What are we looking for?
Canadian consumer staple stocks with vigorous long-term growth in earnings per share and robust return on capital.
Since the beginning of the year, the difference in returns between consumer staples and the broader Canadian market has been striking. In the first six months of the year the sector has kept its head above water at 0.6 per cent while the broader market lost 9.1 per cent.
The second quarter rebound by the S&P/TSX Composite Index was less evident among staples stocks, but they are still comfortably ahead of the broader market. Work-from-home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and general consumer cautiousness regarding crowded areas continue to drive grocery spending and place consumer staples in a profitable environment.
We screened companies focusing on the following criteria:
- Market capitalization higher than $250-million;
- Five-year average EPS growth higher than 8 per cent – we want a company that has been able to increase its earnings per share at a rapid pace;
- Most recently reported return on capital higher than 5 per cent. We look for a business with a decent ROC, and will rank the companies by this metric. We focus on the short-term return, owing to the abnormal environment created by the pandemic;
- Positive price-to-earnings ratio – We want to eliminate unprofitable companies.
For informational purposes, we have also included: recent stock price; dividend yield; one-year price return; change in net operating profit after taxes (NOPAT) over the most recent three months; sales growth over the past 12 months; and five-year average sales growth.
More about Inovestor
Inovestor for Advisors is a fundamental-analysis research platform specializing in the economic value-added (EVA) approach. With Inovestor, advisers can quickly identify attractive investment opportunities, outsource their stock picking by using model portfolios, and easily communicate investment decisions with clients through client-friendly reports.
What we found
Alimentation Couche-Tard tops our list with an ROC of 13.6 per cent. The convenience-store giant shows a five-year EPS growth rate of 24.2 per cent and in the past year alone has increased its EPS by 29 per cent (not shown). Sales declined over the past 12 months compared with the previous year because of lower fuel volumes sold, but margins profited from the sharp decline in price of oil. The environment is certainly challenging, but the company showed resilience in its previous quarterly report. Couche-Tard has an impressive track record and the P/E ratio seems quite reasonable considering its EPS growth and high return on capital. Economies of scale allow for greater margins while revenue diversification favours the stability of its returns.
Juice producer Lassonde Industries Inc. has the highest three-month NOPAT growth on our list. The company certainly has a substantial tailwind with its focus on retail products, but Lassonde has also reported strong earnings growth and return on capital in the past. Twelve-month sales growth stands at 6.5 per cent, stronger than its 3.8-per-cent annual sales growth over the past five years. Historically, its growth has been mostly done by acquisition owing to low growth in its industry, a strategy that seems to have paid off effectively.
Metro Inc. has realized an annual sales growth of 8.3 per cent over the past five years and 6.6 per cent in the most recent 12-month period. The food and drug retailer’s ability to increase the amount of invested capital, combined with a strong return on capital while experiencing low sales volatility, is the perfect recipe for a resilient business. The company has been fortunate in the crisis and could continue to benefit from increased grocery spending in the next few quarters.
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Investors are advised to do further research before investing in any of the companies listed in the table below.
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