Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights: PharMerica, First Defiance Financial, American Railcar Industries and Big 5 Sporting

    Zacks Investment Ideas feature highlights: PharMerica, First Defiance
       Financial, American Railcar Industries and Big 5 Sporting Goods

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, April 15, 2013

CHICAGO, April 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Today, Zacks Investment Ideas feature
highlights Features: PharMerica Corp (NYSE:PMC), First Defiance Financial
Corp. (Nasdaq:FDEF), American Railcar Industries (Nasdaq:ARII) and Big 5
Sporting Goods Corporation (Nasdaq:BGFV).

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101027/ZIRLOGO)

4 Cheap Small-Cap Stocks

It's well known that stocks as an asset class have delivered strong returns
over the long run. But if you dig a little deeper into the numbers, you notice
that some corners of the stock market have performed better than others.

In particular, small cap stocks have outperformed large cap stocks over time.

According to research from investment management firm Royce & Associates, from
1926-2011, small cap stocks delivered average annual returns of 11.3% compared
to 9.5% for the larger S&P 500.

Not impressed? Consider the growth of $10,000 over that period. With the S&P,
you would've wound up with $23.4 million. Not too shabby. But with small caps,
you would have amassed a remarkable $100.4 million!

And if you zoom in a little further, you'll see that small cap value stocks
outperform small cap growth stocks. According to Royce & Associates, from
1979-2011 the Russell 2000 Value index returned an average of 13.0% per year,
which is a whopping 400 basis points more than the Russell 2000 Growth index
average of 9.0%.

Hidden Gems

The outperformance of value stocks shouldn't be a surprise to most. Investors
are often too optimistic about the growth prospects of glamour stocks and end
up paying too much for a future that doesn't materialize. Similarly, they tend
to be too pessimistic about the future for value stocks, allowing astute
investors to "buy low" and wait for business to turn around.

But why do small caps tend to outperform their larger peers?

There are a couple of theories for their strong performance:

  oLess Efficiency: Small caps stocks are more likely to be mispriced by the
    market because they tend to have less analyst coverage and are often
    overlooked by large institutional investors.
  oHigher Risk Premium: Smaller companies are riskier than larger companies
    and usually exhibit more volatility in their prices, so investors require
    a larger required return to compensate for this risk.

In either case, if you're willing to live with a little more risk, then you
might be able to generate stronger stock market returns with small cap value
stocks.

4 Small Cap Value Stocks

Using the Research Wizard screening program, I searched for stocks with a
market cap between $150 million and $1 billion and low valuation multiples. I
also added criteria that a stock needs to have a Zacks Rank of 1 (Strong Buy).
Why? Because this indicates rising earnings estimates, and stocks with strong
earnings momentum are much more likely to outperform the market than stocks
with declining earnings estimates.

Below are 4 small cap value stocks with strong earnings momentum from the
screen:

1. PharMerica Corp (NYSE:PMC)

PharMerica provides pharmacy products and services to residents and patients
in skilled nursing facilities, nursing centers, assisted living facilities,
hospitals, and other long-term alternative care settings. It has a market cap
of $424 million. Shares of Pharmerica trade at a very attractive 9.8x 12-month
forward earnings and 7.9x cash flow. This is in spite of the fact that the
company has delivered 10 straight positive earnings surprises. It is a Zacks
Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock.

2. First Defiance Financial Corp. (Nasdaq:FDEF) is a unitary thrift holding
company focused on traditional banking and property and casualty, life and
group health insurance products through its three subsidiaries: First Federal
Bank of the Midwest, First Insurance Group of the Midwest and First Defiance
Risk Management Inc. With a market capitalization of just $228 million, it's
not a stock on many investors' radars. But with a forward P/E ratio of just
10.8 and a price to book ratio of only 0.8, perhaps it should be. First
Defiance has also seen a big jump in earnings estimates since it delivered a
big positive earnings surprise on January 28.

3. American Railcar Industries (Nasdaq:ARII)

American Railcar manufactures hopper and tank railcars and has a market cap of
$911 million. The company reported record profit margins and earnings for
2012, and it also reported an average positive earnings surprise of 42% over
the last 4 quarters. It is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock. Despite this,
shares trade at a relatively modest 11.0x 12-month forward earnings and 10.3x
cash flow.

4. Big 5 Sporting Goods Corporation (Nasdaq:BGFV)

Big Five Sporting Goods is a sporting goods retailer with 414 stores in 12
states in the western U.S. It has a market cap of $331 million. The company
has delivered three consecutive positive earnings surprises and has seen a
sharp increase in earnings estimates for both 2013 and 2014 over the last
several months. It is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock. Shares trade at a
very reasonable 13.8x forward earnings and 9.8x cash flow.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking to stack the odds of market-beating returns in your favor,
then you need to explore small cap value stocks with strong earnings momentum.
These four all fit that criteria.



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