High-growth investing is a game of trying to separate winners for laggards. Sure,value investing has outperformed on the average, but to find those abnormally high-flying stocks you often need to search among companies forecasting aggressive growth.
To begin our quest in the search for fast-growing stocks, we will initially look at a handful of companies expecting over 100% EPS growth between 2011 and 2012.
McClatchy Company, The
Empresas ICA SA (ADR)
Frontline Ltd. (USA)
Camden Property Trust
CBL & Associates Properties, Inc.
American Campus Communities, Inc.
Although earnings are expected to double between next year and the one following thereafter, that does not necessarily mean that share prices will. There are other factors such as cooling PE ratios once earnings begin to increase, potential for missed forecasts, and current valuations, to name just a few items. We will analyze three of these stocks, one at a time, to see if they have the potential to be easy double-baggers over the next year.
McClatchy Co. (NYSE:MNI) – MNI appears to have an average 2012 EPS estimate of 0.225. The 2013 estimate is $0.53, which at first appearance is a huge jump. However, note that this year’s estimate is at $0.37 EPS. This makes the two year growth only at 43%, or just over 20% per year. As well, a closer look at the 2012 forecast shows only two estimates with wild differences between them. One estimates 2012 at 0.49 and the other at -0.04. The only estimate for 2012 is at $0.53. So either the first analyst is correct with his low 2012 estimate and no guess for 2013, or the EPS will stay fairly high with tepid growth. Considering that last year’s EPS was better than the 2013 forecast, this doesn’t fit our bill for high-growth stocks to double.
Empresas ICA SA (NYSE:ICA) – The two analysts covering the 2012 earnings estimates have a tighter grouping of forecasted earnings. Only one analyst has a 2013 estimate. The EPS estimates go from $0.603 in 2011, to $0.795 in 2012, to $3.10 in 2013. This construction group in Mexico posted a big 4th quarter profit jump largely due to tax benefits. I am not a fan of tax-breaks as this is not indicative of a trend, and taxes can quickly turn the other way again. However, ICA is expecting work to pick up ahead of 2012 elections. This seems like a higher risk play.
A quick calculation based on sales shows this stock might be slightly undervalued. Sales have increased over the past 7 years at 19.2%, 5 years at 17.6%, 3 years at 10.8%, and 1 year at 35.7%. If we take the 5 year average and forecast ahead to next year, this gives us a sales-per-share of $18.62. Multiply this by the current price-to-sales multiple of 0.56 for a $10.56 share price in one year. This isn’t great compared to the $9 current price. However, if you look at the 5 year average price to sales of 0.82, there could be a pop up to $15.41 (Average price-to-sales x $18.62 future sales-per-share). That signifies a 71% increase in share price, assuming this stock comes back into more favorable valuations next year with realized sales growth. If 2013 does see revenue and earnings jump 4 times, then this could be a winning growth stock. Remember though, risk is also high.
Frontline (NYSE:FRO) – Frontline is currently trading well above its 5 year EPS and Dividend ratio averages, and is roughly in line with long term price to sales averages. This may indicate that high growth is expected. Looking at the estimates, the 2011 EPS range is from $-0.93 to $1.77. Such a wide dispersion makes forecasting difficult. Sales growth is even expected to decline on average next year, which will make price-to-sales forecasting a disappointment. Although free cash flow has increased the past three quarters, I am hard-pressed to spot other trends to suggest this as a top growth pick.
Then you have CBL (NYSE:CBL), American Campus Communities (NYSE:ACC), and Camden Property Trust (NYSE:CPT) which are all REITs. Even if earnings did double, you would have double the dividends at best but not necessarily capital gains. And especially when you see payout ratios far in excess of 100%, you have to think that the yields will eventually start to drop. This could make income investors walk away and have a further negative impact on the price.
Triple-Digit Growth Estimates Synonymous With Double-Bagger Stocks?
In a nutshell, no. Stocks forecast to grow 100% do not translate into stocks that will double in price. Valuations may already be high in anticipation of future growth, earnings risk may go way up, or the forecast dispersion could be like the Grand Canyon.
While you can find some high-growth stocks at good prices, and especially after a market correction, buying simply on a big average forecast could generate large risk that often goes with small high-growth stocks.
Not all high-growth stocks are overvalued or abnormally high earnings risk. To find some potential picks, start with upped ratings (12 Stocks Upgraded by Analysts That Hit Their Target), increasing forecasts (23 Stocks Spiking on Raised Forecasts), and decent growth. Then follow-up with due diligence to make sure there is some substance behind the big growth figures.
Do you have a high-growth stock pick that you’d like to share with us? Post it below and let the rest of us know about it.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.