5 Low-Leverage Picks for Risk-Averse Investors
Often investors looking for growth-yielding stocks incur huge losses in times of crisis as they tend to overlook their debt level at the time of adding them to your portfolio. Since a debt-ridden stock can be a riskier choice, one may buy low-leverage stocks like STMicroelectronics STM, Schneider National SNDR, Chevron CVX, Fabrinet FN and Jacobs Engineering Group J.
However, before choosing these stocks one should be well aware of leverage stocks. This is why low leverage stocks are safer options for a risk-averse investor. Notably, leverage is a common practice in corporate finance, which refers to the use of exogenous funds by companies to run their operations smoothly and expand the same. Now, companies can obtain these exogenous funds either through equity financing or debt financing.
Statistically, it is found that debt financing is preferred over equity because of its easy and cheap availability.
However, debt financing has its share of drawbacks. Particularly, it is desirable only as long as it successfully generates a higher rate of return compared to the interest rate. So, to avoid considerable losses in your portfolio, one should always avert companies that resort to exorbitant debt financing.
Therefore, the crux of safe investment lies in choosing a company that is not overtly burdened with debt as a debt-free stock is almost impossible to be found.
To identify such stocks, historically several leverage ratios have been developed to measure the amount of debt a company bears and the debt-to-equity ratio is one of the most common ratios.
Debt-to-Equity Ratio = Total Liabilities/Shareholders’ Equity
This metric is a liquidity ratio that indicates the amount of financial risk a company bears. A company with a lower debt-to-equity ratio shows improved solvency for a company.
With the fourth-quarter earnings cycle halfway through, investors must be eyeing stocks that have exhibited solid earnings growth in the recent past. But if a stock bears a high debt-to-equity ratio, in times of economic downturns, its so-called booming earnings picture might turn into a nightmare.
The Winning Strategy
Considering the aforementioned factors, it is prudent to choose stocks with a low debt-to-equity ratio to ensure steady returns.
However, an investment strategy based solely on the debt-to-equity ratio might not fetch the desired outcome. To choose stocks that have the potential to give you steady returns, we have expanded our screening criteria to include some other factors.
Here are the other parameters:
Debt/Equity less than X-Industry Median: Stocks that are less leveraged than their industry peers.
Current Price greater than or equal to 10: The stocks must be trading at a minimum of $10 or above.
Average 20-day Volume greater than or equal to 50000: A substantial trading volume ensures that the stock is easily tradable.
Percentage Change in EPS F(0)/F(-1) greater than X-Industry Median: Earnings growth adds to optimism, leading to a stock’s price appreciation.
VGM Score of A or B: Our research shows that stocks with a VGM Score of A or B, when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy), offer the best upside potential.
Estimated One-Year EPS Growth F(1)/F(0) greater than 5: This shows earnings growth expectation
Zacks Rank #1 or 2: Irrespective of market conditions, stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 have a proven history of success.
Excluding stocks that have a negative or a zero debt-to-equity ratio, here we present our five picks out of the 21 stocks that made it through the screen.
STMicroelectronics: It is a global independent semiconductor company, which designs, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of semiconductor integrated circuits and discrete devices. The company recently announced that its new dual-channel galvanically-isolated gate drivers for IGBTs and silicon-carbide (SiC) MOSFETs save space and ease circuit design in high-voltage power conversion and industrial applications. Such innovations should boost the stock’s position in the semiconductor industry.
STMicroelectronics delivered an earnings surprise of 7.29%, on average, in the trailing four quarters and sports a Zacks Rank #1 currently. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for STM’s 2022 earnings has moved up 21.1% in the past 30 days.
Schneider National: It is a leading transportation and logistics services company. Schneider National recently announced that the company is expanding its intermodal service by moving its primary western United States rail partnership to Union Pacific beginning in 2023. This should boost SNDR’s revenues in the long term.
Schneider National currently carries a Zacks Rank #1. The company delivered an earnings surprise of 22.06% in the trailing four quarters, on average. SNDR boasts a long-term earnings growth rate of 20.7%.
Chevron: It is one of the largest publicly traded oil and gas companies in the world with operations that span almost every corner of the globe. The company reported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings per share of $2.56, which missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.11.
Chevron came up with a four-quarter earnings surprise of 6.28%, on average, and carries a Zacks Rank of 1. CVX boasts a long-term earnings growth rate of 8.3%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Fabrinet: It provides precision optical, electro-mechanical and electronic manufacturing services to original equipment manufacturers of complex products, such as optical communication components, modules and sub-systems, industrial lasers and sensors. Fabrinet’s second-quarter fiscal 2022 earnings of $1.50 per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.47 per share.
Currently, Fabrinet carries a Zacks Rank of 2. It delivered a four-quarter earnings surprise of 5.92%, on average.
Jacobs Engineering Group: It is one of the leading providers of professional, technical and construction services to industrial, commercial and governmental clients. The company recently won a feasibility study contract from the renewable energy company RWE to investigate the production and supply of green hydrogen in South Wales, U.K. This can be expected to boost Jacob’s position in the booming renewable energy industry.
Jacobs Engineering currently has a Zacks Rank #2 and delivered a four-quarter earnings surprise of 12.71%, on average. Its long-term earnings growth rate estimate is 12.4%.
Get the rest of the stocks on the list and start putting this and other ideas to the test. It can all be done with the Research Wizard stock picking and back testing software.
The Research Wizard is a great place to begin. It’s easy to use. Everything is in plain language. And it’s very intuitive. Start your Research Wizard trial today. And the next time you read an economic report, open up the Research Wizard, plug your finds in, and see what gems come out.
Click here to sign up for a free trial to the Research Wizard today.
Disclosure: Officers, directors and/or employees of Zacks Investment Research may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material. An affiliated investment advisory firm may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material.
Disclosure: Performance information for Zacks’ portfolios and strategies are available at: https://www.zacks.com/performance.
Just Released: Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022
In addition to the investment ideas discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top buy-and-hold tickers for the entirety of 2022?
Last year’s 2021 Zacks Top 10 Stocks portfolio returned gains as high as +147.7%. Now a brand-new portfolio has been handpicked from over 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank. Don’t miss your chance to get in on these long-term buys
Access Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 today >>
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
STMicroelectronics N.V. (STM): Free Stock Analysis Report
Chevron Corporation (CVX): Free Stock Analysis Report
Fabrinet (FN): Free Stock Analysis Report
Schneider National, Inc. (SNDR): Free Stock Analysis Report
Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (J): Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
Zacks Investment Research