Every investor would love to stumble upon the perfect stock. But will you ever really find a stock that provides everything you could possibly want?
One thing's for sure: You'll never discover truly great investments unless you actively look for them. Let's discuss the ideal qualities of a perfect stock, then decide if Eaton
The quest for perfection
Stocks that look great based on one factor may prove horrible elsewhere, making due diligence a crucial part of your investing research. The best stocks excel in many different areas, including these important factors:
- Growth. Expanding businesses show healthy revenue growth. While past growth is no guarantee that revenue will keep rising, it's certainly a better sign than a stagnant top line.
- Margins. Higher sales mean nothing if a company can't produce profits from them. Strong margins ensure that company can turn revenue into profit.
- Balance sheet. At debt-laden companies, banks and bondholders compete with shareholders for management's attention. Companies with strong balance sheets don't have to worry about the distraction of debt.
- Money-making opportunities. Return on equity helps measure how well a company is finding opportunities to turn its resources into profitable business endeavors.
- Valuation. You can't afford to pay too much for even the best companies. By using normalized figures, you can see how a stock's simple earnings multiple fits into a longer-term context.
- Dividends. For tangible proof of profits, a check to shareholders every three months can't be beat. Companies with solid dividends and strong commitments to increasing payouts treat shareholders well.
With those factors in mind, let's take a closer look at Eaton.
What We Want to See
Pass or Fail?
|Growth||5-Year Annual Revenue Growth > 15%||4.9%||Fail|
|1-Year Revenue Growth > 12%||18.5%||Pass|
|Margins||Gross Margin > 35%||30.1%||Fail|
|Net Margin > 15%||7.4%||Fail|
|Balance Sheet||Debt to Equity < 50%||44.1%||Pass|
|Current Ratio > 1.3||1.71||Pass|
|Opportunities||Return on Equity > 15%||14.7%||Fail|
|Valuation||Normalized P/E < 20||21.84||Fail|
|Dividends||Current Yield > 2%||2.7%||Pass|
|5-Year Dividend Growth > 10%||12.8%||Pass|
|Total Score||5 out of 10|
Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard and Poor's. Total score = number of passes.
With a score of 5, Eaton finishes in the middle of our scale. The maker of industrial components has its hand in some interesting technologies, though, and could be poised to advance toward perfection if they pan out.
Eaton calls itself a diversified power management company, manufacturing a number of components that other companies use in their own products. For instance, the company supplies aerospace fuel, hydraulics, and pneumatic systems to airplane manufacturers like Boeing
But Eaton's electrical business dominates the rest of its segments, both in sales and operating profits. Eaton supplies customers of all sizes, ranging from established companies like Woodward
Eaton is also poised to benefit from building out an alternative-energy infrastructure, with a relationship with Clean Energy Fuels
With healthy and growing dividends, Eaton's shares may justify a somewhat lofty valuation. Although growth hasn't been as fast as investors would like to see, the future looks fairly bright for Eaton and may well bring better results for the company.
No stock is a sure thing, but some stocks are a lot closer to perfect than others. By looking for the perfect stock, you'll go a long way toward improving your investing prowess and learning how to separate out the best investments from the rest.
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Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Embraer. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.