Buy low, sell high — that’s the mantra for making money in the stock market, right?
And the first part of the process sounds simple enough: Find a cheap stock with a low price-to-earnings ratio, buy it — then wait for it to rise in price.
Problem is, some stocks are cheap for a reason. No matter how cheaply you buy them, there’s no guarantee they’ll go up. So how do you improve your chances of finding a winner?
TipRanks uses a system called Smart Score. Crunching data on Wall Street sentiment, buying activity by insiders and hedge funds, and other factors — including, yes, low P/E — TipRanks assigns each stock a smart score rating indicating a level of confidence that it will outperform the market, on an easy to understand scale of 1 to 10.
Those stocks at the tippety top of the scale score a perfect 10 — and over the last nine years they’ve outperformed the average S&P 500 stock by nearly 50%.
We’ve pulled up three “perfect 10” stocks that tick every box, to find out why they are poised to make gains even in today’s difficult market environment.
Change Healthcare (CHNG)
The first “perfect 10” name on today’s list is Change Healthcare, a software company that provides solutions for analysis, connectivity, communication, payment, and workflow optimization for healthcare providers. Change’s products connect patients, payers, and providers in the health system. In the current pandemic situation, a company that connects the data dots for the healthcare system should find itself in demand.
Change reported its fiscal third quarter results in February, its third since going public, and beat the earnings estimates by 10%. EPS came in at 33 cents, and revenue was $808.2 million.
In recent weeks, Change has taken concrete steps to makes its data services useful for the healthcare industry generally, opening a COVID-19 Updates and Resources hub, and a CARES Act Advisory resource hub, to make information available to interested parties who will be impacted by governmental measures taken to combat the epidemic.
5-star analyst Steven Halper, of Cantor Fitzgerald, is impressed by CHNG’s prospect and policies, especially given the pandemic situation, writing, “While COVID is likely to be a near-term headwind to its financial results, the company has launched a number of solutions aimed at addressing customers’ COVID-related issues… We maintain our view that CHNG should continue to increase its market share due to its differentiated data-driven and network-based approach.”
In line with his bullish view, Halper gives the stock a Buy rating with a $20 price target that suggests an impressive upside of 96%. (To watch Halper’s track record, click here)
Credit Suisse analyst Jailendra Singh agrees that CHNG is a stock to buy. In comments on the stock, Singh points out the company’s favorable debt position and the positive forward outlook for profits after the epidemic, when the healthcare system restarts elective procedures and sees a consequent surge in demand for data and payment processing services.
Singh’s Buy rating is backed by a $16 price target, which while less bullish than Halper’s still points toward 57% upside growth.
Looking at the Smart Score factors, CHNG receives a Strong Buy consensus rating, and investor sentiment over the past month shows rising interest in this stock. Shares have dropped in price this year, pulled down by the general bear market, giving investors a chance to buy low. CHNG is priced at $10.22, and the average price target of $16.71 indicates a 68% upside potential for the coming 12 months. (See Change stock analysis at TipRanks)
Hannon Armstrong (HASI)
Next up is Hannon Armstrong, a financial services company focused on climate change. Where some just talk about the need to support green initiatives, Hannon Armstrong puts its money where its mouth is, investing in, and funding ventures in, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable infrastructure. As of December 2019, the company was managing more than $6 billion in assets.
While such green initiatives frequently have a reputation as money sucking black holes, Hannon has selected its investments well and consistently returned quarterly profits. In recent weeks, Hannon has announced a $150,000 cash donation for COVID-19 relief efforts in its home state of Maryland. The company also raised its dividend by a half cent, to an even 34 cents quarterly. The new dividend makes the annualized payment $1.36 and went into effect this month. At 5.2%, the yield is significantly higher than the market average, and simply blows away Treasury bonds. Hannon has a 7-year history of dividend reliability.
On the financial front, Hannon has announced bond offers, of $400 million in 6% Green Bonds and of $350 million in Senior Unsecured Notes. Issuing debt on that scale while during such a volatile time for markets is a bold move – but also shows a high level of corporate confidence.
Christopher Van Horn, reviewing the stock for B. Riley FBR, writes, “We estimate that COVID disruptions could be less volatile than what is being priced into shares and given the financial nature of the biz model, we think pipeline remains on track. While we would not be surprised to see certain projects pushed out, the pipeline of over $2.5B is significant.”
In line with his upbeat view of Hannon’s prospects, Van Horn rates the stock a Buy. His $42 price target implies an upside of 59%. (To watch Van Horn’s track record, click here)
Oppenheimer analyst Noah Kaye agrees. In fact, he gives HASI shares an identical $42 price target. Backing the bullish views, Kaye writes, “We believe appetite for green bonds remains relatively strong and will be looking for pricing terms on the notes to validate our view. While we do believe a persistence of current macroeconomic conditions could stress components of the balance sheet portfolio, we expect earnings to be relatively resilient given the portfolio’s diversification…”
Hannon’s ’10’ Smart Score comes from its Strong Buy consensus rating along with rising stock purchases by both investors and insiders. Hannon has received 5 Buy ratings in recent weeks, opposed to a single Hold. With a share price of $26.46 and an average target of $35.83, the stock shows a robust 12-month upside potential of 35%. It’s a solid outlook, for a green stock that has maintained sound investment profile. (See Hannon’s stock analysis at TipRanks)
Air Products and Chemicals (APD)
Last on our list for now is Air Products and Chemicals, a provider of chemicals and gasses for industrial use. Based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, APD remains an important Rust Belt industrial employer, and brings significant revenues to its region. In its fiscal Q1 (ending in December 2019), the company registered a top line of $2.254 billion, up 1% year-over-year.
Like Hannon above, APD pays out a dividend – and has kept its dividend payments reliable for the last 20 years. The payout ratio, 62%, shows a commitment sharing profits with investors, while the yield of 2.6% is noticeably higher than the ~2% yield found among S&P stocks. APD has raised its quarterly dividend payment 3 times in the past three years.
Covering the stock for Wells Fargo, 5-star analyst Michael Sison is clearly impressed. His Buy rating is backed by a $265 price target, indicative of a 20% upside potential. (To watch Sison’s track record, click here)
In his report on the stock, Sison writes, “While risks of COVID-19 and significant drop in oil prices still persist, we believe APD has enough levers to drive EPS growth in FY20 and FY21 despite the likelihood of slower economic growth… In our view, the key driver to growth is a strong backlog of projects coming on stream in the next couple years, which should support over 50% of growth… We believe APD is among the better positioned chemical companies in CY1Q, with industrial gas companies generally being much more resilient relative to other chemical companies…”
Air Products’ ’10’ Smart Score shows positive points almost across the board. The stock is rated a Strong Buy, and insiders have been buying up the shares in the last three months, as some of the major hedge funds. At $207, and with an average price target of $252, the stock shows potential for 21% growth this year. The Strong Buy consensus rating is based on a 12 to 2 Buy/Hold split among 14 recent reviews. (See Air Products stock analysis at TipRanks)