Consistent Cash Creators with High Normalized Earnings Yield

This is a follow-up to a series of posts I wrote last year on companies that are consistent cash creators. Given we are potentially at a market turning point, I decided to run my Consistent Cash Creators screen again.

Before I jump into the screen results, let me explain how I run this screen. I first start out by using a database of over 9,000 companies. I then filter out companies in the financial sector. From that list I keep only companies with average returns on invested capital greater than 10% over the past five years. I use this metric as a proxy for sustainable growth. Finally, I filter out companies that did not exhibit positive free cash flow growth per share over the past seven years because this is suppose to be a list of cash creators, not destroyers. Applying these filters resulted in a list of 946 companies on March 20, 2009.

The next step in this screen involves determining how consistent these remaining companies grew their free cash flows. I take the linear regression of free cash flows over the past seven year and determine how close free cash flows followed a linear trend using the r-squared statistic. I then only keep companies that have r-square values greater than 0.90. This reduced the remaining list of companies to 57.

The final step I take is to sort the list of stocks by a value metric. In this case, I used a normalized earnings yield. This earnings yield is equal to a company’s operating earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) divided by its enterprise value. I used the average of this earnings yield over the past 7 years for today’s screen. The idea here is that using the average EBIT over the past 7 years will adjust for companies at the top or bottom of a particular industry cycle. Here are the top 30 companies sorted by this normalized earnings yield on March 20, 2009:

Company Ticker Norm. EY P/E P/FCF P/B ROIC R2
Robert Half International Inc. RHI 62 10.3 8.5 2.5 25.4 0.90
J. Crew Group, Inc. JCG 58 14.6 15.5 3.4 18.5 0.93
Sherwin-Williams Company SHW 48 11.2 8.9 3.8 21.5 0.93
Epicor Software Corporation EPIC 36 352 3.8 0.8 2.8 0.96
EZCORP, Inc. EZPW 36 8.8 9.4 1.3 17.9 0.94
Dover Corporation DOV 33 6.8 7.2 1.2 13.2 0.95
NetApp Inc. NTAP 30 51.2 6.5 3.2 12.8 0.96
MICROS Systems, Inc. MCRS 28 13.8 10.9 2.2 12.9 0.94
Accenture Ltd. ACN 28 10.8 9.4 9.1 82.4 0.93
Emerson Electric Co. EMR 27 8.8 13.9 2.4 18 0.91
United Technologies Corporatio UTX 26 8.3 10.3 2.4 21 0.97
ABB Ltd (ADR) ABB 26 9.9 17.8 2.8 24 0.94
China Mobile Ltd. (ADR) CHL 26 10 55.1 2.5 22.1 0.93
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 25 11.3 21.4 3.4 23.8 0.91
Cisco Systems, Inc. CSCO 25 12.7 8.5 2.5 17.6 0.96
Trimble Navigation Limited TRMB 24 13.2 11.6 1.6 10.4 0.92
Adobe Systems Incorporated ADBE 23 13.6 9.6 2.3 17.3 0.91
Parker-Hannifin Corporation PH 23 5.8 6.7 1.1 13 0.90
Rollins, Inc. ROL 23 23.4 32.4 7.0 23.5 0.91
Quest Diagnostics Incorporated DGX 20 13.9 11.4 2.4 12.5 0.92
IDEX Corporation IEX 20 13.1 10.9 1.4 8.4 0.94
Imperial Oil Limited (USA) IMO 20 9.6 14.3 4.2 42.1 0.92
General Dynamics Corporation GD 20 6.1 7.2 1.5 18 0.92
Amgen, Inc. AMGN 19 12.5 9.8 2.5 13.6 0.92
Danaher Corporation DHR 19 13.6 11.1 1.8 11.6 0.98
Laboratory Corp. of America Ho LH 19 13.7 10.2 3.7 15.7 0.91
Wabtec Corporation WAB 19 9.6 8.9 1.9 13.4 0.91
j2 Global Communications, Inc. JCOM 17 12 10.4 3.3 27.3 0.99
Somanetics Corporation SMTS 16 17.9 12.5 2.0 9.2 0.95
Baxter International Inc. BAX 14 15.7 31.2 4.9 21.2 0.90

I’m pleased with the results of this screen. The final screen includes several high quality wide moat companies that are likely trading well below their intrinsic value. However, I don’t recommend blindly investing in any of these companies. I think each one must be further examined to determine if their business has a sustainable competitive advantage. In addition, each company should be valued to confirm whether the price of these stocks provides for a significant margin of safety. If you look into any of these stocks, please let us know what you find. We can discuss the individual stocks further in the comments section below.

Disclosure: I do not own any shares of the companies listed above at the time this post was published, except for a small position in Cisco (CSCO).

9 thoughts on “Consistent Cash Creators with High Normalized Earnings Yield

  • March 24, 2009 at 12:08 pm
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    Very nice screen — love the criteria you used. I currently own CHL, AMGN, and JCOM from your list. Will be doing due diligence on some of the others.
    Thanks

  • March 24, 2009 at 10:50 pm
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    I’m glad you like the screen, Jeff. I’m curious as to your rationale for adding CHL, AMGN, and JCOM to your portfolio. I’d also love to hear if you find any other stocks on the list that meet your investment criteria.

  • March 25, 2009 at 12:08 am
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    Nice screen. It shows many good companies that I have come across previously.

    I owned PH before and I may have to revisit that one.

  • March 25, 2009 at 1:23 am
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    I appreciate that you use enterprise value rather than market cap; that gives a little (deserved) boost to the non-levered companies.

  • March 27, 2009 at 6:41 am
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    Really good article on ‘stock valuation’! Thanks!! Enterprise value is better in terms of valuation.

  • March 28, 2009 at 11:21 am
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    Here is the ‘Buy Alerts’ spreadsheet criteria I use for identifying potential stock purchase ideas. It shows the numbers for my JCOM purchase made on 2/25/09 as an example:

    BUY ALERTS

    COMPANY
    JCOM (j2 Global Communications)

    Company Type
    Fast Grower

    Market Cap ($Millions)
    $735 Mill

    Stock Price
    $16.76

    CATEGORY
    CRITERIA
    Actual
    Points (0 or 1)

    Analysts’ Ratings
    Schwab Equity Rating = A or B & MarketGrader.com > 60
    B=18 & 82.4
    1

    Risk
    Cash Equivalents % of Mkt Cap > 10%
    $140.7= 19.1%
    1

    Risk
    Total Debt % of Mkt Cap < 30% OR Debt<Cash
    0.0%
    1

    Value
    Free Cash Flow % of Mkt Cap > 8%
    $64.7=8.8%
    1

    Value
    Price/Earnings Ratio (Current Year) < 15
    10.7
    1

    Growth
    P/E Ratio Comparison: (Next Yr < Current Yr) or <10
    9.7
    1

    Profitability
    Return-On-Equity (ROE) > 20%
    29.75%
    1

    Momentum
    Relative Strength (Current> 6 Mos. Ago)
    .207 > .154
    1

    Company Type*
    Use Criteria Shown Below
    PEG = 0.9
    1

    Total Points

    9

    * Slow Grower
    Dividend Rate & Sustainability

    * Stalwart
    P/E Ratio Comparison: (Current Year < Historical)

    * Cyclical
    Inventory/Sales Ratio Comparison: (TY < LY)

    * Fast Grower
    PEG Rate < 1.0

    * Turnaround

    * Asset Play

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  • March 31, 2009 at 2:12 pm
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    george,

    just found the ‘fat pitch’ site = great learning experience. now, i must classify myself as a newbie to the world of investments; i understand the terms, etc etc but i lack a feel or maybe the maturity to put the pieces together for myself as yet.

    your ccc methodology is clear and well thought out. i can understand it just fine.

    now, a question: i had been learning my way around ‘seeking alpha’ and found this article on ‘cash cows’:

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/98516-25-cash-cows-to-ride-out-the-storm-barron-s

    their research and yours produced different results. is it as simple as barron’s found companies sitting on a pile of cash produced in the past, and your ccc-criteria is finding companies on their way to building a pile of cash into the future?

    if so, would you think there is a rationale or bias to selecting items from one list or the other — given the current market? or further, might you pair these lists with a secondary criteria, perhaps industry momentum or something, and say that the pair is suggesting what might be great choices for the now.

    anyway, thought i’d ask, and great job on what you did.

    ron

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