We often judge a company on the basis of its sales and earnings. These, however, may not be enough. Sometimes, a stock gets a boost if these numbers climb year over year or surpass estimates in a particular quarter. This will definitely be a great opportunity for an investor with a shorter horizon to cash in on. But if you seek long-term returns, investments backed only by sales and earnings numbers may not yield the desired results.
A critical analysis of a company’s financial background is a prerequisite for an informed investment decision. Here, coverage ratios that determine whether a company is sound enough to meet its financial obligations play a crucial role. The higher the ratio, the better it is. The focus of this article is on “Interest Coverage,” which is one such ratio.
Interest Coverage Ratio = Earnings before Interest & Taxes (EBIT) divided by Interest Expense.
Why Interest Coverage Ratio?
Interest Coverage Ratio is used to determine how effectively a company can pay the interest charges on its debt.
Debt, which is crucial for most of the companies to finance operations, comes at a cost called interest. Interest expense has a direct bearing on the profitability of a company and its creditworthiness depends on how effectively it meets interest obligations. Therefore, Interest Coverage Ratio is one of the important criteria to factor in before making any investment decision.
Interest coverage ratio suggests the number of times the interest could be paid from earnings and gauges the margin of safety a firm carries for paying interest.
An interest coverage ratio lower than 1.0 implies that the company is unable to fulfill its interest obligations and could default on repaying debt. A company that is capable of generating earnings well above its interest expense can withstand financial hardships. Definitely, one should also track the company’s past performance to determine whether the interest coverage ratio has improved or worsened over a period of time.
The Winning Strategy
Apart from having an Interest Coverage Ratio that is more than the industry average, adding a favorable Zacks Rank and a VGM Score of A or B to your search criteria should lead to better results.
Interest Coverage Ratio greater than X-Industry Median
Price greater than or equal to 5: The stocks must all be trading at a minimum of $5 or higher.
5-Year Historical EPS Growth (%) greater than X-Industry Median: Stocks that have a strong EPS growth history.
Projected EPS Growth (%) greater than X-Industry Median: This is the projected EPS growth over the next three to five years. This shows that the stock has near-term earnings growth potential.
Average 20-Day Volume greater than 100,000: A substantial trading volume ensures that the stock is easily tradable.
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.
VGM Score of less than or equal to 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 17 stocks that qualified the screening:
TopBuild Corp. (BLD - Free Report) , which is engaged in the installation and distribution of insulation and other building products, has a VGM Score of A and an expected EPS growth rate of 28% for 3-5 years. The stock currently sports a Zacks Rank #1. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Amedisys, Inc. (AMED - Free Report) , which provides healthcare services, has a VGM Score of B and an expected EPS growth rate of 16.4% for 3-5 years. The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #1.
Lithia Motors, Inc. (LAD - Free Report) , which operates automotive franchises, and retails new and used vehicles, has a VGM Score of A and an expected EPS growth rate of 9.2% for 3-5 years. The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #1.
HCA Healthcare, Inc. (HCA - Free Report) , which provides health care services, has a VGM Score of A and an expected EPS growth rate of 11.3% for 3-5 years. The stock carries a Zacks Rank #2.
Pampa Energia S.A. (PAM - Free Report) , which is engaged in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, has an expected EPS growth rate of 20.6% for 3-5 years. This Zacks Rank #2 company has a VGM Score of A.
Get the rest of the stocks on the list and start putting this and other ideas to the test. It can all be done with the Research Wizard stock picking and backtesting software.
The Research Wizard is a great place to begin. It's easy to use. Everything is in plain language. And it's very intuitive. Start your Research Wizard trial today. And the next time you read an economic report, open up the Research Wizard, plug your finds in, and see what gems come out.
Click here to sign up for a free trial to the Research Wizard today.
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.