Investors may consider allocating their assets in stocks with a favorable liquidity position for big returns. Liquidity indicates a company’s capability of meeting debt obligations by converting assets into liquid cash and equivalents.
Liquid stocks have always been in demand as these are believed to have the potential to boost portfolio 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 than its 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 as this combination is indicative of underlying financial strength.
Measures to Identify Liquid Stocks
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 meet its current debt obligations using the most liquid of assets. Though a cash ratio of more than 1 may point to sound financials, a higher number may indicate inefficiency in cash utilization.
So, a ratio greater than 1 is desirable at all times but may not always appropriately represent a company’s financial condition.
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 the 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).
Growth Score less than or equal to B (Back-tested results show that stocks with a Growth 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 12.
Here are five of the 12 stocks that qualified the screen:
Watertown, MA-based athenahealth (NASDAQ:ATHN), through its cloud-based network athenaNet, provides services that manage the administrative duties of medical providers. The company has a Growth Score of A and has delivered an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 43.79%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2018 earnings per share remained stable at $4.15 over the last 30 days.
Headquartered in Baltimore, MD, Medifast (NYSE:MED) is one of the major providers of healthy living products. The company has a Growth Score of A and has delivered an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 16.57%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2018 earnings per share remained stable at $4.50 over the last 30 days.
Tinton Falls, NJ-based, CommVault Systems (NASDAQ:CVLT) is a provider of Unified Data Management solutions for data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. The company has a Growth Score of A and delivered an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 1.32%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2019 earnings of $1.66 remained unchanged in the last 30 days.
Long Beach, CA-based Molina Healthcare (NYSE:MOH) is a provider of government sponsored plans — Medicare and Medicaid. The company has a Growth Score of B and delivered an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 164.27%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year remained stable at $7.50 over the last 30 days.
Headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, Fortinet (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 has a Growth Score of B and delivered an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 21.68%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2018 earnings of $1.66 remained unchanged in 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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