Liquidity primarily indicates a company’s capability to meet debt obligations by converting assets into liquid cash and equivalents. These stocks have always been in demand due to their potential to provide maximum returns.
However, one should exercise caution before investing in such stocks. While a high liquidity level may imply that the company is meeting its obligations at a faster rate compared to peers, it may also indicate that the company is failing to use its assets efficiently.
Hence, one may consider the efficiency level of a company in addition to its liquidity to identify potential winners.
Measures to Identify Liquid Stocks
Liquidity ratios like Current Ratio, Quick Ratio and Cash Ratio are primarily used to identify companies with strong liquidity.
Current Ratio: It measures current assets relative to current liabilities. This ratio is used for measuring a company’s potential to meet both short- and long-term debt obligations. Thus, a current ratio – also known as working capital ratio – below 1 indicates that the company has more liabilities than assets. However, a high current ratio does not always indicate that the company is in good financial shape. It may also mean that the company has failed to utilize its assets significantly. Hence, a range of 1 to 3 is considered ideal.
Quick Ratio: Unlike current ratio, quick ratio – also called “acid-test ratio” or “quick assets ratio” – indicates a company’s ability to pay short-term obligations. It considers inventory excluding current assets relative to current liabilities. Like the current ratio, a quick ratio of greater than 1 is desirable.
Cash Ratio: This is the most conservative ratio among the three, as it takes into account only cash and cash equivalents, and invested funds relative to current liabilities. It measures a company’s ability to pay its current debt obligations using the most liquid of assets. Though a cash ratio higher than 1 may point to sound financials, a high number may indicate inefficiency in using the cash.
So, a ratio of greater than 1 is desirable at all times but may not always underline a company’s financial health.
In order to pick the best of the lot, we have added asset utilization, which is a widely used measure of a company’s efficiency, as one of the screening criteria. Asset utilization is a ratio of total sales over the past 12 months to the last four-quarter average of total assets. Though this ratio varies across industries, companies with a ratio higher than their respective industries can be considered efficient.
In order to ensure that these liquid and efficient stocks have solid growth potential, we have added our proprietary Growth Style Score to the screen.
Current Ratio, Quick Ratio and Cash Ratio between 1 and 3 (While liquidity ratios of greater than 1 are desirable, significantly high ratios may indicate inefficiency.)
Asset utilization greater than industry average (Higher asset utilization than the industry average indicates a company’s efficiency.)
Zacks Rank equal to #1 (Only Strong Buy-rated stocks can get through. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.)
Growth Style Score less than or equal to B
(Back-tested results show that stocks with a Growth Style Score of ‘A’ or ‘B’ when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 handily beat other stocks.)
These criteria have narrowed down the universe of over 7,700 stocks to only six.
Here are four of the six stocks that qualified the screen:
Goleta, CA-based AppFolio Inc (NASDAQ:APPF) offers cloud-based software solutions for property management and legal industries. The company has a Growth Style Score of A and an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 241.67%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 earnings has surged from 15 cents to 32 cents over the last 30 days.
Headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT) is engaged in developing, manufacturing and marketing semiconductor wafer fabrication equipment and related spare parts for the semiconductor industry. The company has a Growth Style Score of A and an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 2.66%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 earnings has increased by a dime to $3.20 per share over the last 30 days.
FormFactor, Inc. (NASDAQ:FORM) develops, designs, manufactures, sells and supports high performance advanced semiconductor wafer probe cards. It has an average four-quarter earnings surprise of 18.22% and a Growth Style Score of A. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 earnings has increased 16 cents to $1.19 per share over the last 30 days.
San Leandro, CA-based TriNet Group Inc (NYSE:TNET) is a provider of a comprehensive human resources solution for small to medium-sized businesses. The company offers payroll, tax administration, risk protection, performance management, compensation consulting, and employee benefit plans. The company has a Growth Style Score of B and an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 36.55%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 earnings has increased 2.1% to $1.49 per share over the last 30 days.
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Disclosure: Officers, directors and/or employees of Zacks Investment Research may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material. An affiliated investment advisory firm may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material.
Disclosure: Performance information for Zacks’ portfolios and strategies are available at: https://www.zacks.com/performance.
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