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One 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.


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Do you think these companies have strong operations? Use this list as a starting-off point for your own analysis.

List sorted by net institutional shares purchased as a percent of share float.

1. HollyFrontier Corporation Commo (HFC): Operates as an independent petroleum refiner and marketer in the United States. Market cap of $6.95B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.95 vs. 5-year average at 0.62. TTM interest coverage at 10.10 vs. prior-TTM at 1.88. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 19.3M, which is 18.51% of the company's 104.28M share float. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 8.56% over the last week.

2. Equity One Inc. (EQY): Engages in the ownership, management, acquisition, renovation, and development of neighborhood and community shopping centers in the United States. Market cap of $1.76B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.18 vs. 5-year average at 0.15. TTM interest coverage at 1.94 vs. prior-TTM at 1.34. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 9.8M, which is 17.11% of the company's 57.29M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 11.41% (equivalent to 7.71 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 11.42%.

3. Alliance Holdings GP, L.P. (AHGP): Produces and markets coal primarily to utilities and industrial users in the United States. Market cap of $2.82B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 1.62 vs. 5-year average at 1.27. TTM interest coverage at 11.51 vs. prior-TTM at 8.92. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 486.9K, which is 15.22% of the company's 3.20M share float. The stock has gained 11.59% over the last year.

4. Quicksilver Resources Inc. (KWK): Engages in the exploration, development, and production of unconventional natural gas onshore in North America. Market cap of $1.41B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.96 vs. 5-year average at 0.30. TTM interest coverage at 3.05 vs. prior-TTM at 2.49. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 16.4M, which is 12.20% of the company's 134.45M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 24.55% (equivalent to 6.99 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.38% over the last week although it has performed poorly over the last month, losing 11.8%.

5. E*TRADE Financial Corporation (ETFC): Provides online brokerage and related products and services primarily to individual retail investors in the United States. Market cap of $2.66B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.10 vs. 5-year average at -0.16. TTM interest coverage at 2.03 vs. prior-TTM at -5.70. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 29.1M, which is 12.18% of the company's 238.98M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.11). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 19.95%.

6. Western Refining Inc. (WNR): Operates as an independent crude oil refiner and marketer of refined products in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Market cap of $1.53B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.62 vs. 5-year average at 0.38. TTM interest coverage at 2.11 vs. prior-TTM at -0.27. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 6.0M, which is 11.17% of the company's 53.73M share float. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 9.82% over the last week.

7. Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (AMLN): Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of drug candidates for the treatment of diabetes, obesity, and other diseases. Market cap of $1.46B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at -0.16 vs. 5-year average at -0.41. TTM interest coverage at -3.72 vs. prior-TTM at -7.72. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 14.4M, which is 11% of the company's 130.88M share float. The stock has lost 52.83% over the last year.

8. Gulfport Energy Corp. (GPOR): Develops, and produces oil and gas in the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Market cap of $1.45B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.48 vs. 5-year average at 0.14. TTM interest coverage at 36.63 vs. prior-TTM at 18.85. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.3M, which is 7.95% of the company's 41.52M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.44). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 10.03% over the last week.

9. AbitibiBowater Inc. Common Stoc (ABH): Paper & Paper Products Industry. Market cap of $1.49B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 6.11 vs. 5-year average at 0.58. TTM interest coverage at 7.22 vs. prior-TTM at -2.13. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 6.4M, which is 7.77% of the company's 82.37M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 11.27% (equivalent to 19.75 days of average volume).

10. Universal Display Corp. (PANL): Engages in the research, development, and commercialization of organic light emitting diode (OLED) technologies and materials for use in flat panel display, solid-state lighting, and other product applications. Market cap of $2.19B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at -0.03 vs. 5-year average at -0.22. TTM interest coverage at -0.65 vs. prior-TTM at -5.79. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.4M, which is 7.54% of the company's 31.82M share float. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 6.91% over the last week. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 13.51%.

11. MGM Resorts International (MGM): Operates casino resorts in the United States. Market cap of $4.89B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.93 vs. 5-year average at 0.26. TTM interest coverage at 3.31 vs. prior-TTM at -1.84. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 18.9M, which is 6.11% of the company's 309.27M share float. The stock has lost 10.38% over the last year.

12. Dendreon Corp. (DNDN): Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of therapeutics to enhance cancer treatment options for patients. Market cap of $1.39B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at -0.66 vs. 5-year average at -0.61. TTM interest coverage at -17.79 vs. prior-TTM at -462.13. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 8.0M, which is 5.78% of the company's 138.42M share float. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 8.89% over the last week.

13. FEI Co. (FEIC): FEI Company supplies instruments for nanoscale imaging, analysis, and prototyping that enable research, development, and manufacturing in industrial, academic, and research institutional applications. Market cap of $1.25B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.20 vs. 5-year average at 0.12. TTM interest coverage at 55.46 vs. prior-TTM at 12.67. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.0M, which is 5.47% of the company's 36.59M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 7.53% (equivalent to 5.97 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 8.5% over the last week.

14. Provident Energy Ltd. (PVX): Engages in the natural gas liquids (NGLs) infrastructure and marketing business in Canada and the United States. Market cap of $2.40B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.37 vs. 5-year average at 0.17. TTM interest coverage at 4.71 vs. prior-TTM at 3.76. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 13.6M, which is 5.04% of the company's 269.61M share float. The stock has gained 21.96% over the last year.

15. Brookdale Senior Living Inc. (BKD): Operates senior living communities in the United States. Market cap of $1.78B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.31 vs. 5-year average at 0.17. TTM interest coverage at 0.36 vs. prior-TTM at 0.30. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 4.9M, which is 5.01% of the company's 97.80M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 3.04). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 8.66% over the last week.

16. Jabil Circuit Inc. (JBL): Provides electronic manufacturing services and solutions in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Market cap of $4.29B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.52 vs. 5-year average at 0.18. TTM interest coverage at 6.08 vs. prior-TTM at 4.30. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 9.4M, which is 4.97% of the company's 189.26M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.03). Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.91, and P/FCF ratio at 13.89. The stock has had a good month, gaining 11.04%.

17. Kennametal Inc. (KMT): Manufactures and supplies tooling, engineered components, and advanced materials consumed in production processes worldwide. Market cap of $2.86B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.28 vs. 5-year average at 0.18. TTM interest coverage at 12.60 vs. prior-TTM at 5.61. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 4.0M, which is 4.95% of the company's 80.75M share float. The stock has gained 7.51% over the last year.

18. Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS): Develops, and operates various integrated resort properties primarily in the United States, Macau, and Singapore. Market cap of $32.57B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.42 vs. 5-year average at 0.24. TTM interest coverage at 6.83 vs. prior-TTM at 1.18. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 19.1M, which is 4.78% of the company's 399.97M share float. The stock has gained 14.94% over the last year.

19. MasTec, Inc. (MTZ): Engages in the engineering, building, installation, maintenance, and upgrade of energy, communication, and utility infrastructure in North America. Market cap of $1.67B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at 0.46 vs. 5-year average at 0.30. TTM interest coverage at 8.33 vs. prior-TTM at 4.05. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.2M, which is 3.49% of the company's 63.04M share float. Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.83, and P/FCF ratio at 11.38. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 10.34% (equivalent to 7.53 days of average volume). The stock has gained 69.67% over the last year.

20. Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. (IVN): Operates as an exploration and development company. Market cap of $11.95B. TTM EBITDA/Common equity at -0.11 vs. 5-year average at -0.57. TTM interest coverage at -1.76 vs. prior-TTM at -1.79. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 9.1M, which is 3.45% of the company's 263.77M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 5.91% (equivalent to 5.63 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 20.89%.

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

Source: 20 Smart Money Picks With Impressive Growth In Profitability