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Buying Companies With Great Products - Part I

- By Jae Jun


  • Looking at companies that produce high-quality products their customers love can be an interesting way to get stock ideas.
  • Here we look at four companies: Snap-On, Fox, Cummins and Garrett Motion.
  • We quickly screen out two companies, then look at Snap-On in depth and find an attractively valued company.
  • We'll look more in-depth at Cummins in the next post.

I was back where I grew up in Vermont over Memorial Day weekend. My best friend from high school recently moved back there, so I hung out with him a bit.

He opened his own high-end bike sales and service shop, with his main business being building super high-end custom wheels. He also enjoys rebuilding old cars, especially Toyota 4Runners with the removable top.

Suffice it to say, he spends his time working with pretty different products on a daily basis than I do. I asked him about the products he buys and loves, to see if there might be any interesting opportunities in companies I don't usually think too much about. He mentioned four:

  • Snap-On (SNA)
  • Cummins Inc. (CMI)
  • Fox Factory Holdings (FOXF)
  • Garrett Motion (GTX)

Here is a quick look at each of these to see if there's anything worth examining in more detail.

Quickly screen out bad stocks

It's important to be able to quickly narrow down your ideas so you can spend your time looking at high potential prospects.

My first stop is the OSV Action Score ratings for each of these stocks. I start by entering all four into the stock screener:

Source: Old School Value (click to enlarge)

The first thing we can see is that we have two Bs and two Ds.

Garrett Motion is worrying almost across the board -- low quality, value and growth scores, with a low Piotroski score.

Fox Factory Holdings is similarly bad, but some possible redemption in its growth that may be worth looking at. With a Piotroski of only 2, though, we're going to rule it out.

These are both so bad, it's not even worth digging into what's going on to see if there's a potential "diamond in the rough."

Snap-On and Cummins Inc. both look pretty good, though, so we'll look at them more in depth.

Snap-On (SNA)


Snap-On makes tools and related equipment. Most of you have probably seen Snap-On trucks driving around to visit and sell its wares to your local mechanics.

Key stats, metrics and financials

From a valuation perspective, it's trading at the lower end of its recent range across every important value ratio:

Source: Old School Value (click to enlarge)

Its ROIC is solid and has been improving:

Click to enlarge

It's also a dividend payer! Its current dividend yield is about 2.28%. Dividends per share have gone from $1.20 in 2009 to $3.53 in the trailing 12 months. That's a solid track record of dividend growth.

Meanwhile, it has also been repurchasing shares since 2017, reducing its shares outstanding by more than 5%.

Its debt levels are good and even improving. Its Altman Z score is good. From a quality perspective, it looks mostly good.

Its asset and inventory turnovers have been getting a little worse, while its inventory as a percentage of revenue has been growing. This isn't ideal and would be something to investigate further.

Click to enlarge

In the last six months, insiders have been increasing their holdings.

Click to enlarge

The big issue here is that its revenue growth has slowed quite a bit. (This likely accounts for the recent inventory bloat, because presumably, the slowing was unexpected.)

Click to enlarge

You can see that annual revenue growth has hovered between 3-8%, but in the last year slipped to 1.8%. It has deteriorated even further in 2019, with trailing 12-month growth at -0.3%.

Earnings and free cash flow growth haveremained quite solid -- a sign of good management -- but this can't keep up if the revenue growth isn't there.

It's a little troubling that sales growth has slowed so much at this point. It's possible its industrial customers pulled back on buying during the latter part of 2018 and early 2019 as worldwide economic concerns moved to the fore. But the fears have largely not materialized, at least in the U.S., so hopefully revenue contraction might reverse itself.

This is a strong reminder that this will be a cyclical stock, and since we're in the late innings of this cycle, it may be a tough time to jump on board, even if things do bounce back in the short term.

Snap-On DCF valuation

So, with that, here is a quick DCF valuation of Snap-On:

I used a starting value of $570 million, which is the trailing 12-month owner earnings. I projected growth at 4.66%, which is the median revenue growth it's had over three-year periods since 2013. Snap-On's a fairly slow and steady company in a slow and steady industry, so I used a discount rate of 8%.

This does put the current price close to the buy price, with a 19% margin of safety versus the fair value.

You can see when you look at Snap-On's price in the above chart that it bounced around the $155 range for five years -- since May 2014 -- despite increasing earnings per share, dividends per share and owner earnings. Growth of each of those metrics has been solidly double digit for almost every year, sometimes into the 20-30% range!

This is obviously what is implied by price-earnings, EV-Ebit and EV/Ebitda falling by so much in the last few years. It's clearly dropped from the "somewhat expensive" to "almost a bargain" category.


Snap-On could be a good to great buy. It could also be worth waiting until revenue growth turns around, or if a recession happens, waiting till then. It'll have a lot of runway on the upside.

Add to all this the initial impetus for looking at the company -- that it makes great products that its customers love -- and this may well be worth your time and money, especially if you're patient enough to look beyond the cycle.

Since this post got so long, we'll look at Cummins Inc. in the next post.

Disclosure: I do not own any stocks discussed.

Read more here:

Books for Getting Started in Investing

The Best Value Stock Screening Ratios - As Shown by Machine Learning

2018 Strategy Performance and Review

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This article first appeared on GuruFocus.