Famous for its "hogs" and the image that comes with them, Harley-Davidson is also well-known in financial circles for its solid revenue and earnings growth. The company is the leading seller of heavyweight motorcycles in the U.S., and sells 24 models through thousands of dealers around the world. Generally, Harley's biggest challenge is keeping up with demand for its bikes, as customers sometimes must wait a year or more for a new purchase.
Harley likes to boast of its 15 consecutive years of record revenue and earnings. The company has increased EPS by an average rate of 24% over the past ten years, and last year clocked in with $2.91 billion in revenue, an 18.5% increase over 1999. Thanks to its order backlog, Harley is optimistic about its prospects this year, and is planning to increase its production target.
The company has enriched its shareholders by an average of 38.8% annually over the past decade. Partly as a result, Harley, like its bikes, isn't cheap: at a recent price of $44.90, it trades at about 34x estimated fiscal 2001 EPS of $1.30.
Johnson & Johnson
Probably the most diversified healthcare company on the planet, Drip Portfolio holding and FOOL 50 component Johnson & Johnson holds stand-out consumer brands such as Band-Aid, Reach toothbrushes, and Tylenol. The company also includes a professional products division, which sells surgical tools and diagnostic equipment, among other things, and a pharmaceutical division that offers cancer drugs and oral contraceptives.
Johnson & Johnson is the model of consistency. The company has grown sales every year since 1933, and has increased its dividend annually for the past 38 years. In the past ten years, EPS has grown 14% annually. Meanwhile, shareholders are shedding no tears: with dividends invested, the company's stock has returned an average of 18.8% over the past decade.
Jones Apparel Group
While fashion retail companies can be notoriously fickle, one that has been a relatively stable performer is Jones Apparel group, which makes, markets, and sells men's and women's clothes and footwear under the Jones New York, Nine West, Todd Oldham, and Savile brands, as well as several labels licensed from Polo Ralph Lauren. The company significantly expanded its retail presence in 1999 when it bought shoe designer Nine West. In addition, thanks to its purchase of Sun Apparel in 1998, Jones manufactures a range of private label brands, giving it a cushion for times when sales in its own stores may slow. And, it so happens that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway
Jones has increased earnings for nine consecutive years, and finished 2000 with $4.14 billion in revenue and $304 million in net income. Due to its many purchases, long-term income growth rates are difficult to calculate, but in the past five years the company grew EPS 25.2% annually. While announcing its fourth-quarter and full-year 2000 results in early February, the company indicated that it still expects 18% to 20% EPS growth this year, not including some non-cash charges.
Jones's solid financial performance has been matched by a 25.3% average annual return in the market over the past ten years. Nevertheless, the company still trades at about 13x this year's estimated EPS of $2.97, partly due to the generally lower multiples of retail stocks.
If any one company could be the complete opposite of the hot "high-tech" companies that have provided so much gain and pain in the past few years, it would have to be Tootsie Roll. Run by an elderly couple -- Melvin and Ellen Gordon, who control 70% of the company's shares -- Tootsie Roll has been cranking out its namesake candy and regularly growing its business for years. The company also makes the Andes Mints, Junior Mints, Sugar Daddy candies, and Charms and Tootsie Pops lollipops. In fact, the company is the largest lollipop producer in the world.
While Tootsie Roll is not exactly a hyper-growth company, it has increased sales for 24 years in a row and earnings for 19 consecutive years. Over the past ten years, EPS have compounded at a 13.5% annual rate.
Meanwhile, the company's shares have provided an average annual return of 19.9%. Other candy companies have also done well over long periods of time, including Wrigley
The seventh-largest bank in the U.S., Wells Fargo offers consumer and business banking, real estate lending, mortgage banking, and brokerage services. The company is currently the largest originator of home mortgage loans in the U.S. After completing a merger with Norwest in 1998, Wells Fargo has continued to snap up regional banks, brokerage firms, and other financial companies. While somewhat more exposed to the California economy than other major banks, the company has been a consistent performer over the years, with shareholders receiving average annual returns of 26.5% in the past decade.
The company's earnings over that time have been slightly less consistent than other companies on this list, which isn't too surprising given all its merger and acquisition activity, but over the past ten years the company has grown EPS by an annual average of 14.1%.
Data from Bloomberg, Hoover's, and company reports.
Chris Rugaber does not own shares of any of the companies listed in this article, though he may invest in some of them soon, which will then cause their shares to drop. His current holdings are listed in his profile. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.