In this week’s filter created for The Globe and Mail, we screened for U.S stocks that can act defensively amid the recent volatility.
Last Friday, the U.S. yield curve inverted, causing some panic in the stock market. On Monday, the curve stabilized but still remained inverted, prompting caution from investors. An inversion, resulting from uncertain economic growth, is often seen as a leading indicator of recession. In order to protect themselves, investors may choose to re-allocate some of their assets to non-cyclical sectors, which act defensively during market volatility. Today we look into two of them: utilities and telecommunications. We screened the U.S. universe by focusing on the following criteria:
- Market capitalization greater than US$10-billion;
- Positive 12-month change in the economic value-added (EVA) metric – a positive figure shows us that the company’s profits are increasing at a faster and greater pace than the costs of capital. The EVA is the economic profit generated by the company and is calculated as the net operating profit after tax minus capital expenses;
- Positive 12-month change in the economic performance index (EPI) and a current EPI greater than one – this ratio is the return on capital to cost of capital;
- Future-growth-value-to-market-value ratio (FGV/MV) is between 40 per cent and minus 70 per cent. We chose this range to eliminate stocks that trade at an exaggerated premium or discount because that would increase the risk. This ratio represents the proportion of the market value of the company that is made up of future growth expectations rather than the actual profit generated. The higher the percentage, the higher the baked-in premium for expected growth and the higher the risk.