Growth stocks are attractive to many investors, as above-average financial growth helps these stocks easily grab the market's attention and produce exceptional returns. But finding a great growth stock is not easy at all.
In addition to volatility, these stocks carry above-average risk by their very nature. Also, one could end up losing from a stock whose growth story is actually over or nearing its end.
However, it's pretty easy to find cutting-edge growth stocks with the help of the Zacks Growth Style Score (part of the Zacks Style Scores system), which looks beyond the traditional growth attributes to analyze a company's real growth prospects.
Our proprietary system currently recommends Universal Truckload Services (ULH - Free Report) as one such stock. This company not only has a favorable Growth Score, but also carries a top Zacks Rank.
Studies have shown that stocks with the best growth features consistently outperform the market. And for stocks that have a combination of a Growth Score of A or B and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy), returns are even better.
Here are three of the most important factors that make the stock of this trucking and logistics company a great growth pick right now.
Earnings growth is arguably the most important factor, as stocks exhibiting exceptionally surging profit levels tend to attract the attention of most investors. For growth investors, double-digit earnings growth is highly preferable, as it is often perceived as an indication of strong prospects (and stock price gains) for the company under consideration.
While the historical EPS growth rate for Universal Truckload is 18.2%, investors should actually focus on the projected growth. The company's EPS is expected to grow 19.4% this year, crushing the industry average, which calls for EPS growth of -3.5%.
Cash Flow Growth
Cash is the lifeblood of any business, but higher-than-average cash flow growth is more beneficial and important for growth-oriented companies than for mature companies. That's because, high cash accumulation enables these companies to undertake new projects without raising expensive outside funds.
Right now, year-over-year cash flow growth for Universal Truckload is 17.8%, which is higher than many of its peers. In fact, the rate compares to the industry average of -0.1%.
While investors should actually consider the current cash flow growth, it's worth taking a look at the historical rate too for putting the current reading into proper perspective. The company's annualized cash flow growth rate has been 11.3% over the past 3-5 years versus the industry average of 8.8%.
Promising Earnings Estimate Revisions
Beyond the metrics outlined above, investors should consider the trend in earnings estimate revisions. A positive trend is a plus here. Empirical research shows that there is a strong correlation between trends in earnings estimate revisions and near-term stock price movements.
The current-year earnings estimates for Universal Truckload have been revising upward. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has surged 23.1% over the past month.
Universal Truckload has not only earned a Growth Score of A based on a number of factors, including the ones discussed above, but it also carries a Zacks Rank #2 because of the positive earnings estimate revisions.
You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
This combination indicates that Universal Truckload is a potential outperformer and a solid choice for growth investors.