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 T. Rowe Price
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 T. Rowe Price.
What We Want to See
Pass or Fail?
|Growth||5-Year Annual Revenue Growth > 15%||9.5%||Fail|
|1-Year Revenue Growth > 12%||20.3%||Pass|
|Margins||Gross Margin > 35%||64.5%||Pass|
|Net Margin > 15%||28.5%||Pass|
|Balance Sheet||Debt to Equity < 50%||0%||Pass|
|Current Ratio > 1.3||3.28||Pass|
|Opportunities||Return on Equity > 15%||24.5%||Pass|
|Valuation||Normalized P/E < 20||19.15||Pass|
|Dividends||Current Yield > 2%||2.2%||Pass|
|5-Year Dividend Growth > 10%||16.5%||Pass|
|Total Score||9 out of 10|
Source: S&P Capital IQ. Total score = number of passes.
Since we looked at T. Rowe Price last year, the fund company has almost achieved perfection, picking up two points. A fall in its share price combined with improving earnings and dividend payouts helped push its earnings multiple down and its yield up.
T. Rowe Price is well-known for its mutual fund business. The company stands up to competitors like AllianceBernstein
But a potentially larger threat to T. Rowe Price's mutual fund strength comes from exchange-traded funds. Companies like BlackRock
What's particularly interesting about T. Rowe is its ability to grab up private placements. For instance, when Netflix
Clearly, T. Rowe Price has done almost everything it needs in order to reach our top score, and if its revenue growth continues, it could get there in the near future. In fact, with shares having remained flat over the past few years, I'm confident enough about the stock's prospects to make a CAPScall for T. Rowe Price to outperform the S&P 500 over the next five years.
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.
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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 ."
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of T. Rowe Price Group. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Netflix and BlackRock. 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.