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Amusement parks are open, and thrill seekers are lining up to ride the roller coasters. I’ve lost my taste for such contraptions, but the market provides thrills enough – and the Screaming Value Portfolio has plenty of them.

In recent times, the portfolio hit a low during the market turmoil of last fall but climbed 11.5 per cent from the end of September, 2022 to the end of May, 2023. The market, as represented by the S&P/TSX Composite Index, trailed with gains of 8.4 per cent over the same period.

The Screaming Value Portfolio provided quite the ride over the years, as shown in the first graph. It gained an average of 13.4 per cent annually from the end of 1999 through to the end of May, 2023. The market index gained an average of 6.4 per cent annually over the same period. (The returns herein are based on monthly, or annual, data from Bloomberg and include dividend reinvestment but not fund fees, commissions, inflation or other trading frictions.)

The portfolio favours stocks with low EV/EBIT ratios. The ratio might be thought of as a variation of the more familiar price-to-earnings ratio (P/E). In simple terms, enterprise value (EV) is the market value of a company’s equity plus its net debt, while EBIT is an abbreviation for earnings before interest and taxes.

Stocks with low EV/EBIT ratios are often found among companies with cyclical businesses that have enjoyed unusually good times over the prior four quarters. Holding them can lead to outsized returns in an upward cycle, but they can be terrifying on the way down.

The Screaming Value Portfolio starts with the largest 300 stocks on the TSX by market capitalization and then picks the 10 with the lowest EV/EBIT ratios. The portfolio is equally weighted and rebalanced monthly. In other words, the portfolio is completely refreshed at the end of each month.

But investors who opt for longer holding periods can also fare well. For instance, the Screaming Value Portfolio gained an average of 16.6 per cent annually over the 23 years from the end of 1999 through to the end of 2022 when it was rebalanced annually rather than monthly. It beat the market index by an average of 10.2 percentage points a year over the period, which is a staggering difference.

Problem is, the relative gains weren’t as good when the portfolio was rebalanced at the end of the other 11 months of the year. For instance, the portfolio beat the market index by an average of 5.4 percentage points a year from the end of May, 2000 through to the end of May, 2023 when it was rebalanced at the end of May each year. That’s roughly half the outperformance of the portfolio that was rebalanced at the end of December each year.

The second graph shows the bigger picture. It provides the average annual outperformance of the 12 portfolios that rebalanced their holdings annually at the end of each month over the course of the year. In each case, the calculations use data from the 23 years prior to each month starting from May, 2023 and going back through June, 2022.

While the top prize was taken by the portfolio that was rebalanced at the end of December, the worst was awarded to the one that was rebalanced at the end of April. It beat the index by an average of 2.1 percentage points per year over the 23 years to the end of April, 2023.

Mind you, all 12 annually-rebalanced portfolios outperformed the market index and did so by an average of 6.2 percentage points per year. As it happens, the best results were obtained from the portfolios that were rebalanced near the turn of the year. They benefited from huge gains after rebalancing their portfolios near the bottom of the crash of 2008 that more than made up for the losses on the way down.

Alas, it’s next to impossible to time the bottom of a bear market with anything resembling precision. I have pleasant memories of pushing a meaningful amount of money into market’s roller coaster in early 2009, but it wasn’t clear at the time that the market had bottomed.

Investors who insist on rebalancing annually rather than monthly shouldn’t base their expectations on the results from picking the best rebalancing date on record. Instead, they should think about splitting their portfolio up and rebalancing the parts on different dates throughout the year in an attempt to blunt the extremes of fortune.

I hope to continue to check in on the Screaming Value Portfolio, from time to time, to see how it fares. But, be warned, the ride will likely be a wild one and it will come with plenty of thrills and chills along the way.

You can find the stocks in the Screaming Value Portfolio via this link, which also provides updates to many of the other portfolios I track for the Globe.

Norman Rothery, PhD, CFA, is the founder of

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