Forced to pick a single company that would gauge the health of Corporate America, it would be easy to settle on Cintas
Yet consistency kicks this proxy to the curb. For 35 years, Cintas has produced higher sales and profits. Last night, the company wrapped up another record-breaking fiscal year by earning $1.58 a share on a 5% uptick in revenue.
It is looking to run that streak to 36, too, as the company is guiding investors to expect earnings per share to come in between $1.70 and $1.80. Revenue for fiscal 2005 should come in between $3.0 billion and $3.2 billion, an improvement over this past year's $2.8 billion sum.
But it hasn't been as easy as it seems. Until a potent June quarter closed up the fiscal year in well-dressed fashion, the company's top line was chugging ahead by just 3%. And you're fooling yourself if you don't think the company has had to navigate flawlessly to maintain its resiliency.
That has been largely the product of being the big dog, toiling away in a highly fragmented sector. Its nearest rival in uniform rentals, ARAMARK
If Cintas ultimately makes for a poor indicator on the job-growth scene, you can thank the company for that. Consistency is the product of many things -- none of them simple.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz realizes that the word "cintas" is Spanish for "tapes." He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.