Yesterday I covered cash machine United Technologies
After the market closed yesterday, Cendant reported that revenue increased 5%, and net income from continuing operations soared 19%. Even better, the company forecast that fourth-quarter earnings will be up as much as 14%. Those are excellent numbers for a company value priced at 11.5 times analyst 2005 estimates.
Of interest to Foolish investors is the company's guidance to expect 2004 to produce in excess of $2 billion in free cash flow (FCF) -- a better measure of a company's true profitability. And Cendant's stock sells for a value-priced 11 times 2004 FCF estimates.
All the FCF news is not good. FCF decreased $282 million in the latest quarter to $729 million -- still an impressive number. Instead of focusing on this quarter's drop in FCF, investors should focus on where Cendant is going.
Before the end of the year, the company plans to buy online travel giant Orbitz
The company has also announced its intent to acquire Ramada International Hotels & Resorts from Marriott International
The company is also narrowing its focus to travel and residential real estate. Cendant will spin off its mortgage and fleet operations to shareholders early next year. Both operations (and shareholders) should benefit from the company becoming more focused.
Some see Cendant on another buying binge. Others see the company jettisoning a mortgage business it found hard to sell -- which is only the sixth largest retail originator of residential mortgage loans and going through a downturn. Others will look at the cash flow, the breath of operations, and the quality brand names and say, "What a value."
Fool contributor W.D. Crotty does not own stock in any of the companies mentioned.