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Finding Asian stocks for courageous value investors Add to ...

Asian stocks continue to get beaten down by fears of slowing economic growth and by the debt problems of the U.S. and the European Union.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index is down 18 per cent this year and China’s Hang Seng index has tumbled 29 per cent. In comparison, on Wall Street the S&P 500 is roughly down only 10 per cent year to date.

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Although there are few signs of an immediate turnaround, courageous value investors may find some tempting prices.

This screen lists Pacific Rim companies that trade in the United States, mainly as American Depositary Receipts (ADRs).

ADRs are certificates issued by U.S. banks representing a specific number of shares in a foreign stock. They simplify the process of owning foreign equities and can help reduce currency risk, although dividends are still paid in foreign currency.

We didn’t use many filters for this screen. But each company had to be profitable and have annual revenue of at least $250-million (U.S.) to make the list. It also had to be paying an annual dividend of 1 per cent or more.

The screen’s data come from StarMine, a Thomson Reuters service that ranks analysts and gathers earnings estimate data to which it applies proprietary research to detect momentum and other factors.

The first such measurement is called StarMine SmartEstimate, which is a proprietary blend of analysts’ estimates that aims to more accurately forecast upcoming results than the consensus estimate. It gives a weighting to each analyst’s estimate according to his or her past accuracy. SmartEstimate also gives greater emphasis to the timeliest forecasts and less to those that have not been updated for a lengthy period.

Our screen lists the degree of change, up or down, in the SmartEstimate for each company’s EPS this year, measured as a percentage of the original forecast. This column gives an idea of which way momentum is going for the stock. Financial companies on this screen show a significant amount of downward momentum.

The percentage difference between the SmartEstimate and the consensus estimate of the Street, called the mean, produces another StarMine metric called the Predicted Surprise. Stocks with positive surprises tend to have above-average price performance. Stocks with negative surprises tend to underperform the market, according to StarMine.

E-House China Holdings Ltd. , a real estate services company based in Shanghai, has the largest negative Predicted Surprise score, perhaps reflecting concerns of an emerging housing bubble in the country.

The third StarMine measurement applied to this screen is the Analyst Revisions Model, or ARM, which is a measure of the change in analyst sentiment ranging between 1 and 100, with 100 representing the highest rank.

The ARM looks at changes in the consensus over multiple time frames and not just for earnings, but also EBITDA and revenue revisions. It also takes into account the Predicted Surprise percentage shift on these various measures. When this score is near the top (100 – the highest ranking) or bottom (1 – the lowest ranking) of its range, it is highly predictive of future earnings revisions up or down and helps investors anticipate these events, StarMine says.

The screen covers a wide range of industries, from telecommunications to medical supplies and industrials to financials.

Japan’s Komatsu Ltd. makes construction, mining, and utility equipment. Mindray Medical International Ltd. develops and sells medical devices worldwide. Rio Tinto plc is a subsidiary of the Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Group.

Tokio Marine Holdings, Inc., sells insurance products in Japan and the Americas. Melbourne-based Telstra Corp. is an Australian telecom giant. Japan’s Orix Corp. is an integrated financial services company.

Companies in the screen are ranked by their ARM scores, in descending order. Seoul-based POSCO , formerly known as Pohang Iron & Steel Company Ltd., tops the list with an ARM score of 97. The company makes steel products for the construction and shipbuilding industries.

Steel manufacturers have faced a squeeze of higher raw material prices this year and cooling demand in China. But long-term prospects look good with steel makers investing billions of dollars into efforts to secure their own supplies of coal. Last summer, POSCO said it will take a 20-per-cent stake in Fortune Minerals Ltd.'s Mount Klappan coal project in British Columbia, for a total investment of about $181-million.

Number two on the list is Tokyo-based drug maker Eisai Co. Products include Aricept, which is used for treating Alzheimer’s disease. The company also makes food additives, chemicals and medicine manufacturing equipment. Analysts revisions over the last month have been largely positive.

Canon lands third spot, with an ARM score of 91. Camera manufacturers are facing a challenging new environment with the arrival of powerful substitutes integrated into smart phones. Revenue from point-and-shoot cameras has fallen dramatically in the last few years. But Canon has seen new opportunities in its printer business, especially for making photographic prints, and is expanding its medical imagery and equipment business.

Fourth-ranked SK Telecom Co., Ltd. is the largest mobile telecommunications operator in South Korea, with 26.1 million subscribers and a market share of almost 51 per cent.

The bottom of the list is filled out by financial firms that include National Australia Bank Ltd., Sydney-based Westpac Banking Corp. and Singapore’s United Overseas Bank Ltd.



Click here to see the screen

 

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