Chew a piece of gum, and it won't take long until it loses its flavor. But if you've been chewing on Wrigley's
For its fiscal 2005 first quarter, the company reported record sales that increased 17% to $950.4 million. European revenues were up 16%, domestic sales were higher by 7%, and in Asia they increased briskly by 39%. Wrigley identified its Orbit brand as one that is gaining some nice traction in the U.S. market.
Investors have to like the taste of its double-digit revenue growth, but shareholders would be quick to spit this stock out if the company's margins were sacrificed to fuel sales. Fortunately, Wrigley was able to maintain operating margins -- and even improve upon them slightly. This time last year, its operating margins were 19.9%; this quarter, its operating margins were 20.2%, higher by 1.5%.
The refreshing taste of strong sales and improving margins resulted in juicy earnings growth that increased 18% to $131 million. At a price of around $68, its stock currently trades at approximately 30 times earnings. At this valuation the enterprise is hardly a deep bargain, but given the company's track record, it's also hard to bet against it.
If you want to get a glimpse of Wrigley's historical performance, check out a 30-year view of its chart. What you'll see is that its stock is as rock-steady as they come, putting it in the ranks of such super-star performers as ExxonMobil
Is Wrigley's stock cheap? No. But bet against this company at your own risk. My recommendation for potential investors is to dip your toe in on any weakness, and then wait patiently for a pullback before diving in completely.
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Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.