Everyone would love to find the perfect stock. But will you ever really find a stock that gives you everything you could possibly want?

One thing's for sure: If you don't look, you'll never find truly great investments. So let's first take a look at what you'd want to see from a perfect stock, and then decide if Immunomedics (Nasdaq: IMMU) fits the bill.

The quest for perfection
When you're looking for great stocks, you have to do your due diligence. It's not enough to rely on a single measure, because a stock that looks great based on one factor may turn out to be horrible in other ways. The best stocks, however, excel in many different areas, which all come together to make up a very attractive picture.

Some of the most basic yet important things to look for in a stock are:

  • 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 don't mean anything if a company can't turn them into profits. Strong margins ensure a company is able to turn revenue into profit.
  • Balance sheet. Debt-laden companies have banks and bondholders competing with shareholders for management's attention. Companies with strong balance sheets don't have to worry about the distraction of debt.
  • Money-making opportunities. Companies need to be able to turn their resources into profitable business opportunities. Return on equity helps measure how well a company is finding those opportunities.
  • Valuation. You can't afford to pay too much for even the best companies. Earnings multiples are simple, but using normalized figures gives you a sense of how valuation fits into a longer-term context.
  • Dividends. Investors are demanding tangible proof of profits, and there's nothing more tangible than getting a check every three months. 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 Immunomedics.


What We Want to See


Pass or Fail?

Growth 5-Year Annual Revenue Growth > 15% 49.5% Pass
  1-Year Revenue Growth > 12% (68.2%) Fail
Margins Gross Margin > 35% (21.1%) Fail
  Net Margin > 15% (29.4%) Fail
Balance Sheet Debt to Equity < 50% 0% Pass
  Current Ratio > 1.3 6.44 Pass
Opportunities Return on Equity > 15% (16.7%) Fail
Valuation Normalized P/E < 20 NM Fail
Dividends Current Yield > 2% 0% Fail
  5-Year Dividend Growth > 10% 0% Fail
  Total Score   3 out of 10

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard and Poor's. NM = not meaningful due to negative earnings. Total score = number of passes.

Immunomedics weighs in with a score of just 3. Although the biopharma company has a great deal of potential, it hasn't yet found the big payoff from its efforts.

Immunomedics started out with a focus on diagnostic imaging products that helped doctors detect cancer and infectious diseases in their patients. But the company has shifted its focus away from those products in favor of developing therapeutic products of its own.

The company's most advanced drug in development is epratuzumab, a potential treatment for lupus and aggressive lymphoma. Unfortunately for Immunomedics, Human Genome Sciences (Nasdaq: HGSI) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) are ahead of the company with their competing lupus drug Benlysta. The FDA's decision date for Benlysta is this week, so Immunomedics shareholders have a moment of truth ahead of them. Still, with notable companies such as Teva Pharmaceutical (Nasdaq: TEVA), Roche, and Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB) having failed in their past attempts at a lupus treatment, there's no guarantee that Benlysta will make it past the FDA either.

Like most small biotech and pharmaceutical stocks, Immunomedics represents somewhat of a gamble for investors. The payoff could be huge, but until the company proves it can produce a blockbuster, Immunomedics won't be the perfect stock.

Keep searching
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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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.