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Time to Play 5 Top-Ranked Stocks With Rising P/E?

Wall Street has been hovering around a record high level, which can trigger overvaluation concerns in some investors’ minds. This is because investors often opt for the stock-picking approach that involves stocks with a low price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio.

This strategy is based on the notion that the lower the P/E ratio is, the higher the stock value. The reasoning behind this is straightforward — when a stock's current market price does not adequately reflect its higher earnings, it suggests potential for growth.

However, there is more to this whole P/E story. Because not only low P/E, stocks with a rising P/E can also fetch strong returns. In this regard, investors can bet on the likes of AMC Entertainment AMC, Exagen XGN, Health Catalyst HCAT, CLEAR Secure YOU and Applied DNA Sciences APDN.

Rising P/E: A Useful Tool

The concept is that as earnings rise, so should the price of the stock. As forecasts for expected earnings come in higher, strong demand for the stock should continue to push up its prices. After all, astock's P/E gives an indication of how much investors are ready to shell out per dollar of earnings.

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Suppose an investor wants to buy a stock with a P/E ratio of 30. This means that he is willing to shell out $30 for only $1 worth of earnings as he expects earnings of the company to rise at a faster pace in the future owing to strong fundamentals.

So, if the P/E of a stock is rising steadily, it means that investors are assured of its inherent strength and expect some strong positives out of it.

Also, studies have revealed that stocks have seen their P/E ratios jump over 100% from their breakout point in the cycle. So, if you can pick stocks early in their breakout cycle, you can end up seeing considerable gains.

The Winning Strategy

In order to shortlist stocks that are exhibiting an increasing P/E, we chose the following as our primary screening parameters.

EPS growth estimate for the current year is greater than or equal to last year’s actual growth

Percentage change in last year EPS should be greater than or equal zero

(These two criteria point to flat earnings or a growth trend over the years.)

Percentage change in price over four weeks greater than the percentage change in price over 12 weeks

Percentage change in price over 12 weeks greater than percentage change in price over 24 weeks

(These two criteria show that price of the stock is increasing consistently over the said timeframes.)

Percentage price change for four weeks relative to the S&P 500 greater than the percentage price change for 12 weeks relative to the S&P 500

Percentage price change for 12 weeks relative to the S&P 500 greater than the percentage price change for 24 weeks relative to the S&P 500

(Here, the case for consistent price gains gets even stronger as it displays percentage price changes relative to the S&P 500.)

Percentage price change for 12 weeks is 20% higher than or equal to the percentage price change for 24 weeks, but it should not exceed 100%

(A 20% increase in the price of a stock from the breakout point gives cues of an impending uptrend. But a jump of over 100% indicates that there is limited scope for further upside and that the stock might be due for a reversal.)

In addition, we place a few other criteria that lead us to some likely outperformers.

Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2: Only companies with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) can get through.

Average 20-day Volume greater than or equal to 50,000: High trading volume implies that the stocks have adequate liquidity.

Just these few criteria narrowed down the universe from over 7,700 stocks to just 57.

Here are five out of the 57 stocks:

AMC Entertainment: The Zacks Rank #2  company operates as a theatrical exhibition company primarily in the United States and internationally. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The company has delivered a trailing four-quarter average earnings surprise of 38.01%.

Exagen: This Zacks Rank #2 company is engaged in transforming the care continuum for patients suffering from debilitating and chronic autoimmune diseases.

The company has delivered a trailing four-quarter average earnings surprise of 39.14%.

Health Catalyst: This Zacks Rank #2 company is a provider of data and analytics technology and services to healthcare organizations.

The company has delivered a trailing four-quarter average earnings surprise of 208.34%.

CLEAR Secure: This Zacks Rank #2 company platform connects you to the cards in your wallet.

The company has delivered a trailing four-quarter average earnings surprise of 77.61%.

Applied DNA Sciences: This Zacks Rank #2 company provides proprietary DNA-embedded biotechnology security solutions, using non-human DNA, that verify authenticity and protect corporate and government agencies from counterfeiting, fraud, piracy, product diversion, identity theft and unauthorized intrusion.

The company has delivered a trailing four-quarter average earnings surprise of 14.81%.

You can get the rest of the stocks on this list by signing up now for your 2-week free trial to the Research Wizard and start using this screen in your own trading. Further, you can also create your own strategies and test them first before taking the investment plunge.

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.

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

Applied DNA Sciences Inc (APDN) : Free Stock Analysis Report

AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (AMC) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Health Catalyst, Inc. (HCAT) : Free Stock Analysis Report

Exagen Inc. (XGN) : Free Stock Analysis Report

CLEAR Secure, Inc. (YOU) : Free Stock Analysis Report

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Zacks Investment Research