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7 Stocks to Buy with Impressive Interest Coverage Ratio

Zacks Equity Research

You can simply arrive at a decision to “Buy” or “Sell” a particular stock by taking a look at its sales and earnings numbers. But such a strategy does not always assure returns. A critical analysis of the company’s financial background is imperative for a better investment decision. 

A company’s fundamentals should be sound enough to meet its financial obligations. This can be judged through coverage ratios—the higher these are the more efficient an enterprise will be in meeting its financial obligations. Here we have discussed one such ratio—the Interest Coverage Ratio.

Interest Coverage Ratio = Earnings before Interest & Taxes (EBIT) divided by Interest Expense.

Why Interest Coverage Ratio?

Interest Coverage Ratio is used to determine how effectively a company can pay the interest charged on its debt.

Debt, which is very important for most of the companies to finance operations, comes at a cost called interest. Interest expense has a direct bearing on the profitability of a company and the company’s creditworthiness depends on how effectively it meets its interest obligations. Therefore, Interest Coverage Ratio is one of the important criteria to factor in before making any investment decision.

The ratio suggests the number of times the interest could be paid from earnings and also gauges the margin of safety a firm carries for paying interest.

An interest coverage ratio lower than 1.0 implies that the company is unable to fulfill its interest obligations, and could default on repaying debt. A company that is capable of generating earnings well above its interest expense can withstand financial hardship. Definitely, one should also track the company’s past performance to determine whether the interest coverage ratio has improved or worsened over a period of time.

What’s the Strategy?

Apart from having an Interest Coverage Ratio that is more than the industry average, adding a favorable Zacks Rank and a VGM Score of “A” or “B” to your search criteria should lead to better results.

Interest Coverage Ratio greater than X-Industry Median

Price greater than or equal to 5: The stocks must all be trading at a minimum of $5 or higher.

5-Year Historical EPS Growth (%) greater than X-Industry Median: Stocks that have a strong EPS growth history.

Projected EPS Growth (%) greater than X-Industry Median: This is the projected EPS growth over the next three to five years. This shows that the stock has near-term earnings growth potential.

Average 20-Day Volume greater than 100,000: A substantial trading volume ensures that the stock is easily tradable.

Zacks Rank less than or equal to 2: Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) stocks are known to outperform irrespective of the market environment.

VGM Score of less than or equal to B: Our research shows that stocks with a VGM Score of ‘A’ or ‘B’ when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 offer the best upside potential. 

Here are seven of the 15 stocks that qualified the screening:

Francesca's Holdings Corporation FRAN, which operates a chain of retail boutiques, has a VGM score of “A” and an expected EPS growth rate of 13.8% over 3–5 years. The stock flaunts a Zacks Rank #1. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Monarch Casino & Resort Inc. MCRI, which owns and operates the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, a hotel/casino facility in Reno, Nevada; and the Monarch Casino Black Hawk in Black Hawk, Colorado, has a VGM score of “B”. It has an expected EPS growth rate of 14% for 3–5 years. The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #1.

The Marcus Corporation MCS, a lodging and entertainment company, has a Zacks Rank #1 and a VGM score of “B”. The company’s expected EPS growth rate for 3–5 years is currently 15%.

Magna International Inc. MGA, a developer, manufacturer, supplier and seller of automotive products, has a Zacks Rank #2 and a VGM score of “B”. The expected EPS growth rate for 3–5 years currently stands at 11.7%.

Papa John's International Inc. PZZA, which operates and franchises pizza delivery and carryout restaurants under the Papa Johns trademark, has a Zacks Rank #2 and a VGM score of “A”. The expected EPS growth rate for 3–5 years currently stands at 15.5%.

Nutrisystem, Inc. NTRI, the provider of weight management products and services for women and men, has a Zacks Rank #2 and a VGM score of “B”. The expected EPS growth rate for 3–5 years is currently 17.5%.

EMCOR Group Inc. EME, which provides electrical and mechanical construction and facilities services, has a Zacks Rank #2 and a VGM score of “A”. The expected EPS growth rate for 3–5 years is pegged at 15%.

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Disclosure: Officers, directors and/or employees of Zacks Investment Research may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material. An affiliated investment advisory firm may own or have sold short securities and/or hold long and/or short positions in options that are mentioned in this material.

Disclosure: Performance information for Zacks’ portfolios and strategies are available at: https://www.zacks.com/performance.

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