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Thinking Small

With the Standard & Poor’s Small-Cap 600 index at its highest level since last July, a lot of investors are looking closely at lesser-known companies. Time will tell whether this is a quarterly aberration or whether smaller stocks, which have lagged blue chips in recent years, are in for an extended run. But for investors interested in researching smaller stocks, The Times asked Zacks Investment Research to screen its database of stocks below $1 billion in market capitalization and cull the top 10 based on three equally weighted criteria: the percentage change in earnings-per-share estimate for the current fiscal year, the change for the next fiscal year and the increase in insider stock holdings--all during the last 12 weeks. Some of these are slumping companies that recently posted losses, but analysts and company insiders seem to be saying, “That was then, this is now.” As with all screens, this list should be used as a tool for further research and not taken on its own as a recommendation to buy any of the stocks.

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Ticker Tues. Mkt. cap 1999 2000 Rank/Company symbol close (millions) EPS est* EPS est** 1 Pope & Talbot POP $11.63 $154 $-0.44 $0.40 2 Bellwether Expl BELW 5.50 81 0.47 0.68 3 Helix Tech HELX 23.13 502 0.38 0.93 4 LTX LTXX 12.38 435 -0.06 0.50 5 Santa Fe Snyder SFS 8.06 818 -0.05 0.17 6 Advanta ADVNB 13.63 224 1.95 2.35 7 Aztar AZR 8.69 363 0.32 0.49 8 Commwlth Ind CMIN 13.25 213 0.91 1.49 9 Longview Fibre LFB 16.81 859 0.38 0.76 10 Price Comm PR 14.25 478 -0.62 0.36

Chg. ins. Rank/Company hld*** 1 Pope & Talbot +210% 2 Bellwether Expl +18 3 Helix Tech +39 4 LTX +63 5 Santa Fe Snyder +5 6 Advanta +982 7 Aztar +6 8 Commwlth Ind +33 9 Longview Fibre +1 10 Price Comm +2

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* Earnings per share estimate for the company’s current fiscal year, based on analysts’ consensus

** Earnings per share estimate for the company’s next fiscal year, based on analysts’ consensus

*** Percentage increase in insider stock holdings over the last 12 weeks

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Source: Zacks Investment Research (https://www.zacks.com)


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