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Number Cruncher

Screens that break down the numbers from our investment reporters

Entry archive:

These U.S. large caps show a bullish pattern

RON MEISELS and MONICA RIZK

What are we looking at?

Attractive U.S. stocks as defined below.

The screen

We limited our pool to the S&P 100 index.

To find the most promising, we looked at each stock’s 40-week moving average (40wMA). This is the average closing price for the stock over a period of 40 weeks.

Charting the moving average week by week gives us a sense of investors’ behaviour. Are they growing more (or less) enthusiastic about the company’s outlook and are they more (or less) likely to purchase the stock? Generally speaking, stocks that trade above their rising 40wMAs are the best candidates for investments; they are the ones that show a bullish pattern. Accordingly, we listed the positive-looking stocks and identified the status and level of each stock’s 40wMA in the adjoining table.

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Portfolio sizes up 10 low-beta, large-cap U.S. stocks

IAN TAM

What are we looking for?

Low-beta, large-cap U.S. stocks with a history of growing dividends and earnings.

Recall that beta measures the sensitivity of a stock or portfolio to an underlying benchmark. The benchmark beta is equal to one. Portfolios with beta greater than one will move more than the benchmark, and portfolios with beta less than one will move less than the benchmark.

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Eighteen dividend stocks with low volatility, high returns

MICHAEL BOWMAN

What are we looking for?

Value companies with low volatility and high returns.

The screen

My colleague Rob Belanger and I started with North American companies greater than $5-billion in market capitalization and we sorted them from the largest to the smallest.

The price-to-book ratio (P/B) is the current share price divided by the book value per share. A low P/B could mean the company is undervalued, and we are only showing companies with a P/B of two times or less.

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The 20 biggest losers in the oil patch over the past two months

TIM SHUFELT

What are we looking for?

The walking wounded of the oil patch.

The crash in oil prices has left the Canadian energy sector teeming with casualties. Few have been spared. Of the 66 stocks included in the S&P/TSX energy index, just five have advanced in the two months since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries announced it would not be cutting back on crude oil production in response to declining global benchmark prices.

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Nine profitable U.S. health-technology stocks

PETER ASHTON

What are we looking for?

U.S. health-technology stocks with strong profitability and growth prospects.

Over the past year, the U.S. health care market was the best performing market segment with year-over-year growth of 20.1 per cent. Health care is seen as a defensive sector that may be attractive again in 2015 as investors size up an aging bull market. However, investors should be aware that many of these stocks have already seen very strong gains in the past year – caution and further research is warranted.

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Taking stock after Canada's retail shake-up

IAN TAM

What are we looking for?

Canadian retailers with a history of growing sales and good profit margins.

Last week, investors saw much attention on the retail space with several large brands – including Target – retreating from Canada. As these brands exit, investors may wonder what is left in this space, especially considering the consumer discretionary sector has seen generally positive movements since the start of 2014.

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Looking for stocks well positioned in a low-loonie era

TIM SHUFELT

What are we looking for?

The beneficiaries of a dollar in decline.

The global commodity downturn has laid bare the risks of Canada’s resource dependence, with economic warning signs now apparent everywhere.

Several forces have conspired to weaken the Canadian dollar. Crude oil benchmarks are down more than half in the past four months, foreign investors are pulling money out of Canadian securities, and the U.S. economy continues to improve. The loonie, as a result, has declined more than 11 cents against the U.S. dollar since July.

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Twenty wealth-creating stocks you may be overlooking

Michael Cloherty

What are we looking for?

As a follow-up to this column two weeks ago where we looked for companies on the S&P/TSX composite index generating the highest economic profit and value for investors, this time we are going to look for similar Canadian companies, but which are not part of the benchmark index.

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These 24 Canadian stocks show a bullish pattern

MONICA RIZK and RON MEISELS

What are we looking at?

Attractive Canadian stocks.

The screen

We limited our pool to the S&P/TSX 60 index.

To find the most promising, we looked at each stock’s 40-week moving average (40wMA). This is the average closing price for the stock over a period of 40 weeks. Charting the moving average week by week gives us a sense of investors’ behaviour. Are they growing more (or less) enthusiastic about the company’s outlook and are they more (or less) likely to purchase the stock? Generally speaking, stocks that trade above their rising 40wMAs are the best candidates for investments; they are the ones that show a bullish pattern. Accordingly, we listed the positive-looking stocks and identified the status and level of each stock’s 40wMA in the adjoining table.

More »

Ten 'aggressive' momentum stocks that steer clear of energy sector

IAN TAM

What are we looking for?

Non-energy stocks with upward momentum.

As the Canadian energy sector continues to suffer through the oversupply of crude, investors looking for a sector rotation will quickly realize that aside from the energy and (to a lesser extent) the materials sector, Canadian markets have seen upward price momentum in several other sectors.

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Twenty stocks with a track record of growth, profitability

MICHAEL BOWMAN

What are we looking for?

Efficient, growing companies.

The screen

My colleague Rob Belanger and I started with companies in North America that have increased the number of employees over the past two years.

We then whittled our list down to only those that have decreased their debt over that same time frame.

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Stocks to stand up to the wild winds of change

TIM SHUFELT

What are we looking for?

Low volatility stocks that can withstand market turbulence.

Following an era of sustained calm, markets have, over the past four months or so, undergone the kind of wild swings investors had avoided for so long.

From early September to mid-October, the S&P/TSX composite index fell by 11.4 per cent, then the index rose by 9.0 per cent over the next five weeks. Canadian stocks swiftly succumbed to the downside once again, dropping by 9.3 per cent in three weeks. Then back up, by 7.7 per cent. And down by 3.6 per cent over the last week or so.

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Eleven stocks poised to rally in January

PETER ASHTON

What are we looking for?

Canadian stocks that may benefit from the January effect this year.

Some stock pickers believe in a principle known as the “January effect,” in which stocks rally in the month of January. This effect is believed to be caused by stocks becoming oversold in December as a result of tax-loss selling and “window dressing” by portfolio managers. Stocks most affected by the January effect should be those that are trading lower in the month of December and therefore are candidates for tax-loss selling and/or window dressing. In addition, stocks that have sold off strongly are more likely to have found themselves in an oversold position.

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A low-beta strategy to fortify your portfolio

IAN TAM

What are we looking for?

With the recent increase of volatility in the Canadian markets (in particular the energy sector), apprehensive investors may be looking for relief through a more conservative investment strategy. Recall that beta measures the relative movement of a portfolio or stock relative to a market benchmark. Lower beta strategies sacrifice upside potential in bull markets for defensive positions in bear markets.

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Energy stocks with staying power

MICHAEL BOWMAN

What are we looking for?

If investors are thinking of buying an oil and gas stock, which ones should they consider.

The screen

We started with Canadian oil and gas exploration and production companies greater than $300-million in market capitalization.

The EV/EBITDA is the enterprise value (market value of debt plus equity minus cash) divided by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, and is one of the most commonly used valuation metrics. This ratio is used to find attractive takeover candidates because it includes debt that the acquiring company would have to assume. We are looking for a low number.

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Searching for the TSX all-stars

Michael Cloherty

What are we looking for?

As Canadian investors review their portfolios and compare their performance versus the index, we wanted to start 2015 by looking at which companies on the S&P/TSX generate the highest economic profit and value for investors.

The screen

We searched S&P/TSX for the top 20 companies by looking at the following metrics:

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Unloved stocks for the contrarian investor

LUKE KAWA

What are we looking for?

Canadian stocks that are unloved, but not overvalued.

While being popular might have worked wonders in high school, a portfolio full of equities the analyst community likes the most isn’t a sure ticket to topping the index’s performance.

Experts have good reasons for being pessimistic about a company’s prospects, but their crystal balls are often just as foggy as everyone else’s. A contrarian approach is certainly not for the faint of heart, but one who follows the crowd will have a difficult time beating it.

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The biggest small-cap movers of the year

TIM SHUFELT

What are we looking for?

The year’s lesser-known winners and losers.

In investing, as in life, the turn of the calendar calls for an accounting of the triumphs and losses of the year prior.

But since few Canadian investors would be unfamiliar with the fortunes of the country’s largest companies, we decided to dive a little deeper into the Toronto Stock Exchange to look for the biggest movers of the year among small-cap names.

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Strong defensive stocks with dividends, growth

MICHAEL CLOHERTY

What are we looking for?

As we move into 2015 with new opportunities and challenges ahead, we decided to focus on finding some defensive ideas for investors. So today we’re evaluating consumer staples companies on the S&P 500 – largely viewed as the most tracked index in the world.

The screen

We searched the consumer staples sector on the S&P 500 and looked at the following metrics:

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Eight U.S. home building stocks poised for growth

PETER ASHTON

What are we looking for?

Well-valued U.S. home builders with an opportunity to grow in 2015.

The U.S. housing market has continued to recover following the housing bust of five years ago. According to the U.S. Census Department, housing starts in November were 1.03 million – more than double the number of just three years ago. With U.S. mortgage rates at historic lows and the Federal Reserve poised to keep interest rates low for a considerable time, U.S. home builders should see strong growth in their businesses during the coming year.

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