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Come rain or shine, I'm a value investor. I love the thrill of buying a stock that the rest of the market is ignoring.

Every once in a while, though, I sneak a peek at companies with double digit earnings growth, hear the siren call of growth, and try to justify the valuation in order to buy the stock.

But what if you could invest in a company that had growth and was also undervalued?

I know what you're thinking; it's nearly impossible to find those stocks. It's the most explosive combination in investing: a value stock that also has growth.

But here's a little secret.

Those stocks do exist.

How do you find them?


The Secret to Finding Both Value and Growth

Value investors have long looked to the price-to-earnings ratio (or P/E) as a screen for value stocks. A low P/E ratio is believed to mean that a company is undervalued.

However, Benjamin Graham, considered to be the "father" of value investing, found that a low price-to-earnings ratio wasn't enough to unearth the true undervalued companies. He looked to the PEG ratio instead, which combined both value and growth, a more potent combination.

The PEG ratio is calculated by taking the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio and dividing it by the 5-year projected growth rate.

Confused yet?

These days you don't really need to figure it out yourself as most financial web sites, including Zacks.com, provide the PEG ratio for you as screening criteria when looking for stocks.

More . . .


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Get details right now >>

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What's a Good PEG Ratio?

A company that is considered fairly valued will have a P/E ratio that equals its growth rate. So the PEG will equal 1.0.

A more expensive stock will be above 1.0.

Normally, a stock with a PEG ratio under 1.0 is considered "undervalued" as that means the market is underestimating the earnings and/or it is also growing faster than expected.

So, that's what you should be looking for when you see the PEG ratio. You want a ratio under 1.0.


How the PEG Ratio Really Works

1) You could have a company with a P/E ratio of 30 and a projected growth rate of 15%. This company clearly doesn't look like it's undervalued with a P/E ratio that high. You would be right. Plugging it into the formula, you get 30/15 = PEG of 2.0. Since 2.0 is above 1.0, it is considered an expensive stock.

2) Let's say you have a company with a P/E ratio of 40 and a projected growth rate of 50%. With a P/E of 40, it clearly would not seem to be a good value, but plugging it into the formula gives you a PEG ratio of 0.8 (40/50= 0.8). Since that is under 1.0, it is considered undervalued. The incredible growth rate counters the high P/E ratio.

3) In our third example, a company with a P/E ratio of 10, which is well within the value parameters for most investors and is usually considered pretty cheap, has a growth rate of just 7%. Putting it into the formula, you get a PEG ratio of 1.43 (10/7= 1.43), which is much too high to be considered undervalued despite the company's rather low P/E.


Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

The great thing about the PEG ratio is that it gives you two potent weapons: both value and growth. In investing, this combination is explosive. And it's easy to deploy in your investing strategy as it's already calculated for you on most investing web sites.

If you can combine these two factors, your odds of investing in companies with great prospects increases. But like using the P/E ratio to find value stocks, it shouldn't be the sole factor you look at when deciding what companies to invest in.

If you deploy the PEG ratio along with other criteria, like the Zacks Rank, the PEG ratio becomes a great screening tool.

Value investors really CAN get value and growth in the same stock.


Where to Find Value Stocks that Grow

I manage a Zacks portfolio that searches not for cheap stocks but for outstanding companies that are currently trading at least 25% to 50% below where they should be. Our mission is to signal "Buy" at just the right time - as the market begins to catch on and the stock price begins to rise.

The Value Investor includes 22 stocks that are "on sale" right now and are likely to head a lot higher in the months and years to come.

Even more importantly, I am getting ready to pull the trigger on new recommendations, and you will have the opportunity to get aboard at the ground floor for the full ride upward. This is a value service, so I am glad to report that starting today you can receive our best value stocks for a full month at a total cost of just $1.

Find out more about the Zacks Value Investor portfolio >>

Good Investing,

Tracey

Tracey Ryniec is Zacks' Value Stock Strategist and serves as Editor in Charge of the Value Investor.

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