Ahhh, boring stocks. I love 'em. Pawn shops, debt collectors, distributors of washers and metalworking tools -- none of them will fire the passions of tech-geeks, but all of 'em have made me a lot of money. Considering that Wimm-Bill-Dann
But the performance at this Russian food company is anything but boring. Revenue rose more than 18% this quarter, and the company seems to be continuing an attractive pattern of improving margins. Gross margins rose nearly four points, and both the operating margin and adjusted EBITDA margin grew by nearly five points.
Likewise, cash flow growth looked pretty tasty this quarter, too. In fact, it's impressive that I'm even able to talk about quarterly cash flow here. Russian companies have a reputation for being shareholder-unfriendly, and yet here's one that provides cash flow information, something that many American companies do not. I realize there's really no such thing as shame in American business, but if a company like Wimm-Bill-Dann can provide a cash flow statement, nobody else really has a good excuse in my book.
Things are going pretty well now, but don't get lulled into a false sense of security. Russia is still a tricky region, and the company must still deal with competitors like Coca-Cola
It's also true that the company has been benefiting from price increases that may or may not be sustainable (including a more-than-10% hike in dairy and baby food). Last but not least, though the company's return on invested capital is improving, it's still not at a great level just yet.
I like the idea of owning companies like Wimm-Bill-Dann (I own stocks of two foreign brewers myself), and I don't think the stock is terribly overpriced. But as we've all seen over the past month or so, investors can turn jittery on emerging markets in a heartbeat, and then companies go for a slide -- good and bad alike.
For more foreign-themed Foolishness:
- Investing World Cup: China vs. Western Europe
- Investing World Cup: North America (Non-U.S.) vs. India and Southeast Asia
- Investing World Cup: Eastern Europe vs. South America
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).