The markets hate the unknown and unpredictable, and the simmering tension in the Korean peninsula is a bit of both. Investors and politicians across the world seem to be apprehensive about the global reaction to North Korea's sixth and also its biggest nuclear weapons test this Sunday.
With the potential for conflict over North Korea’s act in the forefront of everyone’s minds, stock markets are on tenterhooks as well. In fact, according to some South Korean officials, North Korea appears to be setting up the test for another intercontinental ballistic missile.
Back home, geopolitics and severe hurricanes rocked Wall Street’s calm, as markets remained skittish in the aftermath of North Korea’s nuclear test and a second potent hurricane — Irma — expected in the United States in as many weeks.
Amid such a fickle environment that could rapidly escalate, it was no surprise that investors sought asset security as gold prices flared up and the U.S. Treasuries strengthened.
However, we feel that in such a scenario, investors should look beyond gold and government securities. We have created a multi-faceted screen for you that will give investors stability and profit growth potential farther than the next quarter.
Making Sense of Profits
It is common knowledge that Wall Street is obsessed with the bottom line. But are higher profits necessarily better? Are these really a true indicator of the staying power of a company’s earnings?
While dollar profits trump all other measures hands down for sheer shock value, these do not relate profits to the size of the company, its sales, resources or shareholder capital. The only profitability measure that reasonably works across industries is the ratio of return generated on the dollars invested in a business.
The most popular among these ratios is Return on Equity (“ROE”), favored by both Wall Street analysts and investors alike. However, since the ROE measure receives the most attention from the investor community, executives focus heavily on this metric as well. Companies can exploit financial strategies (like increasing debt leverage and stock buybacks funded through built-up cash) to artificially maintain a healthy ROE for a while and conceal weakening operational profitability.
So, let’s shift our focus to a different bottom-line metric which garners far less attention from executives and investors alike — Return on Invested Capital (“ROI”).
The Lesser-Known ROI Metric
Essentially, ROI shows how optimally management has been directing the capital under its control into profitable investments. It paints a clear picture of how efficiently a company is employing its capital and whether its competitive positioning is allowing it to produce good returns from that capital.
Also, we will focus on large caps, which are big, established companies in the stock market, and have a comparatively softer risk profile. By virtue of their dominant market position, global footprint and relatively consistent cash-flow stream, these companies tend to be more reliable investments — which is called for in the current geopolitical environment. Also, ROI is particularly relevant for assessing companies that have a large amount of capital.
Nonetheless, it might be quite difficult for investors to single out such companies, as we need companies which have generated strong ROIs over a sufficiently long period of time, in order to determine a robust trend.
So, we have created a three-faceted screen to shortlist such companies for you. Only those companies which have generated ROIs in excess of 15% on average over the last five years can get past our screen. Their current ROI (over the trailing 12 months) also needs to be at least 15%.
In addition, to ensure that we hone in on stable companies, which have an established history of generating profits, our screen allows only those companies which have a market capitalization north of $10 billion.
Needless to say, these companies must have a solid Zacks Rank too. A favorable Zacks Rank shows positive analyst interest and brighter prospects for the company.
These stocks have proven their mettle consistently during challenging times and look set to outperform peers effortlessly through efficient usage of assets. Just five companies got through our screen, and here they are:
The Boeing Company (BA - Free Report)
Boeing is one of the world's major aerospace firms, and designs, develops, manufactures, sells, services, and supports commercial jetliners, satellites, military aircraft, human space flight, missile defense, and launch systems, and services globally.
The aerospace giant generated an impressive average ROI of 33.2% over the last five years and boasts a current ROI of 64%.
Over the past month, analysts have become increasingly bullish on this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
The company has seen a sharp spike in the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017, which is now pegged at $9.97, up from $9.42 witnessed a couple of months back. This move denotes decidedly bullish analyst sentiment for the stock.
Texas Instruments Incorporated (TXN - Free Report)
Texas Instrumentsis a global semi-conductor company, and one of the world's leading designers and suppliers of digital signal processors and analog integrated circuits.
In the past five years, this Zacks Rank #2 stock generated an impressive ROI of 18.9% on an average and has a current ROI of 28.4%.
Analysts envision a healthy future for the company, as the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 earnings trended up sharply over the past 60 days, from $3.92 to $4.13 per share, thanks to 13 upward estimate revisions.
Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD - Free Report)
Based in Foster City, CA, Gilead Sciences focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of drugs for several indications.
This Zacks Rank #2 stock generated an average ROI of 37.1% in five years’ time and its current ROI is pegged at 28.5%.
Analysts have great expectations from the company this year and have been revising its 2017 earnings estimates upward for the past couple of months. Gilead’s 2017 estimate inched up from $8.16 to $8.76 over the past 60 days.
IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. (IDXX - Free Report)
IDEXX Laboratories is a global leader in providing diagnostic, detection, and information products to the animal health industry, as well as quality assurance products and services to the food and water industries.
In five years’ time, the company recorded an average ROI of 34.6% and boasts a current ROI of 45.8%.
Moreover, analysts have become increasingly bullish on this Zacks Rank #2 stock over the past two months, with five upward estimate revisions for its 2017 earnings. This has led to a sharp spike in the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017, which is now pegged at $3.17, up from $3.05 witnessed 60 days ago.
Moody's Corporation (MCO - Free Report)
Moody'sprovides credit ratings, and credit, capital markets, and economic related research, data, and analytical tools worldwide.
This Zacks Rank #2 stock generated an average ROI of 36.3% over the last five years, with a current ROI of 34.9%.
Over the past couple of months, analysts have become increasingly bullish on the company, with two upward estimate revisions for 2017 earnings. This has led to a sharp spike in the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017, which increased from $5.32 seen a month ago to $5.50 today.
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