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 Oncothyreon
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 Oncothyreon.
What We Want to See
Pass or Fail?
|Growth||5-year annual revenue growth > 15%||(47.8%)||Fail|
|1-year revenue growth > 12%||(92.4%)||Fail|
|Margins||Gross margin > 35%||100%||Pass|
|Net margin > 15%||NM||NM|
|Balance sheet||Debt to equity < 50%||40.6%||Pass|
|Current ratio > 1.3||10.03||Pass|
|Opportunities||Return on equity > 15%||(118.7%)||Fail|
|Valuation||Normalized P/E < 20||NM||NM|
|Dividends||Current yield > 2%||0%||Fail|
|5-year dividend growth > 10%||0%||Fail|
|Total Score||3 out of 8|
Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. NM = not meaningful; Oncothyreon had negative earnings and negligible revenue during the period. Total score = number of passes.
With just three points, Oncothyreon hasn't found a miracle cure to achieve perfect stock status. The immunotherapy developer has some solid prospects, but the company lags behind many of its better-known peers in the biotech realm.
Oncothyreon is on a mission to develop a cure for lung cancer. The company's drug Stimuvax attempts to get a patient's immune system to attack the MUC-1 protein, which is expressed by certain types of cancer. The method is similar to what Dendreon's
Stimuvax is in a phase 3 trial right now, but as promising as that sounds, though, it isn't a surefire road to success. Also, several companies, including GlaxoSmithKline
Like most small drug companies, Oncothyreon isn't profitable and won't be unless Stimuvax comes through. But with such a huge market, a success could mean a big payday for the company. Oncothyreon isn't the perfect stock for conservative investors, but those willing to take a chance on the company's prospects could receive rich rewards if Stimuvax shows promising trial results and eventually gains Food and Drug Administration approval.
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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