The growth crowd can be a fickle beast. When times are good, it'll push your stock up further, faster, than it deserves, but when even a modest blemish on that growth record appears, it'll abandon you in haste.
Now, I don't think investors are exactly pulling the plug on freight, logistics, and supply chain management company UTi Worldwide
Net revenue growth was pretty solid for the quarter at 30%, and an improvement in the operating margin led operating income to grow 44% over last year's level. Share dilution continues to be pretty moderate, and EPS grew by almost 38%.
While the airfreight and oceanfreight businesses continue to see price pressures, both still managed top-line growth of more than 20% for the quarter. Contract logistics, though, was the real star. Strong business growth and new(ish) acquisitions helped drive revenue growth of 40%.
Management indicated that it does expect freight rates to ease somewhat through the year, but it sounded a note of caution regarding future growth. Pointing out the challenging environment and the fact that past growth has established an ever-higher bar to hurdle, management said that maintaining present levels of growth would be "very challenging."
Now, come on. Is anybody really surprised? No company, and I do mean no company, can grow EPS at a 30%-plus clip indefinitely. What's more, management didn't suggest that growth would go away entirely -- just that it would probably start to slow a bit.
I've liked the UTi business model for a while, and I still do. What I haven't liked in the past was the valuation. Although the stock still isn't cheap, it remains a high-quality company -- and the global market for logistics services is still an attractive growth story.
Less value-sensitive investors might want to use this dip to buy some more shares. For me, I'll repeat the dreaded mantra that has cost me some profitable opportunities in the past -- "just a little cheaper, please."
Learn more about the logic of logistics:
- UPS Adds Big Rigs
- UTi Expedites Global Growth
- Landstar Gets a Gold Star
- Expeditor Delivers the Goods
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).