A 52-week high level generally works as an indicator for investors as stocks near that level are perceived to be winners. Notably, investors often wonder if the stock is overpriced considering the high price level. While the apprehensions are not absolutely baseless, all stocks hitting a 52-week high are not necessarily overpriced.
In fact, an investor might miss out on top gainers in an attempt to avoid the steep prices of stocks that are near the 52-week high mark. However, a stock can maintain the momentum and keep scaling new highs with time. So, one should take a more informed approach to understand if any further upside is left.
Here we discuss a strategy to find the right stocks:
Borrowing from the basics of momentum investing, this technique bets on “buy high, sell higher.”
52-Week High: A Good Indicator
Many a time, stocks hitting a 52-week high fail to scale higher despite potential due as investors fear that the stocks are overvalued and a price crash is impending.
In fact, overvaluation is quite natural for most of these stocks as investors’ focus (or willingness to pay premium) has helped them reach the level. But that doesn’t always mean an impending decline. The factors — such as robust sales, surging profit levels, earnings growth prospects and strategic acquisitions — that encouraged investors to bet on these stocks could keep them motivated if there is no tangible negative. In other words, the momentum might continue.
Also, when a string of positive developments dominate the market, investors find their under-reaction unwarranted, even if there are no company-specific driving forces.
Setting the Right Filters
We ran a screen to zero in on 52-week high stocks (trading near the high level) that hold tremendous upside potential. The screen includes parameters to shortlist stocks with strong earnings growth expectations, sturdy value metrics and price momentum.
Moreover, the screen filters stocks that are relatively undervalued compared to their peers, in terms of earnings as well as sales, ensuring continuation of their rally for some time.
Current Price/52 Week High >= .80
This is the ratio between the current price and the highest price at which the stock has traded in the past 52 weeks. A value greater than 0.8 implies that the stock is trading within 20% of its 52-week high range.
% Change Price – 4 Weeks > 0
It ensures that the stock price has moved north over the past four weeks.
% Change Price – 12 Weeks > 0
This metric guarantees a continued upward price momentum for the stock over the past three months as well.
Price/Sales <= XIndMed
The lower, the better.
P/E using F(1) Estimate <= XIndMed
This metric measures the amount an investor puts into a company to obtain one dollar of earnings. It narrows down the list of stocks to those that are undervalued compared to the industry.
One-Year EPS Growth F(1)/F(0) >= XIndMed
This helps choose stocks that have higher growth rates than the industry. This is a meaningful indicator, as decent earnings growth adds to investor optimism.
Zacks Rank <=2
No screening is complete without our proven Zacks Rank, which has proved its worth since inception. It is a fundamental truth that stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) have always managed to brave adversities and beat the market.
Current Price >= 5
This parameter will help screen stocks that are trading at $5 or higher.
Volume – 20 days (shares) >= 100000
Inclusion of this metric ensures that there is a substantial volume of shares, so trading is easier.
Here are five of the 37 stocks that made it through the screen:
Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc. (NYSE:SWM) is a global provider of engineered solutions & advanced materials. The company delivered an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 13.2% and has a Zacks Rank #2.
Insight Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ:NSIT) is an Arizona-based global direct marketer of brand name computers, hardware and software that focuses on business-to-business and information technology capabilities. The company came up with an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 21.6% and has a Zacks Rank #1.
Baxter International Inc (NYSE:BAX) is a global, diversified healthcare company that manufactures and markets products to fight diseases like hemophilia, immune disorders, kidney disease and others. The company with a Zacks Rank #2 delivered an average positive surprise of 10.1% for the last four quarters.
Fortinet Inc (NASDAQ:FTNT) is a provider of network security appliances and Unified Threat Management (UTM) network security solutions to enterprises, service providers and government entities worldwide. The company delivered an average positive surprise of 26.2% in the trailing four quarters and carries a Zacks Rank #2.
Comfort Systems USA, Inc. (NYSE:FIX) is a provider of comprehensive heating, ventilation and air conditioning installation, maintenance, repair and replacement services. Currently having a Zacks Rank #1, the company delivered an average positive surprise of 7.04% for the last four quarters.
You can get the rest of the stocks on this list by signing up now for your 2-week free trial to the Research Wizard and start using this screen in your own trading. Further, you can also create your own strategies and test them first before taking the investment plunge.
The Research Wizard is a great place to begin. It’s easy to use. Everything is in plain language. And it’s very intuitive. Start your trial to the Research Wizard today. And the next time you read an economic report, open up the Research Wizard, plug your finds in, and see what gems come out.
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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