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. However, it isn't easy to find a great growth stock.
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, the task of finding cutting-edge growth stocks is made easy 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.
AZO Quick Quote AZO - Free Report) is on the list of such stocks currently recommended by our proprietary system. In addition to a favorable Growth Score, it carries a top Zacks Rank.
Studies have shown that stocks with the best growth features consistently outperform the market. And returns are even better for stocks that possess the combination of a Growth Score of A or B and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy).
Here are three of the most important factors that make the stock of this auto parts retailer a great growth pick right now.
Arguably nothing is more important than earnings growth, as surging profit levels is what most investors are after. 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 AutoZone is 14.9%, investors should actually focus on the projected growth. The company's EPS is expected to grow 3.6% this year, crushing the industry average, which calls for EPS growth of 3.1%.
Impressive Asset Utilization Ratio
Asset utilization ratio -- also known as sales-to-total-assets (S/TA) ratio -- is often overlooked by investors, but it is an important indicator in growth investing. This metric shows how efficiently a firm is utilizing its assets to generate sales.
Right now, AutoZone has an S/TA ratio of 0.96, which means that the company gets $0.96 in sales for each dollar in assets. Comparing this to the industry average of 0.92, it can be said that the company is more efficient.
In addition to efficiency in generating sales, sales growth plays an important role. And AutoZone looks attractive from a sales growth perspective as well. The company's sales are expected to grow 3.1% this year versus the industry average of 2.8%.
Promising Earnings Estimate Revisions
Superiority of a stock in terms of the metrics outlined above can be further validated by looking at the trend in earnings estimate revisions. A positive trend is of course favorable 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 AutoZone have been revising upward. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has surged 1.3% over the past month.
While the overall earnings estimate revisions have made AutoZone a Zacks Rank #2 stock, it has earned itself a Growth Score of B based on a number of factors, including the ones discussed above.
You can see
the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
This combination indicates that AutoZone is a potential outperformer and a solid choice for growth investors.