One of the great offshoots from the frenetic pace of earnings season is that there's always a company or two that newly catches your eye. For me, this time I've become at least a little smitten with global shipper TBS International
Let's first take a gander at the numbers that grabbed my attention. For the quarter, the company increased its net income by an attention-getting 143%, to $52.6 million. And if you exclude one-time items, that percentage jumps to 237%. Beyond that, diluted earnings per share, exclusive of those one-time aberrations, were up 225%, to $1.82. Amid a weak market on Thursday -- following a run-up the prior day -- the company's shares pulled back. But they resumed a northerly direction both Friday and continuing into this week.
Now, I must admit to having a soft spot in my heart for companies whose stock-in-trade is boats, especially big boats. On that basis, in years past I've paid attention to such quality marine transporters as the big enchilada of tank barge operators, Kirby
TBS International plies its trade in international waters, between Asia and South America, or Europe and the Middle East, for instance. The United States comes into play in its operations infrequently. And, as management noted in releasing its stellar results, it views "cargoes relating to mining, energy, steel production, infrastructure, and construction" as areas that will most benefit from increasing globalization and world trade.
But sitting astride that international commercial sweet spot as it does, the company's shares must be ozone-level expensive, right? Wrong. Take a look at these metrics: it's PEG ratio is just 0.65, its operating margin has sat near or above 20% since 2004, and its return on equity is currently humming along in excess of 43%. The one number that's difficult to get by is the beta of 2.10. But it's my belief that as the TBS story becomes better known -- only three analysts currently follow the company -- its beta will settle down.
So Fools, keep your eyes on this one. TBS could well be a leader in the wave of companies that will profit from the increasingly global movement of commodities.
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