Every investor would love to stumble upon the perfect stock. But will you ever really find a stock that provides everything you could possibly want?
One thing's for sure: You'll never discover truly great investments unless you actively look for them. Let's discuss the ideal qualities of a perfect stock, then decide if Cummins
The quest for perfection
Stocks that look great based on one factor may prove horrible elsewhere, making due diligence a crucial part of your investing research. The best stocks excel in many different areas, including these important factors:
- 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 mean nothing if a company can't produce profits from them. Strong margins ensure that company can turn revenue into profit.
- Balance sheet. At debt-laden companies, banks and bondholders compete with shareholders for management's attention. Companies with strong balance sheets don't have to worry about the distraction of debt.
- Money-making opportunities. Return on equity helps measure how well a company is finding opportunities to turn its resources into profitable business endeavors.
- Valuation. You can't afford to pay too much for even the best companies. By using normalized figures, you can see how a stock's simple earnings multiple fits into a longer-term context.
- Dividends. For tangible proof of profits, a check to shareholders every three months can't be beat. 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 Cummins.
What We Want to See
Pass or Fail?
|Growth||5-Year Annual Revenue Growth > 15%||9.3%||Fail|
|1-Year Revenue Growth > 12%||38.3%||Pass|
|Margins||Gross Margin > 35%||25.3%||Fail|
|Net Margin > 15%||9.6%||Fail|
|Balance Sheet||Debt to Equity < 50%||12.9%||Pass|
|Current Ratio > 1.3||1.88||Pass|
|Opportunities||Return on Equity > 15%||35.2%||Pass|
|Valuation||Normalized P/E < 20||13.15||Pass|
|Dividends||Current Yield > 2%||1.6%||Fail|
|5-Year Dividend Growth > 10%||30.4%||Pass|
|Total Score||6 out of 10|
Source: S&P Capital IQ. Total score = number of passes.
Since we looked at Cummins last year, the company has picked up an extra point. A big drop in valuations has brought Cummins another step closer to perfection.
Cummins is a pure play on production of engines, power generators, and exhaust systems. Unlike competitors Navistar
Just like PACCAR
Perhaps the most exciting venture at Cummins is its partnership with Westport Innovations
Cummins would benefit greatly from a sustained uptick in the economy. Once questions about growth dissipate, Cummins is well placed to get even closer to a perfect showing -- and with a good dividend and low valuations, now's a good time for interested investors to get in.
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 the best investments from the rest.
Click here to add Cummins to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.
Finding the perfect stock is only one piece of a successful investment strategy. Get the big picture by taking a look at our " 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly ."