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Executive Summary November 13, 2009

The Economy

Both in the U.S. and abroad, the economy is continuing to show slow and steady improvement as we work our way out of the worst recession in decades.

One of the latest positive signs involves manufacturing data. The Institute for Supply Management reported last week that the manufacturing sector expanded in October for the third straight month, with the group's manufacturing index showing its highest rate of growth in three-and-a-half years. The gains were the result of increased production and employment, and an ISM official said it "appears that inventories are balanced and that manufacturing is in a sustainable recovery mode." Globally, Europe and China both also posted strong industrial growth numbers in October.

The housing sector also continues to make strides. Existing home sales increased 11.4% in the third quarter, the National Association of Realtors reported this week. Pending home sales (based on contracts signed in September) also rose 6.1%, the group said, marking the eighth straight month of gains. The pending sales index is now at its highest level in almost three years. The increase in number of sales is coming as average prices fall, however, as the Realtors' group said distressed sales accounted for more than 30% of transactions in the third quarter. But the good news is that foreclosures are slowing, falling in October for the third straight month, according to RealtyTrac.

While there were some signs of job growth in the manufacturing sector, the general employment picture remains weak. Unemployment crossed the 10% mark in October, the Labor Department reported last week, reaching its highest level since the early 1980s. Initial jobless claims continue to fall, however, with the Labor Department reporting that for the most recent week (ending Nov. 7) new claims fell to their lowest level in 2009. That's encouraging, but the overall employment situation is a major problem.

The high unemployment rate makes it likely that the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates at very low levels -- a good sign for stocks -- some Fed officials say. The presidents of the Atlanta, Boston, and San Francisco Feds all said this week, for example, that the U.S. economy's problems argue against tighter monetary policy, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Going forward, there are a number of areas to keep an eye on, including petroleum. Petroleum supplies jumped 1.76 million barrels over the past week, according to the Energy Information Administration, a far greater jump than many expected. That could be a sign of decreased demand for the broader economy, and it's particularly relevant with the Hot List currently heavy on oil stocks.

Another area to watch: the government. The federal deficit came in at about $176 billion last month, the government reported -- a record for October. And a new actuLato report showed that the Federal Housing Administration's excess reserves available to cover losses fell to about 0.53% of the FHA's total book of business at the end of September-- below the 2% mark Congress has mandated -- as the number of borrowers falling behind on payments to the agency remains high. Government officials say it is highly unlikely the FHA will need a taxpayer rescue, but the issue is another example of the government's coffers being stretched in the recession and its aftermath.

All in all, the economic news over the past fortnight was enough to help spur stocks higher, with the S&P 500 gaining 2.0% since our last newsletter. The Hot List outperformed that a bit, gaining 4.5%, and for the year the portfolio remains well ahead of the market, up 39.5% vs. the S&P's 20.4% gain. And since its inception more than six years ago, the portfolio is up 128.7%, while the S&P has gained just 8.7%.
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Guru Spotlight: James O'Shaughnessy

To say that James O'Shaughnessy has written the book on quantitative investing strategies might be an exaggeration -- but not much of one. Over the years, O'Shaughnessy has compiled an anthology of research on the historical performance of various stock selection strategies rivaling that of just about anyone. He first published his findings back in 1996, in the first edition of his bestselling What Works on Wall Street, using Standard & Poor's Compustat database to back-test a myriad of quantitative approaches. He has continued to periodically update his findings since then, and today he also serves as a money manager and the manager of several Canadian mutual funds.

In addition to finding out how certain strategies had performed in terms of returns over the long term, O'Shaughnessy's study also allowed him to find out how risky or volatile each strategy he examined was. So after looking at all sorts of different approaches, he was thus able to find the one that produced the best risk-adjusted returns -- what he called his "United Cornerstone" strategy.

The United Cornerstone approach, the basis for my O'Shaughnessy-based Guru Strategy, is actually a combination of two separate models that O'Shaughnessy tested, one growth-focused and one value-focused. His growth method -- "Cornerstone Growth" -- produced better returns than his "Cornerstone Value" approach, and was a little more risky. The Cornerstone Value strategy, meanwhile, produced returns that were a bit lower, but with less volatility. Together, they formed an exceptional one-two punch, averaging a compound return of 17.1 percent from 1954 through 1996, easily beating the S&P 500s 11.5 percent compound return during that time while maintaining relatively low levels of risk.

That 5.6 percent spread is enormous when compounded over 42 years: If you'd invested $10,000 using the United Cornerstone approach on the first day of the period covered by O'Shaughnessy's study, you'd have had almost $7.6 million by the end of 1996 -- more than $6.6 million more than you'd have ended up with if you'd invested $10,000 in the S&P for the same period! That seems powerful evidence that stock prices do not -- as efficient market believers suggest -- move in a "random walk," but instead, as O'Shaughnessy writes, with a "purposeful stride."

The Two-Pronged O'Shaughnessy Attack

Let's start with O'Shaughnessy's value stock strategy. His Cornerstone Value approach targeted "market leaders" -- large, well-known firms with sales well above those of the average company -- because he found that these firms' stocks are considerably less volatile than the broader market. He believed that all investors-even the youngest of the bunch -- should hold some value stocks.

To find these firms, O'Shaughnessy required stocks to have a market cap greater than $1 billion, a number of shares outstanding greater than the market mean, and trailing 12-month sales that were at least 1.5 times the market mean.

Size and market position weren't enough to make a value stock attractive for O'Shaughnessy, however. Another key factor that was a great predictor of a stock's future, he found, was cash flow. My O'Shaughnessy-based value model calls for companies to have cash flows per share greater than the market average.

O'Shaughnessy found that, when it came to market leaders, another criterion was even more important than cash flow: dividend yield. He found that high dividend yields were an excellent predictor of success for large, well-known stocks (though not for smaller stocks); large market-leaders with high dividends tended to outperform during bull markets, and didn't fall as far as other stocks during bear markets. The Cornerstone Value model takes all of the stocks that pass the four aforementioned criteria (market cap, shares outstanding, sales, and cash flow) and ranks them according to dividend yield. The 50 stocks with the highest dividend yields get final approval.

The Cornerstone Growth approach, meanwhile, isn't strictly a growth approach. That's because one of the interesting things O'Shaughnessy found in his back-testing was that all of the successful strategies he studied -- even growth approaches -- included at least one value-based criterion. The value component of his Cornerstone Growth strategy was the price/sales ratio, a variable that O'Shaughnessy found -- much to the surprise of Wall Street -- was the single best indication of a stock's value, and predictor of its future.

The Cornerstone Growth model allows for smaller stocks, using a market cap minimum of $150 million, and requires stocks to have price/sales ratios below 1.5. To avoid outright dogs, the strategy also looks at a company's last five years of earnings, requiring that its earnings per share have increased each year since the first year of that period.

The final criterion of this approach is relative strength, the measure of how a stock has performed compared to all other stocks over the past year. A key part of why the growth stock model works so well, according to O'Shaughnessy, is the combination of high relative strengths and low P/S ratios. By targeting stocks with high relative strengths, you're looking for companies that the market is embracing. But by also making sure that a firm has a low P/S ratio, you're ensuring that you're not getting in too late on these popular stocks, after they've become too expensive. "This strategy will never buy a Netscape or Genentech or Polaroid at 165 times earnings," O'Shaughnessy wrote, referring to some of history's well-known momentum-driven, overpriced stocks. "It forces you to buy stocks just when the market realizes the companies have been overlooked."

To apply the RS criterion, the Cornerstone Growth model takes all the stocks that pass the three growth criteria I mentioned (market cap, earnings persistence, P/S ratio) and ranks them by RS. The top 50 stocks then get final approval.

The Growth/Value Investor model I base on O'Shaughnessy's two-pronged approach has been a solid performer since its inception back in 2003, with my 10-stock O'Shaughnessy-based portfolio gaining 50.9 percent since inception, while the S&P 500 has gained 8.7%.

The O'Shaughnessy-based portfolio will pick stocks using both the growth and value methods I described above. It picks whatever the best-rated stocks are at the time, regardless of growth/value distinction, meaning the portion of the portfolios made up of growth and value stocks can vary over time. Currently, the strategy is finding more buys using the growth approach, which is responsible for picking eight of the stocks in the 10-stock portfolio. Here's a look at the 10-stock portfolio's holdings (growth/value distinction in parentheses):

APOG -- Apogee Enterprises (Growth)
NPK -- National Presto Industries (Growth)
JOSB -- Jos. A. Bank Clothiers (Growth)
INT -- World Fuel Services Corporation (Growth)
ARO -- Aeropostale (Growth)
OIS -- Oil States International (Growth)
CHL -- China Mobile Ltd. (Value)
FUQI -- Fuqi International (Growth)
MRO -- Marathon Oil Corporation (Value)
JST -- Jinpan International Limited (Growth)

Beyond The Numbers

O'Shaughnessy is a pure quant, but you should be aware that some of his most critical lessons are less about specific criteria and numbers than they are about the general mindset an investor must have. Perhaps more than anything else, O'Shaughnessy believes in picking a good strategy and sticking with it -- no matter what. In What Works on Wall Street, he writes that in order to beat the market, it is crucial that you stay disciplined: "[C]onsistently, patiently, and slavishly stick with a strategy, even when it's performing poorly relative to other methods."

The reason involved human emotions, which cause many investors to bail on a good approach and jump onto hot stocks or strategies that are often overhyped and overpriced. "We are a bundle of inconsistencies," he writes, "and while that may make us interesting, it plays havoc with our ability to invest our money successfully. Disciplined implementation of active strategies is the key to performance." Wise words, whether you follow O'Shaughnessy's approach or another proven method.

News about Validea Hot List Stocks

FUQI International (FUQI): On Nov. 9, FUQI announced stronger-than-expected net third-quarter income of $18.8 million, or $0.73 per diluted share, nearly tripling the $6.5 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, it posted in the year-ago period. Revenues jumped 35.8% to $127.2 million, as retail revenue was up more than 208% to $9.7 million and wholesale revenue rose almost 30% to $117.5 million. The firm also said it will be raising revenue and net income guidance for the fourth quarter and full 2009 year.

Frontier Oil Corp. (FTO): On Nov. 5, Frontier reported a third-quarter loss of $15.1 million, or 15 cents per share, down from earnings of $72.3 million, or 70 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue fell 45% to $1.2 billion. Excluding special items, the company's adjusted loss totaled 19 cents per share, the Associated Press reported, adding that analysts had expected a loss of 15 cents per share on revenue of $1.26 billion. The results were driven by weak demand and tight margins, as gasoline prices haven't risen as much as crude oil prices since March, AP reported.

Humana, Inc. (HUM): Humana on Nov. 2 reported third-quarter earnings of $301.6 million, or $1.78 per share, up 65% from $183 million, or $1.09 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue increased 8% to $7.72 billion. Analysts on average expected profit of $1.77 per share on $7.82 billion in revenue, the Associated Press reported, adding that Humana's results included big gains in membership and premiums from Medicare Advantage, which overcame declines in its commercial business due to the weak economy.

World Fuel Services (INT): On Nov. 3, World Fuel reported third-quarter net income of $29.1 million, or 97 cents a share, which was down from $40.1 million, or $1.37 a share, in the year-ago quarter, but ahead of analysts' expectations. Excluding share-based compensation and amortization of acquired intangible assets, the company earned $1.04 a share on revenue of $3.2 billion, Reuters reported. Analysts had forecast earnings of 81 cents a share on revenue of $3.02 billion.

Oil States International (OIS): Oil States on Nov. 3 reported net income of $26.6 million, or 53 cents a share, down from $88.2 million, or $1.68 a share, a year ago, but well ahead of analysts' expectations. Revenue fell 44% to $456.1 million, Reuters reported, adding that analysts on average expected earnings of 40 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $430.6 million.

The Next Issue

In two weeks, we will publish another issue of the Hot List, at which time we will rebalance the portfolio. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at hotlist@validea.com.

Current Portfolio

Detailed Stock Analysis

Disclaimer: The analysis is from Validea's selection and interpretation of content from the guru's book or published writings, and is not from nor endorsed by the guru. See Full Disclaimer

FUQI   |   OIS   |   NOV   |   TDW   |   ESI   |   HUM   |   FTO   |   INT   |   RTN   |   VIT   |  

Fuqi International, Inc. (Fuqi) is a designer of precious metal jewelry in China, developing, promoting, and selling a range of products in the Chinese luxury goods market. The Company's products consist of a range of styles and designs made from gold and other precious metals, such as platinum and Karat gold (K-gold). The Company also produce jewelry items that contain diamonds and other precious stones on a custom-order basis. Its design database contains over 30,000 products. The Company operates through its wholly owned subsidiary Fuqi International Holdings Co., Ltd. (Fuqi BVI) and its wholly owned subsidiary, Shenzhen Fuqi Jewelry Co., Ltd. (Fuqi China). As of December 31, 2008, the Company had 69 jewelry retail counters and stores in China.

Oil States International, Inc. (Oil States) through its subsidiaries, is a provider of specialty products and services to oil and gas drilling and production companies worldwide. The Company operates in a number of oil and gas producing regions, including the Gulf of Mexico, United States onshore, West Africa, the North Sea, Canada, South America and Southeast and Central Asia. Its customers include many of the national oil companies, major and independent oil and gas companies and other oilfield service companies. Oil States operates in three principal business segments: offshore products, tubular services and well site services. The Company's well site services segment includes the accommodations, rental tools and drilling services businesses. On February 1, 2008, Oil States purchased all of Christina Lake Enterprises Ltd., the owners of an accommodations lodge (Christina Lake Lodge) in the Conklin area of Alberta, Canada.

National Oilwell Varco, Inc. (NOV) is a provider of equipment and components used in oil and gas drilling and production operations, oilfield services, and supply chain integration services to the upstream oil and gas industry. The Company operates in three segments. The Rig Technology segment designs, manufactures, sells and services systems for the drilling, completion and servicing of oil and gas wells. The Petroleum Services & Supplies segment provides a variety of consumable goods and services used to drill, complete, remediate and workover oil and gas wells, service pipelines, flowlines and other oilfield tubular goods. The Distribution Services segment provides maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) supplies, and spare parts to drill site and production locations worldwide.On April 21, 2008, NOV acquired Grant Prideco, Inc. In December 2008, it acquired Sakhalin Outfitters LLC and Mid-South Machine, Inc. In April 2009, NOV acquired ASEP Group Holding B.V. and Anson Limited.

Tidewater Inc. provides offshore supply vessels and marine support services to the offshore energy industry through the operation of offshore marine service vessels. As of March 31, 2008, the Company had a total of 430 vessels, of which 10 were operated through joint ventures, 61 were stacked and 11 vessels withdrawn from service. The Company provides services supporting all phases of offshore exploration, development and production, including towing of and anchor handling of mobile drilling rigs and equipment; transporting supplies and personnel necessary to sustain drilling, workover and production activities; assisting in offshore construction activities, and a variety of specialized services, including pipe laying, cable laying and three-dimensional (3-D) seismic work. The Company operates in two segments: United States and International.

ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ITT/ESI), is a provider of postsecondary degree programs in the United States based on revenue and student enrollment. As of December 31, 2008, the Company offered master, bachelor and associate degree programs to approximately 62,000 students. As of December 31, 2008, it had 105 institutes and nine learning sites located in 37 states. All of its institutes are authorized by the applicable education authorities of the states, in which they operate, and are accredited by an accrediting commission recognized by the United States Department of Education (ED). During the year ended December 31, 2008, the Company began its operations at eight new institutes. As of December 31, 2008, the Company offered 33 degree programs in various fields schools of study: information technology (IT); electronics technology; drafting and design; business; criminal justice, and health sciences.

Humana Inc. (Humana) is a health and supplemental benefits company. The Company is a full-service benefits solutions company, offering an array of health and supplemental benefit plans for employer groups, government benefit programs and individuals. The Company operates in two segments: Government and Commercial. The Government segment consists of beneficiaries of government benefit programs, and includes three lines of business: Medicare, Military and Medicaid. The Commercial segment consists of members enrolled in its medical and specialty products marketed to employer groups and individuals. On October 31, 2008, the Company acquired PHP Companies, Inc. (doing business as Cariten Healthcare). On August 29, 2008, the Company acquired Metcare Health Plans, Inc. On May 22, 2008, it acquired OSF Health Plans, Inc. On April 30, 2008, the Company acquired UnitedHealth Group's Las Vegas, Nevada individual SecureHorizons Medicare Advantage health maintenance organization (HMO) business.

Frontier Oil Corporation (Frontier) is an independent energy company engaged in crude oil refining and the wholesale marketing of refined petroleum products. The Company operates refineries (the Refineries) in Cheyenne, Wyoming and El Dorado, Kansas with a total annual average crude oil capacity of approximately 182,000 barrels per day (bpd). Frontier's Cheyenne Refinery has a permitted crude oil capacity of 52,000 bpd on a 12-month average. The Company markets its refined products primarily in the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountain region, which encompasses eastern Colorado (including the Denver metropolitan area), eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska (the Eastern Slope). The Cheyenne Refinery has a coking unit, which allows the refinery to process amounts of heavy crude oil for use as a feedstock. During the year ended December 31, 2008, heavy crude oil constituted approximately 76% of the Cheyenne Refinery's total crude oil charge.

World Fuel Services Corporation is engaged in the marketing and sale of marine, aviation and land fuel products and related services on a worldwide basis. The Company operates in three segments: marine, aviation and land. In its marine segment it offers fuel and related services to maritime customers, including international container and tanker fleets, commercial cruise lines and time-charter operators. In its aviation segment, it offers fuel and related services to major commercial airlines, second and third-tier airlines, cargo carriers, regional and low-cost carriers, corporate fleets, fractional operators, private aircraft, military fleets. In its land segment, it offers fuel and related services to petroleum distributors operating in the land transportation market. In June 2008, it acquired certain assets of Texor Petroleum Company, Inc. In April 2009, the Company acquired the Henty Oil Group of Companies.

Raytheon Company designs, develops, manufactures, integrates, supports and provides a range of products, services and solutions for principally governmental customers in the United States and worldwide. The Company operates in six business segments: Integrated Defense Systems (IDS), Intelligence and Information Systems (ibis'), Missile Systems (MS), Network Centric Systems (NCS), Space and Airborne Systems (SAS) and Technical Services (TS). In April 2008, the Company acquired SI Government Solutions. In July 2008, Raytheon Company acquired Telemus Solutions, Inc., a provider of information security, intelligence and technical services to defense, intelligence and other federal customers.In October 2009, the Company acquired BBN Technologies.

VanceInfo Technologies Inc. is an information technology (IT) service provider and one of the offshore software development companies in China. The Company's range of IT services includes research and development services (R&D services), enterprise solutions, application development and maintenance (ADM), quality assurance and testing, as well as globalization and localization. It provides these services primarily to corporations headquartered in the United States, Europe, Japan and China, targeting industries, such as technology, telecommunications, financial services, manufacturing, retail and distribution. The Company operates a range of offshore development centers in China (CDCs). Its major clients include Microsoft, IBM, Huawei, TIBCO, and a European mobile handset manufacturer. In July 2009, the Company acquired the operating subsidiaries of TP Corporation Limited (TP), a provider of customer relationship management (CRM) solutions and call center services.

Watch List

The Watch List contains the highest scoring stocks according to our guru consensus system that are not currently in the Hot List portfolio. We provide this list both for informational purposes and for investors who are not comfortable with a portfolio of ten stocks.


The names of individuals (i.e., the 'gurus') appearing in this report are for identification purposes of his methodology only, as derived by Validea.com from published sources, and are not intended to suggest or imply any affiliation with or endorsement or even agreement with this report personally by such gurus, or any knowledge or approval by such persons of the content of this report. All trademarks, service marks and tradenames appearing in this report are the property of their respective owners, and are likewise used for identification purposes only.

Validea is not registered as a securities broker-dealer or investment advisor either with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or with any state securities regulatory authority. Validea is not responsible for trades executed by users of this site based on the information included herein. The information presented on this website does not represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks or any financial instrument nor is it intended as an endorsement of any security or investment. The information on this website is generic by nature and is not personalized to the specific situation of any individual. The user therefore bears complete responsibility for their own investment research and should seek the advice of a qualified investment professional prior to making any investment decisions.

Performance results are based on model portfolios and do not reflect actual trading. Actual performance will vary based on a variety of factors, including market conditions and trading costs. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Individual stocks mentioned throughout this web site may be holdings in the managed portfolios of Validea Capital Management, a separate asset management firm founded by Validea.com founder John Reese. Validea Capital Management, which is a separate legal entity and an SEC registered investment advisory firm, uses, in part, the strategies on the web site to select stocks for its clients.