Sometimes, a company is so far ahead of its competition that the only way for the company to grow is to expand into new markets.
Ingram Micro, Inc. (IM) is the largest technology distributor in the world, offering almost 100,000 different hardware and software products to its customers for resale, along with a host of value-added services like product support, warranty management and financing. Servicing customers in more than 150 countries from 100 distribution centers worldwide, Ingram enjoys a great economy of scale.
So where does a company with such an enormous market-share go from here? In today's global economy, the answer is easy: Asia. The 2004 purchase of Australian-based Tech Pacific doubled the size of Ingram's Asian operation, and has helped the company gain traction in the region.
Now, Ingram is starting to see great returns -- recent third quarter reports show Asian-Pacific revenue up 35% over the previous year. With its solid competitive advantage and expanding markets, it's no wonder that Ingram is currently reporting 15% higher revenue than last year, and is currently predicting 18% net income growth for the final quarter of 2007.
As I've said before, however, tech stocks are inherently risky: there's a lot of movement in the technology sector, and, due to a lack of competition for resources, it's relatively easy for new companies to enter the market -- particularly a rapidly growing one such as Asia.
That said, Ingram is operating so far ahead of its competitors that it would be hard for any other company to achieve the same margins that keep Ingram strong. But Ingram is sensitive to the risks, and the company's recently-announced $300 million share buyback program should help reduce volatility over the next three years.
Type of Stock: Ingram Micro Inc. is the world's largest technology distributor and a leading technology sales, marketing and logistics company.
Price Target: Goldman Sachs rates this one slightly above many other sell-side analysts at $24. I'd look to pick up shares at $19 or less (slightly below where it is currently trading).