Oberweis: In Fearful Times, Look to Small-Caps

While investors often rush into larger blue-chip stocks and Treasury bonds when market fears are high, newsletter guru Jim Oberweis says that’s often the wrong move to make.

“In my experience, some of the best gains on a rebound are seen in high-growth stocks that are usually too expensive to pass our valuation requirements,” Oberweis writes in his latest Forbes column. “These leading companies have exceptional sales and earnings growth, solid market positions with high barriers to entry and strong operating margins with the ­potential to expand. Everybody loves these stocks, and in normal times such companies trade at high multiples. It’s only when fear and irrational selling rule that patient investors can snap them up at reasonable prices.”

Oberweis suggests buying high-growth small-caps (stocks with market caps under $1 billion and reported revenue and earnings growth greater than 30% in the most recent quarter) when their average price/earnings ratio falls 40% below its 10-year average. He says his team’s research has found that such opportunities are few and far between — the only time it occurred over the past decade came in late 2008, he says, “until now”. He offers four small-cap growth picks that he thinks are particularly attractive, including Francesca’s Holdings, a young women’s apparel and accessories chain.