Net profit, also referred to as the bottom line, is one of the key tools that determines the financial health of an enterprise. The figure demonstrates a company’s ability to convert per dollar sales into profits.
A low profit margin indicates higher risks, implying that a drop in revenues might dent profits, pushing the company in the red (net loss).
Net Profit Margin = Net profit/Sales * 100.
In simple terms, net profit is the amount a company retains after deducting all costs, interest, depreciation, taxes and other expenses. In fact, net profit margin can turn out to be a potent point of reference to gauge the strength in a company operations and cost-control measures.
Also, higher net profit is essential for rewarding stakeholders. Further, strength in the metric not only attracts investors but also draws well-skilled employees that eventually add to the value of the business.
Moreover, a higher net profit margin compared to its peers gives the company a competitive edge.
Pros and Cons
Net profit margin helps investors gain clarity on a company’s business model in terms of pricing policy, cost structure and manufacturing efficiency. Hence, a strong net profit margin is preferred by all classes of investors.
However, net profit margin as an investment criterion has its own share of pitfalls. The metric varies widely from industry to industry. While net income is a key metric for investment measurement in traditional industries, it is not that important for technology companies.
Moreover, the difference in accounting treatment of various items — especially non-cash expenses like depreciation and stock-based compensation — makes comparison a daunting task.
Further, for companies preferring to grow with debt instead of equity funding, higher interest expenses usually weigh on net profit. In such cases, the measure is rendered ineffective while analyzing a company’s performance.
The Winning Strategy
A healthy net profit margin and solid EPS growth are the two most sought-after elements in a business model.
Apart from these, we have added a few criteria to ensure maximum returns from this strategy.
Net Margin 12 months – Most Recent (%) greater than equal to 0: High net profit margin indicates solid profitability.
Percentage Change in EPS F(0)/(F-1) greater than equal to 0: It indicates earnings growth.
Average Broker Rating (1-5) equal to 1: A rating of #1 indicates brokers’ extreme bullishness on the stock.
Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2: Stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) generally perform better than their peers in all types of market environment. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here
VGM Score of A or B: Our research shows that stocks with a VGM Score of A or B when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best upside potential.
Here are five of the 15 stocks that qualified the screen:
North American Construction Group Ltd. (NOA - Free Report) is involved primarily in providing services for mining and heavy construction. The stock is Zacks #1 Ranked and has a VGM Score of A. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 earnings has moved 3.2% north to $1.42 in the past 30 days.
Chicago-based Enova International Inc. (ENVA - Free Report) is a provider of online financial services. The stock is a #1 Ranked player and has a VGM Score of A. Further, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 earnings of $3.70 has been revised 2.7% upward in the past 30 days.
Based in Bedford, MA Progress Software Corporation (PRGS - Free Report) is a developer of business applications with global operations. The stock has a Zacks Rank #2 and a VGM Score of B. Further, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2019 earnings of $2.65 has been stable in the past 30 days.
Fremont, CA-headquartered SYNNEX Corporation (SNX - Free Report) is a global information technology supply chain services company, offering a comprehensive range of services to original equipment manufacturers, software publishers and reseller customers worldwide. The stock is a #2 Ranked player and has a VGM Score of A. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2019 earnings of $12.61 has been flat over the past 30 days.
Chicago, IL-based SP Plus Corporation (SP - Free Report) is a provider of professional parking, ground transportation, facility maintenance, security and event logistics services to property owners and managers across all markets of the real estate industry. The company is a #2 Ranked player and has a VGM Score of A. Further, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 earnings has been revised 1.5% upward to $2.75 in the past 30 days.
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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.