What happened

Aon (NYSE:AON) outpaced a booming market last year as its stock price jumped 43% compared to the 29% gain of the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Shares spent almost no time trailing the market in 2019, and the 14 percentage-point gap that they closed December with was the biggest of the year.

A man smiles while working at a laptop.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

To understand why investors been upbeat about the consulting and insurance conglomerate lately, one need look no further than its third-quarter report, issued in late October. Organic sales rose 5% and operating margin jumped by 3.5 percentage points after adjusting for one-time charges. Aon also posted sharply improving cash flow as its restructuring initiatives, including the launch of new consulting platforms, started to pay off.

Now what

Aon is aiming for mid-single-digit annual organic sales growth over the long term, and it's on track for that goal in fiscal 2019. Investors will also be looking for continued margin expansion and improving returns on invested capital, as those promises from management likely supported this growth stock's rally last year. Earnings rose at a double-digit pace thanks to growth in each of Aon's five business segments, and a continuation of those trends would support additional gains for investors in 2020.

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