Building a Watchlist for Recovery
I was playing around with CAPS’ stock screener looking for dividend paying small caps by using the canned dividend setting and adjusting the market capitalization parameter down. Many of the stocks returned were industrial, service, materials or other stocks with a cyclical business profile. That got me thinking that maybe what I should really be looking for is a watchlist of stocks likely to do well as the economy gets stronger.
I’ve heard experts claim we should start seeing growth late this year, next year and further out. I’m not smart enough to know when the economy will improve, so one criteria for this screen is the company must pay a dividend – I want to get paid while I wait.
I want companies that can survive if things continue to deteriorate and that have the resources to expand. That means a strong balance sheet without a mountain of debt and some earnings over the past twelve months. Many of the companies that fit this profile are capital intensive, so I was pretty liberal on the “without a mountain of debt” and ran the screen with a max debt-to-equity of 1.0. Since small caps tend to outperform large caps in good times, I stayed with the small cap theme.
After a little tweaking, the screen returned 30 names with results by sector as follows:
4 – Basic Materials
1 – Conglomerate
3 – Consumer Goods
1 – Financial
2 – Healthcare
8 – Industrial Goods
9 – Services
2 – Technology
The next step in my screening process is to filter the list down to research candidates with a quick scan of the profile, key stats and earnings history on Yahoo Finance. The same information is available from CAPS and other sources, it’s just that I’m familiar with the layout on Yahoo. That narrowed the list down to ten names, shown in the table and briefly described below.
Symbol Company Name LT Debt/Equity Ratio Current Div. Yield %
WWW Wolverine World Wide, Inc. 0 2
LECO Lincoln Electric Holdings Inc 0.09 3
PLPC Preformed Line Products Co. 0.02 2
GRC The Gorman-Rupp Company 0 2
AIT Applied Industrial Tech., Inc. 0.15 3.1
HWKN Hawkins, Inc. 0 2.3
HWCC Houston Wire & Cable Company 0.29 2.9
MSM MSC Industrial Direct Co., Inc. 0.1 2.2
PRPX Portec Rail Products, Inc. 0.1 2.4
RAVN Raven Industries, Incorporated 0 2.2
WWW – Footwear manufacturer and retailer. As industrial or construction employment picks up, workers will need boots. They do have some short-term debt, but the balance sheet is solid and the dividend is well covered.
LECO – Welding equipment and supplies. This is 0ne of my existing CAPS picks, the pitch is a little dated, but has more information on the company.
PLPC – Manufactures a variety of equipment used to protect and manage cable runs. Very little debt and the dividend is well covered.
GRC – Pump manufacturer. Any industrial activity that involves liquids needs pumps. Very little debt and the dividend is well covered.
AIT – Distributor of bearings, fluid power equipment, tools, safety gear, and lots of other stuff used in industry or construction. Low debt and the dividend is well covered.
HWKN – Chemical company. This one popped up in a screen recently ran. See my blog for more. This is one of my CAPS picks and I own some.
HWCC – The name says it all - wire and cable. Reasonable debt and well covered dividend.
MSM – Markets a wide range of industrial products. You’re likely to see their catalog on the shelf next to McMaster-Carr’s and Grainger’s in many shops.
PRPX – Rail products. When economic activity picks up, more stuff gets shipped. In the meantime, investors get a decent dividend.
RAVN – I nearly scratched this one because I wasn’t looking for technology. But, it has a very interesting mix of business operations. GPS for agricultural irrigation systems, plastic sheeting, electronics manufacturing and high altitude aerostats among other things. Yahoo shows a 100% payout ratio on this one, but the income and cash flow statements show is should be somewhere in the 25-30% range.
None of this should be considered a recommendation to buy or even pick one of these companies in CAPS. A recovery could still be well off, but the time to start building a shopping list of recovery stocks is well before a recovery.
I’ve probably excluded some good companies in narrowing the screen down, either because they were in a sector I’m already invested in (oil and gas), because I may have been too strict on the debt limit or just because I missed something.
And, I’m done researching for today. It’s the 4th of July, the dog wants to go for a walk and I need to get the grill ready to cook up some burgers and dogs.