Stock share picking, Selection components – Lesson 6


Stock selection criteria are methods for selecting a stock(s) for investment. The stock investment or position can be “long” (to benefit from a stock price increase) or “short” (to benefit from a decrease in a stock’s price), depending on the investor’s expectation of how the stock price is going to move. The stock selection criteria may include systematic stock picking methods that utilize computer software and/or data.


The objective of stock selection criteria is to:

(1) maximize the total return on investment (appreciation plus any dividends received) for the targeted holding period

(2) limit risk (according to an individual’s risks tolerance levels)

(3) maintain an appropriate degrees of portfolio diversification.


Selection components

The analytical components utilized by investors as stock selection criteria may include one or more of the following:

Sector analysis

Sector analysis involves identification and analysis of various industries or economic sectors that are likely to exhibit superior performance. Academic studies indicate that the health of a stock’s sector is as important as the performance of the individual stock itself. In other words even the best stock located in a weak sector will often perform poorly because that sector is out of favor. Each industry has differences in terms of its customer base, market share among firms, industry growth, competition, regulation and business cycles. Learning how the industry operates provides a deeper understanding of a company’s financial health. One method of analyzing a company’s growth potential is examining whether the amount of customers in the overall market is expected to grow. In some markets, there is zero or negative growth, a factor demanding careful consideration. Additionally, market analysts recommend that investors should monitor sectors that are nearing the bottom of performance rankings for possible signs of an impending turnaround.

Quantitative cumulative value analysis

Quantitative cumulative value analysis: This method is also commonly referred to as fundamental analysis. Fundamental analysts consider past records of assets, earnings, sales, products, management, and markets in predicting future trends in these indicators and how they may affect a company’s future success or failure. By appraising a firm’s prospects, these analysts determine a stock’s intrinsic value and assess whether a particular stock or group of stocks is undervalued or overvalued at the current market price. If the intrinsic value is more than the current share price, then this stock would appear to be undervalued and a possible candidate for investment. While there are several different methods for determining intrinsic value, the underlying premise is that a company is worth the sum of its discounted cash flows (DCF). The DCF is the value of future expected cash receipts and expenditures at a common date, which is calculated using net present value or internal rate of return. This means a company is worth the combined sum of its future profits, while at the same time being discounted in consideration of the time value of money. This value, as determined by the discounted cash flow analysis or its equivalents, consists of two components:

  1. Current value ratios, such as the price-earnings (P/E) ratio and price-book (P/B) ratio. The PE ratio, also called the multiple, gives investors an idea of how much they are paying for a company’s earning power. The higher the PE, the more investors are paying, and therefore the more earnings growth they are expecting. High PE stocks – those with multiples over 20 – are typically young, fast-growing companies. P/B is the ratio of a stock’s price to its book value per share. A stock selling at a high PB ratio, such as 3 or higher, may represent a popular growth stock with minimal book value. A stock selling below its book value may attract value-oriented investors who think that the company’s management may undertake steps, such as selling assets or restructuring the company, to unlock hidden value on the company’s balance sheet.
  2. Earnings growth which may be reflected in measures like the Prospective Earnings Growth (PEG) ratio. The PEG ratio is a projected one-year annual growth rate, determined by taking the consensus forecast of next year’s earnings, less the current year’s earnings, and dividing the result by the current year’s earnings.

Management issues

Management issues involves examining perceptions about management and perceptions by management. It includes various qualitative judgments regarding the competence of current and prospective company management, as well as issues related to insider buying, future strategies to increase operations and market share. Most large companies compensate executives through a combination of cash, restricted stock and options. It is a positive sign when members of management are also shareholders. When management makes large purchases of their own stock with private funds, it may indicate that management insiders feel the company is undervalued, or that a favorable company event will occur soon. Another way to get a feel for management capability is to examine how executives performed at other companies in the past. Warren Buffett has several recommendations for investors who want to evaluate a company’s management as a precursor to possible investment in that company’s stock. For example, he advises that one way to determine if management is doing a good job is to evaluate the company’s return on equity, instead of theirearnings per share (the portion of a company’s profit allocated to each outstanding share of common stock). “The primary test of managerial economic performance is achievement of a high earnings rate on equity capital employed (without undue leverage, accounting gimmickry, etc.) and not the achievement of consistent gains in earnings per share.” Buffett notes that because companies usually retain a portion of their earnings, the assets a profitable company owns should increase annually. This additional cash allows the company to report increased earnings per share even if their performance is deteriorating. He also emphasizes investing in companies with a management team that is committed to controlling costs. Cost-control is reflected by a profit margin exceeding those of competitors. Superior managers “attack costs as vigorously when profits are at record levels as when they are under pressure”. Therefore, be wary of companies that have opulent corporate offices, unusually large corporate staffs and other signs of bloat. Additionally, Buffett suggests investing in companies with honest and candid management, and avoiding companies that have a history of using accounting gimmicks to inflate profits or have misled investors in the past.

Technical analysis

Technical analysis: Involves examining how the company is currently perceived by investors as a whole. Technical analysis is a method of evaluating securities by researching the demand and supply for a stock or asset based on recent trading volume, price studies, as well as the buying and selling behavior of investors. Technical analysts do not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead use charts or computer programs to identify and project price trends in a market, security, fund, or futures contract. Most analysis is done for the short or intermediate-term, but some technicians also predict long-term cycles based on charts, technical indicators, oscillators and other data.

Examples of common technical indicators include relative strength index, Money Flow IndexStochastics, MACD and Bollinger bands. Technical indicators do not analyze any part of the fundamentals of a business, like earnings, revenue and profit margins. Technical indicators are used extensively by active traders, as they are designed primarily for analyzing short-term price movements. The most effective uses of technical indicators for a long-term investor are to help them to identify good entry and exit points for a stock investment by analyzing the short and long-term trends.

Next lesson, Learn about the Criteria Rules – Lesson 7

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