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



Should I Invest in Smiths Group?

LONDON -- To me, capital growth and dividend income are equally important. Together, they provide the total return from any share investment and, as you might expect, my aim is to invest in companies that can beat the total return delivered by the wider market.

To put that aim into perspective, the FTSE 100 has provided investors with a total return of around 3% per annum since January 2008.

Quality and value
If my investments are to outperform, I need to back companies that score well on several quality indicators and buy at prices that offer decent value.

So this series aims to identify appealing FTSE 100 investment opportunities and today I'm looking at Smiths Group  (LSE: SMIN  ) , the diversified engineering company.

With the shares at 1240 pence, Smiths' market cap. is £4,870 million.

This table summarizes the firm's recent financial record:

Year to July






Revenue (£m)






Net cash from operations (£m)






Adjusted earnings per share






Dividend per share






There is a cautionary flavor to Smiths' recent outlook statement, which seems to anticipate generally flat trading across the firm's five divisions in the short term. The company provides engineering products, components, and services in areas such as threat and contraband detection, medical devices, energy, communications and aerospace.

North America is important, delivering around 50% of the firm's revenues. That's why U.S. government budget cuts in defense and other areas, and an incoming medical device tax, are weighing on the company's forward revenue growth and profit forecasts.

That said the directors seem to have confidence in medium- to long-term growth prospects. If Smiths can overcome the short-term headwinds it could go on to deliver a satisfactory total-return performance for investors in the end.

Smith Group's total return potential

Let's examine five indicators to help judge the quality of the company's total-return potential:

  1. Dividend cover: adjusted earnings covered last year's dividend around 2.4 times. 4/5
  2. Borrowings: net gearing around 70%. Net debt about 2.1 times operating profit. 3/5
  3. Growth: flat cash flow struggles to support growing revenue and earnings. 3/5
  4. Price to earnings: a forward 12.4 overstates growth and yield expectations. 2/5
  5. Outlook: satisfactory recent trading and a cautious outlook. 2/5

Overall, I score Smiths 14 out of 25 and I don't think the firm is likely to out-pace the wider market's total return for a while.

Foolish summary
The dividend seems well covered by earnings, but cash flow has been flat and debt is creeping up. The outlook is cautious but the valuation seems less so! I'm keeping Smiths on watch for now, despite the 3.4% forecast dividend yield.

When it comes to dividend yield I'm excited about an idea from the Motley Fool's top value investor who has discovered what he believes is the best income generating share-play for 2013. He set's out his three-point investing thesis in a report called "The Motley Fool's Top Income Share For 2013", which I recommend you download now. For a limited time, the report is free so, to download it immediately, and discover the identity of this dividend-generating star, click here.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

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.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

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: 2395000, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/29/2016 11:23:50 AM

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 18,298.46 -40.78 -0.22%
S&P 500 2,165.05 -6.32 -0.29%
NASD 5,296.83 -21.72 -0.41%

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

9/29/2016 11:08 AM
SMIN $1459.18 Up +16.18 +1.12%
Smiths Group CAPS Rating: No stars