Writing about stocks every day can really make your brain wither and brown, like those spots in the yard where the puppy does the dog thing. I figure it takes about two months to use up all your money-oriented metaphors, and after that, cleverness retires into reruns. But today, I've got plenty of excuses for verdant metaphors, because the green is truly growing at lawn and garden company Scotts
For the second fiscal quarter, revenues were up a decent 8% to $729 million, though, foreign exchange added 3% of that increase. After you trim away the overgrowth -- special charges for both years -- earnings were up almost 12% to $2.23 per share.
There was a 100% improvement in commission revenues from a deal with Monsanto's
The latter revenues, at just over $16 million, provide a tiny portion of the overall sales, but if the firm can keep nurturing the business, it could provide a real boost to the top line. But since selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A) alone for Scotts LawnService cost over $15 million, shareholders will want to keep an eye on that portion of the operations to see if it is going to contribute where it counts: earnings.
And while we're pulling weeds, there are a few more items that demand attention. One is stock-based compensation. Bravo to Scotts for laying out the expense for us right there in the release, but unfortunately for shareholders, that expense is up about 300% for both the quarter and the year to date. SG&A also grew at twice the rate of sales.
Finally, there's the balance sheet. The debt load, at over $1 billion, is 75 times larger than the firm's paltry $14 million in cash. Whoa! That's not much insurance against unforeseen problems -- like bad weather -- and it's more than enough reason for Fools to steer clear of this stock, especially when it already trades at 25 times trailing earnings on a predicted 10% growth rate.
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Fool contributor Seth Jayson feels guilty whenever he has to poison the plant that grow in his driveway, but rational discussion has led nowhere. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above. View his Fool profile here.