Many investors try to identify companies that they believe will be around for the long haul before making significant investments. They hope that, if the stock of any of these companies takes a nosedive, it will only be a matter of time before it rebounds.
One way to identify a company with these characteristics is to look for companies with major free cash flow (FCF). FCF is the cash flow that is available to a company; it can be used to repay creditors or pay dividends and interest to investors. Some investors prefer to pay attention to this aspect of a company’s financials, rather than earnings or earnings per share, as a measure of its profitability.
Apple (APPL), Verizon (VZ), Microsoft (MFST), Walmart (WMT), and Pfizer (PFE) are five companies that could be considered free cash flow (FCF) “monsters” as a result of their history of having a huge amount of free cash flow (FCF).
Revenue and earnings are both imperative metrics, but both can be manipulated. For example, retailers can manipulate revenue by opening more stores. Earnings numbers can be skewed by corporate buybacks, which reduces the share count and, ultimately, improves earnings per share (EPS).
Investors should never overlook the figures that indicate a company’s FCF because, unlike revenue and earnings, cash flow can never be manipulated. In addition, a company with a good amount of free cash flow may also be more likely to make dividend payments, and engage in buybacks, acquisitions for inorganic growth, and innovation for organic growth. Not to mention that free cash flow also provides opportunities for debt reduction.
The bigger the FCF figure is, the more maneuverability the corporation is going to have. This can allow for positive growth during economic booms and flexibility during an economic downturn, regardless of if those bad times are related to the broader market, the industry, or the company itself.
All five of these companies with major FCF are also household names. This factor can play a big role in a company’s staying power because of the level of consumer trust these brands have garnered.
While FCF is an important metric, it’s still only one of many metrics. It’s also important to consider if a company has been growing its top line and is consistently profitable, as well as the company’s debt-to-equity ratio, one-year stock performance, and dividend yield.
Here are five examples of companies that have historically shown large free cash flow figures. These statistics represent data as of Dec. 27, 2022:
All five of these companies have been consistently profitable, although not all of them have delivered consistent revenue growth in the same time frame. A high debt-to-equity ratio is usually a negative sign, but when a company has a strong cash flow generation, it can minimize the debt risk.
The five free cash flow monsters above should be considered for further research, but only if you’re a long-term investor. There are many questions in markets about the global economy right now and no stock is invincible. However, if history continues to repeat itself, then the five stocks above should be safer than most.