Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Is Annaly Capital the Perfect Stock?

Watch stocks you care about

The single, easiest way to keep track of all the stocks that matter...

Your own personalized stock watchlist!

It's a 100% FREE Motley Fool service...

Click Here Now

Everyone would love to find the perfect stock. But will you ever really find a stock that gives you everything you could possibly want?

One thing's for sure: If you don't look, you'll never find truly great investments. So let's first take a look at what you'd want to see from a perfect stock, and then decide if Annaly Capital Management (NYSE: NLY  ) fits the bill.

The quest for perfection
When you're looking for great stocks, you have to do your due diligence. It's not enough to rely on a single measure, because a stock that looks great based on one factor may turn out to be horrible in other ways. The best stocks, however, excel in many different areas, which all come together to make up a very attractive picture.

Some of the most basic yet important things to look for in a stock are:

  • Growth. Expanding businesses show healthy revenue growth. While past growth is no guarantee that revenue will keep rising, it's certainly a better sign than a stagnant top line.
  • Margins. Higher sales don't mean anything if a company can't turn them into profits. Strong margins ensure a company is able to turn revenue into profit.
  • Balance sheet. Debt-laden companies have banks and bondholders competing with shareholders for management's attention. Companies with strong balance sheets don't have to worry about the distraction of debt.
  • Money-making opportunities. Companies need to be able to turn their resources into profitable business opportunities. Return on equity helps measure how well a company is finding those opportunities.
  • Valuation. You can't afford to pay too much for even the best companies. Earnings multiples are simple, but using normalized figures gives you a sense of how valuation fits into a longer-term context.
  • Dividends. Investors are demanding tangible proof of profits, and there's nothing more tangible than getting a check every three months. Companies with solid dividends and strong commitments to increasing payouts treat shareholders well.

With those factors in mind, let's take a closer look at Annaly.

Factor What We Want to See Actual Pass or Fail?
Growth 5-Year Annual Revenue Growth > 15% 35.9% pass
  1-Year Revenue Growth > 12% 43.2% pass
Margins Gross Margin > 35% 100% pass
  Net Margin > 15% 85.1% pass
Balance Sheet Debt to Equity < 50% 600.1% fail
  Current Ratio > 1.3 0.02 fail
Opportunities Return on Equity > 15% 11.7% fail
Valuation Normalized P/E < 20 14.18 pass
Dividends Current Yield > 2% 15.4% pass
  5-Year Dividend Growth > 10% 8.9% fail
  Total Score   6 out of 10

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard and Poor's. Total score = number of passes.

With a score of 6, Annaly is clearly doing some things right. As hard as high unemployment and stubbornly slow economic growth have been on people across the nation, they've helped Annaly's business model, which relies on low short-term interest rates for borrowing and healthy spreads to the longer-term rates on the mortgage securities it owns.

The entire mortgage REIT industry is enjoying boom times right now. American Capital Agency (Nasdaq: AGNC  ) , Anworth Mortgage Asset (NYSE: ANH  ) , and MFA Financial (NYSE: MFA  ) all sport double-digit dividend yields like Annaly. But what many don't realize is that because they're REITs, these stocks have to pay out nearly all of their profits as dividends. That leaves their yields little room for error, and as investors discovered in 2005 and 2006, their dividends can dry up in a hurry.

As long as rates stay low and mortgage reform doesn't change the dynamics of the mortgage market, Annaly will likely continue to see strong profits. But with its highly leveraged business model, expect big swings when interest rates finally start to move higher.

Keep searching
No stock is a sure thing, but some stocks are a lot closer to perfect than others. By looking for the perfect stock, you'll go a long way toward improving your investing prowess and learning how to separate out the best investments from the rest.

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. The Fool owns shares of Annaly Capital Management. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (17)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 11, 2010, at 8:34 PM, loucanoe wrote:

    Ratio analysis must consider the nature of the industry. While the margin and leverage ratio criteria used here make some sense for many companies, they are utterly meanngless for a financial company--bank, REIT, insurance, etc. This article is simple minded and stupid. This is an excellent stock to own, but only so long as the interest spread remains in the current vicinity. It is narrows all the good ratios in the world won't be of any help.

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2010, at 9:42 AM, PMAMCC wrote:


Add your comment.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 1328423, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/27/2016 8:49:30 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated Moments ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,169.68 -29.65 -0.16%
S&P 500 2,133.04 -6.39 -0.30%
NASD 5,215.97 -34.29 -0.65%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/27/2016 4:00 PM
AGNC $19.89 Down -0.19 -0.95%
American Capital A… CAPS Rating: ***
ANH $4.91 Down -0.06 -1.21%
Anworth Mortgage A… CAPS Rating: ****
MFA $7.33 Down -0.09 -1.21%
MFA Financial CAPS Rating: *****
NLY $10.19 Down -0.22 -2.11%
Annaly Capital Man… CAPS Rating: ****