Equifax: Dollars in Data

04/21/2014 8:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Charles Carlson

Editor, DRIP Investor

If you are growing the top and bottom lines at double-digit rates, Wall Street usually rewards you with a premium valuation; such is the case with our latest featured recommendation, a global leader in data information, explains Chuck Carlson, editor of The DRIP Investor.

While you may not be familiar with Equifax (EFX), they are likely very familiar with you. The company is one of the leading providers of credit-verification services and other data solutions for consumers and businesses.

Driving the company’s growth is its ability to leverage its vast database, advanced analytics, and proprietary technology to create information solutions for its clients.

Equifax has paid a dividend for 100 consecutive years and has boosted its dividend at double-digit rates in each of the last four years. The current quarterly dividend of $0.25 per share gives these shares a yield of 1.4%.

Given the company’s earnings guidance for 2014, the current dividend payout ratio is just 26%, which means there remains plenty of room for double-digit dividend increases to continue.

The company is coming off a strong 2013, and 2014 should show further growth. Not surprisingly, Equifax shares have done well and are trading around their 52-week high. Despite the strength, I still see plenty of upside with these shares, especially as the overall economy recovers.

The rising dividend stream—the firm recently boosted its payout 14%—enhances total-return potential. I have owned Equifax for many years and have been pleased with its performance. Investors who buy now should be pleased as well.

Equifax is not a cheap stock at around 18 times the 2014 earnings estimate of $3.84 per share. However, information companies generally carry higher earnings multiples, and Equifax’s growth potential warrants a premium valuation.

I am a fan of database companies such as Equifax and their ability to create new products by leveraging their information assets.

Please note the stock offers a direct-purchase plan in which investors may buy the first share and every share directly from the company. Minimum initial investment is $500.

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