There are several ways to get financial data on companies. You can roll the dice with free sites like Yahoo!
Dun & Bradstreet has been in the information business for well over a century. The company maintains a database on more than 100 million companies worldwide. As a supplier of business-to-business information, this enterprise may not sound too exciting, but a stock that has steadily risen from $15 in 2000 to the mid-$60s now should certainly perk a Fool's interest.
In its third-quarter earnings report released Tuesday after the market closed, the company said its EPS declined 29% from last year, to $0.46 per share. Dun & Bradstreet pointed out that it earned $0.75 per share, just a penny shy of analyst expectations of $0.76 -- so long as you ignored some pesky "one-time" charges. For example, the company took an extra hit on taxes due to repatriation of foreign cash, as well as the resolution of a tax legacy matter. Investors weren't impressed, sending the stock down about 5% in Wednesday's midday trading.
The company's sales growth wasn't all that impressive either, up just 3%, or 2% excluding currency effects. The bulk of its sales came from the U.S., where it experienced growth of 8%; international sales grew a less healthy 5%, or 4% excluding currency effects.
Although Dun & Bradstreet missed estimates, it continues to rake in the free cash flow. Excluding the effect of its legacy tax payment this quarter, the company brought in $191.5 million in free cash flow year to date, up 24% from the same period last year. It anticipates its full-year free cash flow to be $265 million to $280 million. Considering that it already has $264.6 million in cash and equivalents in the bank, and a negligible amount of long-term debt, Dun & Bradstreet has ample flexibility to pursue growth organically or through acquisitions.
Its free cash flow is already being put to good use through a two-year, $400 million share buyback program that began this year. To date, it has repurchased $150.6 million worth of its own stock, including $50.7 million in the third quarter. With the stock down Wednesday, the buyback program certainly gives an investor more confidence to consider taking advantage of the dip and jump on board around the current price of $63.50.
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Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not own shares of any companies mentioned.