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The market is off to its best start in over 30 years! And what a start it’s been.

Already, the Dow is up 15.3%, the S&P is up 17.7% after breaking out to new all-time highs, and the Nasdaq is up 21.2%.

A strong economy, record jobs market, an accommodative Fed that pledged to “act as appropriate” (cut rates) “to sustain the expansion”, and growing optimism that a U.S.-China trade deal will finally happen at next week’s G20 summit, has sent stocks soaring.

And it looks like there’s a lot more upside to go.

But, like any year, there are always some headwinds out there.

So whether you’re bullish on the market, or a bit wary, it’s now more important than ever to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get the most out of your trades.

Regardless of which camp you put yourself in, there will be distinct winners and losers as we move forward. So before you make your next trade, please read this first to learn how to put the probabilities of success on your side.

Knowledge Is Power

We’ve all heard the old adage; knowledge is power.

It’s a great saying because it’s true.

And that saying couldn’t be truer than when it comes to investing.

Take a look at your last big loser for example. After analyzing what went wrong, you soon discover some piece of information that -- ‘had you known beforehand, you never would have gotten into it in the first place’.

I’m not talking about things that are unknowable, like inside information or surprise announcements that can catch even the most professional of professionals off guard.

I’m talking about things that you could have known about or SHOULD have known about before you got in.

Did You Know?...

• Did you know that roughly half of a stock's price movement can be attributed to the group that it’s in?

• Did you also know that oftentimes a mediocre stock in a top performing group will outperform a ‘great’ stock in a poor performing group?

• And did you know that the top 50% of Zacks Ranked Industries outperforms the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1?

• And did you also know that the top 10% of industries outperformed the most?

More . . .


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Was your last loser in one of the top industries or in one of the bottom industries?

If it was in one of the bottom industries, you should have known to not take a chance on something with a reduced probability of success.

That’s what is meant by ‘knowledge is power’. Knowable things that you need to know.

That’s not to say that stocks in crummy industries won’t go up -- they do. And that’s not to say that stocks in good industries won’t go down -- because they do too.

But more stocks go up in the top industries, and more stocks go down in the bottom industries.

And since there are over 10,000 stocks out there to pick and choose from, why settle for one with a reduced chance of making any money?

Did You Know?...

• Did you know that stocks with ‘just’ double-digit growth rates typically outperform stocks with triple-digit growth rates?

• Did you also know that stocks with crazy high growth rates test nearly as poorly as those with the lowest growth rates?

Did your last loser have a spectacular growth rate?

If so, and it got crushed, would you have picked it if you knew that stocks with the highest growth rates have spotty track records?

It seems logical to think that the companies with the highest growth rates would do the best. But it doesn’t always turn out to be the case.

One explanation for this is that sky high growth rates are unsustainable. And the moment a more normal (albeit still good) growth rate emerges, the stock gets a dose of reality as well.

For example, a company earning 1 cent a share that is now expected to earn 6 cents, has a 500% growth rate. But, if it receives a downward estimate revision to 5 cents, that’s a significant drop. Even though it still has a 400% growth rate, the estimates were just reduced by -16.7% and the price is likely to follow.

If you’ve ever wondered how a stock with a triple-digit growth rate could possibly go down -- that’s how.

Instead, I have found that comparing a stock to the median growth rate for its industry is the best way to find solid outperformers with a lesser chance to disappoint.

Did You Know?...

• Did you know that stocks receiving broker rating upgrades have historically outperformed those with no rating change by more than 1.5 times? And did you know they outperformed stocks receiving downgrades by more than 10 x as much? The next time one of your stocks is upgraded or downgraded, be sure to remember these statistics so you know how the odds stack up and whether they’re for you or against you.

• Did you know that stocks with a Price to Sales ratio of less than 1 have produced significantly superior results over companies with a Price to Sales ratio greater than 1? And did you know that those with a Price to Sales ratio of greater than 4 have typically shown to lose money? That doesn’t mean that all stocks with a P/S ratio of less than one will go up and those over four will go down, but you can greatly increase your odds of success by following these valuations.

• Did you know that the Zacks Rank is one of the best rating systems out there? And did you know that since 1988, the Zacks Rank #1 Strong Buy stocks have beaten the market in 26 of the last 31 years, with an average annual return of 24.6% per year? That’s nearly 2.5 x the returns of the S&P with an 83% annual win ratio.

• Did you know that two simple filters added to the Zacks Rank #1 stocks significantly increases its returns? What if you did? We have a screen that utilizes these two additional items. Over the last 19 years (2000 thru 2018), it’s produced an average annual return of 54.3% per year, while only holding five stocks in its portfolio at a time. And it handily beat the market again last year. That screen is aptly called the Filtered Zacks Rank 5 screen.

Do you know how well your stock picking strategies have performed?

Whether good or bad – do you know why?

Do you know if your favorite item to look for is helping you or hurting you?

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Thanks and good trading,

Kevin

Zacks EVP Kevin Matras is our chart patterns and stock screening expert. He also developed many of Zacks' most powerful market-beating strategies that come with the Research Wizard.