A layman can end up losing bucks if he decides to pick a stock only on the basis of numbers flashing on a real-time stock screen. A critical analysis of a company’s financial background is essential for a better investment decision.
Often investors evaluate a company’s performance by simply looking at its sales and earnings, which sometimes do not reveal the real picture. To be more precise, they do not tell whether a company’s fundamentals are sound enough to meet its financial obligations. Here, the role of coverage ratios comes into play — the higher these are, the more efficient an enterprise will be in meeting its financial obligations.
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 to financing operations for the majority of companies, comes at a cost called interest. Interest expense has a direct bearing on the profitability of a company. And the company’s creditworthiness depends on how effectively it meets its interest obligations. Therefore, Interest Coverage Ratio is one of the important criteria to factor in before making any investment decision.
Interest Coverage Ratio = Earnings before Interest & Taxes (EBIT) divided by Interest Expense.
Interest Coverage Ratio suggests how many times the interest could be paid from earnings and gauges the margin of safety a firm has for paying interest.
An interest coverage ratio lower than one suggests 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. 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 14 stocks that qualified the screening:
Lithia Motors, Inc. (LAD - Free Report) , which operates as an automotive retailer of new and used vehicles, has a VGM Score of A and an expected EPS growth rate of 9.7% for 3-5 years. The stock 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.
Steel Dynamics, Inc. (STLD - Free Report) , which is engaged in steel products manufacturing and metals recycling businesses, has a VGM Score of A and an expected EPS growth rate of 12% for 3-5 years. The stock carries a Zacks Rank #1.
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 carries a Zacks Rank #2.
WellCare Health Plans, Inc. , which provides government-sponsored managed care services, has a VGM Score of B. This Zacks Rank #2 company has an expected EPS growth rate of 14.8% for 3-5 years.
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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.