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



Has Sony Become 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

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 Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) fits the bill.

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 Sony.


What We Want to See


Pass or Fail?

Growth 5-Year Annual Revenue Growth > 15% (4.8%) Fail
  1-Year Revenue Growth > 12% (9.6%) Fail
Margins Gross Margin > 35% 32.4% Fail
  Net Margin > 15% (7%) Fail
Balance Sheet Debt to Equity < 50% 46.7% Pass
  Current Ratio > 1.3 0.83 Fail
Opportunities Return on Equity > 15% (14.6%) Fail
Valuation Normalized P/E < 20 NM NM
Dividends Current Yield > 2% 2.2% Pass
  5-Year Dividend Growth > 10% 0% Fail
  Total Score   2 out of 9

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Total score = number of passes.

Since we looked at Sony last year, the company has kept its score unchanged. A huge drop in the company's share price helped kick up Sony's dividend yield, but big losses continue to be a long-term concern.

Sony has seen a lot of its consumer-products strength disappear in recent years. Sales of televisions have been extremely weak across the industry as a combination of sluggish macroeconomic factors and saturated markets eat into sales. On the video game front, Sony has struggled as Nintendo and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) have taken a chunk out of PlayStation sales. All that has added up to four straight years of losses for the company and pushed shares to a three-decade low.

Lately, competition in video gaming has come from far further down the price spectrum. Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA  ) and a host of other cheap-app builders are trying to eat into the video game industry's revenue a dollar at a time, and while Zynga isn't thriving, its model does spell a challenge for Sony and its pricey console and games.

Later this year, Sony plans to release its new Orbis game system. But if rumors that the console won't play secondhand games and won't be backward-compatible turn out to be true, then the company won't just take away possible distribution channels through GameStop (NYSE: GME  ) and Coinstar (Nasdaq: CSTR  ) but will also irritate potential buyers who count on being able to resell old games to recoup part of their outlay.

Just as blockbusters Avengers and Hunger Games have helped their respective franchises, Sony has to hope that Men in Black 3 and new James Bond and Spiderman movies get its studio into the box-office record books. Sony needs all the help it can get from valuable content to try to make up for its lagging product sales, but until the company finds a direction for its consumer division, it's not going to get anywhere near perfection.

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 the best investments from the rest.

Sony isn't the perfect stock, but we've got some ideas you may like better. Let me invite you to learn about three smart long-term stock plays in the Fool's latest special report. It's yours for the taking and is absolutely free, but don't miss out -- click here and read it today.

Click here to add Sony to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and GameStop and has sold shares of Sony short. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position on Microsoft, as well as writing covered calls on GameStop. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (3)

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: 1886721, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 5/24/2016 6:08:16 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...

Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

Today's Market

updated Moments ago Sponsored by:
DOW 17,706.05 213.12 1.22%
S&P 500 2,076.06 28.02 1.37%
NASD 4,861.06 95.27 2.00%

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

5/24/2016 4:02 PM
SNE $27.84 Up +1.57 +5.98%
Sony Corp (ADR) CAPS Rating: ***
GME $28.70 Up +0.23 +0.81%
GameStop CAPS Rating: *
MSFT $51.59 Up +1.56 +3.12%
Microsoft CAPS Rating: ****
OUTR $39.80 Up +1.86 +4.90%
Outerwall CAPS Rating: **
ZNGA $2.56 Down -0.01 -0.39%