Given the recent run-up in the market, here's a screen I've been using recently for my own stock picking.
First, it focuses in on the top Zacks Ranked Sectors and Industries. Then it focuses in on the Zacks #1 Ranks and Zacks #2 Ranks, which are Strong Buys and Buys, respectively. But then it selects the outperforming stocks with the smallest percentage price change over the last 4 weeks.
Why would I do something like that?
You've probably heard the old adage that roughly half of a stock's price movement can be attributed to the group that it's in. And it's true. In fact, oftentimes, even a mediocre stock in a top group will outperform a top stock in a poor group for this very reason.
Now, take a look at any top group. You'll see plenty of fantastic stocks with some impressive price gains in there. But not every stock in every group moves in lockstep at the exact same time. Some will move more than others at any given time.
So by focusing on the stocks with the smallest percentage price change that have fundamentals that are just as good as those making the biggest price change, you might find yourself getting into the stocks ready to make the biggest potential catch-up move.
Here's how to set up that screen:
Best Zacks Ranked Sectors -- Best 8
We're screening for only those stocks with the best (lowest) average Zacks Rank. With 16 sectors, the best 8 sectors give us the best 50% of sectors.
Best Zacks Ranked Industries -- Best 132
Next step is to get only the best Zacks Ranked Industries coming thru. Since there are 264 X or expanded industries we look at, the best 132 will give us the best 50% of industries. But note that only the industries that also happen to be in the top sectors will get thru. If an industry is ranked as one of the best but it's outside of the top sector rank, it will not get thru.
Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2
Now the screen gets narrowed down even more by looking at only the Zacks #1 Ranks (Strong Buy) and Zacks #2 Ranks (Buy). No Holds, Sells or Strong Sells (Zacks Rank #3, #4 and #5) allowed.
Price and Avg. Volume greater than or equal to $5 and 100,000 shares
Only stocks over $5 with at least an average of 100,0000 shares traded daily will be considered.
Relative % Price Change -- 4 Weeks greater than 0
This means that we're screening for only those stocks that have outperformed the market (S&P 500) over the last 4 weeks.
% Change in Price -- 4 Weeks: Bottom 50
Then finally, we're scanning for the bottom 50 stocks with the lowest percentage price change over the last 4 weeks. So while all of these stocks have outperformed the market, they increased in price less than their peers.
So each one of these stocks is in a top Sector and top Industry within that Sector. This alone will tip the odds of success in your favor by a great deal when you consider that the best Zacks Ranked groups outperform the worst ones by a factor of 4 to 1.
Then by selecting those stocks with the best Zacks Rank along with the best price performance over the last 4 weeks, you now have only a list winners from which to choose from.
And from that list of winners, we're selecting the ones that have gained less than their peers on that list. Remember, these stocks aren't 'dogs' or unresponsive stocks. Quite the contrary, they have all outperformed the market. It just so happens that they have increased less than the others on the list. But because they are a top rated stock in a top rated industry, we've singled these out as the ones that could make the biggest move to 'catch-up' to the others.
It's an interesting screen that has generated a lot of great names.
Here are 5 from that list (for 1/17/12):
BPO Brookfield Office Properties Inc. ( FISV - Analyst Report) Fiserv, Inc. ( HALO - Snapshot Report) Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. ( JEC - Analyst Report) Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. ( MKTX - Analyst Report) MarketAxess Holdings Inc.
All great-looking stocks that appear to have lots more upside in store for them.
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.
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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: http://www.zacks.com/performance.