More good news came in yesterday morning as CRA reported second-quarter revenues up 48% and net income up 36% from Q2 of 2004. The company also raised earnings and revenue guidance for the 2005 fiscal year.
Despite a good business and solid results, buying stock at CRA's current price doesn't guarantee a market winner. First of all, yesterday's growth numbers were boosted by the added revenue from an acquisition back in April of 2004. With this factored out, the company saw organic revenue growth of about 20%, which is in line with the prior year.
There is nothing wrong with acquisitions in general, but they make it more difficult to value the core business and bring in the risk of overpaying to get a quick growth boost. Shareholders would be much better served if management would either acquire during an industry downturn, when companies are cheap, or pay out any excess funds with a one-time dividend.
Another problem in valuing these shares is taking options into consideration. CRA, like many others, has elected not to expense the options it currently grants. To see what earnings look like after options expensing, check out page FS-11 in the company's most recent annual report. Fortunately, this won't be a problem going forward, due to FASB's new rule that companies will have to start expensing options.
Considering these factors, along with organic growth of only 20%, a P/E of 29 seems pricey. But CRA is in a business with good economics and has been posting solid growth lately. Investors who buy in the next time Mr. Market offers a discount could be rewarded well.
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Fool contributor Matt Thurmond doesn't own stock in any of the companies mentioned in this article.