Growth is good, but also pay attention to acceleration in
earnings and sales. One such firm showing a pickup in its top and
bottom lines isEquifax (
The Atlanta-based company is best known as one of the big
three credit reporting agencies. It also provides a range of
information and analytical services for individuals and
In late July, Equifax reported a 28% jump in second-quarter
earnings. That marked its biggest gain in years, as well as the
second straight quarter of accelerating growth. Profit grew 26%
and 15% in the prior two quarters.
Sales rose 14% in the latest period. That was the best in
years and the second straight period of acceleration. Results
were boosted by last year's $1-billion buyout ofComputer
) credit services unit.
Profit and revenue has grown in most recent years, except for
2009. Equifax has a three-year Earnings Stability Factor of 2,
signaling a rock steady stream of profits.
The company has paid cash dividends each year since 1920. In
recent years, Equifax has bumped up its dividend sharply from a
quarterly rate of 4 cents a share in Q3 2010 to the current rate
of 22 cents a share. The company has a policy of returning 25% to
35% of net income to shareholders.
Equifax pays 88 cents a share annually, giving it a yield of
about 1.3% -- the second lowest in the Financial
Services-Specialty group. But Equifax has one of the better
Composite Ratings among its peers.
Earlier this month, Equifax cleared a 64.01 buy point from a
third stage, shallow cup base. It's still within buying range.
Despite recent market volatility, the stock stretched its win
streak to seven straight weeks. Most of its weekly price gains
have come in above-average volume.