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Is A.O. Smith (AOS) a Solid Growth Stock? 3 Reasons to Think " Yes "

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Growth stocks are attractive to many investors, as above-average financial growth helps these stocks easily grab the market's attention and produce exceptional returns. But finding a growth stock that can live up to its true potential can be a tough task.

In addition to volatility, these stocks carry above-average risk by their very nature. Also, one could end up losing from a stock whose growth story is actually over or nearing its end.

However, the Zacks Growth Style Score (part of the Zacks Style Scores system), which looks beyond the traditional growth attributes to analyze a company's real growth prospects, makes it pretty easy to find cutting-edge growth stocks.

Our proprietary system currently recommends A.O. Smith (AOS) as one such stock. This company not only has a favorable Growth Score, but also carries a top Zacks Rank.

Research shows that stocks carrying the best growth features consistently beat the market. And returns are even better for stocks that possess the combination of a Growth Score of A or B and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy).

While there are numerous reasons why the stock of this maker of water heaters and boilers is a great growth pick right now, we have highlighted three of the most important factors below:

Earnings Growth

Earnings growth is arguably the most important factor, as stocks exhibiting exceptionally surging profit levels tend to attract the attention of most investors. And for growth investors, double-digit earnings growth is definitely preferable, and often an indication of strong prospects (and stock price gains) for the company under consideration.

While the historical EPS growth rate for A.O. Smith is 3.9%, investors should actually focus on the projected growth. The company's EPS is expected to grow 27% this year, crushing the industry average, which calls for EPS growth of 23.9%.

Impressive Asset Utilization Ratio

Asset utilization ratio -- also known as sales-to-total-assets (S/TA) ratio -- is often overlooked by investors, but it is an important indicator in growth investing. This metric exhibits how efficiently a firm is utilizing its assets to generate sales.

Right now, A.O. Smith has an S/TA ratio of 1.04, which means that the company gets $1.04 in sales for each dollar in assets. Comparing this to the industry average of 0.74, it can be said that the company is more efficient.

In addition to efficiency in generating sales, sales growth plays an important role. And A.O. Smith is well positioned from a sales growth perspective too. The company's sales are expected to grow 17.8% this year versus the industry average of 12.5%.

Promising Earnings Estimate Revisions

Beyond the metrics outlined above, investors should consider the trend in earnings estimate revisions. A positive trend is a plus here. Empirical research shows that there is a strong correlation between trends in earnings estimate revisions and near-term stock price movements.

The current-year earnings estimates for A.O. Smith have been revising upward. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has surged 1.8% over the past month.

Bottom Line

A.O. Smith has not only earned a Growth Score of B based on a number of factors, including the ones discussed above, but it also carries a Zacks Rank #2 because of the positive earnings estimate revisions.

You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

This combination indicates that A.O. Smith is a potential outperformer and a solid choice for growth investors.


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