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Hedging 7 Stocks Rated "Substantially Outperform"

In an article earlier this month ("After Enron: Hedging 6 Stocks with High AGR Equity Risk Factors") we looked at stocks rated "substantially underperform market" by GovernanceMetrics International (GMI), which uses a proprietary quantitative approach to analyze the financial reports and governance practices of public companies. We mentioned then that the best-known indicator GMI uses is its Accounting and Governance Risk (AGR) ratings, which range from "Very Aggressive" to "Conservative." In that post, we also mentioned that GMI uses its AGR ratings to derive its AGR Equity Risk Factor, which it considers to be a leading indicator of share performance.

Using Fidelity's screener, on Thursday I screened for optionable stocks with the best AGR Equity Risk Factor rating, "substantially outperform market." In the table below are 7 stocks rated "substantially outperform market," along with the costs, as of Thursday's close, of hedging them against greater than 20% declines over the next several months, using optimal puts.

A Comparison

For comparison purposes, I've added the SPDR S&P 500 Trust ETF (NYSEARCA:SPY). First, a reminder about what optimal puts are, and a note about why I've used 20% as a decline threshold. Then, a screen capture showing the optimal puts to hedge one of the stocks listed below, Liberty Interactive, Inc. (NASDAQ:LINTA).

About Optimal Puts

Optimal puts are the ones that will give you the level of protection you want at the lowest possible cost. Portfolio Armor uses an algorithm developed by a finance Ph.D. to sort through and analyze all of the available puts for your position, scanning for the optimal ones.

Decline Thresholds

In this context, "threshold" refers to the maximum decline you are willing to risk in the value of your position in a security. You can enter any percentage you like for a decline threshold when scanning for optimal puts (the higher the percentage though, the greater the chance you will find optimal puts for your position). I have used 20% thresholds for each of the securities below. Essentially, 20% is a large enough threshold that it reduces the cost of hedging, but not so large that it precludes a recovery.

The Optimal Puts to Hedge Liberty Interactive, Inc.

Below is a screen capture showing the optimal put option contract to hedge 100 shares of LINTA against a greater than 20% decline as of Thursday's close. A note about these optimal put options and their cost: To be conservative, Portfolio Armor calculated the cost based on the ask price of the optimal puts. In practice an investor can often purchase puts for a lower price, i.e., some price between the bid and the ask (the same is true of the names in the table below).

Hedging Costs As Of Thursday's Close

Aside from the ETF SPY, listed at the bottom for comparison purposes, all of the stocks below had AGR Equity Risk Factor ratings of "Substantially Outperform Market." The hedging costs are presented as percentages of position value.

Symbol

Name

Hedging Cost

DIS The Walt Disney Company 3.74%***
PGR Progressive Corp. 3.32%*
AEO

American Eagle Outfitters

3.92%*

LINTA

Liberty Interactive, Inc.

11.7%***

VMED Virgin Media, Inc. 6.56%**
FL Foot Locker, Inc. 6.46%*
UNM Unum Group 7.31%**
SPY SPDR S&P 500 Trust 2.12%**

*Based on optimal puts expiring in May, 2012

**Based on optimal puts expiring in June, 2012

***Based on optimal puts expiring in July, 2012

Source: Hedging 7 Stocks GMI Predicts Will Substantially Outperform The Market