Investors seek growth stocks to capitalize on above-average growth in financials that help these securities grab the market's attention and produce exceptional returns. But finding a great growth stock is not easy at all.
By their very nature, these stocks carry above-average risk and volatility. Moreover, if a company's growth story is over or nearing its end, betting on it could lead to significant loss.
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.
Icon PLC (
ICLR Quick Quote ICLR - Free Report) is one such stock that our proprietary system currently recommends. The 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 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).
While there are numerous reasons why the stock of this contract research organization is a great growth pick right now, we have highlighted three of the most important factors below:
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 Icon PLC is 10%, investors should actually focus on the projected growth. The company's EPS is expected to grow 32.6% this year, crushing the industry average, which calls for EPS growth of 28.9%.
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 exhibits how efficiently a firm is utilizing its assets to generate sales.
Right now, Icon PLC has an S/TA ratio of 0.92, which means that the company gets $0.92 in sales for each dollar in assets. Comparing this to the industry average of 0.57, it can be said that the company is more efficient.
While the level of efficiency in generating sales matters a lot, so does the sales growth of a company. And Icon PLC looks attractive from a sales growth perspective as well. The company's sales are expected to grow 22.4% this year versus the industry average of 16.2%.
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 Icon PLC have been revising upward. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has surged 1% over the past month.
While the overall earnings estimate revisions have made Icon PLC a Zacks Rank #2 stock, it has earned itself a Growth Score of A 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 Icon PLC is a potential outperformer and a solid choice for growth investors.