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George Putnam, one of the country's leading turnaround and distressed investing professionals, answers your investing questions. This is your chance to find out everything you wanted to know--but were afraid to ask--about turnaround investing.

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How important are Price-to-Earnings (P/E) ratios in evaluating turnaround stocks?

June 28, 2012

Price-to-Earnings ratios are probably the most widely used tool for comparing the relative values of different stocks. However, they are often less significant for turnaround investors. One reason for this is the fact that many turnaround stocks don’t have any earnings to plug into the P/E ratio calculation because they have been losing money prior to the commencement of their turnaround. And even when a turnaround company has begun to show earnings, the level of those earnings may still be quite low, which leads to a misleadingly high P/E ratio. The one circumstance where I do find P/E ratios helpful is where a company has a very low P/E ratio compared to its peers. This may indicate that Wall Street may have given up on the company--depressing its stock price and increasing the gain potential.

(Question submitted by Wendy M.)

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George Putnam's Favorite Stocks for 2016

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Distressed Investing Blog

Distressed Investing Blog

2015 Bankruptcy Recap: 46% Increase Fueled by Oil & Gas/Mining Industry--Further Uptick Predicted

Looking back at 2015, research reveals a 14% decline in overall business bankruptcies but a 46% uptick in public company Chapter 11 filings—with a striking 51% of those filings coming from the battered Oil & Gas/Mining sectors. Economic indicators point to further increases in corporate bankruptcy, in general, and Energy-related filings, in particular. Just a few days into 2016, this viewpoint has already been validated by Arch Coal's long-awaited $8 billion Chapter 11 filing—and continuing oil price plummets severe enough that OPEC will likely convene an emergency meeting to address "shattered" economies. Read More.

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Spotlight: Junk Bond Market

stock market advice

MarketWatch's Mark Hulbert recently tapped George's distressed investing expertise to determine the fate of the junk-bond market and what its nearly three-year decline likely means for your portfolio.

 

Hulbert writes, "What’s really going on? For insight, I turned to George Putnam, an expert in distressed-company investing. His Turnaround Letter advisory service has handily beaten the stock market over the past 15 years, according to the Hulbert Financial Digest’s tracking, by an impressive margin of 7.3 percentage points a year on an annualized basis."

 

Commenting on the rapid growth of high-yield exchange traded funds (ETF's), Putnam notes, "They have become the investment vehicle of choice for short-term investors….Those investors tend to be trend followers and, therefore, are just the opposite of being contrarian."

 

Read the full MarketWatch junk-bond article to find out what George thinks these recent indicators likely mean for future distressed investing profit.