After some uneven financial performance and business restructurings over the past couple of years, diversified industrial firm Teleflex
Fortunately, shares of Teleflex tend to have wide swings, leaving ample opportunity to take advantage of Mr. Market's moodiness and pick some up on the cheap. Over the past year, they've traded as low as $49.67 and are almost back to their highs of $72.22 reached last April. This may have something to do with the fact that share volume isn't very high, so the lack of liquidity means buying and selling activity can have a more pronounced influence on the stock price. Plus, a number of moves to jettison low-margin businesses and other restructuring actions have lowered reported bottom-line earnings figures, causing investors to question just how profitable Teleflex is.
2006 included a number of special charges, asset sales, and tax benefits, but the company was still able to grow earnings for the year and has a reputation as a consistent cash flow generator, even if earnings results fluctuate more than most firms. Operating cash flow grew year over year and came in more than double reported net income, speaking to Teleflex's free cash flow-generating capabilities.
Each of the company's three divisions reported sales increases for the year. Commercial accounted for nearly half of total sales and grew 5%, but operating income fell because the unit serves the struggling automotive industry and other industrial clients. The medical unit grew only 3%, but there was an 8% increase in operating earnings. The aerospace unit had been the problem child but posted almost 8% top-line growth and experienced a big 51% jump in operating income.
Over the past five years, Teleflex has only reported high-single-digit growth in sales, and net income has grown just under 5% annually. But operating cash flow has grown in the double digits -- this is what keeps value investors hovering around the name. In other words, don't expect mind-boggling growth. But if you're happy with a firm that throws off lots of cash, consistently benefits shareholders by increasing its dividend and repurchasing shares, and prudently uses capital to grow the business modestly over time, then look no further than Teleflex.
As I mentioned, the shares are fast approaching their 52-week highs, so now may not be the best time to put chips on the table. There are also concerns that the economy is slowing, which would cause further difficulties in the commercial segment and mask any improvements occurring in aerospace or the steady-eddy medical unit. But just like peers such as Honeywell
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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies further.