Wanted: 25% Annual Growth

The Drip Port is launching a study for a new investment with aggressive goals. It wants to find a company that will initially grow earnings per share at least 20% to 25% annually, for at least four years. Today, post the companies that you believe should be considered in the study.

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By Jeff Fischer (TMF Jeff)
August 31, 2000

Today we begin our study for a new investment. This time, we're using different criteria than we have in the past. How come?

I believe that we have invested in a stable of world-leading companies across a healthy number of industries, namely, technology, food and beverages, financial services and pharmaceutical/healthcare. I believe that each of our four active investments can grow earnings per share at double-digit rates annually in at least the intermediate term. (Campbell Soup is excluded from the list, and we're looking to replace it.)

Now that we have our investment foundation in place -- our four pillars of diversified, stable growers -- we want to broaden the Drip Port's reach and look for a company that can boost our overall return prospects considerably without greatly increasing our long-term risks. In other words, we want to jazz it up!

To be more specific, we want to find a company that can grow earnings per share at least 20% to 25% annually the next four years, then continue to grow in high double-digits (15% to 18% on average) the five years following, and then grow in low double-digits (at least 11% to 12% on average) the remaining eight years of our seventeen-year horizon.

Finding such a potential investment is not easy, but it's possible.

First, we need to widen our horizon as we seek this high-grade performance. This means that we need to consider companies within the realm of synthetic or pseudo-Drips. These low-cost programs offered by a few brokerage-type companies allow you to regularly buy fractional shares of stock (such as Cisco Systems, Amgen, EMC -- you name it) for a small commission. So, they act like Drips.

Now, if we are to invest through one of these pseudo-Drip programs, we must buy a stock that will more than compensate for the capital that we will lose on commissions. If we find a company growing quickly enough, it should more than compensate for the added commission.

However, we are not by any means moving away from commission-free Drips. They are still the best programs offered to small investors. If we can find a company with a free Drip that could grow at our desired rate, excellent! But our chances for success in this aggressive study are much better if we consider pseudo-Drip offerings, too.

So far, so good? Good. But notice that I did not mention any industries for this study yet. This is not an industry study. This is a company study. I believe that we have a strong array of industry investments already, so we can now seek an investment (or two) on a company-specific basis, whatever its industry. Perhaps this means we'll buy another pharmaceutical leader, or a biotech company, because we believe it can meet our growth goals. Perhaps we'll buy something in telecommunications. The point is that we'll be considering companies across various industries in this study.

Which companies? Generally, I want to focus on what I consider to be mid-sized companies ($10 billion market caps to about $50 billion at the most). I want these companies to be established but relatively young, and to have very high prospects for becoming at least $100 billion, $200 billion or larger companies over our 17-year time horizon. I'll present more qualities sought from our companies next week, but meanwhile, we want to hear your input!

Which companies do you believe offer growth prospects that match our high goals? Which companies should we study? Make your suggestions and we'll try to study all of them in this column. So, post your 20%-25% annual growers today. (If you're not sure how much a company is growing, but you think it's strong, just point us towards your suggestion anyway.)

To close, Drip Port will always have requirements: we must be able to dollar-cost-average into our holdings in small amounts; we must be able to reinvest dividends for free; we ideally want to make our optional stock purchases for free, but (as always) if we find an opportunity that merits paying a small fee, we'll consider it. Drip Port is about low-cost, steady, small sum investing. And we're about getting the most growth out of our dollars as possible.

Fool on!

--Jeff Fischer, TMF Jeff on the discussion boards.

P.S. We have $160 to invest in September. On Friday, we're sending $100 to Mellon Financial (NYSE: MEL) and $60 to Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

Drip Portfolio

8/31/2000 as of ~5:30:00 PM EDT
Ticker Company Day Chg % Chg Price
CPBCAMPBELL SOUP5/161.25%$25.38
INTCINTEL CORP3/81.87%$74.88
JNJJOHNSON & JOHNSON11/160.75%$91.94
PEPPEPSICO INC1/40.60%$42.19

  Day Week Month Year
To Date
Drip 1.90% 1.48% 9.27% 40.53% 82.58% 21.46%
S&P 500 1.00% .74% 6.07% 3.30% 61.66% 16.78%
S&P 500(DA) 1.00% .74% 6.07% 3.30% 64.29% 17.39%
S&P 500(DCA) n/a n/a n/a n/a 30.19% 8.89%
NASDAQ 2.50% 4.05% 11.66% 3.37% 167.99% 37.49%

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost/Share Price LT % Val Chg

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost Value LT $ Val Ch
  Cash: $60.08  
  Total: $6,897.12  

• S&P 500 (DA) = dividend adjusted. Dividends have been added to the total return of the index.

Drip Port launched with $500 on July 28, 1997, adds $100 to invest every month, and the goal is to own $150,000 in stock by August of the year 2017. Due to the slow nature of dollar-cost-averaging and our relatively significant starting costs, we do not expect to seriously challenge the S&P 500 for the first three to five years as we build an investment base. The long-term advantages of dollar-cost-averaging still overcome the short-term disadvantages, however. Final note: our investment in Campbell Soup is frozen due to fees instituted in its investment plan. Click here for a history of all Drip Port transactions.