10 companies that meet our ‘5-10-15’ criteria

Barry Dargan

Intermede Investment Partners

The best approach to generating outsized returns in equity markets is to identify individual winners on a bottom-up basis. Big winners drive overall returns to an extent that is generally underappreciated. For example, recent research by Hendrik Bessembinder has shown that 4% of companies have accounted for 100% of U.S. equity market wealth creation since 1926.

Seeking winners also makes intuitive sense given certain features of today’s corporate landscape, across which we observe increasing winner-takes-all dynamics, evidenced by profitability and returns on capital at top firms staying higher for longer, increased corporate concentration, and the ability of cash-rich incumbents to purchase upstart challengers.

For us, the ideal business is one where we can say with a high degree of certainty that in several years’ time, it will be generating substantially more free cash than it is now while being overseen by a management team that will allocate that capital prudently.

One tool we employ in our screening process to find winners is the ‘5-10-15’ rule: growth of 5% in revenues, 10% in earnings per share, and 15% and rising return on equity over previous 10 years. This helps us to focus on the elite top decile growth and return names available.

Below, I share the top 10 holdings which easily meet and exceed these hurdles within the Intermede Global Equities Fund. Of course, once we find companies that tick these boxes, we consider many more factors including valuations, ESG, and quality of management, but it shows how investors can use a well-defined screen to boil their investment universe down into a manageable list of quality companies.

#1 - Charles Schwab Corporation

With client assets of over US$6tn following the recent value-accretive acquisition of TD Ameritrade, Schwab is the leading publicly traded retail investment services firm in the US, an industry which exhibits high structural growth prospects and where Schwab is best positioned to benefit, providing clients access to a wide variety of investment opportunities at low cost with high-quality service.

With competitive advantages gained through scale and structurally lower operating costs and a strong management team executing a clear, long-term client-centric strategy, we expect the group to continue to take market share resulting in strong growth in revenues and earnings.

#2 - Samsung Electronics Company

Samsung Electronics is a major manufacturer of electronic components including memory semiconductors and lithium-ion batteries, and is also the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phones and smartphones. 

We are attracted by Samsung’s ability to capitalise on its leading edge technology to maximise profitability in its component business, while also fuelling innovation and differentiation in its device business. Samsung’s management team is increasingly committed to returning value to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.

#3 - Alphabet

Alphabet is the parent company of Google, the internet media giant. Google remains a true cornerstone of global internet usage on mobile devices and desktops, which fuels its dominant presence in online advertising through the core search business plus video based ads on YouTube. 

While online advertising represents 85% of total revenues, the company still has substantial opportunities to drive new incremental growth by extending its reach into mobile services (Android, Google Play), hardware (Pixel, Google Home, Nest), and cloud services (Google Cloud Platform).

#4 - Nestlé

Measured by revenues, Nestlé is the largest food and beverage company in the world. Nestlé brands enjoy dominant positions in categories including Beverages (Nescafé, Nestea), Confectionary (KitKat), Petcare (Purina) and Water (Vittel, Perrier). Nestle’s history of consistently stable and profitable growth has been reflected in half a century of steady dividend growth.

Long-term shareholders have also benefitted from a consistent buyback program that has seen Nestlé’s share count reduced by approximately 20% in the last decade. Nestlé’s future growth is supported by the substantial portion of overall sales (42% in 2019) generated in faster-growing emerging markets.

#5 - Linde

Linde plc is a leading industrial gases and engineering company, formed in a merger in 2018 between Praxair and Linde AG. Linde is the largest participant globally in a market that features only two other global players. We believe Linde has a significant opportunity to improve operating margins following the merger with Praxair through cost synergies and operating gains.

#6 - Danaher Corporation

Danaher is a leading supplier of tools, services and consumables used in clinical diagnostics, life science research and biological manufacturing. Danaher Business System, a proprietary, efficiency-focused management tool kit, is employed across Danaher’s business units and has helped the company to deliver almost unbroken revenue growth and margin expansion for over 35 years.

#7 - CME Group

CME is the leading global derivatives exchange with near monopoly positions in many diverse, globally relevant products as a result of its integrated trading and clearing platform. This results in strong pricing power which together with secular volume drivers, such as trading electronification and futurisation of derivatives, supports high revenue growth prospects. 

CME benefits from strong operating leverage, cost discipline and cash conversion which is fully distributed to shareholders through quarterly fixed and annual variable dividends.

#8 - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co

TSMC is the leading semiconductor foundry globally with >50% market share and long track record of success. TSMC stands out as the only purely independent manufacturing partner at the leading edge of semiconductor technology.

We expect that position to strengthen further over time, as advances in technology become more difficult and expensive for competitors to match. And while capex intensity for the industry is high, management have proven to be excellent stewards of shareholder capital, producing high free cash flow yields with attractive returns on invested capital and a growing dividend.

#9 - S&P Global

S&P is the leading global credit ratings agency, and therefore operates in an oligopolistic industry with high barriers to entry leading to strong pricing power and high margins with growth supported by structural trends such as bank disintermediation.

S&P is also the leading equity index provider (flagship indices include the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average) benefitting from strong growth in passive investment strategies with a highly scalable model resulting in very high operating margins. 

S&P further owns the number one commodities price reporting agency (Platts) and desktop financial information services products (such as Capital IQ and SNL), all of which benefit from strong growth, a high degree of recurring revenues and strong pricing power and margins.

#10 - Housing Development Finance Corporation

HDFC is a leading mortgage provider in India, a market with attractive long-term growth prospects driven by low mortgage penetration, attractive demographics and social trends, and supported by a robust economy. 

Industry growth prospects are further bolstered by Government measures introduced to tackle housing shortages and promote home ownership in India. HDFC is best positioned to benefit from these trends with significant competitive advantages gained through its unique business model, distribution capabilities and brand. 

The group further benefits from ownership stakes in leading providers of banking, insurance and asset management services in India.

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For more information on the Intermede Global Equities fund, please visit here. If you are a financial adviser, please contact your MLC representative here. If you are a direct investor, please speak to your financial adviser or invest directly through the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) here.

Barry Dargan
CEO and founder
Intermede Investment Partners

Barry is the lead portfolio manager and has 20 years of experience as a global equity portfolio manager and over 35 years’ experience as an investment professional. Barry was previously Partner, Managing Director and Portfolio Manager at Artisan...

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