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One helpful way to gauge profitability growth is with the ratio EBITDA/common equity (where EBITDA is earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization). Because common equity is in the ratio, it measures the return to stockholder investment, and it allows for comparison between firms of different sizes.

We ran a screen on stocks seeing high growth in EBITDA/common equity, comparing the trailing-twelve-month ratio to the five-year average. To control for low interest payments, we also screened for companies seeing an increase in the interest coverage ratio year-over-year. Finally, we screened for stocks seeing significant net buying interest from institutional investors over the current quarter.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.

Do you think the smart money is calling it right on these names? Use this list as a starting-off point for your own analysis.

List sorted by net institutional purchases as a% of share float.

1. Alliance Holdings GP, L.P. (NASDAQ:AHGP): Nonmetallic Mineral Mining Industry. Market cap of $2.77B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 1.62 vs. 5-year average at 1.27. TTM interest coverage ratio at 11.51 vs. prior-TTM at 8.92. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.3M, which is 41.14% of the company's 3.16M share float. The stock has gained 28.25% over the last year.

2. American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG): Property & Casualty Insurance Industry. Market cap of $43.90B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.61 vs. 5-year average at 0.36. TTM interest coverage ratio at 4.37 vs. prior-TTM at 2.34. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 81.4M, which is 35.63% of the company's 228.46M share float. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 7.85% over the last week.

3. Gulfport Energy Corp. (NASDAQ:GPOR): Independent Oil & Gas Industry. Market cap of $1.43B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.48 vs. 5-year average at 0.14. TTM interest coverage ratio at 36.63 vs. prior-TTM at 18.85. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 8.2M, which is 19.75% of the company's 41.52M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.39). The stock has gained 127.38% over the last year.

4. E*TRADE Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:ETFC): Investment Brokerage Industry. Market cap of $3.25B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.10 vs. 5-year average at -0.16. TTM interest coverage ratio at 2.03 vs. prior-TTM at -5.70. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 29.5M, which is 12.35% of the company's 238.96M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.07). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 9.53% over the last week.

5. Nordson Corporation (NASDAQ:NDSN): Diversified Machinery Industry. Market cap of $3.01B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.63 vs. 5-year average at 0.32. TTM interest coverage ratio at 79.56 vs. prior-TTM at -10.96. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 5.9M, which is 10.42% of the company's 56.64M share float. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 20.02%.

6. Stillwater Mining Co. (NYSE:SWC): Industrial Metals & Minerals Industry. Market cap of $1.52B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.32 vs. 5-year average at 0.13. TTM interest coverage ratio at 33.91 vs. prior-TTM at 8.10. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 10.6M, which is 10.37% of the company's 102.21M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.12). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 8.92% over the last week. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 12.81%.

7. FEI Co. (NASDAQ:FEIC): Scientific & Technical Instruments Industry. Market cap of $1.23B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.20 vs. 5-year average at 0.12. TTM interest coverage ratio at 55.46 vs. prior-TTM at 12.67. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 4.0M, which is 10.27% of the company's 38.94M share float. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 13.2%.

8. Cepheid (NASDAQ:CPHD): Scientific & Technical Instruments Industry. Market cap of $2.13B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.17 vs. 5-year average at 0.01. TTM interest coverage ratio at 1.49 vs. prior-TTM at -1.23. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 6.1M, which is 9.95% of the company's 61.31M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 11.81% (equivalent to 11.55 days of average volume). The stock has gained 118.59% over the last year.

9. Safeway Inc. (NYSE:SWY): Grocery Stores Industry. Market cap of $6.33B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.48 vs. 5-year average at 0.39. TTM interest coverage ratio at 4.03 vs. prior-TTM at -2.44. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 34.3M, which is 9.86% of the company's 348.04M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 11.15% (equivalent to 6.53 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 24%.

10. Equity One Inc. (NYSE:EQY): REIT Industry. Market cap of $1.99B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.18 vs. 5-year average at 0.15. TTM interest coverage ratio at 1.94 vs. prior-TTM at 1.34. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 6.8M, which is 9.74% of the company's 69.85M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 12.55% (equivalent to 9.63 days of average volume). The stock has gained 17.49% over the last year.

11. Coinstar Inc. (CSTR): Specialty Retail, Other Industry. Market cap of $1.30B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.67 vs. 5-year average at 0.47. TTM interest coverage ratio at 6.00 vs. prior-TTM at 2.97. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.1M, which is 8.34% of the company's 25.17M share float. Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.82, and P/FCF ratio at 8. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 34.27% (equivalent to 9.52 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 27.22%.

12. Stone Energy Corp. (NYSE:SGY): Independent Oil & Gas Industry. Market cap of $1.26B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 1.02 vs. 5-year average at -0.11. TTM interest coverage ratio at 20.80 vs. prior-TTM at 4.04. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.6M, which is 8.09% of the company's 44.48M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.53). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 10.89%.

13. Virgin Media, Inc. (NASDAQ:VMED): CATV Systems Industry. Market cap of $7.43B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 1.22 vs. 5-year average at 0.52. TTM interest coverage ratio at 1.24 vs. prior-TTM at 0.26. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 23.5M, which is 7.57% of the company's 310.46M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 8.15% (equivalent to 5.45 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 14.6%.

14. Duke Realty Corp. (NYSE:DRE): REIT Industry. Market cap of $2.76B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.36 vs. 5-year average at 0.27. TTM interest coverage ratio at 1.38 vs. prior-TTM at -0.50. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 18.1M, which is 7.19% of the company's 251.66M share float. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 5.38% over the last week.

15. Veeco Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ:VECO): Semiconductor Equipment & Materials Industry. Market cap of $1.50B. TTM EBITDA/common equity at 0.46 vs. 5-year average at 0.21. TTM interest coverage ratio at 66.28 vs. prior-TTM at 15.11. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.5M, which is 7.07% of the company's 35.37M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.43). The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 29.74% (equivalent to 7.12 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 10.77%.

*EBITDA/common equity and interest coverage data sourced from Screener.co, institutional data sourced from Fidelity, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: 15 Stocks with High Profitability Growth Being Bought Up by the Smart Money