Every investor would love to stumble upon the perfect stock. But will you ever really find a stock that provides everything you could possibly want?
One thing’s for sure: You’ll never discover truly great investments unless you actively look for them. Let’s discuss the ideal qualities of a perfect stock, then decide if Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) fits the bill.
The quest for perfection
Stocks that look great based on one factor may prove horrible elsewhere, making due diligence a crucial part of your investing research. The best stocks excel in many different areas, including these important factors:
Growth. Expanding businesses show healthy revenue growth. While past growth is no guarantee that revenue will keep rising, it’s certainly a better sign than a stagnant top line.
Margins. Higher sales mean nothing if a company can’t produce profits from them. Strong margins ensure that company can turn revenue into profit.
Balance sheet. At debt-laden companies, banks and bondholders compete with shareholders for management’s attention. Companies with strong balance sheets don’t have to worry about the distraction of debt.
Money-making opportunities. Return on equity helps measure how well a company is finding opportunities to turn its resources into profitable business endeavors.
Valuation. You can’t afford to pay too much for even the best companies. By using normalized figures, you can see how a stock’s simple earnings multiple fits into a longer-term context.
Dividends. For tangible proof of profits, a check to shareholders every three months can’t be beat. Companies with solid dividends and strong commitments to increasing payouts treat shareholders well.
With those factors in mind, let’s take a closer look at Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM).
|Factor||What We Want to See||Actual||Pass or Fail?|
|Growth||5-year annual revenue growth > 15%||6.6%||Fail|
|1-year revenue growth > 12%||0.9%||Fail|
|Margins||Gross margin > 35%||66.9%||Pass|
|Net margin > 15%||28%||Pass|
|Balance sheet||Debt to equity < 50%||NM||NM|
|Current ratio > 1.3||0.97||Fail|
|Opportunities||Return on equity > 15%||NM||NM|
|Valuation||Normalized P/E < 20||20.43||Fail|
|Dividends||Current yield > 2%||3.6%||Pass|
|5-year dividend growth > 10%||13.1%||Pass|
|Total score||4 out of 8|
Since we looked at Philip Morris International last year, the company has given up three points. Declining shareholder equity was responsible for part of the drop, but a big slowdown in growth, and rising valuations, also contributed. The stock has lagged behind the broader market, gaining just 5% over the past year.