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Coronavirus Ravaging Your Portfolio? 4 Low P/CF Stocks to Buy

Sumit Singh
·6 min read

The rapidly spreading novel coronavirus has rattled the stock market and significantly disrupted economic activities worldwide — denting demand, hurting supply chain, slowing down production activities and temporary closure of brick-and-mortar locations. Market pundits have also signaled about the sharp fall in GDP as the United States becomes the country worst hit by the pandemic.

While the policy makers are walking the tight rope and undertaking every measure to support households, firms and financial markets, the cloud of uncertainty still looms. There is hardly any industry that has been spared from the deadly impact of this virus.

Now the big question is what strategy investors should apply. Is it time to get rid of stocks in your portfolio and wait for a conducive investing environment? Or is it time to spot those stocks that are trading cheap but fundamentally sound considering their long-term perspective?

Here's an All-Weather Strategy

Value style is considered one of the best practices when it comes to picking stocks. There are different valuation metrics to determine a stock’s inherent strength but a random selection of a ratio cannot serve your purpose if you want a realistic assessment of a company’s financial position. For this, we would suggest Price to Cash Flow (or P/CF) ratio as one of the key metrics.

This metric evaluates the market price of a stock relative to the amount of cash flow that the company is generating on a per-share basis – the lower the number, the better. One of the important factors that make P/CF a highly dependable metric is that operating cash flow adds back non-cash charges such as depreciation and amortization to net income, truly diagnosing the financial health of a company.

Analysts caution that a company’s earnings are subject to accounting estimates and management manipulation. However, cash flow is reliable. It is net cash flow that unveils how much money a company is actually generating and how effectively management is deploying the same.

Positive cash flow indicates an increase in a company’s liquid assets. It gives the company the means to settle debt, shell out for its expenses, reinvest in its business, endure downturns and finally pay back its shareholders. Negative cash flow implies a decline in the company’s liquidity, which in turn lowers its flexibility to support these moves.

However, an investment decision solely based on the P/CF metric may not fetch the desired results. To identify stocks that are trading at a discount, you should expand your search criteria and also consider price-to-book ratio, price-to-earnings ratio and price-to-sales ratio. Adding a favorable Zacks Rank and a Value Score of A or B to your search criteria should lead to even better results as these eliminate the chance of falling into a value trap.

The Bargain Hunting Strategy

Here are the parameters for selecting true value stocks:

P/CF less than or equal to X-Industry Median.

Price greater than or equal to 5: The stocks must all be trading at a minimum of $5 or higher.

Average 20-Day Volume greater than 100,000: A substantial trading volume ensures that the stock is easily tradable.

P/E using (F1) less than or equal to X-Industry Median: This parameter shortlists stocks that are trading at a discount or are equal to its peers.

P/B less than or equal to X-Industry Median: A lower P/B compared with the industry average implies that there is enough room for the stock to gain.

P/S less than or equal to X-Industry Median: The P/S ratio determines how a stock price compares to the company’s sales — the lower the ratio the more attractive the stock is.

PEG less than 1: The ratio is used to determine a stock's value by taking the company's earnings growth into account. PEG ratio gives a more complete picture than P/E ratio. A value of less than 1 indicates that the stock is undervalued and that investors need to pay less for a stock that has robust earnings growth prospect.

Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2: Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) stocks are known to outperform irrespective of the market environment.

Value Score of less than or equal to B: Our research shows that stocks with a Style Score of A or B when combined with Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best upside potential. 

Here are four of the 13 stocks that qualified the screening:

Blucora, Inc. BCOR, which provides technology-enabled financial solutions, has a Zacks Rank #2 and an expected EPS growth rate of 20% for 3-5 years. The company has a trailing four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 17.2%, on average. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Sanmina Corporation SANM provides integrated manufacturing solutions, components, products and repair, logistics and after-market services. This Zacks Rank #2 company has an expected EPS growth rate of 12% for 3-5 years. The company has a trailing four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 16.1%, on average.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ALXN, which develops and commercializes various therapeutic products, has an expected EPS growth rate of 12.7% for 3-5 years. This Zacks Rank #2 company has a trailing four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 9.1%, on average.

Changyou.com Limited CYOU develops and operates online games in China. This Zacks Rank #2 company has an expected EPS growth rate of 36.5% for 3-5 years. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in the last reported quarter.

Get the rest of the stocks on the list and start putting this and other ideas to the test. It can all be done with the Research Wizard stock picking and backtesting software.

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.

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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.

Disclosure: Performance information for Zacks’ portfolios and strategies are available at: https://www.zacks.com/performance.

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Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALXN) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Changyou.com Limited (CYOU) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Sanmina Corporation (SANM) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Blucora, Inc. (BCOR) : Free Stock Analysis Report
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