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 VirnetX
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 VirnetX.
What We Want to See
Pass or Fail?
|Growth||5-Year Annual Revenue Growth > 15%||(21.8%)*||Fail|
|1-Year Revenue Growth > 12%||(61.2%)||Fail|
|Margins||Gross Margin > 35%||NM||NM|
|Net Margin > 15%||NM||NM|
|Balance Sheet||Debt to Equity < 50%||0%||Pass|
|Current Ratio > 1.3||20.17||Pass|
|Opportunities||Return on Equity > 15%||(25.5%)||Fail|
|Valuation||Normalized P/E < 20||NM||NM|
|Dividends||Current Yield > 2%||0%||Fail|
|5-Year Dividend Growth > 10%||0%||Fail|
|Total Score||2 out of 7|
Source: S&P Capital IQ. NM = not meaningful due to negative earnings and/or negligible revenue. Total score = number of passes. *4-year annual growth.
Since we looked at VirnetX last year, the company has seen its score drop significantly. A brief foray into profitability ended for the software company, and it now has to figure out which direction to go for its future.
VirnetX is a software company that specializes in online and mobile security. Having been created as a spin-out from defense contractor SAIC
So far, though, VirnetX has had its sole success come from defending its intellectual property. In 2010, Microsoft
In the meantime, though, VirnetX has also gone after other alleged infringers. It argues that Apple
Unless VirnetX can convince companies to make licensing deals absent litigation, its future seems reliant on its court cases. For now, investors need to expect huge volatility that's entirely driven by news about its infringement suits.
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. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Cisco Systems, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and creating bull call spread positions on Microsoft and Apple. 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.