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One of the Best Coronavirus Stocks You've Probably Never Heard Of

By Beth McKenna - Apr 13, 2020 at 10:00AM

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The COVID-19 pandemic could provide a tailwind for this mid-cap stock that gained 66% last year.

Zoom Video Communications, Teladoc Health, and a handful of other stocks have been garnering much attention for being "coronavirus stocks." That is, they are stocks of companies that are experiencing increased demand for their products and services, or that seemed poised to do so in the near future, due to the COVID-19 pandemic 

Zoom and Teladoc are great stocks to consider buying and holding for the long haul. However, there are other top coronavirus stocks that haven't been in the spotlight, so they haven't had fast and furious run-ups in price.

I recently highlighted one such stock: Everbridge (EVBG -2.41%). The software-as-a-service (SaaS) company's platform provides communications services and applications that help businesses and government entities keep people safe and mitigate disruptions to their operations during critical events -- yes, including pandemics.

Another under-the-radar stock that seems poised to get a tailwind from the pandemic is FTI Consulting (FCN -0.62%).

A person shows a computer tablet with a bar chart to another person.

Image source: Getty Images.

FTI Consulting's key stats

FTI Consulting stock has significantly outperformed the market since the S&P 500 peaked in mid-February, gaining 7% while the broader market fell more than 17%, through Thursday, April 9. (The market was closed on Friday for the Good Friday holiday.) Moreover, the stock has crushed the market in 2020, and over the five- and 20-year periods. It's a winner over the short, medium, and long terms.   

Comparison

Market Cap

Projected Annualized 5-Year EPS Growth*

Return Since Feb. 19 Market Peak

YTD 2020 Return

5-Year/20-Year Returns

Return During the Great Recession**

FTI Consulting $5.2 billion 14% 7% 24.9% 263%/4,050% (11.9%)

S&P 500

 --- -- (17.4%) (13.2%) 47.8%/172% (35.6%)

Data sources: Yahoo! Finance and YCharts. Data as of April 9, 2020. EPS = earnings per share. YTD = year to date. *Wall Street's consensus estimate. **Great Recession officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. 

Unlike many of the stocks being touted as coronavirus stocks, FTI Consulting was publicly traded during the Great Recession. That means we know how it held up during a deep economic downturn, which is good information to have since there can be little doubt that the coronavirus pandemic will soon sink the United States and the world into a recession. During the 18 months the Great Recession officially lasted, FTI stock fell 11.9%, which is much better than the market's return of negative 35.6% during this period. Of course, that doesn't mean the same dynamic will occur during the Coronavirus-fueled recession, but it seems probable that it will be fairly similar. (I subscribe to the belief that history might not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.)

FTI Consulting's business

FTI Consulting, based in Washington, D.C., is a leading global financial and management consulting firm. It began in 1982 as Forensic Technologies International, a litigation-support services company, and changed its name in 1998 to better reflect its then much broader business. It went public in 1996. 

The company has five segments: corporate finance and restructuring, forensic and litigation consulting, economic consulting, technology, and strategic communications. It also provides various specialty services, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Its customers are corporations, law firms, and federal, state, and local government agencies. As of the end of 2019, FTI's clients included 96 of the world's top 100 law firms and 53 of the world's 100 largest companies. The company has been an advisor on many high profile legal and business restructuring and bankruptcy cases, including: 

  • 1995: It provided "courtroom graphics and jury consultation for the O.J. Simpson trial," according to its website.
  • 2000: It provided "trial graphics and courtroom presentation technology for the landmark Bush vs. Gore case to resolve the disputed presidential election results."

  • 2002: It assisted in the "bankruptcy cases of Enron, WorldCom, and Adelphia Communications."

  • 2009: It helped "track down the ill-gotten gains of Bernie Madoff and served on many of the largest, highest profile corporate restructurings of the year, including Lehman Brothers and General Motors." 

Work stemming from the coronavirus pandemic

FTI has assembled a COVID-19 response team composed of financial, economic, regulatory, disputes, and communications experts across the world. These consultants are working with clients "to navigate this disruption and assess its impact on their key stakeholders." 

In addition to its current pandemic-related work, FTI seems poised to win future restructuring and bankruptcy advisory work stemming from the crisis. Due to the economy being nearly shut down to help slow the spread of the virus, many companies will likely need these services.

As previously mentioned, FTI was involved in the Lehman Brothers and General Motors restructurings in 2009 following the financial crisis that led to the Great Recession. While the company has won many awards and accolades across its business segments, its expertise in restructurings is particularly notable. It's been ranked as the No. 1 restructuring advisor by The Deal for 12 consecutive years through 2019.

Financials and stock stats

In 2019, FTI Consulting's revenue jumped 16% -- or 17.3% in constant currency -- to $2.35 billion, driven by higher demand for services across all segments. Earnings per share (EPS) surged 45% to $5.69, and EPS adjusted for one-time items increased 45% to $5.80. The increase in earnings was "primarily due to higher operating profits across all business segments, lower interest expense, and a lower effective tax rate," according to the earnings release. 

Wall Street expects FTI to grow earnings at an average annual pace of 14% per year over the next five years. There's good reason to believe the company will exceed this estimate. It crushed the analyst consensus earnings estimate by an average of 70% in three of the four quarters of 2019. (In the one quarter that it missed the consensus, it did so by just 13%.)

FTI Consulting stock is trading at 23.7 times the Street's forward earnings estimate. That isn't cheap for a company that's expected to grow earnings by an average of 14% per year over the next half decade. However, it's not too frothy for a stock of a top quality company.

For context, Wall Street expects leading management consulting firm Accenture (ACN -0.08%) to grow earnings at an average rate of 7.4% over the next five years. The stock is priced at 21.6 times forward earnings. So it's pricier than FTI when expected earnings growth is taken into account. Part of the reason is surely that Accenture pays a dividend (currently yielding 1.8%) and FTI does not.

Beth McKenna has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Accenture, Teladoc Health, and Zoom Video Communications. The Motley Fool owns shares of Everbridge and recommends the following options: short May 2020 $120 calls on Zoom Video Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

FTI Consulting, Inc. Stock Quote
FTI Consulting, Inc.
FCN
$166.16 (-0.62%) $-1.04
Accenture plc Stock Quote
Accenture plc
ACN
$320.08 (-0.08%) $0.25
Teladoc Health, Inc. Stock Quote
Teladoc Health, Inc.
TDOC
$39.46 (-3.59%) $-1.47
Everbridge, Inc. Stock Quote
Everbridge, Inc.
EVBG
$36.40 (-2.41%) $0.90
Zoom Video Communications Stock Quote
Zoom Video Communications
ZM
$108.08 (-4.55%) $-5.15

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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