Evercore and Nexstar: "Best Buys" for Growth

04/13/2017 2:50 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Richard Moroney

Editor, Dow Theory Forecasts

Because of our growth-at-a-good-price approach and usual insistence on operating momentum, our buy list tends to be biased toward growth stocks, explains Richard Moroney, editor of Upside Stocks Newsletter.

Using returns since 1992 and the last five years as a guide, we looked for growth stocks that score well in variables with a history of picking winning growth stocks. Here's a look at two "best buys" with relatively cheap valuations and favorable earnings-estimate trends.

Evercore Partners (EVR) earns an Overall rank of 99 (out of 100) in Quadrix (our proprietary quantitative rating system), bolstered by scores of 60 or higher for all six categories.
It’s also in the top one-fifth of our research universe for three metrics highly effective with growth stocks: analyst profit revisions for the current quarter, price/free-cash-flow ratio, and five-year sales growth.

Evercore, an investment bank, offers investors an exceptional growth profile. Its per-share profits, revenue, cash from operations, and free cash flow grew by more than 15% last year.

Per-share profits are projected to climb by double digits in both 2017 and 2018 — and analyst estimates have increased sharply over the past 90 days. Annual sales, up more than 17% in each of the past eight years, are expected to grow 10% in 2017.

The shares have surged 51% over the past 12 months and are up 12% in 2017 alone. Despite that rally, Evercore shares trade in line with the median for S&P 1500 financial stocks for both trailing P/E (18) and forward P/E (16) ratios.

Nexstar Media (NXST) offers an unusual blend of strong share-price action and a decent valuation. The stock scores above 75 in Quadrix for both Performance and Value, a feat shared by less than 3% of S&P 1500 stocks.

Nexstar shares have rallied 8% in 2017, pushing their trailing P/E to 22, versus their five-year average of 29. Shares look considerably cheaper based on Nexstar’s growth prospects, with the consensus projecting 25% higher per-share profits in 2017 and 71% growth in 2018.

The second-largest U.S. broadcaster, Nexstar reaches nearly 40% of U.S. television households with its 171 TV stations. Helped by acquisitions, it has grown sales at an annualized rate of 29% over the past five years.

The company’s sales growth has topped 15% in 20 straight quarters. Analysts expect revenue to more than double to $2.41 billion this year, partially helped by the $4.6 billion acquisition of Media General in January.

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