Upside (www.horizonpublishing.com), a fine newsletter that specializes in small- and mid-cap stocks, has come up with a list of eight "across-the-board values" -- companies rated as excellent buys because they scored best using 10 value metrics over three different holding periods (three, six and 12 months). By the way, in a test going back to 1992, the most accurate predictor of stock performance among those metrics was the ratio of a stock's price to its free cash flow per share (that is, cash profit that doesn't have to be plowed back into capital expenditures to keep the business humming). A low P/CF ratio is a sign of a good deal. Another good predictor, as we have said many times, is the ratio of price to sales per share. Here are five of Upside's eight recommendations: Barnes & Noble (BKS), book chain; ElkCorp (ELK), diversified manufacturing and engineering; Gulf Island Fabrication (GIFI), offshore oil drilling platforms (also a top choice of Burkenroad Reports, the Tulane University student stock-analysis program); StanCorp Financial Group (SFG), insurance; and Electronics Boutique Holdings (ELBO), video game and software retailer. Price-to-earnings ratios range between 11 and 15. Check them out.
-- James K. Glassman