A company is a limited liability legal entity whose purpose is to produce a product or deliver a service to the marketplace for profit. A company is considered to be the next step in the evolution of the sole proprietorship.
Top wealth creators don’t have to be the fastest-growing companies. In an environment where institutional investors are buying earnings safety and dividend income, consistency and reliability are top financial attributes.
And there actually aren’t a lot of companies able to provide consistency in business growth, especially among mature enterprises that throw off excess cash in the form of dividends.
One company that has proven to do so is Airgas, Inc. (ARG) out of Radnor, Pennsylvania.
This business is what I consider to be investment grade. The company sells industrial and medical gases, refrigerants, and ammonia products. It’s one of the leading producers of atmospheric gases in North America with more than 1,100 locations.
In its most recent quarter (ended June 30, 2014), the company’s sales grew three percent to $1.31 billion compared to the same quarter last year. Diluted earnings per share grew four percent comparatively.
Management noted that sales to energy-related customers produced organic sales growth, but sectors such as mining and heavy manufacturing are slow. The company even referred to its most recent quarter as “sluggish.”
This stock has been trading range-bound over the last year, but produced very good capital gains over the last 10 years.
As is the case with most equities securities, the stock trades on future business conditions and growth expectations for its next fiscal year are solid.
The company forecasts its sales will grow at a rate in the low single-digits in the current quarter and that diluted earnings per share will be between $1.27 and $1.32, representing a gain of zero to four percent comparatively.
In its most recent quarter, the company … Read More
There are lots of companies that are one-time wonders. They experience explosive growth (or the expectation of it), plateau, and very often collapse on the weight of an overly aggressive business plan.
The marketplace is full of these types of businesses, but what’s not in great supply is a business that provides consistency—both in terms of operational growth and investment return to stockholders.
One business that falls into the category of consistent growers is The Toro Company (TTC). This is a really good enterprise operating in an industry that doesn’t mind spending money on equipment.
Toro is based in Bloomington, Minnesota and the company manufactures professional turf equipment for golf courses. Toro also makes sprinkler heads and all kinds of irrigation products for sports fields, golf courses, and home systems. The company owns the “Lawn Boy” brand. Toro is a very good business and has proven to be a very good wealth creator for investors.
The company’s medium-term stock chart is featured below:
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
This isn’t the fastest growing enterprise in the world, but it is consistent. The company’s most recent quarter beat Wall Street consensus on earnings and revenues and management increased its full-year 2014 guidance.
According to the company, its fiscal third quarter (ended August 1, 2014) saw revenues grow a solid 11.3% to a record $567.5 million. Sales growth was driven by what management reported as strong retail demand for both its professional and residential products.
Bottom-line earnings came in at $50.0 million, or $0.87 per share, compared to $40.1 million, or $0.68 per share, the previous year, which is very good improvement.
Double-digit … Read More
The resilience of this stock market is uncanny. Just when transportation stocks, a leading market sector at any time, took a well-deserved break, components turned upward and are once again pushing record highs.
Union Pacific Corporation (UNP) is a benchmark stock in transportation. It’s up fivefold since the stock market low in 2009 and looks to have continued upward price momentum.
This is an exceptional performance for such a mature, old economy type of enterprise. The position has a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of approximately 17 with a current dividend yield of 1.8%.
Three weeks ago, Union Pacific increased its quarterly dividend 10% to $0.50 a share, payable October 1, 2014 to shareholders of record on August 29, 2014.
In three of its last five quarters, the company has increased its quarterly dividend at a double-digit rate and as much as anything else, this is responsible for its great stock market performance.
Union Pacific had an exceptionally good second quarter. Freight revenues grew 10%, driven by gains in freight volume and rising prices.
The company’s operating ratio, which is key in the railroad industry, hit an all-time quarterly record of 63.5%, and management bought back 8.3 million of its own shares during the quarter, spending $806 million.
It’s a very good time to be in the railroad business. Not only are the pure-play rail companies mostly doing well, but the railroad services sector is also experiencing great business conditions.
The housing market picked up steam in July after some stalling in the first half of the year, which was negatively affected by bad winter conditions in the first quarter. Housing starts surged 15.7% to a seasonally adjusted 1.09 million units in July, the market’s highest production in eight months. This break of one million units is key. Plus, the lagging building permits number was equally strong at an annualized 1.05 million units, up 7.7% year-over-year and 8.1% sequentially versus June.
The metrics clearly indicate a housing market that is strong and growing. Low interest rates continue to be the catalyst that is driving the housing market with the help of an improving jobs market.
An area that I continue to favor going forward in the housing market is the home construction and renovation supplies sector, as homeowners move to renovate their homes.
In this segment, the “Best of Breed” is The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE/HD), which beat earnings-per-share (EPS) estimates and revenues in its second-quarter earnings season. The company also reported an increase of 5.8% on company-wide same-store sales in the quarter, including a 6.4% year-over-year rise in the U.S. housing market. The Home Depot can be a great stock for buy-and-hold investors, but with a market cap of more than $120 billion, there are alternative growth plays investors may want to consider that aren’t so expensive.
In the small-cap construction and renovation housing market, you may want to take a look at a stock like Builders FirstSource, Inc. (NASDAQ/BLDR), which has a market cap of $669 million.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Builders FirstSource focuses on the residential new … Read More
A top stock for investors and a strong equity market leader has been, and continues to be, The Walt Disney Company (DIS).
It’s a Dow Jones component, a solid dividend payer and, similar to other dividend-paying blue chips, it’s offered earnings (growth) safety to date. Institutional investors have bid this business tremendously.
The company’s latest quarter, its third fiscal quarter of 2014 ended June 30, 2014, produced a very good increase in sales, from $11.58 billion in the same quarter of 2013 to $12.47 billion.
Earnings grew impressively as well, coming in at $2.25 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share, compared to $1.85 billion, or $1.01 per diluted share, the year earlier.
These are impressive gains for such a mature business, and they support the company’s strong capital gains on the stock market.
Disney’s two-year stock chart is featured below:
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Within the numbers, there’s an excellent snapshot of what’s happening in the entertainment industry. Business conditions are really good.
The company’s largest operations are its media networks division, which includes cable networks and broadcasting. This division continues to grow and remains highly profitable.
Also growing is Disney’s theme park business, with fiscal third-quarter revenues coming in at $3.98 billion, compared to $3.68 billion last year.
Along with Shanghai Shendi (Group) Co., Ltd., Disney is building the Shanghai Disney Resort theme park for approximately $5.5 billion. Completion is expected to be early next year. Shanghai Shendi owns 57% of the park, while Disney has majority ownership in its management.
The company noted that it is seeing higher attendance and higher average guest spending at its domestic … Read More
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