Joel Greenblatt's Magic Formula Investing (MFI) strategy is unequivocally a value strategy, ranking the entire universe of equities by earnings yield (a proxy for price-to-earnings multiple) and return on tangible invested capital. The stocks that rank at the top are, by design, cheaply priced against their past earnings, and have earned very high returns on retained capital.
The key question, though, is can those high returns be re-invested at similar returns to generate an increasing revenue base? Without growth, there is a limited amount of stock appreciation potential.
In light of this, I went looking for current MFI stocks that have delivered significant, trailing twelve month revenue increases against the prior year's period. This gives us a list of value priced stocks that have delivered good recent growth - often a sign that they will be able to continue growing in the near future.
Instead of doing a straight statistical list of the fastest growers in MFI, I've filtered them down to 5 stocks where the revenue increases are likely to be indicative of a growing underlying market, instead of a one time aberration. For example, the fastest growing stock in MFI is Acadia Pharmaceuticals (ACAD), a development stage biopharmaceutical firm, with an over 300% revenue increase. However, this is entirely due to a one-time $35 million dollar milestone payment in December of last year - not really a sustainable driver of revenue growth.
Within that framework, here are 5 interesting, value priced growth stocks:
1) GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT)
TTM year-over-year Revenue Growth: 64%
GT Advanced Technologies is a production equipment provider for 3 areas: photovoltaic solar panels, polysilicion (the material used in panels), and sapphire crystals used for LED lighting production. While the solar and LED markets both seem to be in an oversupplied state at current, there is little question that both (especially LED) are set to grow rapidly over the next several years. This could make GTAT an attractive play at a currently dirt cheap valuation, for patient owners.
2) KLA-Tencor (KLAC)
TTM year-over-year Revenue Growth: 52%
KLA-Tencor is also an equipment provider, for semiconductor production. The firm has a dominant position in yield management and process monitoring equipment. Some of the growth here is coming on a cyclical spike off of 2009's recessionary levels, but KLA's $3.3 billion in revenues over the past 12 months is still a company record. Given the proliferation of electronics in almost everything from mobile devices to automobiles to toys, there remains an undercurrent of growth that KLAC is set to benefit from for many years.
3) Motorcar Parts of America (MPAA)
TTM year-over-year Revenue Growth: 31%
Motorcar Parts takes old alternators and starters and remanufactures them for the "do-it-yourself" auto repair market. The key underlying driver of revenue growth is an aging auto fleet, as new car sales have trailed the scappage rate for several years now. Tack-on aquisitions have served the firm well, and MPAA has also improved their cost structure by moving operations to Mexico and Malaysia. One of the best operated small auto parts businesses you will find.
4) TeleNav (TNAV)
TTM year-over-year Revenue Growth: 24%
TeleNav offers its GPS Navigator voice-guided navigation software for mobile phones and other general-purpose computing devices. Contracts with Sprint and AT&T comprise the bulk of its business. This is a tough one, as there is a plethora of competition, much of it free, such as Android's built-in navigation app. However, TeleNav could make a nice acquisition candidate for one of the mobile OS providers looking for a quality navigation offering to add to or improve upon existing offerings.
5) DG (DGIT)
TTM year-over-year Revenue Growth: 23% (not including yesterday's quarter)
DG provides digital delivery of traditional television and radio spots, as opposed to traditional physical "dub and ship" methods. The transition alone is attractive enough, as both television and radio move to digital distribution technologies. DG has also entered the online video ad creation/distribution business and integrated it with its TV offerings, creating a way to distribute video ads between the two mediums. There are a lot of underlying growth trends at play here.
Disclosure: Steve owns GTAT