Black & Decker
Black & Decker's stock has created a firestorm of its own, rising almost 60% over the past year and trading at about 10% from its 52-week high. Even with such torrid growth, the stock trades at less than 15 times trailing earnings, as earnings have grown more than 49% over the full year.
While the company is starting to see some pressure from materials costs, management was still able to squeeze out a 1.3% improvement in operating margins. Better yet, Black & Decker exceeded its prior forecast for free cash flow and generated $526 million for 2004 -- an amount that actually exceeded net income, which was $456 million.
Although the company has now posted 11 straight quarters of 18% or better EPS growth, that level of performance is going to get increasingly tough to sustain. As consolidation in the tool business continues, competition is going to get fiercer with the likes of Stanley Works
Still, it's hard to argue with success, and Black & Decker has thus far been drilling its detractors and skeptics. With a low trailing price-to-earnings ratio, an enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio of about 13, and a clear knack for selling the tools that people want to buy, this stock continues to look like a solid growth play.
Don't know the difference between a band saw and a drill press? That's OK -- you don't need to be a handyman to appreciate good tool companies:
- Stanley Swaps Doors for Locks
- Black & Decker Blowout
- Is This Company Built to Last?
- Black & Decker: Cool or Tool?
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson is a chartered financial analyst. He loves his Firestorm tools but has no ownership interest in any stocks mentioned.