Investors often overlook sales growth while selecting stocks as a company’s stock price is typically more sensitive to its earnings momentum. Nonetheless, earnings are quite vulnerable in the sense that books can be easily manipulated. That’s why sales should always be considered.
Sales growth is an important indicator of a company's health and ability to sustain its business. It provides investors an insight into product demand and pricing power. The main advantage is that the sales figure is generally not rigged and is less volatile than earnings.
Without some top-line growth, bottom-line improvement may not be sustainable over the long term. While a company can witness earnings improvement by lowering expenses, a sustainable bottom-line growth requires steady sales rise.
Focusing solely on sales growth is not enough though. A healthy sales growth rate is certainly a positive indicator for picking good stocks, but it does not ensure profits. So, taking into consideration a company’s cash position along with its sales number can prove to be a more dependable strategy.
Substantial cash on hand and a steady cash flow give a company more flexibility with respect to business decisions and potential investments. Cash also enables a company to endure market downturns. Further, a sufficient cash position indicates that revenues are being channelized in the right direction.
Choosing the Winning Stocks
In order to shortlist stocks that have witnessed impressive sales growth along with a high cash balance, we have selected 5-Year Historical Sales Growth (%) greater than X-Industry and Cash Flow more than $500 million as our main screening parameters.
But sales growth and cash strength are not the absolute criteria for selecting stocks. So, we added certain other factors to arrive at a winning strategy.
Price-to-Sales (P/S) Ratio less than X-Industry: This metric determines the value placed on each dollar of a company’s revenues. The lower the ratio, the better it is for picking a stock since the investor is paying less for each unit of sales.
% Change F1 Sales Estimate Revisions (four weeks) greater than X-Industry: Estimate revisions, better than the industry, are often seen to trigger an increase in stock price.
Operating Margin (average last five years) greater than 5%: Operating margin measures how much every dollar of a company's sales translates into profits. A high ratio indicates that the company has good cost control, and sales are increasing faster than costs — an optimal situation for it.
Return on Equity (ROE) greater than 5%: This metric will ensure that sales growth is translated into profits and the company is not hoarding cash. A high ROE means the company is spending wisely and is in all likelihood profitable.
Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2: Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) stocks are known to outperform irrespective of the market environment. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Here are five of the eight stocks that qualified the screening:
Based in Orlando, FL, Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI - Free Report) owns and operates full-service restaurants. Expected sales growth rate for fiscal 2019 is 5.4% and the stock carries a Zacks Rank #2.
Carlisle Companies Incorporated (CSL - Free Report) operates as a diversified manufacturing company. This Scottsdale, AZ-based company’s expected sales growth rate for 2019 is 8.2% and it sports a Zacks Rank #1.
AMETEK, Inc. (AME - Free Report) , headquartered in Berwyn, PA, manufactures and sells electronic instruments and electromechanical devices. Its expected sales growth rate for 2019 is 8.1%. The stock sports a Zacks Rank #1, at present.
Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (JLL - Free Report) provides commercial real estate and investment management services. This Chicago, IL-based company’s sales are expected to increase at the rate of 4.2% in 2019. The stock sports a Zacks Rank #1.
Headquartered in New York, The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (IPG - Free Report) provides advertising and marketing services. This Zacks Rank #2 company’s expected sales growth rate for 2019 is 2.3%.
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Disclosure: Officers, directors and/or employees of Zacks Investment Research may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material. An affiliated investment advisory firm may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material.
Disclosure: Performance information for Zacks’ portfolios and strategies are available at: https://www.zacks.com/performance