This is how we select ideas for the Quant Value newsletter

How do you select investment ideas for the newsletter?” is a question we have received from quite a few readers and I thought would also interest you.

After all, you are investing your hard earned money in these ideas.


Ideas from the investment model

The first step is to get a list of companies that fit with the newsletter’s investment model.

The investment model is built from the best investment strategies in the 54 page research paper I wrote with my friend Philip Vanstraceele Quantitative Value Investing in Europe: What Works for Achieving Alpha as well as all the latest research we have done on ideas we come across all the time.

You can see the latest research and testing we have done here: Quant Investing blog.

I use the Quant Investing screener to get investment ideas, and use the following ratios and indicators:

  • Qi Value – finds cheap companies
  • Piotroski F-Score – finds quality companies
  • Six months share price momentum – finds companies with an increasing share price over the past six months
  • Daily traded value of more than $125,000 – makes sure you can easily buy and sell the ideas
  • Market value of more than $50m – this also makes sure you can easily buy and sell the ideas

The screen looks like this:

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When I have a list of companies

Once I have a list of companies, I build an analysis spreadsheet with five years of historical financial results on each of the companies.

Make sure a company is correctly included

The spreadsheet helps me make sure the company is not wrongly included in the screener because of data errors or unusual numbers (a large once off profit for example) in its financial statements.

This is what part of the spreadsheet looks like:

Click image to enlarge


24 point checklist

To make 100% sure that the company fits in the newsletter’s investment model, I work through a 24-point checklist that looks like this:

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If anything in the checklist looks unusual I do more research or just move on to the next idea.

Also, a company does not have to pass a certain number of checklist items before it is researched further. The checklist questions are there to help me think of all the important items that I need to look at.


Check the latest news

If a company has made it through the above process and I have not found anything unusual I visit the investment relations website of the company and look at all the latest company news.

I specifically look at the latest financial results (half yearly or quarterly), as well as all the financial press releases to make sure the company has not done anything that may have changed its financial situation or its business.


Has the business changed?

I look for actions that can or have substantially changed the business or structure of the company.

Remember, the screener selects companies based on past results and you need to make sure the company has not changed substantially since the publication of its last financial results.

Examples of what to look for:

  • Spin-offs - After a spin-off a company may look completely different from the company that was selected by the screener based on information before the spin-off.
  • Special dividends - These may change the valuation as well as financial position of the company.
  • Large acquisitions - May change the company’s business and or its financial situation, for example a lot of new debt.


No second guessing

During this whole process I try (this is a lot more difficult than it sounds) not to second guess the ideas the investment model comes up with.

For example, excluding companies because I do not like the business or the industry.

This is important because a lot of research has shown that second guessing a high performance, time tested, investment strategy only leads to lower returns.

Because the investment model may recommend companies with a lot of negative news makes this especially hard. But it is something I have learned to live with.


Only then is a company included

Only if a company passes all the above tests is it chosen to be recommended in the newsletter.

As you can see, it is quite a process, with a lot of research and analysis.


Wishing you profitable investing


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