Uniform-rental firm Cintas
For the quarter, Cintas continued strong top-line growth with an 11% increase in sales, while net income grew 8.3%. Diluted earnings per share grew a more rapid 15.2% as the company repurchased about eight million shares. Management also offered fiscal 2007 guidance, with projected revenue of $3.77 billion to $3.85 billion and earnings of $2.10 to $2.20 per share.
If growth comes in as expected, 2007 will represent Cintas's 38th straight year of sales and earnings growth. In my last earnings review of the company, I noted that the current P/E of about 20 is not a bargain-basement multiple. But because of Cintas' steady, dependable track record of sales, earnings, and cash flow growth, the stock is rarely a steal, and it's now trading near its lowest multiple in the past five years.
Based on management projections, the forward P/E of 19 is down significantly -- it was more than 40 in 1999, and it's fallen steadily each year since. Additionally, the stock has yet to recover from its 2002 high of $55, even though earnings are up nearly 60% since then.
In other words, now may not be a bad time for some further tire-kicking regarding the opportunity to own one of the market's more consistently growing companies. First, check out the competitive landscape, which includes Aramark
Although the past is no guarantee of future success, analysts covering the stock still have a rosy outlook, with 15% projected annual earnings gains. If Cintas can grow at that rate for the next five to 10 years, shareholders will be duly rewarded.
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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.