XPO: Leader in Logistics

05/01/2015 7:00 am EST


Timothy Lutts

Publisher, Cabot Heritage Corporation

Our latest recommendation has a great, high-potential growth story and a chart that reveals increasing sponsorship by investors discovering the company, explains Timothy Lutts, editor of Cabot Stock of the Month.

I have long emphasized the importance of a company's leader; the leader at XPO Logistics (XPO) is Bradley Jacobs, whose first major achievement was the consolidation of small garbage collectors under the umbrella of United Waste Systems.

In 1992, Jacobs took the company public, raising $41 million, and in August 1997, after having made 200 acquisitions, the company was sold to USA Waste Services for over $2 billion.

Act two was in the rental industry; Jacobs began consolidating small equipment rental dealers under the umbrella of US Rentals. Ten years later, the company went public, and in 1998, United Rentals acquired US Rentals for about $1.2 billion, creating the largest equipment rental company in North America.

Act three—and the one that’s ongoing—is Jacobs’ consolidation of the transportation logistics industry. It began in 2011, when he took the reins of XPO Logistics after he and partners invested $150 million in the company.

At the time, only 15% of trucking was outsourced to third-party brokers and inefficiency was rife; it was almost as if the hugely fragmented industry was just waiting for someone with Jacobs’ skills.

Well, today, less than four years later, XPO is one of the fastest growing providers of transportation logistics services in North America.

The company doesn’t own any trucks or employ any drivers; it contracts out those services in order to stay nimble. But it does have 201 locations and 11,500 employees, it serves more than 15,000 companies throughout the US, Mexico, and Canada.

Now, growth by acquisition costs money. Thus XPO has been consistently unprofitable since Jacobs took over. But the company has plenty of cash, it has a successful game plan, and its story is becoming better known.

Analysts are projecting that XPO will earn 62 cents a share in 2016, while the company itself has a 2017 target of $9.0 billion in revenue and EBITDA (which is a rough measure of cash flow) of approximately $575 million (more than seven dollars a share).

When it comes to growth stocks, I’m not big on targets; I’m big on trends. I like XPO’s trend of acquisitions and I like the trend of the stock as well.

If you really want to reduce risk, you could wait and see if a pullback opportunity arises. But I like to keep it simple, so we are adding the stock to our model portfolio now.

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