Has Weatherford International Become the Perfect Stock?
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 Weatherford International (NYS: WFT) 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 Weatherford International.
What We Want to See
Pass or Fail?
5-Year Annual Revenue Growth > 15%
1-Year Revenue Growth > 12%
Gross Margin > 35%
Net Margin > 15%
Debt to Equity < 50%
Current Ratio > 1.3
Return on Equity > 15%
Normalized P/E < 20
Current Yield > 2%
5-Year Dividend Growth > 10%
3 out of 10
Since we looked at Weatherford International last year, the company hasn't improved on its three-point score. The shares have gotten cheaper, though, with a 10% loss for the stock over the past year helping to make its valuation more attractive.
Weatherford is an oil services company, and in general, that's been a profitable place to be over the past several years. As opportunities for new drilling projects have popped up both in the U.S. and around the world, industry giantsSchlumberger (NYS: SLB) and Halliburton (NYS: HAL) have capitalized by providing cutting-edge technology for discovery, testing, drilling, and production, while National Oilwell Varco (NYS: NOV) has become a one-stop shop for industry players from ultra-deepwater rigs to land-based shale gas operations.
But Weatherford hasn't been able to participate fully in the energy services boom. Like Baker Hughes (NYS: BHI) , Weatherford suffers from being smaller than Halliburton and Schlumberger, but even Baker Hughes has been able to post higher-margin growth than Weatherford.
One reason for the drop in Weatherford's stock price is the controversy over its financial statements. In February, the company said it would have to restate its 2009 and 2010 financials, sending the shares plunging 13%. Then, in its most recent quarterly report, Weatherford disappointed investors as it estimated potential settlements for investigations into its international operations at a whopping $100 million. Additional tax expenses of $41 million also raised a lot of uncertainty about the company's finances.
For Weatherford to improve, it needs to get its controversies behind it and start moving forward. If it can start providing more of the industry's innovations, then Weatherford could start rising toward perfection in the near future.
No stock is a sure thing, but some stocks are a lot closer to perfect than others. By looking for the perfect stock, you'll go a long way toward improving your investing prowess and learning how to separate out the best investments from the rest.
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The article Has Weatherford International Become the Perfect Stock? originally appeared on Fool.com.Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of National Oilwell Varco. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Halliburton and National Oilwell Varco. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.
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