Can You Stick With H.B. Fuller?

Jun.20.12 | About: H.B. Fuller (FUL)

Founded in 1887, H.B. Fuller (NYSE:FUL) is a world leader in adhesives and specialty chemicals. H.B. Fuller has generated an above-average growth rate, although results have been somewhat cyclical since 1998. The current consensus estimate shows that leading analysts believe earnings are expected to accelerate over the next five years. Prospective shareholders may want to review this company.

Dividend Champion

This article looks at H.B. Fuller, a Dividend Champion, through the lens of the F.A.S.T. Graphs™ Fundamentals Analyzer Software Tool. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, the reader will be provided the "essential fundamentals at a glance" expressed vividly in pictures.

A Dividend Champion is defined as a company that has increased its dividend every year for 25 or more straight years. H.B. Fuller is a dividend champion that has raised its dividend every year for 43 consecutive years. The complete Dividend Champions list is compiled courtesy of David Fish (open as an Excel spreadsheet and look at the tabs on the bottom to find the Dividend Champions list).

About H.B. Fuller From Its Website:

For 125 years, H.B. Fuller has been a leading global adhesives provider focusing on perfecting adhesives, sealants and other specialty chemical products to improve products and lives. Recognized for unmatched technical support and innovation, H.B. Fuller brings knowledge and strength to help its customers find precisely the right formulation for the right performance. With fiscal 2011 net revenue of $1.6 billion, H.B. Fuller serves customers in packaging, hygiene, paper converting, general assembly, woodworking, construction, and consumer businesses.

Learning from the Past - Looking at Earnings Only

Since dividends are paid out of earnings, a clear perspective of a company's historical earnings growth record is a vital component of a dividend investor's prudent due diligence process. The following graph plots H.B. Fuller's earnings per share since 1998. A quick glance to the right of the graph shows that H.B. Fuller has increased earnings at a compounded rate of 7.2% (see purple circle on graph) per annum.

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Earnings Determine Market Price and Dividend Income: The following earnings and price correlated F.A.S.T. Graphs™ clearly illustrates the importance of earnings to both price movement and dividend income. The earnings growth rate line or True Worth™ line (orange line with white triangles) is correlated with the historical stock price line. On graph after graph the lines will move in tandem. If the stock price strays away from the earnings line (over or under), inevitably it will come back to earnings.

Since dividends are paid out of earnings, and therefore represent additional return on top of what the market capitalizes earnings at, they are depicted by the light blue shaded area and stacked on top of the earnings line. Therefore, a quick visual of these two important components is simultaneously revealed:

1. The additional return that dividend paying stocks provide.

2. The percentage of earnings paid to shareholders as dividends (payout ratio).

The value in this article is through carefully analyzing the earnings and price correlated fundamentally based graphs. Notice that one glance tells you how well the company has performed on an operating basis historically and how the market valued that historical performance. Therefore, the reader is free to discover whether or not current valuations make sense based on historical norms coupled with fundamental values. Instead of opinion, this article is designed to produce facts that can be analyzed to the readers investing benefit.

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Performance Table: Capital Appreciation and Dividend Income

The associated performance results, with the earnings and price correlated graph, validates the above discussion regarding the two components of total return: Capital appreciation and dividend income. Dividends are included in the total return calculation and are assumed paid, but not reinvested.

When presented separately like this, the additional rate of return a dividend paying stock produces for shareholders becomes undeniably evident. In addition to the 6.3% capital appreciation (Closing Annualized ROR), long-term shareholders of H.B. Fuller would have received an additional $27,033.36 in dividends that increased their total return from 6.3% to 7.1% per annum.

(Note: Since this is a Dividend Champion, it has raised its dividend every year for at least 25 years. Therefore, negative dividend growth rates shown, if any, will be attributed to special additional dividends paid in excess of the company's regularly reported dividend rate.)

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The following graph plots the historically normal P/E ratio (the dark blue line) correlated with 10-year Treasury note interest. Notice that the current price earnings ratio on this quality company is as normal as it has been since 1998.

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A further indication of valuation can be seen by examining a company's current price to sales ratio relative to its historical price to sales ratio. The current price to sales ratio for H.B. Fuller is 0.94, which is historically normal.

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Looking to the Future

Extensive research has provided a preponderance of conclusive evidence that future long-term returns, and the dividend and its growth rate, are a function of two critical determinants:

1. The rate of change (growth rate) of the company's earnings.

2. The price or valuation you pay to buy those earnings.

Therefore, forecasting future earnings growth, bought at sound valuations, is the key to safe, sound, and profitable performance.

It logically follows that measuring performance without simultaneously measuring valuation is a job half done. At its current price, which is attractively aligned with its True Worth™ valuation, H.B. Fuller represents a potential opportunity to invest in a Dividend Champion at a reasonable price. The important factor is that the company has real assets and cash flow underpinning its stock price. This solid economic foundation offers shareholders the potential for both a strong margin of safety and an opportunity for an increasing dividend income stream and potentially attractive future returns.

The Estimated Earnings and Return Calculator Tool is a simple yet powerful resource that empowers the user to calculate and run various investing scenarios that generate precise rate of return potentialities. Thinking the investment through to its logical conclusion is an important component towards making sound and prudent commonsense investing decisions.

The consensus of seven leading analysts reporting to Capital IQ forecast H.B. Fuller's long-term earnings growth at 17.6%. H.B. Fuller Co has low long-term debt at 20% of capital. The company is currently trading at a P/E of 14.6, which is inside the value corridor (defined by the five orange lines) of a maximum P/E of 21.2. If the earnings materialize as forecast, H.B. Fuller's True Worth valuation would be $91.10 at the end of 2017, which would calculate as a 23.3% annual rate of return from the current price, including assumed dividends.

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Earnings Yield Estimates

Discounted Future Cash Flows: All companies derive their value from the future cash flows (earnings) they are capable of generating for their stakeholders over time. Therefore, because Earnings Determine Market Price and dividend income in the long run, we expect the future earnings of a company to justify the price we pay.

Since all investments potentially compete with all other investments, it is useful to compare investing in any prospective company to that of a comparable investment in low risk Treasury bonds. Comparing an investment in H.B. Fuller to an equal investment in 10-year Treasury bonds illustrates that H.B. Fuller's expected earnings would be 11.2 times that of the 10-Year T-Bond Interest. (See EYE chart below.) This is the essence of the importance of proper valuation as a critical investing component.

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This report presents essential "fundamentals at a glance" on Dividend Champion H.B. Fuller, illustrating the past and present valuation based on earnings achievements as reported. Forecasts for earnings growth are based on the consensus of leading analysts. Although with just a quick glance you can know a lot about the company, it's imperative that the reader conduct his or her own due diligence in order to validate whether the consensus estimate seems reasonable or not.

Summary and Conclusions

This company's earnings have been somewhat cyclical in the past, but if H.B. Fuller meets its expected earnings growth, it appears to be a very attractive stock today. Therefore, investors seeking a stock with growth and a dividend may want to research this company further.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Disclaimer: The opinions in this document are for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell the stocks mentioned or to solicit transactions or clients. Past performance of the companies discussed may not continue and the companies may not achieve the earnings growth as predicted. The information in this document is believed to be accurate, but under no circumstances should a person act upon the information contained within. We do not recommend that anyone act upon any investment information without first consulting an investment advisor as to the suitability of such investments for his specific situation. A comprehensive due diligence effort is recommended.