One of the most common stock screens is the price-to-earnings multiple, as it places a stock’s valuation in the context of its actual (or projected) earnings numbers, providing a basic metric for fundamental analysis. While we primarily use our database of quarterly 13F filings from hedge funds and other notable investors to help us develop investment strategies (we have found, for example, that the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds earn an average excess return of 18 percentage points per year), we also like to screen picks from top managers in search of free initial investment ideas. Here are the five largest positions in billionaire David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management’s most recent 13F with both trailing and forward P/Es of (or see the full list of stocks Appaloosa reported owning):
The fund cut its stake in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) by 41% between January and March but still owned 540,000 shares. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was the most popular stock among hedge funds during the first quarter of 2013 (check out the full top ten list) after having temporarily lost its place to AIG towards the end of last year. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) trades at 10 times earnings, whether we consider trailing numbers or forward estimates for the fiscal year ending in September 2014, and that’s before accounting for the company’s cash hoard. The market is pricing in further earnings declines, and so it might be worth watching for any signs Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s business might be stabilizing.
Appaloosa reported close to 11 million shares of US Airways Group Inc (NYSE:LCC). Many investors despise notoriously unprofitable airlines, with the result being that the stock is valued at only 6 times forward earnings estimates. US Airways Group Inc (NYSE:LCC) is acquiring American Airlines out of bankruptcy, which some analysts believe could help support price increases among legacy carries and on shares US Airways Group Inc (NYSE:LCC)-American routes in particular. That’s a possibility, and we do think that the stock is worth a look, but we would be somewhat concerned about integration risk and might prefer the company’s peers.
$18 billion market cap hospital stock HCA Holdings Inc (NYSE:HCA) was another of Tepper’s cheap stock picks with the filing disclosing ownership of 4.3 million shares. While the company’s revenue was about flat last quarter compared to the first quarter of 2012, net income fell considerably. Wall Street analysts are projecting a reversal, as shown by the fact that the trailing and forward P/Es are 13 and 11 respectively. Those valuations do place HCA Holdings Inc (NYSE:HCA) close to value territory, though as with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) we’d have to be more confident that the company can maintain its current business.