Using the Price to Cash Flow to Find Value

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The Price to Earnings ratio (or P/E) is probably the most common ratio in determining whether a company is under or overvalued.

However, the Price to Cash Flow (or P/CF) is another great ratio to do just that.

Cash, of course, is vital to a company’s financial health in order to finance operations, invest in the business, etc.

And cash can’t really be manipulated on the Income Statement like earnings can.

The reason why some like this measurement better than the P/E ratio is because the net income of the Cash Flow portion rightly adds depreciation and amortization back in, since these are not cash expenditures.

Whereas the net income that goes into the Earnings portion of the P/E ratio does not add these in, thus artificially reducing the income and skewing the P/E ratio.

So many analysts prefer using the Price to Cash Flow metric to judge a stock’s value.

And just like the P/E ratio is calculated by dividing the Price by its Earnings per share — the Price to Cash Flow ratio is calculated by dividing the Price by its Cash Flow per share.

Also like a P/E ratio, the lower the number, the better.

Currently, the average Price to Cash Flow (P/CF) for the stocks in the S&P 500 is 14.05.

But just like the P/E ratio, a value of less than 15 to 20 is generally considered good.

In my testing I have found that a P/CF between 0-10 produced the best results (17.1% over the last 10 years (using a 1-week rebalancing period). The second best results came with the range of 10-20 with a 10.2% gain. However, once you get over 30, the odds point to a loss (-2.8%). And over 40, the odds of loss are even greater at -6.9%.

By the way, if you add the Zacks Rank to that first range, the results increase to 34.7%. Pretty awesome.

Price to Cash Flow

This being said though, I still also like comparing the stocks’ P/CF to its Industry, as different Industries will have different numbers that are considered normal.

For example: for Computer-Software companies, the average Price/Cash Flow is about 19.2, whereas for Telecom it’s about 6.0.

The screen I’m running today is relatively simple:

Zacks Rank equals 1

(Only Strong Buys get thru.)

One Year Projected Growth Rate greater than or equal to Average for the S&P 500

(Looking for above market growth rates.)

Current Cash Flow greater than or equal to 5 Year Average Cash Flow

(I want to see the company’s cash position improving.)

Price to Cash Flow less than or equal to Median for its Industry

(Want to see companies with valuations lower than the median for their respective groups.)

Here are 5 stocks that came thru this week’s screen:

(CTBAnalyst Report) Cooper Tire & Rubber Co (NYSE:CTB)
(ERFSnapshot Report) Enerplus Corp (NYSE:ERF)
(SYASnapshot Report) Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE:SYA)
(CMOSnapshot Report) Capstead Mortgage Corporation (NYSE:CMO)
(MANAnalyst Report) ManpowerGroup Inc. (NYSE:MAN)

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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:

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