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How the World’s Most Elite Growth Investors Pick Stocks

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Investing can be extremely psychologically demanding.

Not only are you up against the world’s best investors, but you’re also up against yourself. It’s easy to get caught making irrational decisions based on your own personal blindspots or cognitive biases, and these mistakes can lead to buying when you should sell, and vice versa.

For the above reasons, the most successful investors are often those that have rational and proven systems in place.

Having a method to your madness allows you to have confidence in your decisions, while also taking advantage of the strategies and heuristics that have performed well for the world’s most elite investors.

How to Pick Growth Stocks

Today’s infographic comes to us from Investor’s Business Daily, and it details the basics around the discipline of growth investing, including the differences the school has with value investing.

More importantly, it also provides a framework for choosing growth stocks used by elite investors such as William J. O’Neil.

How the World's Most Elite Growth Investors Pick Stocks

Growth investing is all about identifying the companies that are exhibiting behavior that suggests that they will be tomorrow’s leaders.

The benefits to this strategy, if successful, are easy to see. Think about buying Microsoft before it dominated the software industry, or Starbucks before it conquered the United States with its new approach to coffee culture.

The question is: how can these stocks be found reliably?

The CAN SLIM Approach

Fantastic growth stocks don’t just grow on trees – instead, you have to have a system to sift through them.

One easy place to start your search for the next growth leader is with an approach pioneered with investing legend William J. O’Neil. Developed in the 1950s, the CAN SLIM strategy identifies seven characteristics that top-performing stocks often share before making their biggest price gains.

Each characteristic is represented by a letter in the CAN SLIM acronym:

C – Current quarterly earnings
A – Annual earnings growth
N – New product, service, management, or price high
S – Supply and demand
L – Leader or laggard
I – Institutional sponsorship
M – Market direction

Importantly, each of these traits can be a catalyst to influence other traits. When they compound, it can lead to big price movements that beat the rest of the market.

Breaking Down the Factors

Let’s look at each characteristic of the CAN SLIM approach in more detail:

Current quarterly earnings
Look for companies with a minimum earnings-per share (EPS) growth of 25% in the most recent quarter, though 50% or higher is even better. These companies should also have 20% sales growth in the quarter, and a 17% ROE to ensure that growth is sustainable.

Annual earnings growth
Look for companies with annual EPS growth of at least 25% to 50% in each of the previous 3-5 years. This helps confirm that the company is showing long-term growth.

New product, service, management, or price high
What is the company doing that is new or game-changing? To be a market winner, a company must constantly reinvent itself to position itself for higher-than-average profits.

Examples: Consider Google’s monetization of search ads, or McDonald’s novel approach to food. These innovations set the companies up for massive profits and success.

Supply and demand
A stock price increases when more investors demand an increasingly limited supply of shares. Spikes in price, along with volume accumulation, mean that demand is increasing. If this is coming from institutional investors, who tend to buy and hold, it’s even better.

Leader or laggard
The leading companies in leading industries – the best of the best – will be the companies that have the most growth potential.

Institutional sponsorship
75% of all market activity comes from professional investors, such as mutual funds or pension funds. Not only does the smart money help validate a potential growth stock by being involved, but they can trigger big price increases.

Market direction
CAN SLIM investors believe you should invest with the market, as opposed to against it. That’s because an individual stock moves with the market 75% of the time.

Putting it Together

Understanding how the different CAN SLIM factors work together – and how they can help bring massive bouts of growth for the underlying stock – is key for the successful growth investor.

Using a rational system like this also helps you in overcoming cognitive biases or making other mistakes that may affect your investments, as well.

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Central Banks

The Anatomy of the $2 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

A visual breakdown of the CARES Act, the $2 trillion package to provide COVID-19 economic relief. It’s the largest stimulus bill in modern history.

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The Anatomy of the $2 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

The unprecedented response to the COVID-19 pandemic has prioritized keeping people apart to slow the spread of the virus. While measures such as business closures and travel restrictions are effective at fighting a pandemic, they also have a dramatic impact on the economy.

To help right the ship, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — also known as the CARES Act — was passed by U.S. lawmakers last week with little fanfare. The act became the largest economic stimulus bill in modern history, more than doubling the stimulus act passed in 2009 during the Financial Crisis.

Today’s Sankey diagram is a visual representation of where the $2 trillion will be spent. Broadly speaking, there are five components to the COVID-19 stimulus bill:

CategoryTotal AmountShare of the Package
Individuals / Families$603.7 billion30%
Big Business$500.0 billion25%
Small Business$377.0 billion19%
State and Local Government$340.0 billion17%
Public Services$179.5 billion9%

Although the COVID-19 stimulus bill is incredibly complex, here are some of the most important parts to be aware of.

Funds for Individuals

Amount: $603.7 billion – 30% of total CARES Act

In order to stimulate the sputtering economy quickly, the U.S. government will deploy “helicopter money” — direct cash payments to individuals and families.

The centerpiece of this plan is a $1,200 direct payment for those earning up to $75,000 per year. For higher earners, payment amounts will phase out, ending altogether at the $99,000 income level. Families will also receive $500 per child.

There are three other key things to know about this portion of the stimulus funds:

  1. There will be a temporary suspension for any student loan held by the federal government. This means no payments required and no interest accrued until the end of September, 2020.
  2. Borrowers with federally backed loans can request forbearance on mortgage payments for up to six months.
  3. There will be an expansion of unemployment benefits, including a four-month enhancement of benefits. This plan includes freelancers, workers in the gig economy, and furloughed employees.

Big Business

Amount: $500.0 billion – 25% of total CARES Act

This component of the package is aimed at stabilizing big businesses in hard-hit sectors.

The most obvious industry to receive support will be the airlines. About $58 billion has been earmarked for commercial and cargo airlines, as well as airline contractors. Perhaps in response to recent criticism of the industry, companies receiving stimulus money will be barred from engaging in stock buybacks for the term of the loan plus one year.

One interesting pathway highlighted by today’s Sankey diagram is the $17 billion allocated to “maintaining national security”. While this provision doesn’t mention any specific company by name, the primary recipient is believed to be Boeing.

The bill also indicates that an inspector general will oversee the recovery process, along with a special committee.

Small Business

Amount: $377.0 billion – 19% of total CARES Act

To ease the strain on businesses around the country, the Small Business Administration (SBA) will be given $350 billion to provide loans of up to $10 million to qualifying organizations. These funds can be used for mission critical activities, such as paying rent or keeping employees on the payroll during COVID-19 closures.

As well, the bill sets aside $10 billion in grants for small businesses that need help covering short-term operating costs.

State and Local Governments

Amount: $340.0 billion – 17% of total CARES Act

The biggest portion of funds going to local and state governments is the $274 billion allocated towards direct COVID-19 response. The rest of the funds in this component will go to schools and child care services.

Public and Health Services

Amount: $179.5 billion – 9% of total CARES Act

The biggest slice of this pie goes to healthcare providers, who will receive $100 billion in grants to help fight COVID-19. This was a major ask from groups representing the healthcare industry, as they look to make up the lost revenue caused by focusing on the outbreak — as opposed to performing elective surgeries and other procedures. There will also be a 20% increase in Medicare payments for treating patients with the virus.

Money is also set aside for initiatives such as increasing the availability of ventilators and masks for the Strategic National Stockpile, as well as providing additional funding for the Center for Disease Control and expanding the reach of virtual doctors.

Finally, beyond the healthcare-related funding, the CARES Act also addresses food security programs and a long list of educational and arts initiatives.

Hat tip to Reddit user SevenandForty for inspiring this graphic.

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China

COVID-19 Crash: How China’s Economy May Offer a Glimpse of the Future

China has seen a severe economic impact from COVID-19, and it may be a preview of what’s to come for countries in the early stages of the outbreak.

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COVID-19 economic impact

The Economic Impact of COVID-19

China, once the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, appears to be turning a corner. As the number of reported local transmission cases hovers near zero, daily life is slowly returning to normal. However, economic data from the first two months of the year shows the damage done to the country’s finances.

Today’s visualization outlines the sharp losses China’s economy has experienced, and how this may foreshadow what’s to come for countries currently in the early stages of the outbreak.

A Historic Slump

The results are in: China’s business activity slowed considerably as COVID-19 spread.

Economic IndicatorYear-over-year Change (Jan-Feb 2020)
Investment in Fixed Assets*-24.5%
Retail Sales-20.5%
Value of Exports-15.9%
Industrial Production-13.5%
Services Production-13.0%

*Excluding rural household investment

As factories and shops reopen, China seems to be over the initial supply side shock caused by the lockdown. However, the country now faces a double-headed demand shock:

  • Domestic demand is slow to gain traction due to psychological scars, bankruptcies, and job losses. In a survey conducted by a Beijing financial firm, almost 65% of respondents plan to “restrain” their spending habits after the virus.
  • Overseas demand is suffering as more countries face outbreaks. Many stores are closing up shop and/or cancelling orders, leading to an oversupply of goods.

With a fast recovery seeming highly unlikely, many economists expect China’s GDP to shrink in the first quarter of 2020—the country’s first decline since 1976.

Danger on the Horizon

Are other countries destined to follow the same path? Based on preliminary economic data, it would appear so.

The U.S.
About half the U.S. population is on stay-at-home orders, severely restricting economic activity and forcing widespread layoffs. In the week ending March 21, total unemployment insurance claims rose to almost 3.3 million—their highest level in recorded history. For context, weekly claims reached a high of 665,000 during the global financial crisis.

“…The economy has just fallen over the cliff and is turning down into a recession.”

Chris Rupkey, Chief Economist at MUFG in New York

In addition, manufacturing activity in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware dropped to its lowest level since July 2012.

Globally
Other countries are also feeling the economic impact of COVID-19. For example, global online bookings for seated diners have declined by 100% year-over-year. In Canada, nearly one million people have applied for unemployment benefits.

Hard-hit countries such as Italy and Spain, which already suffer from high unemployment, are also expecting to see economic blows. However, it’s too soon to gauge the extent of the damage.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Given the near-shutdown of many economies, the IMF is forecasting a global recession in 2020. Separately, the UN estimates COVID-19 could cause up to a $2 trillion shortfall in global income.

On the bright side, some analysts are forecasting a recovery as early as the third quarter of 2020. A variety of factors, such as government stimulus, consumer confidence, and the number of COVID-19 cases, will play into this timeline.

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