This is part of The Motley Fool's annual "Stocks for Mom" special.
Church & Dwight Co.
Trading at $31.50 as of May 2, 2003
Mom needs every bit of stability she can get in her life. After all, juggling soccer practice, ballet, gymnastics and, well, Dad, is a serious challenge. So what better stock for mom than a stable performer whose products she's already familiar with?
At first glance, Church & Dwight Co.
Where would mom be without baking soda? The fridge would still have that "not-so-fresh" smell, grease fires would burn out of control, and the science project volcano would never erupt. Not to fear, Church and Dwight, owner of the Arm & Hammer brand, has plenty of baking soda, and most everything else mom could want -- except jewelry; there, you're on your own.
As we've mentioned before, this consumer and specialty products firm offers everything from Arrid antiperspirant to toothpaste and fabric softener. Through it's 50% ownership of Armkel, the company also produces a range of products such as Trojan condoms (for those who would prefer not to add to their motherly duties), and First Response home pregnancy and ovulation test kits (for those who would, or at least for those who failed to use the Trojan product).
OK, but it takes more than good products to make a good stock, so let's get down to what moms are really concerned with: value. At little more than 16 times its trailing twelve-month free-cash flow (FCF), the company presents an attractive valuation to go along with its solid fundamentals.
It may not be a sexy business (unless you count the condoms), but it is a business with stability and diversity. One that produces cash in both good times and bad, as evidenced by the company recently announcing it's 409th regular quarterly dividend –- yep, that's over 102 years worth. Mom could always use a little extra spending money, after all.
Recent acquisitions of Carter-Wallace consumer products and USA Detergents will prove beneficial to the bottom line. And the firm should continue to successfully leverage its core baking soda business, introducing new, innovative products to drive sales growth. Profit growth is going to moderate slightly this year from last year's 17% level as the company digests its purchases, but it should still be able to grow earnings per share (EPS) to the tune of 13% in '03.
Further, the consumer powerhouse should produce 2003 sales growth in the 5% range, with sales totaling nearly $1.1 billion. The largest gains will likely come from the deodorizing and cleaning divisions, with high-margin products like carpet deodorizers, air fresheners, and cat litter -- yes, cat litter -– driving sales. The company should also see increases in sales of its value-priced Arm & Hammer laundry detergents, which typically sell at a 15% to 30% discount to leading brands.
Though the company has an international presence, 92% of its earnings come from the U.S. market, giving it some insulation from a weakening global economy –- as American as mom and apple pie one might say. Gross margins should receive an added boost as the company realizes synergies and cost savings from its acquisitions, and like all good moms, the company keeps a close watch on its expenses.
In light of Church & Dwight's above-average earnings growth, diverse product mix, and compelling valuation, mom should do well owning the shares.
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Mathew Emmert loves his mom, and doesn't wait until Mother's Day to give her a call. He doesn't own any of the companies mentioned in this article, but if you'd like to see what he does own, check out his profile. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.
A Stock for Mom represents the opinion of one Fool and should in no way be taken as the opinion of either The Motley Fool, Inc. or the company in question, or as representative of anyone or anything other than that specific Fool's thoughts.