sector median. This is vital and a key advantage to creating out-performance on a risk-adjusted basis. For example, a utility company (typically with a high depreciation expense) should not be compared to a bank as their earnings and cash-flow are accounted for very differently. Therefore, our logic implies that the Price to Earnings ratio should be isolated and compared by sector rather than by market.
Our data has allowed us to stress-test the outcomes of a stock universe over 6 years, involving more than 850 data validation periods. We acknowledge this isn’t nearly enough to have outright conviction, however we believe a combination of 6 years of stress testing along with a body of academic literature supporting the underlining metrics is a form of validation.
Creating a portfolio using the 17 metrics
As the founder of the Investing Times and Australian Investors Association, Austin Donnelly always said, “There is a difference between a good company and a good investment”. BHP may be a good company but it is not a good investment if you buy it at the peak of a mining boom. Therefore, the idea is to create a portfolio of investments with strong fundamentals and attractive pricing. The logic is that if any of the 17 indicators hinted to a buy signal, these are recorded and scored. If all seventeen indicators are suggesting underlying appeal, there is a reasonable likelihood of strong future performance.
If you wish to see the net result and top 20 holdings using this fundamental rigour, we encourage you to request the latest report as a free one-off trial. We will send this via email as a value-add with no obligations or cost.